I have been fortunate enough to have been “pulled in” to the tech book publishing industry, when a colleague asked me to participate in the writing of her book on database performance tuning. That project got me introduced to executives at Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference (PHPTR), and a long-term business relationship ensued, whereby I helped PHPTR with nearly two dozen other technical book projects from well known and respected authors.
After several years helping PHPTR (and a few other publishers) with their technical manuscripts, I found an opportunity to write a book of my own. This writing project became the book Solaris Security, which is published in English, Chinese, and Japanese language editions. Eighteen years later this is still my most successful book, selling more than three times the number of copies that was expected.
Eighteen years and forty-plus books later, I’m still writing. Because I have a strong sense of giving back to the community from which I have gained much, I have mentored many aspiring writers over the years. And now, I am publishing this same guidance to the world.
Everyone who has approached me who wants to write a book gets the same advice. I ask the aspiring writer several questions about their book idea:
1. Who is your target audience?
2. What do you want to tell your audience?
3. How do you want to change your audience?
4. What other books are similar to the one you want to write?
5. How is your book similar to those other books?
6. How is your book different from those other books?
7. What is the proposed length of your book?
8. Will there be any illustrations (diagrams, line drawings, photos, etc.)? Who will prepare them?
9. How long will it take you to write the entire manuscript?
10. Have you developed the table of contents (needs to be 2-3 levels of depth)?
To write successfully, you have to have passion – and compassion – for your readers. You need to write your book for them as a service to them, to improve their lives in some manner.
If you want to write your book in order to improve yourself, increase your wealth or status, then I cannot help you. This is NOT the purpose of writing.
Some good resources for aspiring authors include:
- How To Be Your Own Literary Agent : An Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Richard Curtis
- Literary Agents: What They Do, How They Do It, and How to Find and Work with the Right One for You, Revised and Expanded by Michael Larsen
I do NOT recommend that you be your own agent! Rather, these books provide valuable insight into the business of publishing.
When you are ready to begin looking for an agent, purchase one or both of these books: