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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. …

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

Published in: Technology, Education

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  • 1. So You Wanna Write a Tech Book? Dori Smith (and guests)
  • 2. Why?
  • 3. Why?
  • 4. Why? • You want to get a full-time job
  • 5. Why? • You want to get a full-time job • You want to get a better full-time job
  • 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. 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. 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. Can You Make a Living as a Writer?
  • 10. Can You Make a Living as a Writer? • Well, I can
  • 11. Can You Make a Living as a Writer? • Well, I can • Sort of
  • 12. Can You Make a Living as a Writer? • Well, I can • Sort of • That doesn’t mean you can
  • 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. Consulting vs Writing
  • 15. Consulting vs Writing • Pick your niche
  • 16. Consulting vs Writing • Pick your niche • It’s an either/or
  • 17. Do I Have to Use Word?
  • 18. Do I Have to Use Word? • Yes
  • 19. Do I Have to Use Word? • Yes • No—so long as you are 100% compatible
  • 20. Do I Have to Use Word? • Yes • No—so long as you are 100% compatible • Yes
  • 21. The Care & Feeding of Editors
  • 22. The Care & Feeding of Editors • Chocolate is good
  • 23. The Care & Feeding of Editors • Chocolate is good • Turning in your chapters on time is better
  • 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. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell
  • 26. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell • It’s our “standard” contract
  • 27. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell • It’s our “standard” contract • “Standard” royalty rate
  • 28. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell • It’s our “standard” contract • “Standard” royalty rate • “Standard” advance
  • 29. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell • It’s our “standard” contract • “Standard” royalty rate • “Standard” advance • “Standard” time frames
  • 30. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell • It’s our “standard” contract • “Standard” royalty rate • “Standard” advance • “Standard” time frames • “Standard” page count
  • 31. Lies Acquisitions Editors Tell • It’s our “standard” contract • “Standard” royalty rate • “Standard” advance • “Standard” time frames • “Standard” page count • “Standard” formats
  • 32. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell
  • 33. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Cross-accounting
  • 34. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Cross-accounting • Cross-collateralization
  • 35. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Cross-accounting • Cross-collateralization • Reserves for returns
  • 36. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Cross-accounting • Cross-collateralization • Reserves for returns • Returns
  • 37. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Cross-accounting • Cross-collateralization • Reserves for returns • Returns • Advances
  • 38. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Cross-accounting • Cross-collateralization • Reserves for returns • Returns • Advances • Who pays for indexing?
  • 39. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell
  • 40. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Tech book royalties are on the wholesale price, not the retail price
  • 41. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Tech book royalties are on the wholesale price, not the retail price • Deep discounts
  • 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. 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. 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. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell
  • 46. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • “Earning out”
  • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell
  • 53. Truths Acq Eds Don’t Tell • Everything is negotiable
  • 54. Lies Writers Tell
  • 55. Lies Writers Tell • If my editor had faith in me, they wouldn’t charge this book against the last one
  • 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. 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. Time Frames
  • 59. Time Frames • Or, “Why does production get 3 months to print it when I only got 6 weeks to write it?”
  • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. The 3 Fs of Tech Books
  • 66. The 3 Fs of Tech Books • First
  • 67. The 3 Fs of Tech Books • First • Fabulous
  • 68. The 3 Fs of Tech Books • First • Fabulous • Screwed
  • 69. What's the First Step?
  • 70. What's the First Step? • Pitch!
  • 71. Do You Need An Agent?
  • 72. Do You Need An Agent? • Yes
  • 73. Do You Need An Agent? • Yes • No
  • 74. Do You Need An Agent? • Yes • No • Maybe
  • 75. Now Your Book Is Out
  • 76. Now Your Book Is Out • People you haven’t talked to in years will want free copies
  • 77. Answering Reader Questions
  • 78. Answering Reader Questions • Surprisingly time consuming
  • 79. Answering Reader Questions • Surprisingly time consuming • Keep it separate from your regular email
  • 80. Answering Reader Questions • Surprisingly time consuming • Keep it separate from your regular email • Don’t do free consulting
  • 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. 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. How Much Does Amazon Matter?
  • 84. How Much Does Amazon Matter? • Depends on your topic
  • 85. How Much Does Amazon Matter? • Depends on your topic • Depends on your publisher
  • 86. Defining “Best-Seller”
  • 87. Defining “Best-Seller” • Earning out +
  • 88. Defining “Best-Seller” • Earning out + • It depends
  • 89. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops
  • 90. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops • It’s not for all topics
  • 91. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops • It’s not for all topics • It’s not for all markets
  • 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. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops
  • 94. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops • Safari Online
  • 95. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops • Safari Online • Take Control Books
  • 96. E-books: Big Hits / Big Flops • Safari Online • Take Control Books • Ten Quick Steps
  • 97. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter?
  • 98. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter?
  • 99. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter?
  • 100. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter?
  • 101. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter?
  • 102. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter? • Take it from me...
  • 103. How Much Do the Cover & Title Matter?
  • 104. Pros & Cons of Writing for a Series
  • 105. Pros & Cons of Writing for a Series • Pro
  • 106. Pros & Cons of Writing for a Series • Pro • Built-in audience
  • 107. Pros & Cons of Writing for a Series • Pro • Built-in audience • Cons
  • 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. 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. 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. Got Questions?
  • 112. Got Questions? dori @ dori.com