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How to write a computer book

 
Rick Portugal
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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?
 
dema rogatkin
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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.
 
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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Our good friend Scott Ambler has recently posted an article entitled "How to Write a Technical Book." Good stuff -- check it out.
 
Ilja Preuss
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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.
 
Dave Wood
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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
 
Bert Bates
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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!
 
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