How the book came to be / Part 1

It will have taken about a year between when I started writing “IPO: A Global Guide” and when the book will finally be available for sale in bookshops next year. In fact it will probably have taken a while longer since I had started with some on and off research work in the previous year. Writing a book is always something I had at the back of my mind, so it was good to finally have some time to put pen to paper.

After working for some 19 years as a capital markets investment banker, it was clear to me that whilst many finance, legal, accounting or investment professionals have some experience of parts of the IPO process, a large number of these have not had the opportunity to work through entire transactions, from the initial pitching stage to aftermarket activities. The mechanics of some elements of the process, for example, stabilization and over-allotment options (the so-called Greenshoes), still remain a mystery for many market practitioners. So I thought there would be merit in explaining, in a clear and jargon-free style, what an IPO is actually all about. I also deliberately wanted to write a book that would be fully global in its approach of the subject.

I started with crafting a very detailed table of contents, basically dividing the whole document into small chapters, each of these a few pages in length and addressing a particular IPO topic. I then wrote a couple of these every day, working pretty much continuously from about nine to five, for about a month and a half until I had a write-up on every element. At that stage, the manuscript was around 60,000 words in length.

I decided to split the book into four distinct parts, covering 1) the initial decision making process (whether to list or not, where and how, and which lead banks to appoint), 2) preparation work (the appointment of other advisers, documentation, valuation work, understanding investors and their investment styles, and deciding on an offer structure), 3) the actual marketing of the deal (pre-deal research – where allowed, investor education, bookbuilding, pricing and allocations) and 4) aftermarket activities (stabilization, investor relations and further capital raising and other secondary market transactions). At that stage, I inserted chapter heads, also formally dividing the manuscript into numbered sections and sub-sections. I showed the manuscript to a few people who made useful (and encouraging) comments, and I also added a number of small case studies to illustrate technical issues.

I then did some research on how to get published – something I had never done before. I prepared an “M&A style” teaser,  with a summary of, and a detailed list of contents for, the book; its target audience; a short biography of myself; a list of competing publications (highlighting how different my book was) – also including the first three chapters. I bought the (very useful) Writer’s Handbook and the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and identified all the publishers and agents (mainly in the UK, with a few in Europe and Asia) specializing in non-fiction and business and finance books  in particular. I took the view that publishers in the US would probably be more interested in books specializing in local rather than international IPOs – I contacted a few there, and my initial guess ultimately proved to be correct. I looked at all the publishers’ and agents’ websites (for those that had one) and started contacting them.

I didn’t have much luck with the agents, but a much better response with the publishers themselves. Some, however, would only accept a short introductory email, which would then have to be followed, should there be initial interest, by the teaser and then, possibly, the full manuscript. Some did not accept communication by email at all  – an oddity in this day and age. Some took a very long time indeed to revert (even as I write this I still receive the odd letter or email responding to my submission of many months ago).

I actually received what was in retrospect a rather good offer to publish the book within the space of only a few weeks – even though all the publisher had seen at that stage was a detailed contents list and a handful of chapters. However, I decided to try my luck with a few other houses, including some of the better known names in the business book world.

Another publisher suggested I expand the manuscript somewhat, to include listing requirements for stock exchanges around the world.  I thought this was a good idea. I started gathering information for this and also thought I might include, in a consistent format, a number of detailed, real-life case studies of IPOs from around the world, from the Americas to Europe, to the Asia-Pacific region. I also compiled an index and used this as a basis to create a comprehensive glossary, which grew over time to include more than 550 definitions of  technical terms. And I continued to expand the main body of the manuscript to include many more shorter case studies and examples.

In the meantime, I was continuing my dialogue with publishers, answering queries and clarifying issues.  At that juncture, the manuscript had grown to more than 115,000 words and well over 500 pages in length. Cross-referencing information and including changes across multiple chapters was becoming much more difficult to manage.

[to be continued]