Some interesting things I learned about the process of publishing:
- There are professional indexers who write the index.
- This amazes me, because we had to proofread our index and I’ve never been so bored in my life. These people must have the exact opposite personality I do. And, in our case, they spelled “Ruby gems” as “Ruby germs.”
- Blog posts are a better length
- In 500 words, I can edit and polish something until it’s a shimmering jewel of a, uh, blog post. It’s really hard to make a hundred thousand words even have a reasonable flow, never mind be “perfect.”
- Illustrations will be assimilated.
- When we submitted the manuscript, I had (the night before) whipped up the illustrations in Photoshop that looked like this:
At the final stage of the editing process, these all got replaced by O’Reilly illustrations, which looked a lot more professional.
I’m pretty impressed by how well they matched what I was going for, but wish I hadn’t spent so long making those damn snowflakes.
- An advance is an advance on sales.
- In retrospect, I should have realized this, but I never really thought about it before. If O’Reilly advanced us $100,000 (they didn’t), that just means we wouldn’t get any royalty checks until people bought enough books to give us $100k in royalties. So, essentially, authors write books for free. This kind of amazes me.
All and all, it was really fun and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. In the future, I wouldn’t stick to the schedule quite as rigorously. At the beginning, O’Reilly gave us the following timeline:
- 3 months = 2 chapters
- 6 months = first half
- 9 months = whole book
I write best when I splorch down everything that comes to me as fast as possible and then edit it fifty times. So next time I’d do:
- 3 months = book of crap
- 6 months = semi-literate book
- 9 months = great American (technical) novel.
Andrew suggested we do the National Novel Writing Month, so now I’m trying to think of another thing to write about. I’ll probably do a MongoDB book, but not sure what yet…