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Where is THE Book?

A few readers are asking about the whereabouts of my book Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services, so I felt I need to write a short status report. The book is printed and it’s on stock with the distributor. It’s making its way slowly-y-y to the retail network. It turns out there are lots of things that need to happen before the book is finally listed in-stock with retailers, such as Amazon. I am frustrated by this fact but there is nothing I can do to speed up the process. Hopefully, the book will pop within a few days so you can get it at a discounted price.

Anyhow, if you need the paper copy as soon as possible, you can order it from the distributor at the full price and you will get it within 2-3 days. Alternatively, you can order the e-book version, which is already available retail, such as on ebooks.com, diesel-ebooks.com, etc.

Finally, don’t forget that two chapters are freely available on the book page, plus video demos, to get you started with RS 2008.

Applied Microsoft Analysis Services 2005 Goes E-Book

I happy to announce my book “Applied Microsoft Analysis Services 2005” is now available as an Adobe PDF e-book. The first retailer that Google Alerts reported to sell it is Diesel Ebooks. It should soon pop up on all popular ebook retailer sites, such as ebooks.com. The suggested retail price for the ebook version is set to $39.95, which is ten bucks cheaper than the suggested retail price of the paper copy. The ebook is DRM-protected but fully functional with unlimited printing and copying capabilities. The DRM protection is handled by the retailer. Since the distributor is not set up to handle different pricing models, such as buy the paper copy and get the ebook free, there is no discount pricing model for the e-book version at this time.

Also, the same book is now available on Amazon Kindle. Since I don’t have an Amazon Kindle, I don’t know what the Kindle version looks like. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t support PDF. They use proprietary software that converts the book to the Kindle native format (AZW). If you buy the Kindle copy, please drop me a note to share your feedback.

My next book

I have to admit that I haven’t been very prolific lately on the blog arena. The reason for my extensive absence has been that all of my free time (what’s that?) has been spent writing my forthcoming book. That’s right, let’s blame it all on the book

Ladies and gentlemen, I am very excited to announce my next book – “Applied Microsoft Analysis Services 2005 and the Microsoft Business Intelligence Platform”! As the book name suggests, the focus on the book is Analysis Services 2005 (SSAS). Besides Reporting Services and Integration Services, Analysis Services is the third pillar of the Microsoft Business Intelligence Platform. For those of you following this initiative know that there are exciting changes happening in Yukon…at least enough to pick up my interest. I will disclose more details about the book as the project unfolds. I hope the book will hit the retail channels around the SQL Server 2005 release timeframe.

And here is a great chance for those of you who want to help me out with the book. To improve the book quality, I am looking for a few peer reviewers who are willing to read the raw manuscript of my book as the chapters come along, and let me know their sincere opinion. What’s not clear, what could be improved, what is missing, what you like, and more importantly dislike about the book. In other words, you will be providing feedback from a reader standpoint. It is great if you have a prior Analysis Services experience but it is not required. It is enough to have a strong desire to learn Analysis Services and have some free time. I won’t even ask you to run the samples (you are more than welcome if you want to).

If you are willing to help me as a peer reviewer, use the Contact page to drop me an e-mail and mention your SQL Server-related experience. As an expression of my gratitude, I will send you a copy of my book when it is published!  Hurry up, while the promotion lasts :-)

Article here, article there…RS, RS everywhere

Some of my recent writings see daylight:


A case for self-publishing

An interesting trend has been building momentum recently which has caught my attention. More and more authors are choosing self-publishing as a viable option to commercial publishing. Interestingly, I haven’t come across a technical author who is happy with commercial publishers and has good things to say about them. Although I am not excluding the probability that there may be a few enlighten commercial publishers, the common pattern for aspiring authors is as follows.


In the worst scenario, the author doesn’t find a publisher that is willing to carry the book. Even if the author does find a publisher, things are not much better since the odds are stacked against the author. Hardly believing the incredible luck that a well-established publisher would actually debase itself to express interest in the author’s idea, the author signs a contract without much negotiation fearing that any opposition may be a deal-breaker. And it very well may be despite that the author may have valid concerns about his or her rights. A case in point — Recently, I argued with a commercial magazine publisher that there is really no legitimate reason for them to own my article copyright and the publisher dropped me like a hot potato despite the fact that the article has almost made it to the press.


As a result of the author less advantageous position, the publisher is well-positioned to take a maximum advantage of the author. Thus, with a stroke of a pen, the book copyright goes usually to the publisher whose position is further fortified with non-compete clauses of all sorts which sole purpose is to lock in the author as much as possible. At the end, the readers are the ones suffering the most since in most cases they will never see a new edition of their favorite book.


Next, the author sweats and burns midnight oil for half a year or more to get the book out. This includes authoring the manuscript, graphics, including indexing the book, organizing tech reviews, even marketing the book. The publisher responsibility is orchestrating the copy-editing, book cover and typesetting activities. These activities in my opinion don’t constitute more than 20% of the overall book effort. Yes, to the publisher’s credit, the publisher also makes an investment to get the book printed and distributed which may account for say 15K.


What does the author gets in return for his heroic effort? If all is well, the author typically gets around 10% as a royalty payment from the net (not retail mind you) price of the book which may result in 10-15K spread over the course of the book lifecycle (say 2 years) if the author is lucky and the book sells well. You may think that well-established authors are in much advantageous position but my feedback from fellow peers show otherwise. Of course, a well-established author is in much better position to negotiate a more favorable contract since the author would usually has a broader choice of publisher to choose from.


So, you don’t have to have an MBA degree to realize that there is something wrong with this model from the author’s perspective. As though it is only the author who needs the publisher…not the other way around.


What the author can do? Enters self-publishing.


It turns out that if the author is willing to undertake the last 20% of the book journey and make an investment to print and distribute the book, the author could in fact break the vicious publishing cycle and take full advantage of the fruit of his or her hard labor. And, there are more and more technical authors that are taking this road. The rewards are substantial from entrepreneurial, legal, and financial standpoints.


For example, Brian Bishof (http://www.crystalreportsbook.com/) has been very successful in self-publishing his books. In fact, his latest book (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0974953652/qid=1102890581/sr=8-5/ref=pd_csp_5/103-3694991-3165408?v=glance&s=books&n=507846) is selling better than mine according to the Amazon rating system. This is strange considering the fact that he’s writing about a competing and inferior technology-to Reporting Services :-). See what Brian has to say about self-publishing (http://www.crystalreportsbook.com/selfpublishing.asp).


Another self-publishing author is Minh T. Nguyen who wrote the Visual Studio.NET Tips and Tricks book (http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/using/Books/default.aspx). He was kind enough to share his experience with me and it turns out that he also has only good things to say about self-publishing.


Based on my research, I am convinced that when done well self-publishing is a viable alternative to commercial publishing without sacrificing the book quality or market penetration. There may be still a stigma about authors who are self-publishing their books but things are changing. In fact, I believe self-publishing will change the publishing landscape as we know it.. and for better!

The road ahead

Many folks have been asking me about the book authoring process. “Oh, you’ve authored a book” they will gasp. Once the awe evaporates, questions start. How did you do it, how long it took, what’s the royalty fee (the most popular but usually asked last question for courtesy reasons I suppose :-). For there reasons, I would like to start a new blog category devoted on writing.


In the spirit of the season, I am reflecting on the ending year and charting plans for the future. As you probably know, Microsoft is working hard on the next release of Microsoft Reporting Services which will coincide with SQL Server 2005 scheduled for an official release during the summer of 2005.


One of the things I am currently contemplating is whether to write a new book on Reporting Services 2005 or not. Based on my preliminary study and knowledge of the new RS feature set, I could add/replace about 50% of my old book content. Many of you have given me rave reviews about my book “Microsoft Reporting Services in Action”. Thank you for that! However, I know that the book is far from perfect and many things could have been improved.


 


Please help me decide if you thing that a new revison of my book could be useful and, if yes, how I can design my next book to better meet your needs.




  1. Do you think a new book on Reporting Services 2005 could be useful?


  2. Should the book be targetted as an updated version of my old book or should it focus more on the new product features.


  3. What areas of my old book need improvement?

I welcome your suggestions. If you prefer drop me an e-mail offline to teo.lachev@prologika.com.


 


Thank you advance!