If you wander into any bookstore, brick or virtual, you’ll see books on Linux, Solaris, Macintosh, and even non-Unix-like operating systems. The BSD books are far between. We as a community need to address this if we’re to expand our reach.
This talk covers designing, selling, writing, and promoting your own technical book, with a special emphasis on BSD books. I’ll cover everything that I wished I’d known before I started, common errors, where the “generally accepted wisdom” is wrong, how to actually complete the book, how you can use your publisher to your advantage, post-publication work, and — most important — how to enjoy the process.
I’ve attended NYCBSDCon repeatedly, and have never been disappointed. They always have interesting content and the after-hours events are fabulous. (Yes, I like BSDCan as well, but there is no place in the world like New York City.)
In the time between when a book is released and when the first reviews appear, authors experience a variety of symptoms ranging from unease to outright panic. “Did I miss something obvious?” “Did I really screw up?” “Am I the laughingstock of the tech industry?” Web pages can be fixed, but printed books are immutable; any errors are immortalized. Over the years, I’ve gotten the symptoms down to an ongoing gentle nausea.
Then there’s a review from Dad of Divas. DofD reviews lots of stuff on his blog, mostly stuff that he receives as a promotion. The odd thing is, I have no idea how he got a copy of the book. The lesson? The publishing publicity machine is mysterious and inexplicable, even to those of us trapped inside it.
But, having read the reviews, my lingering dread and nausea is gone. Thanks, folks.
I’ve gone through the comments on my offer to give away review copies of my new book, and to my surprise found that several people I’d like to give books won’t be getting them… because I can’t contact them.
Leaving a comment that presents you as an intelligent, capable reviewer is great. I appreciate that. But if I can’t contact you, if I can’t write you and ask for your address, then I can’t send you a book. Some people left Web addresses. Fine, I can look there and get your contact information… if it’s on the page, or if you have a contact form, or something. A few people have nice blogs, but no apparent contact form. If your blog is not in English, and didn’t have something that looked like a contact or an email address, I looked at the front page source code to find a mailto: link. That worked in some cases.
I’ve emailed people I can email, to get their snail mail addresses, so I can ship the review copies I have. If you posted a thoughtful, insightful comment, but didn’t leave me a way to contact you… sorry. Books will be shipped out next Tuesday or Wednesday, after my Toronto trip. And if you ever get to Toronto, check out Mysteriously Yours.
My author’s copies of Network Flow Analysis should arrive later this week. While my publisher sends review copies to all of the likely reviewers, I’d also like to give my readers a chance to get in an the free review copy goodness. If you’re willing to write a review for your blog, Amazon, or (preferably) both, I might have a free book for you. Continue reading “Free (for some value of free) Books”