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Ever wrote a technical book?

Hi,

Has someone in this forum written a technical book?.

I am looking for some thoughts on:

**How long it took?.

**Is it commercially viable to write one? How much do publsihers milk you?.  Is self publishing a good idea?

**Challenges you faced?

Karthik
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Please, dont hesitate to provide a link to your book (As long as Joel does not object and is fine with him).

Karthik
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Never written book myself,

But Jonathan has good advice here:

http://www.angrycoder.com/article.aspx?cid=6&y=2003&m=1&d=18

Look for paragraph titled 'Books'.

Regards,
JD
http://jdk.phpkid.org

JD
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Mike has some excellent advice:

http://www.larkware.com/AdviceforWriters.html

Prakash S
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

so does Philip Greenspun

http://philip.greenspun.com/wtr/dead-trees/story

Tapiwa
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I have a friend who has written several books on Access.  It took between 6 months and a year for each one.  He wrote follow-ons for at least a couple of them, and those took less time because they were revisions rather than from-scratch.

He was one of the original Access alpha-testers inside Microsoft, and was ambitious enough to take off with the product.  The books were profitable for him because he spoke at seminars and did lots of training, too.  He built a name for himself in that market niche.

I've also known people who self-published books, though not technical software books.  They faced a huge uphill battle for sales.

(I'm still not a broker)  Why do you ask about publishers "milking" an author?  If you are not willing or able to pay the cost of publishing a book (many thousands up front), then whomever is willing to take that risk needs to be able to balance the probability that your book will be a money-loser against the few books they publish that actually turn a profit.  Generally, the people willing to take monetary risks make a high percentage for taking that risk - if the venture pans out.  That means that you, the author, get to accept a smaller percentage for not taking the monetary risk.  Sure, you are out time for having written it, but you are not out hard cash (my friend wrote his books in the evenings - very late evenings - while he had a day job that paid his bills).

This is two threads in one day where we supposedly smart and ambitious software people are hammering on the profit motive.  Is there something inherently wrong with the desire to make a profit?  Or to reward those who have risked their capital to create a business?

Karl Perry
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Karl, most writers of "technical books" invest enormous amounts of time and effort, especially when they're also required to provide working application samples.

They are then staggered to find a cheque for a measly few hundred or, if they're lucky, few thousand dollars.

The publishing model for these books grew out of university text books, where academics would just provide their lecture notes, which had already been written. This involved little extra work, and they're on salary anyway.

Your friend sounds like be gained his income from being a spruiker - the lecture circuit and talks. That's different from his returns as an author, although both obviously built each other.

For most technical authors, the returns are abysmal. Part of the reason is that the distribution system is controlled by publishers who can sucker young people into putting in the work for little return. This prevents better writers from getting involved.

Successful
Tuesday, May 11, 2004

As far as I can tell those that regularly write technical dsoftware books get a few thousand dollars a book. Depending on the type of book your talking two months or more per book.

So the salary is normally a fair bit less than you would get as a consultant, though sometimes the two are combined (the book helps to bring in customers).

The advantage over consulting is that you can choose to live somewhere cheap; there are advantages to living on Pattaya all year round.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, May 12, 2004


I thought sucessful Technical Authors could cash out millions.

Am I Wrong ?

Not Stephen King
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Yep. You're wrong big time. Most authors of IT-type books are basically geeks without any writing background, flattered at being invited to write a book.

It's only after it's been published and their head has swollen that a few realities set in. Like they get hardly any money even though they spent several months devoting all their spare time to the book.


Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I would thnk Scott Mueller and Mark Minasi are probably millionaires. And of course Scott Adams is one many times over but that doesn't count. Nor does Peter Norton, who presumably got most of his money from selling his company, though he must have been making a pretty packet from his books.

Most tech writers never get any royalites, because the royalties never pay off the advance.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I would also suggest looking into the computerbookauthors Yahoo! user group.

anon
Monday, May 17, 2004

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