When a few colleagues and I were getting started with writing books about our favourite software (you guessed it, the Oracle Server), we did not have a lot of options at our disposal. I had met some players in the Oracle space when attending my first conference in Anaheim USA in the fall of 1990. I was working for the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) in Ottawa and finally made the move to get to one of the user group shows. Once I demonstrated interest in going, my immediate superior plus a few colleagues decided they really wanted to go. My application was held up for a while as others checked in on their inability to attend based on schedule conflicts.
Off I went – a young whipper-snapper never having attended any events of that size. It was an educational beehive and I could not wait to get back to the office and try out new stuff. We were running 6.0 at the OAG in those days, my being roughly 10 months into my tenure, when I toddled off to California for the 5 days of my first Oracle software love-in. It was magic to say the least.
I got wind of a show happening in Washington DC the following April called ECO ’91, and that was the start of my torrid career giving papers at user group and vendor events. The following September, I gave a paper at IOUW 1991 in Miami Beach called “Hark I’ve Logged”. The tidal wave began. I hooked up with some people from the Boston area who assisted a meteoric rise in the Oracle space for this young lad from Eastern Canada. In early 1994, I was approached to assist rescuing an initiative called “Tuning Oracle”, which turned out to be the first publication in the Oracle Press series.
The first round of raw material had been presented to the publisher called Osborne McGraw-Hill in those days. There were lots of holes in the work, and I spent hours of my time getting the finishing touches on the work, published in the fall of 1994. We had no other avenues to get technical chit-chat out there; no blogging, no social media but some hard-copy publications. The first round of editing was done via a brown paper envelope being dispatched from Berkeley California to my doorstep followed by surface mail back to the copy editor. It was a chore, but an exciting one.
A third player joined the team, and we went on to write four works and a wealth of updates as new versions of the Oracle software were released. By 2002 we had settled into a steady list of OracleX: A Beginner’s Guide, having left the other topics for others better armed to pull it off. As we speak, Ian, Michelle, yours truly, and a handful of others are putting the finishing touches on Oracle Database XX: Install, Deploy, Manage slated for release coincident with Oracle’s next version of the database.
So what’s changed? The routes one can follow to be a published author. Check this out as a prime example of where the publishing business has gone: electronic, digital, and did I mention “electronic” or “digital”? Have a look at Subhajit’s offering at Amazon and let that get your creative juices flowing. No more hard-copy, no more exhaustive rounds of back-and-forth editing and revising. Just ensure that at least one other person sees the work as it progresses and keep the following in mind from someone who has been there and back many, many times:
- Put a stake in the ground called “deadline” and stick to it as if someone was pressuring you to be done by that date.
- Once others have seen and offered feedback on the content, freeze the chapter and don’t be tempted to go back for another round of revisions – if you do this you will never finish.
- Be careful about publishing copyrighted material.
- Spell check your work as you go, keeping in kind that this electronic engine is not foolproof and that a manual viewing of all written material is warranted as well.
- Be careful with acronyms. When first used in a chapter, expand them to remove the confusion they could generate in the readers’ mind.
- Avoid idioms and local colloquialisms in your text as they can alienate your readership – the last thing you want to do.
Happy writing and publishing!