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Participate and you might win a copy of his book! JavaRanch: Budi, you joined the ranks of self-publishers with your recently released book, "How Tomcat Works. What drove you away from the established publishers? Budi: I wrote five computer books for various publishers before this one. I thought I could do better self publishing my books, because of the following reasons. A computer book is considered successful which means the publisher does not mind a second edition if it sells at least 10, copies, and there are not many books this popular.
I spend a lot of time writing my books, thinking how to make what I write as easy to read and understand as possible. Self publishing should be able to give me more money that is more worth my time.
In theory, I can make 5 times as much as going through a publisher. Therefore, my target for this book is only 2, copies. Contracts with some publishers often put the authors in very unfavorable position. Have you ever heard that for any overseas sales, the author gets half the normal royalty rate even though the publisher makes more money they give overseas buyers less discounts?
They claim they have invested a lot of money in the past to establish the overseas distribution channels. In reality, I found out later, trading with overseas bookstores is relatively easy. They even pay for the freight from New York to their home countries. I want more control of what I write. I guess, many authors want to self publish too. I thought I could see my books in magazines, but I was wrong. Self publishing is easy and relatively cheap. Selling through Amazon is very easy too.
So how I calculated it was like this. I can sell direct. JavaRanch: What surprised you during this experience? JavaRanch: What have you done to market your book?
Have any particular approaches or activities been especially successful? What major retailers on-line and brick-and-mortar are selling your book? So far, through emails and sending samples to bookstores. Hopefully there will be some response. Reviews definitely help too. I feel the need for an association of computer book self publishers and small publishers. JavaRanch: How many copies have you sold? When did the book hit the market? The book has also been translated into 3 languages.
I spent a lot of time making sure this book was easy to read and informative. All the three foreign publishers reviewed this book closely before deciding to pay an advance.
JavaRanch: Have you considered selling the book as an e-book? Budi: Yes, I am considering ebooks as well. It will be available for sale from my website.
JavaRanch: How many different people with what different sets of skills did you work with to complete your book, "How Tomcat Works? This is not too mention hundreds of people who downloaded the first draft and sent their helpful comments. What types of feedback did they provide? Budi: Initially Paul Deck was my technical editor.
It was taking me so long I had a day job that I finally asked if he could contribute a few chapters, which he did. Basically, a technical editor checks the accuracy of the text and tests the applications.
Every time I finished a chapter, I emailed it to him. He then added his comments in the text itself, which I then re-reviewed. Occasionally there was code that I had to correct, etc. With the current features of modern word processors, this is an easy process. JavaRanch: Over how long of a period of time did you and your co-author spend how much time writing "How Tomcat Works" would you estimate?
Budi: This book took an extremely long time to finish because there was practically no documentation that detailed the internal workings of Tomcat. I had to read every single line of code and, at first, did not even know where to start. After spending six months or so, I started to get the big picture and soon I could start thinking about how I could explain the material in plain English. In all, it took me almost 2 years part time to finish.
Compare this with my other books which take an average of 4 months. Budi: The fact that I have a good Word template helps a lot. In truth, even if you are writing for a publisher, you have to do formatting yourself to some degree i. JavaRanch: Who did the page layout of the book? Did you have to master any new software packages?
Did you work with an outside designer when coming up with the design of the book? Budi: I paid someone to do page layout and cover design. In any publishing business, it goes more or less like this. The author writes in Word or WordPerfect or Open Office, if you like format, using the correct styles for each part of the text. After reviews by editors and the whole book is ready, the book is then laid out using PageMaker or QuarkXPress.
It is not easy and takes a lot of time. The final result is a PDF file, ready to go to the printer. JavaRanch: Aside from marketing costs, what expenses have you been faced with as a self-publisher? How much were these expenses? Budi: First of all, there is the printing and editing cost. Then, there is fulfillment service and warehousing. It does take a lot of my time though, especially for the first title. However, I believe, once I set up business relationships with customers the subsequent titles would be much easier to sell.
Other costs include paying the graphic designer, editor, for the ISBN registration, etc. JavaRanch: Without divulging any secrets, could you describe the agreement you have with your printer? Are you working with a print-on-demand service? When researching printers, how many different outfits did you discuss this project with? Did you find that the costs varied quite a bit, from print shop to print shop?
Budi: There is no secret at all. It would be cheaper probably half the price to print the next 1, though. JavaRanch: Have you discovered any bottlenecks in your self-publishing process? Budi: Yeah, this book needs much more exposure. Also, since I currently only have one title, big chains can simply ignore me. But I believe everything takes time and sales will be much better several months from now. Why so many? Budi: I realize this is a very advanced topics and many people may shy away from it before even giving the book a chance.
Therefore, the five chapters are to prove to would-be buyers that the book is easy to follow, despite the heavy-weight discussions. Also, if you are thinking of self-publishing, do drop me an email. Maybe we can market our books together. JavaRanch: Lastly, would you do it again? Budi: I will publish at least 3 titles, and see what happens. The whole journey has been tiring but exciting. In addition to a number of computer books, he has published about articles for more than 10 publications--including prestigious Java magazines, such as java.
Budi is the author of the popular Brainysoftware.
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