An interview with Britt Joiner and her new book about Trello

Daniel PrindiiAvatar for Daniel Prindii

By Daniel Prindii

5 min read

We, here at Hardcover, always love a good book. And when that book is written by one of our community members, that’s even better.
Because the community is one of the things that pushed us to experiment, innovate, and, in the end, do better.

That is the case with Britt and her book about being productive in Trello. She has over a decade of Trello experience, and she is an active member of the Atlassian Community, sharing her experience and knowledge on how to maximize Trello’s features and boost your productivity.

We asked Britt about her writing process, fun moments, and challenges encountered during the book writing.

How did everything start? Why Trello?

I’ve been obsessed with Trello for years… I started using it at a company I worked at in college, and then after college, I started using it to organise my personal life and side projects, and from there I just got more obsessed.

It’s a wonderful tool that lets me take everything that’s in my head and organize it nicely into boxes, so I don’t forget about it and can act on it when I need to while collaborating with others!

Several years ago, I started offering Trello consulting and participating as an active member of the Atlassian Community and contributor to the Trello blog. In the last year and a half, I’ve focused on growing my personal brand by creating a weekly newsletter and a plethora of videos on my YouTube channel about Trello. That’s what led to Packt asking me to write a book about all my Trello knowledge!

What was your process? Did you dedicate hours or days to it? Or it was more organic? Did you use dedicated tools (like Ulysses, Obsidian, and IAWriter) or just the common Word?

I work full-time as Head of Developer Relations at PixieBrix, so writing the book was very much just another side project for me. But it did force me to put on pause all my other side projects! Countless hours went into writing, editing, reviewing, editing some more, reviewing again, proofing, fixing screenshots, confirming information, collaborating with my publisher and technical reviewers, etc.

Most of my nonwork time went toward writing the book. For the most part, I was submitting a new chapter every two weeks, and in between that doing reviews and edits on previous chapters as they moved through the process.

I used Trello (shocker) to manage my process and keep track of where each chapter was at, and detailed checklists for myself to go through before submitting a chapter. It’s a lot just to dump content, but then you’ve gotta fix it up, and it’s easy for it to all sound “right”. My writing drastically improved after I implemented a checklist to make sure I put things in the right case, explained “why” for each concept, and make sure that I referenced items consistently (i.e., calling it the Power-Up Directory every time I mentioned it instead of sometimes saying Power-Up Marketplace).

I did most of my writing in Sharepoint. Ugh. Just because that’s what my publisher needed it in, and I found it a pain to copy and paste screenshots from other tools. Although occasionally, I would draft in IAWriter just to get my outline and content out there and then add screenshots later.

What challenges did you encounter while writing, and researching the book?

I found that as much as I love talking about Trello, it is a GRIND to write about it. Especially over 300 pages worth. It was really difficult to get started… that blank chapter was always the worst place to be, and the outline and first paragraph were always the hardest.

I found that chunking it and just trying to write small sections at a time would sometimes work, but often I would get into a zone and just keep churning through.

The other tough part was managing the feedback. Not because it was hurtful, but just because it was often conflicting! My publisher would say “This is too long, and we need to cut it down”, and then one of my reviewers would say “Can you go into more detail about this?”.
Or one person would say “This needs to be explained in more detail, show the steps you’d take to do this.” and someone else would say “This is too in the weeds, just explain why they should do this and don’t get too granular in the steps”. And trying to decide what to do with all of that was extremely tough. But in the end, I do think it helped me write the best book because I was able to incorporate so many perspectives and points of view into it.

What role did the Hardcover app and its community play in your process?

I used to have reading comprehension issues, but in late high school, I got much better at reading and learned that I love non-fiction books. It’s funny because most people prefer fiction books, but actually, I get much more into non-fiction books.
I initially used Goodreads to keep track of all my reads, but I always had on my to-do list one day to build a better Goodreads. When I saw Adam wanted to do that, I was thrilled to join in on the mission, and I helped the team for a good bit with some development work! I had to back away because of time constraints (I have too many side projects haha), but I’m still a huge fan of the community and a heavy user of the app. I’m looking forward to using it to connect with more readers of my book!

Any advice for future writers?

If I can do it, anyone can. Seriously. And while anyone can self-write and self-publish these days, I think it’s actually more fun to have a publisher because having someone keep me accountable and set up deadlines and just keep things moving along was helpful for me.

Share any fun situations that happen during writing.

My animals have no concept of personal space, and they were very involved in the writing process, from snuggling next to me on the couch while writing, to climbing over my keyboard….

You can also check through this video I made. I explain some more stuff: I just wrote a book about Trello.

You can find Britt on YouTube or you can subscribe to her newsletter, and you can find the book here.

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