So, You Want to Write a Technical Book?
You've written a few blog articles, maybe some of them making it on respectable sites, and you've even created a tutorial or a case study once. Now you are ready for something bigger, something that could help you establish yourself as an authority of sorts in a field. You've heard about personal branding and you may have been applying that strategy through relevant sites, like beBee, but you feel you are ready for the next step: writing and publishing your own book. After all, how hard can it be, since every other blogger or YouTuber out there has done it, or is considering doing it soon? Well, it definitely is easier than it used to be, but getting a *good* book out there and getting some revenue out of it definitely isn't that easy, no matter what some sites say! I'm talking about non-fiction books, by the way, since fiction writing is a whole different animal and I'd rather let my mentor lead the way there!
What's a Technical Book?
Most modern non-fiction books are under the umbrella of technical books, since they are the ones that are more viable commercially. There are several other intriguing categories of non-fiction books, such as scientific books, books on self-improvement, and even philosophical books, all of which are worthwhile, but considerably more challenging as they require a great deal of expertise and/or life experience. Technical books on the other hand are far more approachable and easier, in some respect. But what does it take exactly to make such a project happen?
The Book Writing Process
For starters, you need to decide on a topic that you are adequately comfortable in, perhaps one that you have worked on professionally. You don't need to have some academic qualification necessarily, though that definitely helps. Then, you have to talk to someone who knows the market to see if that book has a chance of being read by more than your close friends and relatives. Usually a publisher or a mentor can be a priceless source of such information. After all, they have already established themselves in this front, at least to an extent that enables them to bring value to others.
Following that, you can start putting together a proposal, detailing the contents of your manuscript, its approximate length, and most importantly, your target audience and your competition. I'd love to write a book on a niche programming platform but there are already a dozen (good) books on that topic plus few people care about it now anyways, so what's the point? That's not to say that I'd write a book on a topic I don't care about just because it's a popular one, but there is definitely plenty of room between these two extremes, worth exploring. By the way, the proposal would be useful even if you decide to self-publish the book, since it's a plan of sorts that can help keep you focused throughout your authoring project.
Once you are done with the proposal, you have two options: you can start writing, or you can try to sell the book to a publisher. The latter is a bit more challenging but substantially more rewarding as an alternative, at least in the long run. "How can I sell something I haven't written yet?" you may ask. Well, interestingly that's how technical books are usually done. Unlike fiction, which requires you to do all the writing and editing before approaching a publisher or a vendor, non-fiction books are sold beforehand, so that they are developed optimally. After all, the publisher may have some suggestions to make, that may prove very useful both in terms of the book's flow and how it will be viewed by your audience.
After you and your publisher reach a consensus on the book plan and you are certain that the deadline you are given is realistic, you can sign a contract and start writing the book. Some publishers may require to monitor your progress, to ensure that you are going to meet the deadline, while others may give you more freedom. This depends on how convincing you are regarding your ability to deliver, as well as your previous experience in authoring. After all, everyone is a writer (to some extent), since we all write things from time to time, in a coherent textual format. Not everyone is an author though, since this requires putting a piece of text out there in a professional manner, and see it turn into an asset of sorts, be it for monetary revenue, for personal branding, or some combination of the two.
The Fun Part (Publishing the Book)
Whatever the case, if a few months' time, if all goes well, you finish your book project and send it off to the publisher who then hands it to an editor (in some cases the editor may liaise with you throughout the writing of the book, depending on the publisher's policy). A few weeks later you are given some comments you need to address and then return the corrected manuscript. This process may repeat again, if necessary. Finally, you are given a final version of the book, to check, and possibly make additional changes to, and then the book hits the press. Depending on the publisher, you may need to contribute to the marketing of the book once the book hits the market, while if you self-publish it, you obviously need to take care of that yourself. Whatever the case, that's what you can expect before venturing to an authoring endeavor of a technical book.
If all this sounds intriguing to you and you find that you have some (technical) topic that you'd like to write a book on, feel free to contact me directly for additional information. As a publisher author in Technics Publications, I may be able to give you some pointers, to help you make your book idea an actual book (or eBook). Thank you for reading!
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