As 2017 draws to a close, I wanted to take a moment to update you on what has happened in the past year (particularly as pertains to Joe On Tech and Take Control), where things stand now, and what I have planned for 2018.
2017: The Year I Took Control
This time last year I had a plan, or at least I thought I did. I was going to spend 2017 writing and/or updating my last few Take Control books, while also spinning up a project that would take my career in an exciting new direction. My plan was both ambitious and risky, but I was looking forward to the adventure.
Well, my career did indeed go in an exciting new direction this year, but it wasn’t even remotely what I expected. Early in 2017, Adam and Tonya Engst asked if I’d be interested in buying Take Control Books—an idea so crazy it left me (briefly) speechless. But after months of discussion, planning, and meetings with accountants and lawyers, we sealed the deal on May 1 and I took over as head honcho of the publisher that had released more than 50 of my books. Take Control became not merely a part of alt concepts inc. but nearly the whole of it.
Running this business has been a lot of hard work, and indeed that’s an understatement along the lines of saying that Apple sells a lot of iPhones. Being a publisher is a full-time job. But I’m still writing books, too, which is enormously time-consuming. I also have a great deal of work to do in retooling the aging infrastructure behind Take Control and planning new projects. Oh, and let’s not forget about my wife and kids, all of whom appreciate attention on a regular basis. I have what feels like three-plus full-time jobs.
So I’ve been working ridiculously long hours. “Busy” doesn’t begin to describe it. “Exhausted” is in, let’s say, the outskirts of the ballpark’s parking lot. Even at that, I’m doing less than I feel I should, and making slower progress than I’d like.
In any case, if you’ve been wondering why I almost never post anything on Joe On Tech or on my blog at joekissell.com, wonder no more. The number of work hours required of me exceeds the number of hours available. But all this hard work is in the service of helping people understand and make the best use of technology—and, in the process, supporting my own family and providing income for our numerous authors, editors, and other contractors. I’m grateful to have this job.
About Joe On Tech
In early 2015, long before it occurred to anyone that I might one day be running Take Control, the former publishers decided to discontinue four of the books I’d written. The books had been popular and had sold well, but they were showing their age and there wasn’t space in the publishing schedule to keep them updated. I offered to adopt those books and republish them under my own brand, in order to keep the valuable information in them available and up to date. I created the Joe On Tech website partly as a place to sell the books, and partly as a place to write about tech-related topics that didn’t seem to fit anywhere else.
By late this year, those books all needed yet another update, and since I was now in charge of Take Control, I decided to move the books back to where they started. So I’ve released new editions of all four books with their original Take Control titles (Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac, Take Control of Maintaining Your Mac, Take Control of Troubleshooting Your Mac, and Take Control of Speeding Up Your Mac). I’m also offering the four books together as a bundle for half price—an even better deal than the erstwhile Joe On Tech “Mac Fitness Bundle.”
And with that, Joe On Tech is no longer in tne business of selling books! As I have no spare cycles in which to write articles for the Joe On Tech site, it’s unlikely to see more action. I suspect that I’ll eventually migrate the existing articles to another home.
None of this makes me sad, and it shouldn’t make you sad either. Running one publisher is plenty for me, and I have no shortage of places I can express myself online. I thought for a while that Joe On Tech might become more of a business focus for me, but it served its purpose and it was well worth doing. On to the next thing!
The Next Thing
In 2018, Take Control will publish and update many more books, just as it has done since 2003. No surprises there. I expect that both the books themselves and the Take Control website will undergo some visual and functional changes in the coming months, and I hope everyone likes them! I’m looking for ways to make things easier, less expensive, more helpful, and more attractive to everyone, while expanding our audience and helping our authors sell more books. I don’t have any specific major announcements at this point, but work is underway and we should start seeing the results of that reasonably soon.
In addition to those evolutionary changes to Take Control, Morgen and I are cooking up a totally new thing that I’m tremendously excited about. It’s weird, it’s fun, it’s clever, it’s cheap, and we think it will increase the total amount of happiness in the world. You’ll know it when you see it. Stay tuned.
Oh, and one more thing. At the end of 2016 I said I was planning to do something in the new year that would make fans of Interesting Thing of the Day happy, just as I’d said at the end of 2015. Two years in a row, that thing didn’t happen. Did I mention that I was unexpectedly busy this year? OK. Well, I’d like to point out that April 1, 2018 will be the 15th anniversary of Interesting Thing of the Day. All things being equal, that would be an auspicious date to introduce a new thing. No promises yet—remember, I have those three-plus full-time jobs—but I have an idea and a partial plan, and I’m going to see what I can do.
A Brighter Future
In my end-of-2016 joeMail message, I said:
My prediction—and, OK, I’ve been wrong before, but I’m pretty confident about this—is that the world will not end in 2017. I’m planning to do my part to bring about a brighter future for humanity, and I hope you’ll do the same.
Hey, I got something right! The world didn’t end. I’m still as committed as ever to that whole “brighter future for humanity” thing. And I’m realizing that there’s more than one way to skin that cat.
When I turned 50 back in January, I dyed my hair purple. I kept it purple most of this year, although the last of the color is now fading. It was quite an experience. I got drive-by (and walk-by) compliments all the time. Little kids would point at me and say, “Mommy, that man has purple hair! Can I have purple hair?” It was an incredible conversation starter.
I was able to bring a little bit of joy to other people just by walking down the street, and I didn’t mind the fact that some people were laughing at me rather than with me. Having purple hair provided countless opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise have had to connect with other human beings. People in totally different social, economic, and cultural groups—with whom I shared nothing obvious except for a wacky appearance—suddenly smiled at me and treated me like part of their tribe.
It was a little, silly thing. But it showed me that little, silly things are sometimes all it takes to make a big difference. I think I’ll do more of them, and I hope you will too!
Well, that about wraps it up for 2017. Peace and prosperity to you and yours in the new year!
P.S. Even if you’re not interested in my “Mac fitness” books, Take Control has dozens of other titles you might like. Through January 9, you can save 25% on all our books with the coupon WINTERFEST207, and we also invite you to take advantage of the same discount on over a dozen fantastic Mac apps—see the main WinterFest page for details.