Recently I published my first course on the Pluralsight called Developer to Manager. As you can imagine I am quite excited by this as I have been a customer and fan of their training library for about 3 years, so being able to get involved was great.
I have had a lot of people ask me about the my experience of becoming a Pluralsight author, so I thought I would write a post explaining the process I have been through. Hopefully if you have heard of Pluralsight, you will find this interesting, but also if you are a new Pluralsight author, I hope you come across this post and it helps you ease into the role.
The Audition Process
I first started talking to Pluralsight towards the end of June 2014. After a few email exchanges I had a short phone interview with a content acquisition editor (Jodi). After this discussion I moved into the audition process. If I am honest, this was quite daunting as I have never done anything like this before, so not only was I coming at this new, I was also going to be heavily scrutinised.
The audition process is fairly straight forward. You have to produce a 10 minute video using the Pluralsight presentation template. The audition video has to have a beginning, middle, and end and tell a complete story. Preferably the audition should have a live coding demo too.
Once they had set me up with the the relevant templates and offered me some advice, I sat down to read the authors guide and started planning my video.
I had a false start initially. I started with one subject, but realised pretty soon that I wouldn’t be able to tell a complete story in 10 minutes. For the audition they were pretty strict on the 10 minute limit. After I realised this, I picked another subject. This time I settled on demonstrating Password Based Key Derivation Functions in .NET. It took me about a week to put the slides together. I also wrote a script as I am not one of these people that can just make it up as I go along. I needed the script in-front of me, so I used the powerpoint notes field to hold the script.
The audition took me a couple of weeks to prepare and submit. I had to wait about a week for feedback on the course. When I got the feedback, I was asked to make some tweaks to the course which resulted in a small part of it being re-recorded. I submitted the final version and waited. About a week later I received the news that I had been accepted as a Pluralsight Author. Once I had been given the news I signed the author agreement and was then asked to prepare a submission for my first course.
When producing the audition video, you are not judged on audio quality as they don’t expect you to have a high quality microphone until you are officially signed, but I decided to buy a mic anyway, got the Samson C01U Recording and Podcasting Microphone.
This is a reasonably priced microphone and the quality is very good for the price. The pack I got came with the condenser mic, desk stand and shock mount. I also purchased a separate pop shield which help to reduce wind splutters against the mic.
For producing the course Pluralsight recommends using Camtasia. Camtasia is a screen recording and video editing package. It is easy to use and powerful. It didn’t take long to learn how to use it. I am using the PC version of Camtasia, but it is also available for the Apple Mac.
My First Course
For my first course I decided to do a careers based course based off an article I wrote on this blog earlier in the year. The article was called “Transition from a developer to a manager“. This has been one of the most read articles on this blog, so there was definitely interest in the subject. I submitted the course proposal which split the course down into modules and had a conference call with my new editor (Beth) and a Content VP (Geoffrey). They agreed that it was a good idea for a course, so once I signed a statement of works contract for that course I got started.
When you develop your first course, Pluralsight likes you to take it reasonably slow. First of all I had to produce a production sample with my new recording equipment so they can check the sound and video quality. Once I had passed that, I started preparing and recording my first module. When I had finished the module, I had to complete the XML meta data that is required, plus write the module assessment questions. I then submitted this completed module to my editor.
I was asked not to proceed any further until I had received feedback. This took just over a week. Luckily the feedback I received was very good. I had to do a few minor tweaks, but nothing that required re-recording, so the tweaks only took about half an hour. Once I had submitted the changes, I started work on the next module.
All in all it took me about 2.5 months to write and record the course. Once the finished course has been submitted, you go through a final QA check and then the course is put into the release queue. From the course being submitted to going live tool about 3 weeks. The course was finally released on November 28th. It was a great feeling to see the course finally live. Pluralsight offers its authors an analytics dashboard so that you can see how your course is doing compared to other courses. This is a very useful tool. The dashboard also tells you your estimated royalties, so you can see how the course is performing financially.
The Developer to Manager course is currently performing very well. It has even made it into the top 100 popular courses which is great considering it is not a coding course.
Overall I have found working with Pluralsight a very positive experience. They really are a great company to work with. Everyone there works hard to help the authors deliver content and they are very supportive if you get stuck. I have already started work on my 2nd course which I am aiming to have completed by the end of January. I will post more details on that course soon.