I’ve always loved computer books. When I was a teenager (looooong ago) my brother remarked that I’d have to write books myself, because I’d already read most of the computer books out there. I haven’t come close to reading everything out there, but I do write a lot of computing books (11 at last count.)
I was an elitist too, for a while. I never owned any Dummies Books, and I nearly turned down the offer to write one. Now I’ve written two. A series isn’t bad or good. Any author has the opportunity to treat any work as a task or as a masterpiece.
The technical publishing industry is full of well-meaning English majors who find themselves editing programming books while working part-time on their novel. Many of them become quite proficient at technical work, and many of them actually care about quality. I can’t really blame the people. When they find an author with technical skills who also cares about the craft of writing, they do what they can to support her or him. It’s very hard to find anybody who has the technical skills and communication ability. (Of the two, I find writing ability more rare.)
Truth is, there’s not a lot of incentive to write great technical books. You’ll earn a lot more money by being reliable than correct. If you just keep pumping out copy, you’ll sell them and make back your royalty advances. It’s the rare tech book that makes any money past the advance (only one of mine so far, but I’m very optimistic about the latest one.)
Writing an excellent book, and writing it well doesn’t pay the bills.
It takes too long, and if the marketing department doesn’t understand it, you’ll get no support. It doesn’t matter how good the book is if it doesn’t get to Amazon and store shelves. I earn as much (or more) putting a buy-through link on my site to amazon as I do writing the book in the first place. Why would anybody sane write the book if marketing it on a web page is just as valuable?
Still, a part of me believes that quality matters, that the marketplace will eventually recognize excellence, and that even the industry really wants to promote quality (as long as it sells.) I’m hopeful that positive Amazon ratings will eventually turn into meaningful sales, and that even people who buy Dummies books deserve great writing - a combination of useful skills and insightful fundamentals. I’m going to keep writing book I’m proud to have on my shelf. (None of mine are on your shelf, but maybe they’re on the back shelf - grin.)
Ahl ROCKS. I’ve written two game dev books trying to be true to his spirit but actually teaching something along the way.