I want to share a sad reality about “tech books” in today’s world. Many of you may have heard or experienced much of this, but to some it may be a surprise.
Tech books are written with one aim – it needs to be a profitable venture for the publisher. I don’t blame the publisher for this, most books are not profit making ventures, and they are not in it to learn SharePoint, they are in it to pay their bills. Tech books are therefore written with a furious pace with one aim in mind – “time to market”.
That is not such a bad goal honestly, because you want to put the information in people’s hands when they need it, not 2 years later. So time to market, is good for the publisher, it is good for the reader.
Of course, the guy who gets screwed on this is the author. Why? Because the author has to figure out all this stuff to write, and do so at a furious pace.
Not only do so at a furious pace, but also once the book is written – it’s more or less frozen.
Every spelling mistake, every grammatical mistake, is frozen forever. Worse, every technical error is frozen forever.
Also the book publishing process usually means the manuscript goes through many hands. Many of them editing the text, to make it sound better – but not familiar with SharePoint. They, therefore inadvertently introduce errors. And then there is the project manager, who keeps breathing fire down your neck to keep the schedule on track. Hint: Not all PMs contribute positive value.
I’m not even going to bother with grammatical mistakes. People who complain about those in tech books have never authored a book, not recently at least. But technical errors is another deal.
Still it is impossible to avoid technical errors because,
- You are authoring the book at a furious pace.
- Books pay very little, you might say they are worth the marketing, but there are 250+ SharePoint books out there – you wouldn’t know an author unless they told you they are one. Given how little they pay, it is sometimes difficult to justify the time spent on them. Here is a shocker, in terms of hours spent – they easily pay less than minimum wage.
- You are writing at a furious pace, when the product is still in Beta. Especially SharePoint, this product changes even after it RTMs. How can you make it 100% accurate when even the “experts” are figuring stuff out 4 years later.
- The book goes through too many hands, it is impractical for the author to review every word, every single change.
- And then the book gets pirated before the author gets to hold one in his hands. I remember Todd Bleeker emailed me about a PDF of my SP2010 book book on a Chinese website 2 days after I sent the final chapter. My reply was, I did it for the community, so its cool if they pirate it. Frankly, I cannot prevent it. Yes it sucks.
- Many other reasons.
Given all this, I have decided, not to author a conventional book this time around. I have authored 10 books, hit double digits – been there done that. (or lets say I’m slow to learn).
But am I not going to author an SP2013 book? HAHA! Hell no! I’ve been working on one for a while now :).
It’ll just be done a bit differently this time, and you (yes you!) are a big part of it.
Also, I had a chat with my publisher (Apress) on this – and they are on-board with my idea. It is a “everyone wins” proposition.
More details on this very soon (as early as beginning next week). Until then, Happy SharePointing.