Archives For publishing

Over the weekend, I gave my “How to (not) Get Rich Writing Books” presentation at the 2013 Pittsburgh TechFest. I’ve posted my slides at SpeakerDeck, with my presentation notes. My notes are essentially my verbatim script, which I first write out, then memorize, and then try to forget sufficiently to make the actual presentation feel more natural.

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I am happy to report that my presentation “How to (not) Get Rich Writing Books” has been selected for the 2013 Pittsburgh TechFest. Pittsburgh TechFest is a one-day event on software development and related subjects. Tickets are only $10, which includes lunch (it’s a steal if you’re anywhere near Pittsburgh). Tickets will go on sale in early April. You can follow Pittsburgh TechFest 2013 on Twitter at @pghtechfest13.

My specific presentation is a new one for me, and one that I’ve been thinking about giving for a little while now. I’ll have an hour time block at Pittsburgh TechFest. Right now, the outline of my presentation looks like…

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This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series What It Means To Be A Writer

So you’ve finally done it: you’ve written and published a book. Congratulations! That’s excellent news. Of the many things I’ve figured out when it comes to being a writer, none is more true than this: It’s much, much better to have written a book than it is to be writing a book. Writing a book is hard, but having written a book is great.

But your life, and your job, as a writer isn’t over now (whether or not you ever do another book), it’s just beginning a new phase. If you’re unfamiliar with the mechanics of actually writing a book, then what happens next is going to be even more of a surprise.

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This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series What It Means To Be A Writer

In my first post in this new series I’m writing, I discussed the process of identifying the book you want to write. This comes down to answering these questions:

  • What topic do you want to write about and what do you want to say on that subject?
  • Do you have the expertise and writing skills to do that?

Once you’ve answered those questions, and therefore defined the book you want to write, the next step is to get a book deal: officially begin turning the idea of a book into an actual book. Now, to be fair, what it means to be a writer doesn’t always follow these steps (e.g., I’m sometimes lucky enough to be offered book deals without answering the first question), but when you’re just getting started, this is the logical path. Continue Reading…

In a previous post, I wrote about a good New York Times article that discusses the economics of publishing, both physical and e-books. I also spoke a bit about my own experiences, in terms of the royalties received and what that means in actual take-home dollars. Coincidentally, I’ve just come across posts by two other writers: John Resig, who is better known as the creator of jQuery, and Peter Cooper, who has written a book on Ruby. Both writers post scans of their actual royalty statements, which you may find interesting, and share some of the intimate details about the economics of their books.

As a writer, I find this stuff to be interesting, because you’re always curious what other people are getting paid. The biggest factor, of course, is how well the book sells. A lot of considerations go into that, including how good the book is, the competing books, the potential market for that topic, and how the book is marketed by the publisher. Just writing a good book on a good subject is no guarantee of success. It’s also clear that different publishers pay different advances and royalties. Apress, the publisher for both of the above writers, seems to pay advances around $5000-$7500 and royalties from 10% going up to 20% (based upon sales). Conversely, I’ve personally received advances from $6000 up to $15000 but royalties capping at like 12% (or maybe 14%, I forget). Bill Pollack, from No Starch Press, commented that they pay up to a 15% royalty but with no advance or a 10% royalty with an $8000 advance.

Which leads me to add that if you’re interested in this topic, you should really read the comments posted to each thread. There are a few, casual comments, but lots of good input from other writers. More interestingly, you’ll see remarks from the publishers themselves, including the aforementioned Bill Pollack, the renowned Tim O’Reilly, and Dave Thomas at Pragmatic Publishers. Plus writers who used, and representatives of, self-publishing ventures.

In the process of reading all this stuff, I also came across Scott Meyers’s article on how to get published. Worth a read if that’s an avenue you want to pursue, even after seeing how little money is involved!