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Q&A on writing “Financial Modeling in Excel for Dummies”

10 May, 2017

Now that my new book “Financial Modeling in Excel for Dummies” is finally available, a lot of people have been asking me about the writing process and how it all came about. I think what they want to know but are too polite to ask is “what on earth were you thinking?” and I must admit that I asked that of myself at least a few times during the writing and editing process! I want to dispel some of the myths about the Dummies brand and the writing process so here are a few of the questions I’ve found myself answering many times over the past few weeks:

Why did you decide to write the book?

I certainly wasn’t planning to write another book (“never again” I think were my exact words) but after chatting with Dummies author, Mico Yuk at a conference in California last year I started wondering who had written “Financial Modelling for Dummies” and to my great surprise, no one had. This prompted me to send a message to my editor and the rest is history.

Why the Dummies brand?

It made things easier that I was already working with Wiley for my last book “Using Excel for Business Analysis” but I could see the benefits of the universality and mainstream appeal of the brand. Financial Modelling is often seen as a mysterious or complicated process that only very few people can master. I want to get rid of some of the mystique around the craft and show how building and using financial models is just part of many professionals’ everyday roles. In fact, financial modelling is one of the most sought-after skills on the job market and one of the things we discuss in the book is whether you can and should put financial modelling on your resume. 

Perhaps it would be nice to think that, as a financial modeller, no one else can do what I do, but it’s simply not true. Many of the principles of best practice for modelling are just common sense, not rocket science.

How long did it take to write?

The writing schedule was nothing short of gruelling – especially with fitting it in around the rest of my schedule. From start to finish, the whole process took around five months, with regular submission deadlines. The Dummies series has very strict guidelines on the format and a style of writing to fit into the dummies genre, so it’s written in quite a different tone to my last book. As soon as the first chapter is submitted, the design, editing and technicians go straight to work which meant that all submissions were immediately final! One of the most difficult things was having to write for the US audience using American terminology and spelling e.g. it’s modeling instead of modelling. The rigorous editing process and the editor’s exacting standards were difficult to adhere to at times but it did lead to a very high-quality product of which I am very proud.

How can something as complex as financial modelling be “for dummies”?

The whole “Dummies” concept is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek because if you’re building financial models then you’re most certainly no dummy. I must admit that when I first sat down to write this book, I was quite stumped for a long while. It’s no easy task to make something as complex as financial modelling simple and easy to understand. I sought the advice of a few other Dummies writers and they advised me not to be fooled by the dummies branding and that the book series are merely an opportunity to go into more detail than you otherwise would. So, I started from the ground up – hence the 300+ pages! Although it starts very simply, it very quickly begins to ramp up in terms of complexity.

Where can I buy the book?

1.     If you’re in Sydney, join us for the official book launch at Dymocks bookstore on 25th May. All welcome, and if you’re a member of the Sydney Modellers’ Meetup group, you can RSVP there, or else RSVP on Facebook instead. A limited number of the books will be available on the night for those who wish to purchase them.

2.   My new course “Financial Modelling for Non-Financial Modellers” includes a copy of this book. Public workshops are run in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, or it can also be taken online from anywhere in the world.

3.   The book is also available to purchase on Amazon

Press release and Media press kit for this book can be found here.


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