This week's book giveaway is in the OO, Patterns, UML and Refactoring forum. We're giving away four copies of Refactoring for Software Design Smells: Managing Technical Debt and have Girish Suryanarayana, Ganesh Samarthyam & Tushar Sharma on-line! See this thread for details.
I am thinking of writing technical books (e.g. java books).
I think there are a lot of topnotch authors here.
Can you give me an advice on where to start?
I am an expert technically on the subject matter, but has never written anything, not even a blog or a school article. What I have is the 'drive' and 'dedication' to do it now (I hope that is enough ).
Are those books on 'technical wrting' of different species from technical books that we are talking about here?
You need to figure out why your book is needed [not just because you want to write it]
What books are competitors to it and how will yours be better.
You need a fully detailed TOC [needs estimated page count for each section]
You should do a sample chapter.
After that you need to fill out forms for publishers so they can rip you a new one.
Anyone can be an author, it is hard to be a good author.
Your drive and dedication will screech to a halt once you realize it is not as easy as just opening up word and typing.
I started by writing articles for online publications such as the JavaRanch Journal. This is a good way to get yourself known as someone who can write well and makes you attractive to publishers when you propose a book that they might be interested in.
It also gets you known in the author community so they can recommend you when a need arises (thanks yet again, Eric).
Interesting topic. As a young coder I used to dream of the day that I would write technical books on game design, alas now that I am older there are a slew of them out there. Seems I wasn't the only one wishing to fill that void. I still may, in the future, write a game design book for the absolute beginner who has never written so much as a "hello world" application. We'll see ;)
Bear, do you have any other blogs or sites you would recommend writting to that would generate publisher attention?
Bert Bates wrote:
Also, I know from personal experience that ranchers make really great technical reviewers, and for sure it's a good thing to get reviewers involved early and often.
That will be nice (if the book gets reviewed here), Bert.
Can I ask you dear authors on any advice on how to get into technical book writing, in the view of taking it as a long-term interest (career)?
Did you just grow into it, as you wrote for school, technical websites, etc.? Or including to that, you took or read some training/school course/book? Is there any step that you think is vital, in addition to getting exposed by writing for websites, and journals (e.g. a school course)?
If someone is interested in writing, they would surely benefit from a substantive understanding of grammar and how to write clean sentences and questions. I would recommend taking a few writing courses and/or getting a college degree in English.
Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Of course grammar has to be on the list, but I'd put it much further down on the list than might be intuitive. I can cite many cases where proper grammar is an impediment to clarity... "that is the type of errant pedantry up with which I will not put."
Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:Them editor folks kin help you out with stringin' together high-falutin' words, too.
As well as reeling you in when you use too many of them!
Seriously, an English degree is hardly necessary. I did embarrassingly poor on the Verbal section of the SATs (yes, they had SATs back when I was a yung'on), but people still seem to like my writing style.
Clarity is what is most important.
How many books have you read that were grammatically correct, but peas-poor when it comes to explaining stuff? I've read far too many myself!
Joined: Apr 16, 2008
I see. Writing for web pages and technical books that might be sold in bookstore or online, and writing multi-million dollar proposals for enterprise software are two different animals in the jungle.
Nothing is more annoying that technical material written in "sloppy", but correct grammar and style, in my opinion.
James Clark wrote:Nothing is more annoying that technical material written in "sloppy", but correct grammar and style, in my opinion.
Do I detect hackles? No need.
I said nothing about "sloppy". Just pointing out that one does not need a degree in English grammar to write well.
Again, it's all about clarity. "Sloppy" is rarely clear.
Joined: Apr 16, 2008
True. As mentioned, an English degree is not "necessary." It was merely a recommendation. A dedicated course of study, whether self-taught or in an institution would strengthen the writing abilities of any technical author.
English degree's cover more than just "grammar" however. They include writing style, analytical thinking, and language skills needed to communicate effectively.
Joined: Oct 14, 2002
I tried to let it go, but I just can't
Clarity is good, accuracy essential, grammar useful...
All of that assumes an interested brain, and IMHO that's a huge and inappropriate assumption. Our dear readers' minds might be interested in our topic, but their brains are almost certainly not. So, in addition to all the standard stuff you might expect to hear about authoring, I want to add...