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Writing Computer Books

Rick Portugal
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 17, 2002
Posts: 243
I see a lot of authors on JavaRanch. I wonder how they got started writing computer books. Is there any money in it? Is it any fun?
I just got my SCWCD, and I read a few of the study guides. I wonder how the authors of those books got their material. I imagine that Sun must have helped them out. How does that work?
What do the authors here think about print-on-demand publishers like 1stBooks Library?
Has anyone here written for a magazine like JavaPro or Dr. Dobbs? What was that like?
Where would I go to get more information, or to find a mentor?

Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Here is te whole forum for writers on Java:

Uncontrolled vocabularies
"I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet
Simon Brown
sharp shooter, and author
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 10, 2000
Posts: 1913
I got started because I was using JSP 1.1 (which was new at the time) and I wanted to use custom tags as the basis for a very flexible framework that I was building. At that time there wasn't much information available and after meeting somebody from JavaWorld(.com) at the JavaOne conference I submitted an idea for an article. Several months later, one of the Wrox author agents got in touch and the rest is history.
It is good fun and very enjoyable although it does take a lot of work, particularly writing a book on your own.
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Just wanted to add that it was Simon B. from whose post I got the link above.
FYI: here are AW's guidelines for submitting proposals.
SJ Adnams
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 28, 2001
Posts: 925
But is there any money in it?
I imagine the number of hours spent researching/writing/proofreading divided by the royalties turn out less than your typical 9-5 java programming job.
Of course, the fame attached to being a 'published programmer' probably increase marketablity as a trainer/consultant?
Peter den Haan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 20, 2000
Posts: 3252
Originally posted by Simon Lee:
But is there any money in it?
No. You do most emphatically not do it for the money. The Fowlers of this world may well be exceptions to this rule, I don't know.
Of course, the fame attached to being a 'published programmer' probably increase marketablity as a trainer/consultant?
Well... it helps convince customers or employers that you actually do know one or two things worth knowing. This only works if it is backed up by actually knowing those things
- Peter
Sam Dalton
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 26, 2001
Posts: 170
Here is my 2 pence/cents/euros/etc worth
In my experience writing has been that it is one of those things that you hate with a passion when you have a deadline looming, but it does feel pretty good to see your work in print, so overall it is a lot of fun.
Money-wise it is not great. It is nice to have a bit of extra cash on top of a regular salary, but it certainly would not be enough to live off. As Peter said it is not a reason to write.
As for finding information, most of the stuff that I have writen has come from my own personal knowledge and experience in the world of IT. We certainly did not receive any help from Sun with the content of our certification book, and tried instead to write a book based on how we learnt for and passed the exam.
The Java writers forum that was mentioned is very good for asking new author type questions as everyone there has been through it at some point

<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Sam Dalton</a>,<br />Co-author of []Professional JSP 2.0[/URL] (October 2003)<br />Co-author of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Professional SCWCD Certification</a><br />Co-author of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Professional Java Servlets 2.3</a>
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Writing Computer Books
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