Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Getting a [Late] Report Card for My Book

Hi Nework Automation Nerds, happy holidays! As we are close to the end of 2017, it is literally the last Tuesday of the year as I am writing this post, I thought it would be a good idea to look back at the biggest project I took on in the year, writing a technical book Mastering Python Networking.

By now, you might be tired of hearing about me talking about the book. I dont blame you, I know I am a bit tired writing about them. The process was such a big part of my year there was no way to separate one from the other and whenever somebody asks me "Eric, what are you up to?", the subject of book writing inevitably come up. So I ended up talking / thinking / promoting / reflecting about the book for most of 2017.

I will always look back at 2017 fontly as the year I became a published author, but saved for some occational update and reflections, this is probably one of the last post I will write about the book. I will continue to update the Book Q&A Post and Donation Tracking as new updates become available but they will be contained to the parameters of the two posts.

Don't get me wrong, I am super proud of the work and treasure the work I put in, but I am ready to move on.

There are plenty of posts about author's experiences of writing techincal books, two of the more interesting ones are here and here. I have my own experience, of course, but I don't feel like I am ready to write about it just yet, particularly because I am still wrapping up with my second writing project with O'Reilly that is due out in Febuary 2018.

So what would be an interesting subject about the book to sum up the experience for 2017? How about let's take a look at how many copies the book has sold so far? I know I would be interested in knowing the post-proudction process if I were a reader of the blog.

As fate would have it, I received my Q3 2017 report the Friday before Christmas:

A few things that stood out for me:

1. It is kind of late. 

Noticed that on December 22, 2017 I just received the royalty report from July to September 2017. Essentially the report took 1 whole quarter to generate. If you have read some of the other post by authors, you know this is normal. But it still struct me as odd that it took so long to produce a report. Perhaps this is just Packt Publishing, but I doubt it.

2. More eBooks than Print books were sold, more than 3:1 ratio.

I guess this does not come with a surprise that at a 3+:1 ratio people were preferring ebooks than their printed counter parts. The royalty on ebooks is about 1/3 of the printed book, so on the money front the printed book is more lucrative. But I can certainly understand the prefence.

For me, I know most of my technical books are not only in digital form, a large chunk were in subscription services, such as Safaribooks Online.

3. It exceeded my personal expectations for units sold. 

My wife can back me up on this. When I initially sign on to write the book in January 2017, I told my wife that I think it would be awesome if the book can sell more than 100 copies. In fact, when Packt reached out, I emailed them back and ask them to confirm because I thought the market was so small. I mean, in my mind network engineers are a pretty narrow set of folks compare to systems engineers and developers. If you take that number and estimated that 10% of them will be interested in the book, then you arrive at a pretty small number. Truth be told, I was a bit worried that Packt will loss money for giving me a chance despite my best effor in writing the book.

However, I am pleasantly surprised at the number that it posted in the first three months of the book's existence. 101 print copies, 101 subscriptions, and 375 ebooks is small compare to Harry Potter or Hunger Games, but it is good enough for me. Not to mention it is being translated to Korean by Packt's Korean publishing partner, Acorn Pub. :)

4. I still have not earned out my royalty advancements.

Sadly, even with the number it posted I still have not earned out my royalty advancements. To clarify, Packt gave me a set amount of money for completing the book, but they count toward future royalty payments. It is somewhat of a bet on the publisher's part, as if the book sells for less than they anticipated, they would loss money on the deal. On the other hand, if the book sells well, they will recoup their cost plus more. For the author, well, let's not talk about the money vs. the time they spent on writing the book because it is depressing... :)

Well, that was my quick update on the book. Happy 2017 and look forward to a productive 2018!


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