Books Writing

Changing course

Learning Node will be my last book for O’Reilly, at least for the foreseeable future.

Learning Node was a particularly exhausting book. Not only is there much to cover in one book, Node is a very dynamic technology. I like to think my coverage is both comprehensive and solid, but I guess we’ll see how the book does when it hits the streets.

In the next year, I’m going to enter the ranks of the self-published. I’m also focusing less on technology, and more on other areas of interest. What these areas are will become evident over the next several months.

My next book won’t be on technology, and I’m not sure that the one after will be on technology, either. I’m not saying Learning Node is my last book on technology, but I am most definitely taking a break from the tech book field. Most tech writers will understand when I write about the challenges in providing decent and accurate code examples for a new or changing technology, at the same time you’re trying to ensure that your grammar is correct, and your prose is clear and readable. Not only do you have to worry about your comma use in your text, you also have to worry about comma use in your code.

Just when you finally punch all the code, screen grabs, and text into a comprehensive whole, you’re then faced with an audience that’s just as likely to tell you it’s not interested in buying a book when they can find the material online, and for free.

I’m one of the lucky tech writers in that all but a couple of my books have earned out the advances, and provided relatively decent royalties. I’m not a bestselling author, but to earn out advances on 20 books isn’t bad in the tech field. At the same time, though, I’m not making it as a writer, and I have to try something new. That, or see if the local McDonald’s is hiring, because my days of tech contracting are over.

I plan on being as innovative as possible with my self-published works. For one, I don’t see any of the books being very large. Electronic publishing opens the doors for focused, shorter works, attractively priced. By attractively priced I mean that I don’t see any of my books priced at more than $5.00. In fact, I envision a Starbucks pricing model, with book prices comparable to prices you’d pay for a Starbucks coffee: smaller books will be equivalent to the price for a tall latte; larger, more complex works, closer to the price for a venti Caramel Macciato.

Lower prices and shorter works does not mean the books won’t be solid. My first self-published book is on a topic I’ve been researching for three years. But it’s a focused topic: too big for a Kindle Singles, and way too small for a more traditional book. It’s a topic that greatly interests me, and I think that’s the most important consideration.

Of course, I still have to worry about grammar and the damn commas, but at least I don’t have to worry about code.