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books by clc contributors

 
 
BruceS
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      02-26-2010
I've seen a number of critiques by some posters of books written by
others (contributors or not), and this has probably been done to
death. I'm interested in the other side of it. I've helped edit a
technical book, and that was enough to make the *writing* of one look
downright painful. People have told me I should write a book, but so
far I've always veered away. If you've written a technical book, how
was the experience for you? How well did it sell, and how has that
affected your experience of writing? Would you do it again? Is it
something (like teaching) that you really only do for the joy of it,
or does it pay decently? How did you choose the specific subject area
you wrote about?

That's a lot of questions, so I'll quit there.
 
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Eric Sosman
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      02-26-2010
On 2/26/2010 11:20 AM, BruceS wrote:
> I've seen a number of critiques by some posters of books written by
> others (contributors or not), and this has probably been done to
> death. I'm interested in the other side of it. I've helped edit a
> technical book, and that was enough to make the *writing* of one look
> downright painful. People have told me I should write a book, but so
> far I've always veered away. If you've written a technical book, how
> was the experience for you? How well did it sell, and how has that
> affected your experience of writing? Would you do it again? Is it
> something (like teaching) that you really only do for the joy of it,
> or does it pay decently? How did you choose the specific subject area
> you wrote about?
>
> That's a lot of questions, so I'll quit there.


Your questions might get better answers in newsgroups with
"writer" or "writing" or "author" somewhere in the title, but I
don't frequent them and can't say which are worth while and which
aren't.

FWIW I was a co-author of a technical book in the IBM Redbook
series. The experience of sitting in an IBM facility under the
lash of an IBM-provided project leader was not "reflective," but
certainly kept extracting the daily quota of pages from the team.
Lots of information (and way too many screen shots, IMHO), not as
much "flow" as I'd have liked, but we got the book done. It "sold"
(for free download) pretty well in its first few years.

--
Eric Sosman
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)lid
 
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Seebs
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      02-26-2010
On 2010-02-26, BruceS <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> I've seen a number of critiques by some posters of books written by
> others (contributors or not), and this has probably been done to
> death. I'm interested in the other side of it. I've helped edit a
> technical book, and that was enough to make the *writing* of one look
> downright painful. People have told me I should write a book, but so
> far I've always veered away. If you've written a technical book, how
> was the experience for you? How well did it sell, and how has that
> affected your experience of writing? Would you do it again? Is it
> something (like teaching) that you really only do for the joy of it,
> or does it pay decently? How did you choose the specific subject area
> you wrote about?


Mine wasn't on C, but I've done a lot of writing about C.

I really enjoy writing. That said, it doesn't pay, at least for me, as well
as programming. Writing a book paid relatively poorly; writing articles
actually paid extremely well per hour, but I couldn't get enough hours for
it to be a viable career.

In my case, the tools were pretty awful, and I hated them. Actually, it's
more complicated. I've got credit for one book done with FrameMaker, which I
disliked but it was livable. I also did one in Word, which was unbelievably
hateful and frustrating. I did one in DocBook, which was quite pleasant to
use (but the publisher got cold feet). And I've done books for work both
in DocBook and FrameMaker. Of them:

* Tools like DocBook, coupled with the ability to write your own tools,
are quite pleasant.
* FrameMaker is full of stupidity and poor design choices, but is basically
a tool designed for writing.
* Word is an abomination, and any attempt to make it scale to the task of
creating books is doomed to tragic failure.

If I were writing another book, I would probably register Scrivener (an OS X
app that is designed EXCLUSIVELY for the task of creating and managing text),
use that to do the writing, then do formatting as a completely separate pass.
It has been consistently rewarding to me to separate those tasks.

-s
--
Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / (E-Mail Removed)
http://www.seebs.net/log/ <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_Game_(Scientology) <-- get educated!
 
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Ben Pfaff
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      02-26-2010
BruceS <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> If you've written a technical book, how was the experience for
> you? How well did it sell, and how has that affected your
> experience of writing? Would you do it again?


I contributed a chapter to _C Unleashed_. It took more time than
it was worth: I only made about $1000 (before taxes) and spent, I
imagine, hundreds of hours on it. The reviewing was very poor
also (although I hear that other contributors had better
editors).

In the future, I am more likely to release my writings for free
on the Internet than to write them for a publisher, at least if
the publisher gets all the rights. I hear a lot more about GNU
libavl (which is sort of an online book of mine) than I ever do
about C Unleashed.
--
char a[]="\n .CJacehknorstu";int putchar(int);int main(void){unsigned long b[]
={0x67dffdff,0x9aa9aa6a,0xa77ffda9,0x7da6aa6a,0xa6 7f6aaa,0xaa9aa9f6,0x11f6},*p
=b,i=24;for(;p+=!*p;*p/=4)switch(0[p]&3)case 0:{return 0;for(p--;i--;i--)case+
2:{i++;if(i)break;else default:continue;if(0)case 1utchar(a[i&15]);break;}}}
 
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BruceS
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      02-26-2010
On Feb 26, 9:59*am, Richard Heathfield <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> BruceS wrote:
> > I've seen a number of critiques by some posters of books written by
> > others (contributors or not), and this has probably been done to
> > death. *I'm interested in the other side of it. *I've helped edit a
> > technical book, and that was enough to make the *writing* of one look
> > downright painful. *People have told me I should write a book, but so
> > far I've always veered away. *If you've written a technical book, how
> > was the experience for you? *How well did it sell, and how has that
> > affected your experience of writing? *Would you do it again? *Is it
> > something (like teaching) that you really only do for the joy of it,
> > or does it pay decently? *How did you choose the specific subject area
> > you wrote about?

>
> > That's a lot of questions, so I'll quit there.

>
> How was the experience? Interesting, even fascinating. Frustrating.
> Tedious. All of those.
>
> How well did it sell? Compared to J K Rowling, not terribly well.
> Compared to other technical books of its type, apparently it did okay.
>
> Would I do it again? Maybe. Last time I was asked, however, I said no.
>
> Does it pay decently? No, not really (although I don't suppose Knuth is
> too upset by the size of his royalty cheques). But it can have indirect
> benefits. For at least two of my contracts, I got the interview on the
> strength of the client's curiosity about what an author looks like in
> "real life".


That's funny. I've been planning to put a picture of myself on my
LinkedIn page, but maybe I'd be better off leaving it empty, to stir
curiosity. "Hmm, I wonder what a CAD guy looks like. Probably pretty
weird. We should contract with him."

> How did I choose the subject area? Sams had a proposal for a book on C
> for intermediate/advanced programmers, but the proposing author changed
> his mind and dropped out after reading the ToC reviews. Now Sams had a
> proposal and a budget but no author, so they asked me if I would be
> prepared to step in. I suggested taking on Lawrence Kirby as
> co-lead-author, and it turned out they were already talking to him too,
> so they grabbed that idea and ran with it. So the subject area was sort
> of chosen for us, really - but the detailed TOC is more or less my own
> creation, although there are a few things I wanted there which got left
> out, a very few things I didn't want that got added, and a couple of
> things that everybody simply forgot about until it was too late.
>
> My underlying rationale, however, was that - with almost no exceptions -
> I wanted the book to be about C, not about C-on-Windows or C-on-Linux or
> C-on-Mac or C-on-mainframe. We did pop a sockets chapter in there
> somewhere when nobody was looking, though.


That sounds a lot like software projects. The client has an idea of
what he wants, you get to decide a lot of how to write that, you put
in some extra pieces that you think make sense, and occasional pieces
get forgotten.

> If I had the chance to write CU again, I'd do it very, very differently.


The one to throw away? I'd say that about a lot of the software I've
written, too.
 
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BruceS
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Posts: n/a
 
      02-26-2010
On Feb 26, 10:01*am, Eric Sosman <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On 2/26/2010 11:20 AM, BruceS wrote:
>
> > I've seen a number of critiques by some posters of books written by
> > others (contributors or not), and this has probably been done to
> > death. *I'm interested in the other side of it. *I've helped edit a
> > technical book, and that was enough to make the *writing* of one look
> > downright painful. *People have told me I should write a book, but so
> > far I've always veered away. *If you've written a technical book, how
> > was the experience for you? *How well did it sell, and how has that
> > affected your experience of writing? *Would you do it again? *Is it
> > something (like teaching) that you really only do for the joy of it,
> > or does it pay decently? *How did you choose the specific subject area
> > you wrote about?

>
> > That's a lot of questions, so I'll quit there.

>
> * * *Your questions might get better answers in newsgroups with
> "writer" or "writing" or "author" somewhere in the title, but I
> don't frequent them and can't say which are worth while and which
> aren't.


Ah, yes, the thread really is OT here. I apologize, and will try to
avoid that in future. Thanks for pointing it out.

> * * *FWIW I was a co-author of a technical book in the IBM Redbook
> series. *The experience of sitting in an IBM facility under the
> lash of an IBM-provided project leader was not "reflective," but
> certainly kept extracting the daily quota of pages from the team.
> Lots of information (and way too many screen shots, IMHO), not as
> much "flow" as I'd have liked, but we got the book done. *It "sold"
> (for free download) pretty well in its first few years.


It seems that the volume of downloads would be rewarding, even without
income. It's great to have your work appreciated.
 
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BruceS
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      02-26-2010
On Feb 26, 10:14*am, Seebs <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On 2010-02-26, BruceS <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> > I've seen a number of critiques by some posters of books written by
> > others (contributors or not), and this has probably been done to
> > death. *I'm interested in the other side of it. *I've helped edit a
> > technical book, and that was enough to make the *writing* of one look
> > downright painful. *People have told me I should write a book, but so
> > far I've always veered away. *If you've written a technical book, how
> > was the experience for you? *How well did it sell, and how has that
> > affected your experience of writing? *Would you do it again? *Is it
> > something (like teaching) that you really only do for the joy of it,
> > or does it pay decently? *How did you choose the specific subject area
> > you wrote about?

>
> Mine wasn't on C, but I've done a lot of writing about C.
>
> I really enjoy writing. *That said, it doesn't pay, at least for me, as well
> as programming. *Writing a book paid relatively poorly; writing articles
> actually paid extremely well per hour, but I couldn't get enough hours for
> it to be a viable career.
>
> In my case, the tools were pretty awful, and I hated them. *Actually, it's
> more complicated. *I've got credit for one book done with FrameMaker, which I
> disliked but it was livable. *I also did one in Word, which was unbelievably
> hateful and frustrating. *I did one in DocBook, which was quite pleasant to
> use (but the publisher got cold feet). *And I've done books for work both
> in DocBook and FrameMaker. *Of them:
>
> * Tools like DocBook, coupled with the ability to write your own tools,
> * are quite pleasant.
> * FrameMaker is full of stupidity and poor design choices, but is basically
> * a tool designed for writing.
> * Word is an abomination, and any attempt to make it scale to the task of
> * creating books is doomed to tragic failure.
>
> If I were writing another book, I would probably register Scrivener (an OS X
> app that is designed EXCLUSIVELY for the task of creating and managing text),
> use that to do the writing, then do formatting as a completely separate pass.
> It has been consistently rewarding to me to separate those tasks.


I hadn't even considered the problems involved in the specific tools
used. It sounds like that makes a huge difference.

Thanks to all who responded. As this thread really is OT here, I'll
try to make this my last post on it. Just don't count on me
remembering this and not starting something else OT.
 
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Dann Corbit
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Posts: n/a
 
      02-26-2010
In article <b1ebb434-e530-4d95-9ae2-1437a81d73a1
@x22g2000yqx.googlegroups.com>, (E-Mail Removed) says...
>
> I've seen a number of critiques by some posters of books written by
> others (contributors or not), and this has probably been done to
> death. I'm interested in the other side of it. I've helped edit a
> technical book, and that was enough to make the *writing* of one look
> downright painful. People have told me I should write a book, but so
> far I've always veered away. If you've written a technical book, how
> was the experience for you? How well did it sell, and how has that
> affected your experience of writing? Would you do it again? Is it
> something (like teaching) that you really only do for the joy of it,
> or does it pay decently? How did you choose the specific subject area
> you wrote about?
>
> That's a lot of questions, so I'll quit there.


It's great resume fluff.


 
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James Harris
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      02-26-2010
On 26 Feb, 21:01, BruceS <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On Feb 26, 10:01*am, Eric Sosman <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

....
> > * * *Your questions might get better answers in newsgroups with
> > "writer" or "writing" or "author" somewhere in the title, but I
> > don't frequent them and can't say which are worth while and which
> > aren't.

>
> Ah, yes, the thread really is OT here. *I apologize, and will try to
> avoid that in future. *Thanks for pointing it out.


I don't think your question is off topic. Where else would you ask
what books were written by comp.lang.c contributors?

James
 
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Eric Sosman
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      02-26-2010
On 2/26/2010 4:01 PM, BruceS wrote:
> On Feb 26, 10:01 am, Eric Sosman<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>> [...]
>> FWIW I was a co-author of a technical book in the IBM Redbook
>> series. [...] It "sold"
>> (for free download) pretty well in its first few years.

>
> It seems that the volume of downloads would be rewarding, even without
> income. It's great to have your work appreciated.


An added benefit: There's an annual conference/trade show for
the IBM product that was the book's topic. People wear all kinds
of buttons and badges and bedizenry at trade shows, and one of mine
says "I Am A Redbook Author." When my former employer's sales folks
would call me in to meet with a customer or prospect ("We've arranged
for you to meet our guru!"), I'd sit there wearing my Redbook button
and my conference badge with the "Speaker" label and try to look like
a Pro From Dover. If I'd had a long, Gandalf-style beard, I'd have
stroked it sagely (probably when completely at sea).

I've never found another setting where "I'm an author!" was
of the slightest use. A source of modest pride, though: Yes.

--
Eric Sosman
(E-Mail Removed)lid
 
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