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How to write a computer book

Rick Portugal
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Joined: Dec 17, 2002
Posts: 243
I have always wanted to write a computer book. I think I may do it this year, but I'm not sure how to start.

What format should a manuscript be in? Do authors just start typing using plain ol' Microsoft Word?

What about screen dumps? Do they need to be any particular size? Can I just plunk them into a Word doc?

I have a lot of experience with relational databases and Java. What is a good untapped topic for a book? I'm thinking maybe some up-and-coming open source tool. Oracle and Java have been written to death. Even MySQL has been written about extensively already. I'd like to find some less popular niche topic.

I have been told that authors usually write a book proposal first before they write the book, but I don't want to do that. I don't think I'll make much money on this anyway, so I want to do things my own way. If nobody buys it maybe I'll go with a print-on-demand publisher like iUniverse. Does that make any sense?

Any other advice?


IBM 286, SCJP, SCWCD, EIEIO
dema rogatkin
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Joined: Oct 09, 2002
Posts: 294
If you need a co-author then let me know . Generally if you would like that your book was published by some bookhouse, then you should write a book proposal and probably few chapters. Using this material you can start working with publishers. All of them have e-mails and generally glad to see new authors. If you topic looks interesting for them, then they could give you a verbal for starting work on a book, or you can go in discussion how to change topic of your book to make it more appealing. It's completely doesn't matter what writing tool you are using, however I sent word formats to my publisher.


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Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
Marshal

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24184
    
  34

Our good friend Scott Ambler has recently posted an article entitled "How to Write a Technical Book." Good stuff -- check it out.


[Jess in Action][AskingGoodQuestions]
Ilja Preuss
author
Sheriff

Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Rick Portugal:
I have always wanted to write a computer book. I think I may do it this year, but I'm not sure how to start.


I'm in a similar process, but it started the other way around - I gathered material on a topic and thought "wow, this would be enough to fill a book - mhh, why not write one?"


What format should a manuscript be in? Do authors just start typing using plain ol' Microsoft Word?


I currently prefer plain text - less overhead and more version control friendly (yes, I put my texts into SVN).

I have a lot of experience with relational databases and Java. What is a good untapped topic for a book?


Something you deeply care about. Something you think hasn't yet been written about in a way it should have been written about.

I have been told that authors usually write a book proposal first before they write the book, but I don't want to do that. I don't think I'll make much money on this anyway, so I want to do things my own way.


I'm not sure that writing a book proposal really holds you from doing it your own way.

Most publishers have a web page telling what they expect from authors. Take http://www.aw-bc.com/publishing/proposal.html for example. Even if you don't plan on submitting a proposal, it makes an interesting read.


Any other advice?


I'm currently reading the book "On Writing Well", and can highly recommend it.


The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Dave Wood
bronco
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Joined: Aug 02, 2004
Posts: 161
I've been meaning to post a more personal response...but until I get around to that, check out this link:

O'Reilly

It's got a TON of information that might be helpful.

-dave


Co-Author of <a href="http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/jswing2" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Java Swing</a><br />Co-Creator of <a href="http://www.sun.com/training/catalog/courses/CX-310-055.xml" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">SCJP 5.0</a> and <a href="http://www.sun.com/training/certification/java/associate_beta.xml" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">SCJA</a> exams
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
I want to second Dave's suggestion (I was just about to make it, and he beat me to the punch!)

Before we submitted our first proposal to O'Reilly, we studied their tips and followed them as closely as we could!

It worked!


Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
 
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