My 10-year-old book

posted by Jeff | Monday, April 6, 2015, 5:11 PM | comments: 0

I got a royalty check this week for my book, which is always a surprise because I forget that I ever wrote it. Maximizing ASP.NET is ten years old now, and as is the case with most computer books, it's totally obsolete and terrible.

People generally seem interested in the idea that I wrote a book, and also falsely assume that it made me rich. That's not what happened. It sold about 1,800 copies, and I made about $5,600 on it. Considering the time that I put into it, those results are pretty poor. I mostly blame the publisher, Addison-Wesley (Pearson is the parent company), though I've never really let out a good rant about it.

Poor sales aside, the important thing is that it opened a whole lot of doors. Considering I was pretty green as a software developer in those days, that anyone would consider publishing a book I wrote was pretty awesome. When I had the contract signed, in practical terms, I had only been doing it for about five years. It was pretty strange that the guy who wrote one of the first programming books that I owned was one of the editorial reviewers of my book.

So from a career standpoint, I always get to say that I'm a published author, and I suspect it helped me get the job I had at Insurance.com back in 2006. That was a top-notch group, with almost no turn-over for the 2.5 years before the layoffs began.

My original pitch for the book was pretty straight forward: Get people who were familiar with writing spaghetti code for the old ASP scripting platform up to speed with this new ASP.NET thing, and object oriented programming. I wasn't even particularly good at OOP at the time, but I could see the light, and I was walking toward it. My friend Walt, who has been my partner on PointBuzz for a long time, suggested the concept of the book. It was a big audience of people having to make the transition.

But the marketing folks at A-W were fully engaged in dipshittery from the start. The first back cover they wrote was so full of meaningless bullshit that I flipped out at the editor and asked if there were other people who could write this stuff. All of the initial discussions with the publisher showed they understood who the target audience was, and they switched off after that. I don't like what shipped at all.

If that weren't bad enough, they were showing the book at high-level conferences and sending it to senior developers for review, and these were pretty much the last people who needed to be reading that book. It was really disappointing.

While the sales weren't great, I did get quite a bit of email from readers who bought the book and had the kind of "a ha" moments I was hoping for. That was a relief. It's kind of like coaching kids... you don't expect any of them to go pro, but if even one tells you about the enormous impact you've had on their life, it's worth it. I feel that way about the book.


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