SEAMI love working in publishing because it is always an adventure!

When I was first asked to work with Dr. Madeleine Wallace on her new book, The SEAM Framework: Achieving Organizational Transformation in 4 Steps, I expected the final product to be a theoretical management book–mostly text with maybe an infographic or two. However, I soon learned she was writing a technical book, rich with templates and examples that readers could use to apply her proven SEAM framework to their organizational transformation. Dr. Wallace planned to go beyond mere theory and walk the readers through the steps of her extraordinary system in ambitious, very welcome detail.

SEAM is the acronym for the four steps to organizational transformation in the book title. They are Snapshot, Envision, Act, and Measure. The book divides each step into parts and carefully explains them with detailed graphics and planning templates. In other words, even though the book is technical, it had  much to “show and tell”  the reader!

Keeping the Reader in Mind

I didn’t envy the design team when the author handed the completed manuscript to the publisher, Fig Factor Media. The book called for many long, wide, and detailed diagrams (figures) that the author created themselves. The figures are included throughout the text and are mandatory since one of the book’s main goals is to show the readers how to use the templated figures to plan their organizational transformation. It was a challenging job, but the design team of The SEAM Framework knew what they were doing. They knew that the meat in the book needed some sauce. They set out to design not only an instructional, educational book but one that was a feast for the eyes so that it would entice, rather than intimidate, their business audience. When I received the finished publication, I was pleased and impressed with how the design team successfully presented an incredible amount of material in an attractive, inviting way.

The editorial and design team for SEAM Framework book made every decision with the reader in mind. This should be the case for any book, but it is critical when writing a technical book. The reader must clearly understand the concept you are explaining and how to apply it. However, just because your subject is technical doesn’t mean it has to be a printed brick of hundreds of pages filled with relentless black trains of tiny font, only occasionally interrupted by an unappealing, black-and-white diagram. I learned there are many things you can do when writing a technical book to make your content more readable and even eye-appealing for the reader. The SEAM Framework specifically did five things that you too can do as you consider the design of your technical book.

  1. Use color.

Color-ExampleWho doesn’t love color? Color is beautiful and can bring a drab book to life. Most books are published in black and white for budgetary reasons; adding color to the interior when writing a technical book can be an aesthetic luxury, but it can also be quite functional.  It can perform the serious role of separating information and making text more readable and usable. The SEAM Framework uses color throughout the book, assigning a color to each of the four steps of SEAM. The corresponding hue weaves throughout the text and figures in each of the four sections in many ways.

  • Headlines
  • Subheads
  • Figure accents
  • Chapter separation page
  • Titles of figures

Thanks to this clever color coding, an acquainted reader can open up the book and quickly orient themselves to what step of SEAM they are reading about.

  1. Pick a larger format.

The most common book sizes in the non-fiction genre are 5.5” x 8.5”, 6” x 9”, or 7” x 10” rectangles.   The SEAM Framework is an atypical  8-3/4” square book which stands out on the shelf and creates much wider pages than average when the book sits open. The format allows more room for diagrams on both right- and left-handed pages. The larger size also allows for the book’s main text to be formatted into two columns, rather than one column, which is how most non-fiction books are formatted. The two-column format moves the reader through the content faster and makes The SEAM Framework easier to read.

Choosing a larger format, in this case, created a much softer, easy-to-read technical book. When writing your own piece remember that with some creativity and vision, your final product can be an inviting page-turner, even as it covers a very technical topic.

  1. Use a relatable example.

Dr. Wallace used a very ingenious device to educate her readers: a fictional example of an entrepreneur named Mora, who is a composite of the entrepreneurs she has worked with throughout the years. Mora owns a specialty bakery that needs a digital transformation to compete effectively in the marketplace. Mora’s story unfolds throughout the book, and the reader sees how Mora intimately applies the SEAM Framework to her business. Mora teaches us, step by step, how to plan and then implement her digital transformation for the bakery’s production and marketing using SEAM. Her relatable example keeps the audience engaged and invested in the transformational process.

Readers relate to Mora.  They quietly root for her as she considers such elements as barriers to her success, her available resources, and the actions she needs to take to make earth-shaking changes in her organization. The hope is that the leaders reading the book are all “Moras”—they sit at the top of their organizations and must plan and implement the activities needed to digitally transform them. The example is relatable, contributing to the book’s appeal and readability and comprehension of the SEAM Framework, as illustrated by Mora. Creating a relatable example is a great way to explain technical content when writing a technical book.

  1. Use photos.

Phot-exampleStatistics abound online about the effectiveness of visual content. According to research compiled by 3M, our minds can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, hence the adage, “A picture paints a thousand words.” Most of us (65%) are visual learners.  So photos have a place offline too, in printed text. If you are writing a technical book, consider including photos, in addition to your technical figures, for the many purposes they can serve.

  • To set the mood for a page
  • To fill in white space
  • To mark the beginning of a new section
  • To break up large blocks of text
  • To illustrate concepts
  • To clarify a concept
  • To draw a comparison to a concept

The SEAM Framework includes many photos throughout the book, which serve nearly all these functions. Collectively, they help the book’s readability and overall impression. Including photos will do the same for you too when writing a technical book.

  1. Connect readers with online resources.

Some of us may remember the pre-internet days when researching meant heading to a brick-and-mortar library and pouring through heavy bound books of statistics because computers were still merely crude word processors. Today, writing a technical book needn’t just stop at the printed page; authors can easily connect readers from their book to online resources to enrich the reader experience. Dr. Wallace provides readers with access to the same diagrams and tables that Mora filled out in the book so that the readers can complete the same exercise. The book’s appendix has a QR code to connect readers to a website where they can find templates and other resources to implement SEAM properly in their organizations.

When writing a technical book, consider what online resources your readers may appreciate. Add an appendix at the back of the book with relevant websites, links, and QR codes to your original material, templates, and even coordinating workbooks that readers would find helpful.

SEAM is a significant book for any business looking to the future and seeing that their organization requires a technological shift to stay competitive. From a publishing perspective, it is also an example of how writing a technical book does not disqualify a colorful design, vibrant imagery, and other creative conventions. Dr. Wallace’s book will appeal to both business DIYers and process technicians because of the unique design that will satisfy both audiences.

If you have a business process book you want to bring to life, we’d love to help you accelerate your editorial process. Contact to learn more.