Coding Horror: The Book

Have one on me. :slight_smile:

Your blog is a constant source of entertainment, information, and, at times, inspiration.

Thanks for continuing to suck less!

I just did some more analysis of this topic on my blog. Basically, it boils down to why I think writing a book sucks but you should do it anyway:

Louis CK is also taking out the middle man in selling tickets:

Thanks for putting an an eBook. I run engineering at htttp:// - a nonprofit software organization tackling global issues on literacy, human rights and the environment. Our largest project is - the worlds largest library (>150 titles) for people with print disabilities, such as vision impairments, dyslexia or cerebral palsy. Our books are free to qualified members due to an exemption in copyright law for people with print disabilities in the US and many other countries. We have over 200K qualified members many of which are students whose membership fee is funded by the US Department of Education. We have many software development books thanks to a partnership with O’Reilly. This is fantastic as software development is a great career for people with disabilities. Our prefered ingestion format from authors and publishers is EPUB. Would you release the EPUB to us, so we can add your book to our collection? You can reach me via gerardoc at Benetech (.org).

I face some of the same questions about the book I’m writing (history, not tech)…how do I expect to make any money off of it (I project it’ll sell less than a thousand copies)? Why would I spend years of my life and a lot of my own money on something few people will read?

Truth is, I’m not in it for the money. I want to research the topic and write a book on it.

And, as I understand from other authors, any reason other than that for writing is probably the wrong reason.

Buying your eBook! You are a patron saint of so many developers. Your blog seem like the guiding star for so many frustrations I face while writing code. Thanks for the digital copy as I still stop myself from buying the print editions of your reading list. Waiting to buy a tablet to carry my library with me!

Your blog book is definitely like a gist of all those good software principles.

Jeff, even when it’s completely contrary to your position reflected in your post, I have a book proposal for you :slight_smile:

I was very pleased to see this post’s title, but while I am happy to have a collection of your greatest hits in an eBook, I am still optimistic that one day you will have the inspiration and the will to document your experiences on StackOverflow and StackExchange. I know there’s a collection of podcasts (which I have listened to, and enjoyed), but there’s so much more that can be shared, there were several stages in the project, from boostrapping to VC founded, to major success. There are lot’s of things that haven’t been shared and, those kind of experiences are gold to anyone wanting to start a company.

I hope you will give this a thought.
Thanks for a beautiful blog.

@Bvoytko, thanks so much for the feedback! We’d love to help you get a copy of Jeff’s book and are working towards resolving your Paypal issue as we speak! Thank you for alerting us of your problem. We’d love to speak with you and learn more about how we can help you out. At your convenience, please shoot me an email to mekhyperinkpresscom.

I wrote a book on Cheetah 3d (a fairly obscure 3d package) because it needed a decent manual. I did this knowing it had a small potential market. The difference here is that I published it electronically and sold it directly (via, amazon, etc.) and it has netted me something like 1/3 my usual contracting rate so far and continues to generate revenue. Not bad, I think. The problem isn’t books, but (a) how long it takes you to write them and (b) how much you get paid per copy sold ($12-18 for a $20 ebook in my case).

In short, the problem is using a publisher.

I have to disagree. There are circumstances where writing a tech book is the right thing to do. Not for the money, necessarily. It’s a great experience to undergo admittedly is is kinda fun seeing your name on dead trees in a bookstore.

I’ve written a couple of tech books, mostly on Perl programming back in the early 2000’s. Scott Meyers was one of my editors. It took nights and a few weekends over a summer to do the first edition but it’s still paying off. I get a royalty check for between $80-160 every month since 2002 – it doesn’t pay the rent, but it’s a nice dinner out. The books are also great during interviews as proof that I can express myself well, can work with deadlines, and am willing to take a chance.

John Cook (quoting Charles Petzold) writes about books vs blogs here. I strongly agree:

If you want to go direct-to-ebook, Pandoc ( or Bucherrad ( are a couple of geek-oriented tools.

For print, LyX is quite nice: (it’s based on TeX/LaTeX, but you don’t have to know them in order to use it).

There’s also a package called Anthologize that lets you suck in WordPress posts directly and spit them back out in ebook form, though I haven’t tried it myself.

Full disclosure: I’m the author of Bucherrad.

I do think there’s some value there, although I do agree that blogs are way more useful for communicating medium-sized ideas quickly and usefully

I’d argue you can weave medium-sized ideas together pretty easily, though. Particularly if they’ve been vetted and shaped by community feedback.

This is mostly due to the deep discounts that stores (physical and virtual) force on the publisher

Then we need new stores, or sell directly to me.

So, my hope is that in the “back-end” the effort [of writing a book] will pay off by getting more consulting opportunities, more chances to do trainings or maybe a lead for a great partner ship.

I still maintain that same effort, if channeled into a series of blog entries, will produce better and longer-lasting results. And you can always package that into a book later, if you must.

John sold 166 ebooks based on the invoice.

it’s worth noting that John’s JavaScript book royalty statement in this post is more than 5 years old

Yes, John’s results are from 2007, so we’d get a very different result if he tried today. But you’ll notice Mr. Resig has created zero technical books since the 2nd unfinished one in 2008. I’m pretty sure that’s intentional.

I paid the same price as a flat white for a copy of your book. eBooks have put me off in the past, as their prices tend to be as much as, if not more than a print copy. Purchasing a book through Hyperlink was a nice experience - it was simple, requiring just my name and PayPal email address and the email notifications were friendly.

Don’t make this eBook your first and last.

I’ve seen a lot of posts like this, and they almost always have the same problem: they don’t include books for beginners. Sure, my books don’t get me work as a programmer (anyone out there hiring JavaScript telecommuters—please?) and they don’t make what they did a decade ago, but they do still bring in regular income.

Intermediate and advanced books are a waste of time and trees. Beginner-level books, though, are a whole different ballgame.

Ebooks are great. I can put them in my phone, my Kindle. I can read them on my computer, search inside them… But I like to have printed books too. It’s more comfortable, in some ways.
In fact, when the ebook version is cheap enough (and surely your one is), I prefer to buy both.
So, please, take a look at printing on demand services like

I second the call for epub, but expect “buy you a beer” fairly soon.

I like the idea and wish you as many sales as possible, but I wonder what added value the book has that goes beyond the blog posts that one can read for free, including the comments that often bring additional insight as well?

Does it contain new, previously unpublished material? Or is purchasing the eBook simply a way for dedicated readers of the blog to show their appreciation?

@Mek - I got my issue resolved. I now have a copy of the book. Thanks. I look forward to reading it.

Shut up and take my money!