Publishing a book in IT (is not easy)
You’re thinking of publishing a book on IT? Don’t expect to make much money or have a social life, says self-publishing author Nicolas Fränkel. And whatever you do, don’t self-publish your first book.
Your latest book Integration Testing from the Trenches was just released on Leanpub – can you tell us a bit about what you like about the Leanpub process and why you decided against a classic publishing house?
This might not be politically correct to tell, but my experience taught me classic publishing houses promise a lot but only deliver two things: their name and their distribution channel(s). Forget about the marketing, etc. Given that they take nearly all the benefits and own the content, I decided to do differently this time and use Leanpub.
Leanpub only commits to provide the writing platform and electronic channels. The rest is up to you, and I find their cut extremely reasonable (10% + 50 cents). Besides, you keep the copyright (if any) and they don’t prevent you from going to other distribution channels such as Amazon and selling there.
On the other hand, Leanpub means the author will need to dedicate a significant amount of their spare time to promoting and marketing the book, right?
Yes, you’re responsible to promote and market the book. But with traditional publishing houses, it will sadly be the same. Besides, who is the most relevant to talk about it than you?
You’re a software architect, trainer and author – How do you find the time to balance all three?
Well, as any geek, I’ve no social life, so evenings and week-ends are available for writing (and preparing trainings and courses) ;-)
Is it worth looking into a print edition these days?
That’s a very good question actually. I’ve put together a print edition on Amazon because I felt it was the thing to do, but not out of any rational reason. However, some colleagues told me they had trouble reading on computers and tablets, so I think it still makes sense. All in all, I sell more electronic versions than paperback.
What kind of an IT author would you advise against self-publishing?
I think you definitely shouldn’t self-publish for your first book. When you enter the field, there are many many things you don’t naturally think of: reviewing, distribution, etc. Going with a publisher gives you a great framework to learn the ropes. It also has the nice advantage of forcing you to plan the release date, and commit on a date for each chapter.
Writing a book requires motivation, but more importantly it requires discipline. If you know you’re lacking on this side, having a publisher that will harass you until you get your chapter done is something precious. The worst thing that can happen is having great content but never finishing it!
What advice would you give to anyone interesting in publishing in the field of IT?
Never, ever write a book to get rich, you’ll be sorely disappointed. You may want to write a book for a variety of reasons e.g. make your parents proud, but money should definitely not be one of them.
Read an excerpt on Testing with Spring from Nicolas Frankel’s book “Integration Testing from the Trenches”