Real-world book authoring

Lengthy but worthwhile post on what is it like to write a technical book, from O’Reilly author Baron Schwartz.

Two things that particularly interest me here. One, it is a good account of how much work is involved in writing something worthwhile. Two, the discussion of authoring tools is fascinating: bugs and inadequacies in Open Office and Word.

I have done a couple of quick books; they were low-budget affairs and the process was simpler, but they were still a considerable labour. The first was well received and sold remarkably well. In the second, I misjudged the readership and it bombed. I’d like to do more but I need to block out a large chunk of time, as well as coming up with a winning idea and execution. I’m happy to take a chance on the latter, but finding time is the biggest problem.

For my books I used Pagemaker, and although there were a few annoyances, it never skipped a beat. I’d be quite inclined to use it again, even though it is deprecated in favour of InDesign. Pagemaker’s long document support is excellent. For collaborative authoring though, DocBook might be better.