Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Response to "What is it like to write a technical book?"

This is a fair and honest summary by Baron Schwartz of what it's really like. I wrote a book (and proof-read it better than this post) in 2005 and probably won't get a chance to do it again ("at least not with this wife!" says my dearest).

What a well-established publisher brought to the table for me was a guaranteed outlet for the book, more marketing than I would have had the energy or time to do, and a US$6K advance. They also provided high-quality images, indexing and copy-editing.

There's a nice progress chart of my work shown above and here with the total word count and words/day over time. If I were ever to do it again, I would estimate an overall rate of 500 words/day requiring at least 200 7-hour sessions, so 1400 hours. For comparison, my 120-page doctoral thesis took about 4 months of 6 day weeks with 10 to 12 hours/day, so about 1000 hours.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Consulting is like waiting for a bus

Every few weeks I am contacted by people wanting help with their development environments. This is a Good Thing for a consultant, but I've started to notice something very odd; the new contacts always come in groups, just like buses. I never get one new contact in a day, it's always either none, two or three.

Now this might be explained if I did more public talks, or groups of colleagues recommended me, but I haven't been able to spot a pattern yet. It's not related to the day of the week either, though I know the budget cycle in companies affects when consultants are hired and fired. Anyone got any ideas? I wondered about synchronization theory but it seems like a stretch.