So You Wanna Write A Tech Book?

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As given at SxSW Interactive 2009, this presentation gives some tips about becoming a writer of tech books. However, some of it needs the accompanying narration to really make sense.

There's some more info at http://www.backupbrain.com/2008_06_15_archive.html

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So You Wanna Write A Tech Book?

  1. 1. So You Wanna Write a Tech Book? Dori Smith (and guests)
  2. 2. Why?
  3. 3. Why?
  4. 4. Why? • You want to get a full-time job
  5. 5. Why? • You want to get a full-time job • You want to get a better full-time job
  6. 6. Why? • You want to get a full-time job • You want to get a better full-time job • You want to get a promotion
  7. 7. Why? • You want to get a full-time job • You want to get a better full-time job • You want to get a promotion • You want to get more/better consulting gigs
  8. 8. Why? • You want to get a full-time job • You want to get a better full-time job • You want to get a promotion • You want to get more/better consulting gigs • You want to be a writer
  9. 9. Can You Make a Living as a Writer?
  10. 10. Can You Make a Living as a Writer? • Well, I can
  11. 11. Can You Make a Living as a Writer? • Well, I can • Sort of
  12. 12. Can You Make a Living as a Writer? • Well, I can • Sort of • That doesn’t mean you can
  13. 13. Can You Make a Living as a Writer? • Well, I can • Sort of • That doesn’t mean you can • Most people can’t
  14. 14. Consulting vs Writing
  15. 15. Consulting vs Writing • Pick your niche
  16. 16. Consulting vs Writing • Pick your niche • It’s an either/or
  17. 17. Do I Have to Use Word?
  18. 18. Do I Have to Use Word? • Yes
  19. 19. Do I Have to Use Word? • Yes • No—so long as you are 100% compatible
  20. 20. Do I Have to Use Word? • Yes • No—so long as you are 100% compatible • Yes
  21. 21. The Care & Feeding of Editors
  22. 22. The Care & Feeding of Editors • Chocolate is good
  23. 23. The Care & Feeding of Editors • Chocolate is good • Turning in your chapters on time is better
  24. 24. The Care & Feeding of Editors • Chocolate is good • Turning in your chapters on time is better • Turning in clean copy on time is best of all
  25. 25. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell
  26. 26. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell • It’s our “standard” contract
  27. 27. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell • It’s our “standard” contract • “Standard” royalty rate
  28. 28. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell • It’s our “standard” contract • “Standard” royalty rate • “Standard” advance
  29. 29. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell • It’s our “standard” contract • “Standard” royalty rate • “Standard” advance • “Standard” time frames
  30. 30. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell • It’s our “standard” contract • “Standard” royalty rate • “Standard” advance • “Standard” time frames • “Standard” page count
  31. 31. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell • It’s our “standard” contract • “Standard” royalty rate • “Standard” advance • “Standard” time frames • “Standard” page count • “Standard” formats
  32. 32. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell
  33. 33. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Cross-accounting
  34. 34. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Cross-accounting • Cross-collateralization
  35. 35. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Cross-accounting • Cross-collateralization • Reserves for returns
  36. 36. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Cross-accounting • Cross-collateralization • Reserves for returns • Returns
  37. 37. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Cross-accounting • Cross-collateralization • Reserves for returns • Returns • Advances
  38. 38. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Cross-accounting • Cross-collateralization • Reserves for returns • Returns • Advances • Who pays for indexing?
  39. 39. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell
  40. 40. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Tech book royalties are on the wholesale price, not the retail price
  41. 41. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Tech book royalties are on the wholesale price, not the retail price • Deep discounts
  42. 42. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Tech book royalties are on the wholesale price, not the retail price • Deep discounts • Non-compete clauses
  43. 43. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Tech book royalties are on the wholesale price, not the retail price • Deep discounts • Non-compete clauses • Right to work on the next edition
  44. 44. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Tech book royalties are on the wholesale price, not the retail price • Deep discounts • Non-compete clauses • Right to work on the next edition • Reversion of Rights
  45. 45. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell
  46. 46. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • “Earning out”
  47. 47. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • “Earning out” • Royalties aren’t paid to you until long after they’ve been paid to the publisher
  48. 48. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • “Earning out” • Royalties aren’t paid to you until long after they’ve been paid to the publisher • Returns
  49. 49. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • “Earning out” • Royalties aren’t paid to you until long after they’ve been paid to the publisher • Returns • Lousy accounting systems
  50. 50. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • “Earning out” • Royalties aren’t paid to you until long after they’ve been paid to the publisher • Returns • Lousy accounting systems • Most books never earn out
  51. 51. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • “Earning out” • Royalties aren’t paid to you until long after they’ve been paid to the publisher • Returns • Lousy accounting systems • Most books never earn out • Many authors, of multiple books, never earn out on any of them
  52. 52. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell
  53. 53. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Everything is negotiable
  54. 54. Lies Writers Tell
  55. 55. Lies Writers Tell • If my editor had faith in me, they wouldn’t charge this book against the last one
  56. 56. Lies Writers Tell • If my editor had faith in me, they wouldn’t charge this book against the last one • My editor will help me get into the beta/ get access to the hardware
  57. 57. Lies Writers Tell • If my editor had faith in me, they wouldn’t charge this book against the last one • My editor will help me get into the beta/ get access to the hardware • My royalty rate is less than 10% of the cover price, so I must be getting ripped off
  58. 58. Time Frames
  59. 59. Time Frames • Or, “Why does production get 3 months to print it when I only got 6 weeks to write it?”
  60. 60. Time Frames • Or, “Why does production get 3 months to print it when I only got 6 weeks to write it?” • It’s mostly about the publisher’s relationship with the printer
  61. 61. Time Frames • Or, “Why does production get 3 months to print it when I only got 6 weeks to write it?” • It’s mostly about the publisher’s relationship with the printer • It’s also about how much they trust you to finish writing the book
  62. 62. Time Frames • Or, “Why does production get 3 months to print it when I only got 6 weeks to write it?” • It’s mostly about the publisher’s relationship with the printer • It’s also about how much they trust you to finish writing the book • Do I really have to finish writing the book before <insert product here> ships?
  63. 63. Time Frames • Or, “Why does production get 3 months to print it when I only got 6 weeks to write it?” • It’s mostly about the publisher’s relationship with the printer • It’s also about how much they trust you to finish writing the book • Do I really have to finish writing the book before <insert product here> ships? • Before it goes gold?
  64. 64. Time Frames • Or, “Why does production get 3 months to print it when I only got 6 weeks to write it?” • It’s mostly about the publisher’s relationship with the printer • It’s also about how much they trust you to finish writing the book • Do I really have to finish writing the book before <insert product here> ships? • Before it goes gold? • Before the UI is frozen?
  65. 65. The 3 Fs of Tech Books
  66. 66. The 3 Fs of Tech Books • First
  67. 67. The 3 Fs of Tech Books • First • Fabulous
  68. 68. The 3 Fs of Tech Books • First • Fabulous • Screwed
  69. 69. What's the First Step?
  70. 70. What's the First Step? • Pitch!
  71. 71. Do You Need An Agent?
  72. 72. Do You Need An Agent? • Yes
  73. 73. Do You Need An Agent? • Yes • No
  74. 74. Do You Need An Agent? • Yes • No • Maybe
  75. 75. Now Your Book Is Out
  76. 76. Now Your Book Is Out • People you haven’t talked to in years will want free copies
  77. 77. Answering Reader Questions
  78. 78. Answering Reader Questions • Surprisingly time consuming
  79. 79. Answering Reader Questions • Surprisingly time consuming • Keep it separate from your regular email
  80. 80. Answering Reader Questions • Surprisingly time consuming • Keep it separate from your regular email • Don’t do free consulting
  81. 81. Answering Reader Questions • Surprisingly time consuming • Keep it separate from your regular email • Don’t do free consulting • Don’t ever let people send you files
  82. 82. Answering Reader Questions • Surprisingly time consuming • Keep it separate from your regular email • Don’t do free consulting • Don’t ever let people send you files • Give every book a unique email address that’s only listed inside the book
  83. 83. How Much Does Amazon Matter?
  84. 84. How Much Does Amazon Matter? • Depends on your topic
  85. 85. How Much Does Amazon Matter? • Depends on your topic • Depends on your publisher
  86. 86. Defining “Best-Seller”
  87. 87. Defining “Best-Seller” • Earning out +
  88. 88. Defining “Best-Seller” • Earning out + • It depends
  89. 89. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops
  90. 90. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops • It’s not for all topics
  91. 91. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops • It’s not for all topics • It’s not for all markets
  92. 92. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops • It’s not for all topics • It’s not for all markets • It’s not for all readers
  93. 93. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops
  94. 94. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops • Safari Online
  95. 95. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops • Safari Online • Take Control Books
  96. 96. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops • Safari Online • Take Control Books • Ten Quick Steps
  97. 97. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter?
  98. 98. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter?
  99. 99. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter?
  100. 100. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter?
  101. 101. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter?
  102. 102. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter? • Take it from me...
  103. 103. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter?
  104. 104. Pros & Cons of Writing for a Series
  105. 105. Pros & Cons of Writing for a Series • Pro
  106. 106. Pros & Cons of Writing for a Series • Pro • Built-in audience
  107. 107. Pros & Cons of Writing for a Series • Pro • Built-in audience • Cons
  108. 108. Pros & Cons of Writing for a Series • Pro • Built-in audience • Cons • Audience expects you to be just like the other authors in the series
  109. 109. Pros & Cons of Writing for a Series • Pro • Built-in audience • Cons • Audience expects you to be just like the other authors in the series • Less creativity
  110. 110. Pros & Cons of Writing for a Series • Pro • Built-in audience • Cons • Audience expects you to be just like the other authors in the series • Less creativity • or maybe not...
  111. 111. Got Questions?
  112. 112. Got Questions? dori @ dori.com

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