bill's blog

Fewer, Better Books

We offer our authors a choice of royalties -- from 12 to 15 percent. Most choose the 12 percent option but many still take 15 percent.

Several of our technical titles have sold well over 20,000 copies but we've also had the rare title sell in the 2-3,000 copy range. That is definitely rare and only on very niche topics.

Writing a technical book is a lot of work on both ends, especially when a publisher provides real editorial and marketing support. Unfortunately, most no longer do, which is unfortunate for all

The Cult of LEGO is the BIG Winner!

We had a welcome surprise the other day when we learned that The Cult of LEGO won both the Wild Card category and the Grand Prize at the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival.

The judges are book experts, and the grand prize winner is selected based on its popular appeal and the authors' passion for their story. According to the Festival organizers, "The book's impressive scope and its fascinating coverage of a world that touches millions won over the judges."

Just Say No to SOPA

Here we go again. First it was the DMCA. Now it’s SOPA, and this time it’s probably worse.

I get it: There are many sites based in countries like Russia and China that have made it their business to sell pirated content. Honestly, I'm not that bothered by sites that deliver pirated content for free to people who are going to pirate it anyway, but I do have a real problem with sites that sell our content (or anyone else’s) and take all of the revenue for themselves. Having read the Act in its entirety, I think SOPA was probably designed to combat these sorts of sites.

Wasting Time with Android

A friend loaned me an Android phone the other day. I’ve been using a Blackberry Pearl for years. I like the squished keyboard and I can type pretty quickly on it. I’ve downloaded some useful apps to it too, though mostly I just use Opera for browsing and read the New York Times. It works.

iPad As Toaster

I’ve shared plenty of jokes about the iPad — the netbook without a keyboard. I laughed when Apple announced it because to my mind a $300 netbook is a much better deal, and it has a keyboard. But I’m starting to think that I’m wrong; that people will buy it.

A Bit About How We Edit

Another snippet from the continuing dialog on Slashdot. Here’s my response to someone’s question about the level of editing at No Starch Press.


I’ve been publishing technical books since 1991. In my experience, and according to reports form the authors we’ve worked with, there doesn’t seem to be a company that consistently edits every title as deeply as we do. Of course I may be wrong and this information is based only on my experience with other publishers and reports from other authors.

Choosing a publisher

Hey, I wrote something on Slashdot today. Time for a blog post.

Here are my (biased I’m sure) thoughts on selecting a publisher as posted to Slashdot.

First of all, remember that a publisher is not a printer. If all you want is to see your book in print or to “get your book out there,” you don’t necessarily need a publisher to do that. You can use any of several print-on-demand printers; buy a run of books from an offset printer; sell your book as a PDF; post it as HTML; or other. And there’s nothing wrong with doing that at all — your choice depends on your goals.

Bought a Mac Mini

I bit the bullet and bought a Mac Mini for the office. What a piece of cake to set up. (Not that I didn’t expect it to be easy.) Just about $380 at Microcenter for the 1.83 machine with 1GB RAM and a small hard drive. But who cares.

Take it out of the box, plug in a DVI cable, attach keyboard and mouse (whatever I had sitting around), plug in network cable, and turn it on. The music plays, the screen shows some silly movie (which I’ll call “Ta Da!), and it sets itself up.