March 2015 updates

I’ve been busy producing words, just not blog words.

The short bits first. I hit 125K words in the first 3 months of 2015, putting me on track to break half a million words in 2015. While in the past I normally hit about a thousand words an hour, that required leveraging my day job as “research time.” I need to research during my work day now. My nonfiction speed is about 500 words/hour.

Recent releases include a new Montague Portal novella and Tarsnap Mastery. Both seem to be well-received, although neither has accumulated many reviews yet.

Sunday Morning Linux Review did a nice long review of Networking for Systems Administrators.

FreeBSD Mastery: ZFS is starting to take shape. The shape is unexpected.

For the first time, I’m working with a co-author. Allan Jude, one of the brains behind BSDNow and the original author of the FreeBSD Handbook’s ZFS chapter, is working with me to produce this book. He uses a huge amount of ZFS, and his knowledge and experience have been invaluable. Plus, he’s producing words.

This book won’t read like the Handbook, however. It will unquestionably be done in a light and engaging style, with an information flow designed for comfortable reading. It means I have to beat Allan. A lot. But at EuroBSDCon 2013 I demonstrated to Allan that I can kill him in five different ways with a butter knife, so he’s doing as he’s told. Sort of. Mostly.

(No, don’t come running up to me asking if you can co-author a book. This is a very special circumstance.)

We’ve had some unexpected developments along the way. ZFS is huge, and it includes features that we must cover but aren’t in corresponding books. A book on UFS wouldn’t need to cover rsync–but ZFS includes sending and receiving datasets! A book on UFS wouldn’t need NFS, but NFS is built into ZFS. ZVOLs and snapshots? While some BSD UFS’ have snapshots, ZFS snapshots are far more featureful.

All told, this book will run about 80,000 words.

The Mastery books are deliberately limited to 30,000-45,000 words. People tell me that’s about the right price point for that amount of knowledge.

In traditional publishing, when a book runs long you raise the price. That’s fair, assuming the book is worth reading.

Sadly, I can’t charge more than $9.99 for an ebook, thanks to Amazon’s daft pricing structure. I’ve written about this before, but it comes down to the fact that Amazon clearly has no interest in supporting highly-researched nonfiction with a limited audience.

Given the length, we’re splitting FreeBSD Mastery: ZFS into two books. The first book will be on basic ZFS, while the second will have more complicated ZFS information.

Now I just need to get Allan to stop writing like a sysadmin, and start writing so people will learn from his work. Hmmm… where did I leave that butter knife?

3 Replies to “March 2015 updates”

  1. “101 Ways To Kill Your Sysadmin With A Butter Knife” — clearly, this should be your next book.

  2. I look forward to being able to buy the ZFS books. Have you considered making your books available via the Google bookstore?

  3. Thanks, Peter!

    Google Bookstore is hostile to indie writers. If I sell through them, their ToS can put me out of business at any time. Big publishers get different terms.

    For PDF, I’m afraid you have to buy from me directly or Smashwords.

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