Five Simple Questions with Chris Mills - The Icon Handbookposted 16 December 2011 by Sarah Morris
Find out what it's like to be the editor of a kick ass book like The Icon Handbook from Chris Mills's excellent answers to our Five Simple Questions!
1. Tell us about yourself.
I'm Chris Mills, a web technologist and metal hippy who works for Opera Software and lives in Oldham, UK. I am passionate about educating people about better web design practices, and better social etiquette (i.e., being nice to each another!) I have been a contributor to FSS books for a few years now.
2. Tell us about your work on The Icon Handbook.
This time I played a dual role, as both development editor and project manager.
I spent a good deal of time helping Jon with the book outline, giving him feedback on early drafts, and helping to make sure he was going in the right direction. Admittedly, he didn't need much help, even as a first time book author ;-)
I also drew up schedules, to help Jon keep on track, and thoroughly edited all his first drafts to help make the text the best it could be. And boy is it good.
But that kind of stuff is pretty much standard book editorial duties; this book offered some really interesting and unique challenges that will be more interesting to talk about! First of all, this book is a lot more image heavy than most techy books, and with much less code. It's not really a techie book! This is partly because of the subject matter, and partly because of Jon's wish for it to work both as an inspirational coffee table book and as a useful instructional book. I think it works very well as both, but it meant that the images had to be thought about a bit more than typical books I've worked on in the past.
Also, the content was more varied - I loved handling the interviews for example, and working them into the chapter flow!
Finally, getting the necessary permissions to use all the icons was a unique challenge! Most of the companies we approached were very happy to lend their name and brand to the project, although some of the bigger monolithic organisations needed a fair bit of process and negotiation.
3. What were the tools and processes that you used?
I used Pages for all chapter editing, and different web browsers for testing the odd bit of code.
I also used the world all around me - it is amazing how many icons you notice in every day life, and how much you think about how they are used, when you are working on an icon book. Normally of course, their effects are more subconscious.
4. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
As an editor/writer, my inspiration comes from pretty much anything I read. I am fascinated by diverse writing styles, and try to immerse myself in a variety of texts to make my own richer and more informed — I read a lot of stuff, from Chaucer and Poe to rock and roll biographies, Tolkien, Marvel and DC comics!
5. If you were immortalised as an icon, what would it look like?
Being a rock and roll/heavy metal drummer, I would like nothing more than to be immortalised as a rock and roll drumming icon, along the lines of Jon Bonham or Keith Moon. Unfortunately, that requires me to be:
a. A lot more famous
b. Dead ;-)