Exciting Experiment Ahead: Agile Book Writing

I am writing my second book, Healing Burnout. My first book, Avoiding Burnout, focused on how I got sick and principles to prevent such a significant health collapse. I can’t write two books exclusively on my own experience as I want my books to be applicable to a broad audience and to add value to people’s lives. It is also clear to me that burnout looks different from one person to the next.


In the past few weeks I have been interviewing people about their stress and how they respond to it. I have enjoyed this process far more than I anticipated. Setting up the interviews is a little scary and takes me back to the cold calling of my previous business. But people are surprisingly wiling to give of their time and to share their experiences of stress and burnout. I’m learning things that I had not considered before and I’m observing patterns developing. I’m gaining valuable insights that I can include in my book and share with my readers.

My husband is a coach in agile software development and we both have software roots. Being the rock star coach that he is, he reads up on methods of achieving efficient product delivery. I’m reading one of these books and I’ve decided that I would like to apply this approach to my next book. I’m going to experiment with releasing draft chapters to an audience and obtain feedback.

Agile software development has a core premise of absorbing customer feedback early in the product life cycle and including it into the ultimate product. Writing a book traditionally is like developing a software product. You spend months and sometimes years working on something that you are not sure people actually want or need. The first feedback an author receives might be from beta readers or the first reviews. By then, much money and time has been spent and there might be a lot of waste. It’s risky and costly.

My plan is to release one chapter at a time to an audience that signs up via my website. I hope to receive feedback from these beta readers so as to refine and ultimately deliver a useful product that adds value. I think that this will drive a higher quality product and I can build a following of readers in the process.


This is an experiment and there is a chance that it wont work well. But it feels a lot less risky than spending the next year on a book that might not be of interest to anyone. I’m excited about the process and the leanings along the way. And I’m engaging a coach to keep me on track and to have that external accountability that I know I need.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this idea and whether you’d sign up to receive a chapter a month.

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I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.


  1. Kathy, as a scrum master leading several squads through development activities I am witness to the benefits of reviews for development as various stagesnof development are completed and the positive impact on the final product. I have also enjoyed the privilege of reviewing chapters as a writer prepared her material, finding it far easier to focus and contribute meaningful feedback on a chapter rather than the entire book near conclusion. I would very much enjoy being one of your chapter reviewers.

    1. Thank you so much, Gail. I’m very excited about this experiment and although it does feel scary to release something that is not perfect, I do believe the process will result in a higher quality product that serves the needs of my readers better. I’m creating a list and will add you to it! Kathy

  2. Great idea Kathy. Writing in Increments and getting continuous feedback ! Love it – this is a really novel way of producing the book. You can also use a Kanban board for themes you want to explore or chapters in progress.

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