Community Charity work

A couple of weeks ago inspired by George and Chris's efforts I asked everyone some questions about writing a book and got a ton of good feedback. Man everyone was so nice... its always a boost to the ego that even though I let http://thezbuffer.com die a death a few years ago that so many folk still care enough to comment and email.

So while I've not made a decision I have to say you encouraged me to really think about it again. Watch this space in a week or so when I'll go over some ideas I have.

Some other feedback:

  1. Honestly I didn't mean to demean other authors, but I got the impression I probably did. Everyone has work they do for reasons other than money - lets call them our community charity projects. I've probably spent more time in the xna, and prior to that the msdn, forums than any of the authors have spent on a book and nobody paid me a penny. Its helped me get a few jobs for sure but the $ per hour is probably less than any author ever got. So yes I know you didn't write a book for money - you did it for the same reasons as I have blogged, answered questions and spoken at user groups. I understand why you did it, you do it and why you will continue to do it.
    The post was really more about *me*. Writing is not something that I do 'for fun' so it feels like a job and for that I want what seems to be a fair compensation. Fame and reputation are not enough when I feel like I already have a fair amount of that. The feeling of 'I wrote a book' is something I get and probably the reason its always at the back of my mind. I guess its just not as big a goal of mine as it is for others - that's fine everyone has different goals.
    Additionally my experience with some of the publishers makes me feel that there is a certain amount of exploitation going on and I don't like how that feels. I've also seen how books are rushed to market, often by no name authors with release date and buzz words being more important than technical correctness. Books become a risk management strategy for the publisher who has to make a profit so I understand that to. I just don't like it!
  2. Several folk suggested I go all web 2.0 publishing and either offer content for free, ad based or payment based. Right now I feel like I do plenty of free community work - ask my girlfriend who is not above pointing out when the forums are more important than her. Ad based sites are great but really the $$ are enough to cover your hosting, a few books and maybe a new hard drive once in a while. At peak I was lucky to clear $500 a year in ads and amazon associates on the ZBuffer. As for payment based content - that either means a commerce system and hackers/paypal woes, a DRM system and annoyed users or me trusting people to pay and sorry but I have little faith in the majority of the internet there. So while I love my blogging and one day I hope to find some time to update the ZBuffer once again that will continue to be what I consider my community charity work along with the forums. I can do this as and when I like without a commitment and without paying customers at my throat . It does get me an MVP award with a few benefits and the reputation to get jobs and most importantly I love doing it. So sorry - web content isn't going to happen. At least not just web content...
Things are a bit busy this week and next but whatever I decide to do there will be a post summarizing the questions (so if you have not given feedback then feel free to comment) and probably some more questions about how I might be able to make this work and stay happy.

 Oh and for those who have read this far someone sent me this link - a very inspiring read for wannbe authors http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2010/06/28/how_to_write_a_book.html

Published 08 July 2010 12:48 PM by zman
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Comments

# Veovis Muad'dib said on 21 July, 2010 10:53 PM

I posted in the previous thread, but I saw afterward that it was about a month old, so I'll reiterate the things I said before that seem relevant here, as well as new responses.

I had never heard of the zbuffer, but your presence on the forums means that I remember you - even after about a year hiatus on reading about and playing with XNA.  I would never argue that you don't give enough to the community.

Nor did I feel that the last post seemed demeaning to anyone.  But then again, I'm terrible at understanding that kind of thing.  I read for information alone, I don't pick up on intent.

Should you offer your work for free?  No.  I don't believe that you should, just because you give away so much already.  If you offer it for sale, you will get people buying it.  I have no idea how many, and this is a niche topic, but you will get sales.

Should you offer an ebook at all?  That depends.  A lot of people understand that people will pirate, add an ebook anyway, and still get good sales.  (There are people who get terrible sales as well.)  Ebooks help a lot of people, especially younger people like myself, who prefer ebooks over paper.  But that same generation is also more likely to pirate if you throw out an ebook.  I haven't even seen a good DRM solution that both prevents piracy and doesn't inconvenience paying customers, so I'd stay away from that unless things have changed.

Another thing about ebooks.  I expect to be able to loan them the same as real books.  Whenever I get a fiction book that I like, I give it out to friends, and they do the same to me.  This also applies to educational books, but it's more rare, since we mostly use ebooks that we're not supposed to share.

Last point is about ebooks as well:  If all you plan to offer is a pdf, don't even bother making it in the first place.  Please use a format that is easier to read without just printing it out.  PDF is the only really standardized format, I understand that, it's just a shame since it's always so hard to read.

Thank you for all the work for the community already, don't feel you need to start writing a book because you owe anyone anything.  Everyone else owes you more.

# PaulBlamire said on 22 September, 2010 12:04 PM

Hi,

Sorry I'm really late to the party with this one but have you thought about self-publishing with say Lulu.com

www.lulu.com/.../books

It's a print on demand service and I'm fairly sure it's all at no cost to you. They handle all the order processing and fulfillment throught their website, only if you want to do you have to open it up to other retail channels.

Seems like it may address most of your issues around ebooks, pirating and commerce systems, plus those of us that don't really like ebooks can get our hands on a proper printed book.

They have a price calculator so you can work out the manufacturing cost per unit, so how much you think you can charge above that is up to you.

Maybe worth a quick look if you haven't seen it before

Kind regards,

Paul

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