Author Topic: Economics of writing a technical ebook  (Read 5544 times)

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Offline ez24

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Economics of writing a technical ebook
« on: June 06, 2016, 05:36:49 am »
Came across this

https://leanpub.com/mastering-stm32

from another topic.  Currently it says 370 readers of this book. At the suggested price of $21.99, the author got $19.29.  So currently the author has received $7,137.30 (I assume US dollars).

This is an interesting web based business model.  Also I find it interesting that the book is 60% finished.

I hope someone will see this and be encouraged to write a technical book.  I wonder how this compares with Amazon?

Is the author a member here?   He is Italian but the book is in English.  Very good job, and my compliments to the author.  :-+ :-+ :-+

I am very confused over microcontrollers and I hope this book will help me and I am happy to buy it.

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Offline EEVblog

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2016, 06:18:10 am »
Writing a book is very very very time consuming. Insert one more very for good measure.
 

Offline timofonic

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2016, 06:19:18 am »
I would be interested in (a)n (e)book(s) about (e)book writing, with some of them specialized ones about technical ones.

Are there reliable information about it?
 

Offline bitseeker

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2016, 09:22:39 pm »
Writing a book is very very very time consuming. Insert one more very for good measure.

Yes, it certainly is. At least now you have to option to skip most of the middlemen and make more from each unit.
TEA is the way.
 
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Offline timofonic

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2016, 10:13:07 pm »
I wonder if Dave, Dave2 plus others would like to write a technical book. I would love one based on Active Learning, plus a subscription for advice for it and some kind of tests. Better if based on KiCad, even better if the experience of the involved people would be useful to improve the software based on their feedback and the ones from the students

Maybe even there would appear hobbyists with nice OSHW projects too.
 

Online Cerebus

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2016, 11:06:15 pm »
Writing a book is very very very time consuming. Insert one more very for good measure.

You missed out two verys and a bloody frustrating.

Back in my professional tech writing days I knew several people who had been commissioned to write books by the likes of Sams and other publishers. I think without exception every one of them said they wished they hadn't agreed to do it.

A rough rule of thumb is that good technical writing churns out at 1000 words a day - that includes thinking and research/reference time. Add to that time taken to do illustrations or time taken explaining your scribbled illustrations to an illustrator. Expect an illustration for every thousand words and that'll take 2 hours to draw/discuss. Add proof reading, sub-editting etcetera - you get the gist.

This post, excluding quote, is 172 words. A 150-200 page paperback novel is about 80-100 thousand words. Most medium size technical books run to 250 odd pages, call it 120 thousand words and at least 125 illustrations. That's over 150 days (30 weeks) just for naked writing and illustrations before you start any editing.
Anybody got a syringe I can use to squeeze the magic smoke back into this?
 

Offline timofonic

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2016, 11:16:42 pm »
Fin those words andpages
what ones are vital and not just bored have extern ribhg
 

Offline bitseeker

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2016, 12:40:18 am »
I quite enjoyed having my writing improved by good copy editors, but keeping on top of the technical errors created by other editors and illustrators can be quite a job in and of itself.
TEA is the way.
 

Offline cnoviello

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2016, 01:52:01 pm »
Came across this

https://leanpub.com/mastering-stm32

from another topic.  Currently it says 370 readers of this book. At the suggested price of $21.99, the author got $19.29.  So currently the author has received $7,137.30 (I assume US dollars).

This is an interesting web based business model.  Also I find it interesting that the book is 60% finished.

I hope someone will see this and be encouraged to write a technical book.  I wonder how this compares with Amazon?

Is the author a member here?   He is Italian but the book is in English.  Very good job, and my compliments to the author.  :-+ :-+ :-+

I am very confused over microcontrollers and I hope this book will help me and I am happy to buy it.

Hi,
I'm the author of the Mastering STM32 book  :) First of all I would like to say thank you for having mentioned it here.

The actual income of the book is far from that amount, for two main reasons. Firstly, the "variable pricing" policy of the LeanPub platform (the most of the readers choose to pay the minimum price - but it's also ok, IMHO). Secondly, I'm increasing the book price as long as I add new chapters. So, the very early adopters of this book paid for it about 5$ (and they will receive all updates for free). However, this is part of the game, and it's ok. Moreover, it's important to say that some other people decided to buy the book again to pay it more. This is the "leanpub effect", I say.

I started this book for fun, but I've deeply evaluated the publishing options when I started doing it. The self-publishing is the only way to get decent incomes if you write a technical book about a niche. Publishers, assuming they want to publish your book, give only a fraction of the "distribution price", which is far from the cover price. Another relevant reason to choose a platform like LeanPub is that it allows to write "in progress" books. This is extremely useful for technical books, IMHO. It gives you the possibility to review the book and correct "unavoidable bugs". Moreover, early comments from readers allow to you to better organize the contents, avoiding writing useless and boring things. However, self-publishing has it's "hidden costs". For example, in my case english is not my mother language. So I'll have to pay an editor that helps me reviewing the text. And I think that reviewing a book made of about 1000 pages is not inexpensive.

From my experience, writing a technical book is a really hard work. I started writing my book about one year ago, and my life is changed dramatically :o No longer free time, a lot of email to answer every days. However, apart from the earnings (which are not sufficient to pay your bills  :D), knowing that other people can take advantage from a thing you are doing is a great satisfaction.  O0
 
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Online Cerebus

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2016, 05:36:08 pm »
For example, in my case english is not my mother language. So I'll have to pay an editor that helps me reviewing the text. And I think that reviewing a book made of about 1000 pages is not inexpensive.

Your English is very good, and certainly more than good enough for everyday conversation but still isn't quite 'there' and while it's fine to read here, I think I'd find some of the mis-constructions jarring if I was trying to read a text book full of them. So, yes, you would be wise to get the final version copy edited by a native English speaker.


Quote
From my experience, writing a technical book is a really hard work. I started writing my book about one year ago, and my life is changed dramatically :o No longer free time, a lot of email to answer every days. However, apart from the earnings (which are not sufficient to pay your bills  :D), knowing that other people can take advantage from a thing you are doing is a great satisfaction.  O0

It's a labour of love, you won't get rich writing unless you happen on something that sells well as an 'airport novel'.
Anybody got a syringe I can use to squeeze the magic smoke back into this?
 

Offline ez24

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2016, 08:16:01 pm »
Your English is very good, and certainly more than good enough for everyday conversation but still isn't quite 'there' and while it's fine to read here, I think I'd find some of the mis-constructions jarring if I was trying to read a text book full of them. So, yes, you would be wise to get the final version copy edited by a native English speaker.

It's a labour of love, you won't get rich writing unless you happen on something that sells well as an 'airport novel'.

I agree the "English" is not perfect but I do not think if it was it would be an "airport novel"  PM sent
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Offline bitseeker

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2016, 09:07:46 pm »
Welcome to the forums, cnoviello. Thanks for the behind-the-scenes info on your experience with LeanPub. It is an interesting business model to adjust the price as the book progresses. Reminds me of indie video games that are sold at a low price during development and then full price after release.
TEA is the way.
 

Offline mtdoc

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2016, 10:03:26 pm »
Speaking of the economics of technical books. How is it that this website is able to offer so many technical ebook free downloads? The site has been around for a while and it appears to be with the blessing of the publishers (primarily O'Reilly).
 

Offline vk3yedotcom

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2016, 10:27:52 pm »
If we're talking revenue, my experience is that:

- Advertising on website produces only a trickle if income
- Advertising on YouTube produces a bit more
- Income from an ebook is much much more (though most ebooks sit around only selling 1 or less per day and you'd want to do better)

All three of the above are based on a similar topic and similar audience (link left). 

An ebook can take 6 months of intensive spare time to write.  Or maybe 12 months if you're able to do it while commuting.  It's easy to lose interest. On the other hand putting it down and restarting can freshen your eyes and allow corrections or clarifications that would otherwise not be made if you were to write it in one go.

Possible shortcuts could be to produce an anthology (of other peoples work with permission from them and you as editor) or to hire ghost writers.  There may be demand for translated books.  Can't comment on whether any of this works or not. But if you've already got a strong 'personal brand' through YouTube etc I'd imagine your audience would most wish to read something that's authentically yours (or at least your style of teaching). 

You do need a platform where you keep most of the sales (eg Amazon).  You also need to be a good marketer (not all technicians are). If those two aren't met then I can see how writing a book can be a lot of work for little return.   

You want to cover a niche that has little competition (eg a specialty of a specialty) but isn't so obscure that you're the only one the book is going to appeal to.  Maybe approaching a broad topic (eg electronics) from a unique angle would work.  And ensuring that angle is communicated in a simple two or three word title? 

The US is by far the biggest market but maybe a non-English book could work if that market is poorly served. Experience from my own sales is the Germans, Dutch and Scandinavians are willing to read books in English but others - eg the French and Italians - not so much.  So there may be scope for books in those languages.  Spanish and Portuguese could help for South America.

I've been lucky and have done OK from my sole ebook.  Maybe you can too.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2016, 10:29:31 pm by vk3yedotcom »
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Offline ez24

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2016, 11:27:51 pm »
From my experience, writing a technical book is a really hard work. I started writing my book about one year ago, and my life is changed dramatically :o No longer free time, a lot of email to answer every days. However, apart from the earnings (which are not sufficient to pay your bills  :D), knowing that other people can take advantage from a thing you are doing is a great satisfaction.  O0

By writing this book, you will become an expert on the subject and be able to travel the world giving seminars.
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Offline bitseeker

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2016, 02:03:21 am »
Possible shortcuts could be to produce an anthology (of other peoples work with permission from them and you as editor) or to hire ghost writers.

Closely related is a collaboration between you and one or more other authors, allocating different chapters to different people. This can either distribute the workload of a particular subject or enable broader/deeper coverage than you could (or would want to) accomplish on your own. Also, the authors can motivate each other.

Quote
I've been lucky and have done OK from my sole ebook.  Maybe you can too.

Congrats!
TEA is the way.
 

Offline vk3yedotcom

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2016, 09:47:16 pm »

By writing this book, you will become an expert on the subject and be able to travel the world giving seminars.

It might be tax deductible at least, as a business expense.

Or, in the shady and evidence-free worlds of investment spruiking or business success you can write a $30 book but regurgitate its contents in $1000 per person seminars. 
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Offline timofonic

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2016, 11:18:37 pm »

By writing this book, you will become an expert on the subject and be able to travel the world giving seminars.

It might be tax deductible at least, as a business expense.

Or, in the shady and evidence-free worlds of investment spruiking or business success you can write a $30 book but regurgitate its contents in $1000 per person seminars.
Self-help book writers do that and their efforts are far less difficult than even a very basic technical 100 pages book.

Religions are dying in an extreme way, but cult to personality and superstitions are still in the collective consciousness. Those are very often mixed very dangerously with science (I suffered it tons of times with clinical psychologists and psychiatrists).

You can write some equivalent shit about electronics, tons of Arduino fans will join your sect.
 

Offline ez24

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2016, 03:36:57 am »
Hi,
I'm the author of the Mastering STM32 book  :) First of all I would like to say thank you for having mentioned it here.


Hi Carmine
If you see this can you PM me
thanks
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Offline cnoviello

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Re: Economics of writing a technical ebook
« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2016, 02:46:24 pm »
Hi Carmine
If you see this can you PM me
thanks

Hi,
sent a PM!!!
 


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