Writing a Technical Book

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Writing a Technical Book by Mind Map: Writing a Technical Book

1. Speaker

1.1. Dave Fancher

1.2. @davefancher

1.3. [email protected]

1.4. 2 time Microsoft mvp

1.5. wrote the book: The Book of F#

2. His Journey

2.1. Fell in love with language F#

2.2. Started writing a bunch of blog posts

2.2.1. lots in a couple months

2.3. Started talking about it at conferences

2.4. Experienced the 'dig effect' on his site with one giant spike

2.5. Someone from "No Starch Press" reached out to him about a book technical review

2.5.1. code samples didn't work

2.5.2. mis/bad information

2.5.3. poor organization

2.5.4. author was removed from contract

2.5.4.1. do you want to write your own book?

3. Time Commitment

3.1. Like having a second full time job

3.2. ~11 months, start to finish

3.3. lots of late nights

3.3.1. weekends become writing days

3.3.2. same with lunch hour

4. Where I Wrote

4.1. Cafes

4.2. Pubs

4.3. McDonalds

4.4. Public Library

4.5. WiFi - core resource

5. Who You Work With

5.1. Editors

5.1.1. Developmental Editor

5.1.1.1. Wordsmithing

5.1.1.2. Grammatical corrections

5.1.1.3. Spelling/Typos

5.1.2. Production Editor

5.1.2.1. Oversees the process

5.1.2.2. Coordinating activities

5.1.2.3. Defines Schedule

5.1.3. Copy Editor

5.1.3.1. Formatting

5.1.3.2. Style

5.1.3.3. Consistency

5.2. Reviewers

5.2.1. Technical Reviewer(s)

5.2.1.1. Check text & examples for technical errors

5.2.1.2. Suggest improvements for technical clarity

5.2.1.3. In my case, primary reviewer was a good friend

5.2.1.4. Additional reviewer was recognized expert

5.2.2. Proofreaders

5.2.2.1. enter later in the process

5.2.2.1.1. generally just listened to them

5.2.2.1.2. they know their stuff

5.2.2.2. ensure accuracy throughout the work

5.3. Everyone Else

5.3.1. Compositors

5.3.1.1. prepare work for printing

5.3.1.2. little to no direct contact

5.3.2. Illustrators

5.3.2.1. for the cover art, primarily

5.3.3. Marketing

5.3.3.1. enters late in the game

5.3.3.2. develop branding

5.3.3.3. marketing message

5.3.3.3.1. text on back of book

5.3.3.3.2. questionaire

5.3.3.4. Cover matter

5.3.3.5. Identify reviewers

5.3.3.5.1. recognize experts in the subject matter to get to try to review the book

5.3.4. Friends & Family

5.3.4.1. cheerleaders

5.3.4.2. you will get discouraged

6. Questions

6.1. Title?

6.2. Rough schedule / deadlines

6.2.1. agreed on?

6.2.1.1. pushing deadline back? How is that part of the agreement? Fair both ways.

6.2.1.2. no starch knows new author, new technical author, negotiation for changes were really easy

6.2.1.2.1. mostly a 'no starch' experience

6.3. who you shared chapters with a concern?

6.3.1. publisher worried someone taking the idea or it's just such a big project it's not a concern

6.4. what kind of input would you take from the forward author

6.4.1. they read it... they will have comments, is it done too late for changes, is that part of the plan, is it just too bad, get a new forward author

6.5. pay?

6.5.1. you get a front pay

6.5.1.1. book sales need to cover that before you see any more

6.5.2. then you get percentage based on sales numbers

6.5.2.1. ~$12/book

7. Writers Tools

7.1. Research

7.1.1. msdn

7.1.2. language reference

7.1.3. language spec

7.1.4. blogs

7.1.5. other books

7.2. Software

7.2.1. Word

7.2.1.1. Word Template Starting Point

7.2.1.1.1. run through InDesign automatically

7.2.2. Visual Studio / IDE

7.2.3. one drive / drop box / drive

7.2.4. one note / wtv note tool

7.2.5. PDFs after compositing

7.2.6. Snipping tool for screen captures

7.3. Defeating Writers Block

7.3.1. ... beer

7.3.2. write drunk

7.3.2.1. edit sober

7.3.2.1.1. caffeinate for indexing

8. Development Process

8.1. Content Definition

8.1.1. high-level

8.1.2. synopsis

8.1.3. identify major topics

8.1.4. rough outline & refining to draft ToC

8.2. Publishing Agreement

8.2.1. Determine delivery deadline

8.2.2. Draft Table of Contents (ToC)

8.2.3. Royalty terms

8.2.3.1. balance between advance payment and long term royalty payments

8.2.4. Rights assignments

8.3. Content Development

8.3.1. Chapters

8.3.2. Table of contents solidifies

8.3.2.1. Chapter by Chapter basis

8.3.3. Index

8.3.3.1. Important terms & where to find them

8.3.3.1.1. angular book reference

8.3.3.1.2. only one thing under 'n'... it's angular

8.3.3.2. Ongoing throughout development

8.3.3.3. creating the index

8.3.3.3.1. tag important terms and concepts

8.3.3.3.2. include variations

8.3.3.3.3. page ranges are helpful

8.3.3.3.4. multiple variations

8.3.3.3.5. cross-references

8.4. Front Matter

8.4.1. foreward

8.4.1.1. written by someone else

8.4.1.1.1. helps establish your credibility as an author

8.4.1.1.2. should be about the work and/or justify why the work is important

8.4.1.1.3. Author should read most if not all of the content

8.4.1.2. I agonized for weeks

8.4.1.2.1. my target audience

8.4.1.2.2. didn't want one fo the "usual suspects"

8.4.1.2.3. not data science or finance

8.4.1.3. Forward author traits

8.4.1.3.1. business acumen

8.4.1.3.2. industry recognition

8.4.1.3.3. experience with Functional Programming, F# in particular

8.4.2. preface

8.4.2.1. Organization of the book

8.4.2.2. Describe target audience

8.4.2.3. where to find updates

8.4.3. acknowledgements

8.4.3.1. thanks specific people for their contributions

8.4.3.2. identify how they shaped the book

8.4.4. introduction

8.4.4.1. describes the book

8.4.4.2. Motivation for the book

8.4.4.3. Identify additional resources

9. Printing, Distribution & Marketing

9.1. No starch works with O'Reilly

9.2. Print & Electronic Media

9.3. Channels

9.4. Press release

9.5. Publisher catalog content

10. Final Thoughts

10.1. Writing a book is a long, time consuming process

10.2. Often stressful

10.3. Many moving parts and different stages

10.4. seeing the final product is gratifying

10.5. Would I do it Again?

10.5.1. yes

10.5.2. my wife said I had to wait a year

10.5.3. Time to formulate the next one