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A year and a half ago I embarked on my first self-publishing experience when I published my first novel, Counting from Zero. I had written several other books before, but they were technical, non-fiction books, and I used conventional publishers who handled so many aspects of the book.
Self-publishing was a revelation for me, and I found that I relished the speed, control, and flexibility it gave me. I have had so many wonderful experiences after publishing the book; now I can hardly imagine that I once thought that perhaps it would never be published!
I am in the homestretch of a new self-publishing experience, which has also been a revelation. This time, I am about to self-publish my first non-fiction, technical book title! Stay tuned for an announcement shortly, perhaps on Monday when I am speaking at an industry conference… perhaps. I won’t talk about the book or the topic today, but I do want to share my experiences, and how it has been similar or different for non-fiction vs fiction.
So firstly, why did I choose to self-publish rather than go back to one of the publishers I had worked with in the past? The same reasons as for my novel, which are:
- Speed: My co-author and I finished editing and writing the book just this week. Next week we will have a box of books in hand and a paperback and Kindle edition for sale on Amazon. It just doesn’t get any better than this, especially when your goal is to publish the first book on a given topic.
- Control: Publishers often influence the content of a technical book. They will suggest adding chapters, or including other points of view. Often this is useful, but in this case, for the first time, this to-be-published book contains exactly what I want, and says it exactly as I want to say it. To paraphrase MasterCard, this is priceless! And, I can control pricing. My previous books have been incredibly expensive – this book will be incredibly cheap.
- Flexibility: Timing is everything in technical book publishing. And the ability to provide timely content at the right time is critical. This book will be up-to-the-minute accurate. In addition, we plan to do frequent new editions to track the fast-moving field. I have done multiple editions of some of my previous books, but usually at 2-3 year intervals. This time, we plan to do new editions in 3-4 month intervals! I know it sounds crazy, and it may turn out to be so, but the point is we can try out this new model, where we put out a book using a software release model, rather than a book edition model.
So, what are the downsides of this do-it-yourself model? Mainly just the work involved! Laying out my fiction book was trivial, but doing the same for my non-fiction book was extremely involved. I had to integrate figures, captions, tables of contents, lists of figures, etc. My publisher provided all these things in the past, but now it was all down to me and and my co-author.
I’m happy to say we have been successful, and initial feedback from our reviewers is very positive. I can hardly wait for Monday! In my mind, there is no doubt this book will be successful, and it will help the industry and fellow professionals learn about new opportunities.
I guess it is obvious that this self-publishing fad is likely to stay, even for technical non-fiction books.
If any of you have had self-publishing experience with a technical book, I’d love to hear your experiences. I’ll keep sharing the lessons I’m learning every day in this incredible experience.
The media has been buzzing the past day or so about “Operation Facebook” which was announced on YouTube by Anonymous. Anonymous is the hacker collective made famous for their attacks in support of Wikileaks earlier this year. Their type of politically motivated hacking is quite different from the profit motivated cyber crime hacking I write about in my novel “Counting from Zero”.
While this has been big news, other Anonymous sources have disavowed the attack. Whether this was planned then abandoned by Anonymous, or in fact just the work of Anonymous wannabes isn’t at all clear. Whether there is a actual attack planned or they are looking for zero day exploits is also debatable.
Regardless, everyone should be careful what information they post on social media sites such as Facebook. Your privacy depends on a lot of factors, including your own privacy settings, the privacy settings of your friends, the security of your computer and your friends computers, and ultimately the security of the entire Facebook site. You should not post anything to Facebook that you wouldn’t embarrass you if it showed up on Wikileaks next week.
I was interviewed on KMOV-TV News last night about this issue. You can watch the short segment here.
With regards to Facebook privacy, there is another less well known issue – Facebook tracking of your web browsing using widgets, but this is a topic for another day…
SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is used on the Internet for making phone calls. In technical terms, it is a signaling protocol.
I was involved very early in the development of SIP. It was my introduction to the world of open Internet standards, something I believe very strongly in. Let me explain.
In the early days of computers, everything was proprietary, which in thus situation means that it was unique and different for every brand and type of computer. As hard as it is to imagine today, there wasn’t even a common standard for representing characters – a simple text document would have to be converted in order to display correctly (some examples, for those of you interested were EBCIDIC, Baudot, and ASCII – which became the standard?). The same was true for networking – each manufacturer had their own protocols and interfaces – it was virtually impossible (by design) to connect them together.
Fortunately we have come a long way since then, and the Internet, with its open standards helped a lot. I’ve enjoyed working on open standards with the Internet Engineering Task Force or IETF for quite a few years now.
SIPconnect is a great example developed by a not-for-profit that I am proud to be involved with, the international SIP Forum. SIPconnect is a standard that helps connect a telephone network with a business phone system, known as a PBX in the business, when the connection is made over the Internet instead of old fashioned wires and leased lines. It isn’t very exciting but it solves an important problem for both service providers and businesses. In short, it does what a standard does best, and works behind the scenes to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Here is good article by Russell Bennet entitled “Finally, a SIP Trunking Standard that Makes Sense” which gives some good background on PSTN Trunking and SIP Trunking with SIPconnect.
Unfortunately, there are lots of examples today where standards are not being followed, and single-company, proprietary systems are in use. Some of the most prominent examples relate to some of the most popular hand held and personal electronic devices used by many people (including myself!)
But standards are always evolving, and business models change – today’s successful proprietary lock in is replaced by next year’s standard. Technology is both fast moving and fast changing.
For today, I’m happy to celebrate the publication of this SIP document and remember all my friends and colleagues who have worked so hard on it over the years!
As we jokingly say as we raise our glasses, “SIP, SIP!”