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Making of the Best Car Ever Book!

This was quite a challenging project.  When I started, I expected to take a couple of months writing a hundred page book on the Model S. But with two of us working six months, it quickly ballooned to 224 pages! Given another 6 months, we could have easily doubled it, but at some point you have to wrap it up.  Perhaps if there is enough interest in the book, we’ll write a follow-on book as we have plenty more to write about, and we left quite a bit on the cutting room floor.

In the Beginning…

While I originally planned to write the book myself, Kim Rogers offered to co-write the book early on. While Kim Rogers is not a Model S owner yet, she sorely regrets buying the car she did and vows her next car will be a Tesla!  She too has attended many Tesla events and has added a different perspective that helped make the book even better.  With two of us on this project full-time, we were able to get this book out faster for your enjoyment.

Why This Book?

While I know how impressive the Model S is to own, and I get to enjoy driving my car every day, I am convinced that others will come to the same conclusion once they are introduced to the Model S and Tesla Motors, the company.  We wanted to bring together a concise, attractive, illustrated book about the Model S.  Once you’ve looked at this book, you’ll understand why couples are having custody battles over who gets to drive the Model S.  No divorces have been reported to date but we have heard of couples who had to buy another one or are anxiously awaiting the Model X to solve who gets to drive the Tesla.  So, this book is our small way of helping Tesla because we know they’re a great car company. We also wanted to show potential customers why the Model S is so much better than any other car. And of course, we want existing owners to get the most out of their car too!

Research

We’ve soaked up a great deal of information at every Tesla event we attended including the Model S introduction, multiple factory tours, TESLIVE, user-group meetings, industry seminars and more.  We also did quite a bit of original research in various sections to explain and validate various perspectives. I’m able to add unique content since I was the 236th person signed up to buy a Model S. As a happy owner of a Model S, I have made many enhancements to my own car.  I also have the advantage of living within twenty minutes driving time to Tesla’s factory and engineering headquarters.  We have plenty of interesting tidbits to share with you. We think you’ll find our approach fun, insightful, and easy to read.

We appreciate Tesla’s PR team.  We are deeply grateful for the help we received from them as we know they are woefully understaffed trying to handle all the demands from the many publications clamoring for their attention. We are also super impressed with every Tesla employee we met along the way.  They’ve all been so enthusiastic, professional, knowledgeable, and clearly love working at Tesla.

Websites and Events

I created the TeslaTap.com website long before I decided to write this book. My website offers considerable content on features, modifications, undocumented areas, free applications, and more. TeslaTap.com was not a significant source of material for this book.  The website is strictly non-commercial and like this book its central purpose is to help Tesla vehicle owners and to introduce potential customer to the Tesla vehicles and Tesla, the company.

Whether you own a Tesla or not, you might consider attending one of the Tesla events (run privately, not by Tesla Motors).  The first TESLIVE was absolutely a blast, and various later events have been great. See our constantly updated list of upcoming events in our Links section, under events.

Getting the Perfect Image

Photography was a major project in its own right. High quality photos were used to illustrate each topic we covered.  There are over 200 photos in the book. I created a content management system to catalog every photo under consideration with descriptions, images before and after Photoshop modifications, copyright information, source details and more.  More than half the photos in the book are my own.  Many others came from Tesla Motors, and quite a few from dedicated fans and companies who graciously allowed us to use their photos.

For this project, I personally took more than 5000 photos. Quality car photos are incredibly difficult to take.  In addition to using good equipment, the car has to be spotless. It is also best if overcast (rare here in Northern California), and the location of the shoot has to be accessible and clean.

Car reflections often doom many photos, as it picks up something that you don’t want in the photo, and may not be discovered until long after the shoot. These problems are rarely correctable later in Photoshop either. We’ve included many black and white Model S cars in the book. This is partly due to white and black being the two most popular car colors. It also turns out these colors hide reflections better than other colors. We’ve still managed to get shots of just about every color car, no mean feat.

It was rare when I could use a photo as-is. I spent an average of 30 minutes per photo in Photoshop cleaning up images, removing backgrounds or distracting objects, color adjustments and more.  All too often I’d spent an hour or two on one photo, only to later conclude it’s not needed or I found a better photo. I discovered the more time spent tweaking a photo, the more likely it will never work and another photo should be used instead!  Sigh, lessons learned.

Publishing

I’ve been involved with all parts of book creation and production on a number of prior books I’ve written and produced in-house at other companies. I’m hesitant to recommend self-publishing if you haven’t been through all the parts of the process beyond writing. A publisher is often responsible for the layout, graphic design, clearing rights, proofing, color management, indexing, getting the ISBN and bar codes, Library of Congress PCN, selecting a printer, press-checks, inventory, distribution, marketing, sales and more. Of course when you self-publish like we did in this case, you also have to pay for everything without knowing if you can recover your costs.  But this book was written for the love of the car and Tesla, the auto company. A publisher will do most of these tasks for you and assumes the financial risk of success as well.  We elected to self-publish it through my company FAQware, which just means I did all the jobs the publisher would have done too!

Tools of the Trade

We used a number of popular programs and tools. The primary programs we used include:

  • Microsoft Word – for the initial writing and preliminary proofing
  • Adobe Photoshop – for photo cleanup and modifications, artwork, etc.
  • Adobe inDesign and Bridge – for layout and preflight
  • Adobe Acrobat X Pro – for final proofing and files for printing

Summing it Up!

While it was far more effort than we imagined, we’re very happy with the quality of the book.  In many ways it came out better and more professional than we envisioned.  We hope you enjoy the book and find it useful!