so you wanna write a tech book

dori, knows a lot of people; about 1/3 of audience has written a book.

why? differentiation. better job. higher profile as consultant. to be a writer. (I got singled out.) missing: you have a thing that you’re passionate about & want to teach/share. dearth of material about a particular subject. then why not put up a website? convenience of a lot of material in one place; the one they wish they’d had. (I’m loving the audience participation.) wendy sharp. dori loves having written. 🙂 the “I did this” factor. and mom!

“that’s why I thought yr name was familiar. I have yr book”

I think she’s talking about

can u make a living? she can, sort of, but helps having husband doing the same. also: teaching, training, consulting. doesn’t mean that u can. (obvs.) very few do. (like almost any kind of writing, honestly.) another author, don’t know name, says books are anchor/opening for other stuff. way to make $1mil in tech book business: start with $2mil.

I can’t hear this guy. quantity not making up for quality? gotta have all the other stuff, blog or whatever. revising books.

someone talking about making a living writing manuals? internal stuff? this room has a noisy vibe.

consulting vs. writing. pick yr niche.

simon st l just walked in, looking dishevled.

pyramid: stupid & dummies books sell in quantity. “secrets of the javascript ninja” doesn’t sell well. but those type of books bring in consulting work. (coming back to this, other guy disagrees)

economics pretty forbidding. lucky to make 85 cents on a book.

iphone book as app: at $4.99 sold lots, $9.99 not.

sentence that I could better explain as a venn diagram.

someone asking how many want to BE writers, vs write about a subject they want to be expert or whatever in. “designing the obvious”

do you have to be compatible with word? lots of disagreement. peachpit is all word templates. simon disagrees. wrote Learning Rails that way, but most of o’reilly is docbook underneath, but most run away screaming. trying to figure out using gdocs. (which is how I took all my notes for head first, but they didn’t actually want me to write on the draft itself) also experimented with wikis, etc. change-tracking conversatin is central. “word will explode” “but these are all incredibly low-level questions”

feeding editors: they like chocolate. chapters on time: better. delay is deadly. “abstinence is best too, but….” communicating. (which is true with any communicating. also: one of my personal flaws.) clean copy on time. natural programmers, teachers, etc not always natural writers. (no kidding.)

“you’re 16 steps ahead of me […] are we going to get there?” yes.

standard contract. mmmm, lawyers. each co may have standard contract, but not same as others. dummies contract used to require giving up broadway show rights?!

no standard (across industry as a whole) royalty rate, advance, timeframe, pagecount, format, etc.

aquisition editor = who u sign contract with. (oreilly aquisition ed = development ed, good 2 know)

page count divisible by 24 is good.

cross accounting, avoid if you can. cross collatoralized (?) generally good?

(missed something) returns. “publishers never definitely sell books, as I understand it.” ok, this is way technical, I think this might be tackling it all backwards. jargon where you can get screwed. no ebook that explains this.

who pays for indexing? all depends.

all beg dori to jump to proposals.

proposal has to be good, take it seriously. care about typos: tells what it would be like to work with. template!

3 things to figure out first: who wants it & why, what’s going to do that in the book, and why you? (sounds a lot like writing grant apps) “we should go into business together” sample chapter: how you write. not always required: seems like writing on spec. 🙂 if you have a good blog. (arg gnarg.) demonstrating that you CAN write, and your style.

someone self-publishing on lulu asks: what’s the benefits of approaching mainstream publisher? reach & marketing. what’s your strength? also: editing, illustration. textbooks sounds like almost a requirement. is there much jumping from one to the other? sounds tricky. plenty of disagreement here. stretching into a new product, or sequel, extension, etc. the identity question. self-publishing as vanity press? maybe less so. (why all the mocking of the poets?!) depends on the goals? crazy niche market story.

nimble books

story about agent out kicking ass re: contract.

no agents in the room, apparently. is the field dying? a couple of stories that probably shouldn’t go on the interwebs. agent as sales rep. imbalance of supply & demand. tech industry very different from fiction. (kinda cool, honestly.) different experiences with the same agent, even.

wendy wasn’t really done w/proposals: never say “easy to understand” #2 cliche “writing next version of don’t make me think” #3 mixing up publishers #4 there is no competition #5 everybody else sucks. if you don’t hear w/in 30 days, ask again. lots of internal process.

series vs stand-alone. look at existing books. tell story about why you fit in the series. no control over title, cover. (again, sounds like there’s a lot of exceptions)

lots of people are not writers, but you do need to string together coherent thoughts. 🙂