Resources for an author who is just starting to write his first book?

Posted on 2005-03-22
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-17

[This does not look the right area for posting his question but then I could not locate any other area to post this in. Moderater, If requried, please move it to right area! Thanks ]


Where does a new author ( just starting off with his first programming book ) go on the web for resources and help. I am looking for websites/forums/IRC# where authors (writing books on software engineering/programming topic) visit, places to go for document templates for the book, tips, etc and if possible where to look and how to find an agent willing to help market the book to publishers.

Question by:playofwords
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Expert Comment

ID: 13605098
Related to theory or a particular language? Authors generally send a few chapters either directly to a publisher, or if you really want to give a cut to an agent, to them. Researching similar books might give you some clues...


Expert Comment

ID: 13605401

I have personally learnt ASP and PHP off their site, I think its absolutly brilliant.
they dont cover everything, but they cover enough to get you started and enaough to start researching to into specific stuff like database connections etc.

hope this helps

LVL 23

Expert Comment

ID: 13605439
depending on what language he is writing the book for there are a few sites around :


www.pscode.com or www.planet-source-code.com



Just to name a few :)

Those are the main sites I use for programming, I have used the one mentioned by binks with regards to w3schools there is also www.htlmgoodies.com
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Expert Comment

ID: 13605443
you knwo what I misread.. I thought you wanted to get into web programming.

well personally the way I learn how to write software in a new language, I read a simple book that covers the basics. Then I mess around with the stuff in the book for a bit, modifying stuff to make sure I knwo how it works. By then you shoudl knwo the concept as to how the language works (if you dont.. then I guess you werent supposed to learn that lanaguage.)
The I start to make my won projects, if I want to do a specific thing i.e. connect to a database I would

www.pscode.com for C++, Java and Visual basic
www.vbcode.com for Visual Basic.

they dont have that many tutorials.. but what they do have is peoples projects that you can download and dissect so you can get the part you want to impliment into your project.

Hope that helps


Expert Comment

ID: 13605458

The I start to make my own projects, if I want to do a specific thing i.e. connect to a database I would goto the following sites

(a minor correction I know.. but then sentace looks weird without the corrections :P)

Author Comment

ID: 13608709
Thanks to everyone for their input.

I am well versed and have hands on practical experience in the topic I am writing my book about. I am not seeking technical matter or book knowledge.

What I am seeking  are websites or forums or IRC channels where authors visit/participate/hang out.

For example: If you notice,  books from major publishers have proper standardized conventions and fonts. Text is in a particular font and code is in a particular font. Heading of the section will be of particular font size, etc. One of the things, I am looking for is a well established document template for word so it makes it easier for me to write my book. I am not great with formatting and styling of documents in word or other word-processors, so a good template would really help.

For example: Writing a book is also a big project. There are guidelines, do and don't, tips and hits that other writers would be able offer. They would also be able to suggest what royalty I might expect. Maybe I could also find someone to team up with and write a more comprehensive book. They would be able to proof read my book and advise me on writing style, etc...This sort of information would be most available in forum or IRC channel which authors frequent.

For example : Not all publishers might be interested in publishing my book and send my draft and interacting with many of them might take a lot of time, effort and expertise. Maybe a book agent might be able to speed up the process and guide me to a particular publisher for a fee or percentage commission.

These are just few examples. My guess is only an authors forum will  be able answer all my queries. Hence my question : Where does a new author ( just starting off with his first programming book ) go on the web for resources and help.

A websites/forums/IRC# for software books would be nice, but to start off I will accept websites/forums/IRC# for any genre of books. Surely there must be someplace on the web where authors go for help?

I am hoping there are experts here who are authors also? Maybe they can point me in right direction?

Lets say it this way : If a Linux newbie wanted tips for installing and configuring a Linux system, he would head for a Linux forum like www.linuxquestions.org. So where would a new writer head to, which websites/forums/IRC#?

Accepted Solution

dreamer007 earned 1000 total points
ID: 13609911
> ' books from major publishers have proper standardized conventions and fonts'

You will have almost zero control over the layout and 'fonts' of a book, once it is the hands of a publisher. This is not really something you should be thinking about until you have actually written the book.

Once you have written it, send draft copies of the first few chapters to agents. In fact, the very fact that you said major publishers have their own conventions shows you that you should not 'personalise' the book to any publisher until you have found one who is interested, if at all.

> 'Where does a new author ( just starting off with his first programming book ) go on the web for resources and help.'

Google - type 'publishing agents' and your location. (You may need to meet with your agent / publisher, so getting one 3000 miles away might not be a good move).

But, most of all - it depends on exactly WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT. For example, you won't find many good PHP scripting links on a Microsoft site - you get me? 'Programming' is a big field, too.

Literary Agents Search: Yellow Pages / Google / Yahoo.

Advertise here: www.writers.net

Get some idea about the process: http://www.caderbooks.com/pubfaq.html

http://www.writing-world.com/publish/index.shtml etc....

Then, if you want to go to work right away, go here: http://www.samspublishing.com/about/write_for_us.asp



Author Comment

ID: 13610047
Thanks for the links dreamer007, those are great. Good to start off with.

I already have spoken to a small publisher who might publish it but they want the book in final publishing condition, which means I have to take care of formatting, proof reading,etc hence a writers forum will help. An agent will help find alterante publisher if the current one decides not publich the book once it is done.

The book is about open source and commercial scripting tools and frameworks.

Any specific websites or forums where authors ( who publish thru O'Reilly, Wiley, Apress, etc) frequent or write at?

I will leave this question open for copule of more days, if some one else has more to contribute and I will be increasing the points for any additional relavant links. ( All the current points go to dreamer007, so more for additional links )
LVL 12

Assisted Solution

GinEric earned 1000 total points
ID: 13618148
As a publisher, let me give you some good advice:

Copyright it first, through the Library of Congress, Copyright Registration Office.  Pay the $30.00 and get your Registration Certificate.  Then, and only then, begin to contact agents and/or publishers.  Submitted works must be solicited, do not send anything like "3 chapters" to them, but a letter of introduction, at most, asking them if they are seeking new materials and writers.

This is protocol; you then get a return solicitation or a "no thank" which establishes something called "access," a necessary component usually in proving that you were the original author.

An agent doesn't "market" he "shops" your book to prospective publishers.

Editorial control is usually something for novels and fiction, but you can ask for it with a technical book.  It's like "final cut" rights for a Director.  It means only you approve the final product, a very powerful right.

More than talking with other writers, you need to start doing some reading about publishing your own work!

Like it or not, pounding the sidewalks is how a writer gets published.  And that means a lot of work on your own, getting the book together, at least in manuscript form, going to meet with publishers, etc..  They don't just hand over the $10,000.00 to $100,000.00 they're going to invest in a book to someone they haven't met and sized up.

And you have a lot to learn about contract law, otherwise, you're going to get taken.

So copyright it first, then send letters to publishers.  Do not send them any chapters until they ask to see some of the work, and it's best if you have lunch and show them a copy of one chapter only.  Thereafter, negotiations begin or they don't begin, with you, the publisher, and your lawyer representing you.

Go to any college and ask any professor how to publish; they have to do it twice a year to maintain tenure, they might even help you.

Don't depend on public opinions and some writers who are not well informed.

In the end, you may wind up publishing it yourself.  Shopping it to local stores, even Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, etc..  They consider putting it on the shelf.

You'll have to promote it yourself, meaning, booksignings, etc., at the places of purchase.

It's not one of those overnight stars being born things.

Author Comment

ID: 13634700
Thanks GinEric , that was some very valuable advice. I am glad I kept the question open for a while more even after receiving good links from dreamer007.

I have more then doubled the points and slipt them. Thanks again to both dreamer007 and GinEric.

It is surprising how many queries and doubts come up when one is starting something new. I have posted couple of mroe questions and I am looking forward for your advice on them.



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