I have written fourteen published books.  I have self-published three additional books.  This article will discuss some practical steps on how to go about writing books through a publisher and publishing books on your own.

There used to be many national and international trade journals, such as K Journals and Pinnacle Publishing, that would accept publications.  Today, there still are a few, but journals like Oracle Magazine are difficult to get material printed in.  You can easily get published working user groups that have quarterly publications, such as RMOUG.org (Rocky Mountain Oracle Users Group).  They have a panel of volunteers who review and accept papers for their quarterly magazine.  There are over a dozen regional user groups you can approach.

The publishing houses really prefer to work with those folks who have already been published or are very active bloggers, post useful videos, etc.  Without some kind of reference point for their people to see your material in a public forum, it will be very difficult to get your foot in the publisher’s door. So here’s how you do it!

Blog to get your name out there.  Google your favorite vendor and via their ‘contact us’ information ask to be a blogger for them.  You can register at Oracle.com and blog and answer posts via Oracle TechNet (OTN), http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/index.html.  You can also start your own blog stream using www.blogspot.com.  This is a free site which allows you to post your blogs and have others access it via a URL. 

Your blog content should be more technical than personal.  Blogs can and should be rather short.  Just a few paragraphs is usually enough.  If you install software and run across a bug or an issue…write about that.  The vendor people stopped by and told your group about some new features in an app your company regularly uses…write that up and post that!  New database features are always good.  Features you find useful are always good topics as well.  Code snippets and descriptions of what it does are great! 

I keep a running Word document full of ideas.  I generally think of more blog topics as I’m writing for a blog topic.  So, I open the word doc and write these down.

The secret to successful blogging is to be a regular. I’d post something weekly.  If you have a Twitter account/LinkedIn account/Facebook account…post the link of the blog to the database or appropriate groups so people know about the blog and be sure to include an exciting short summary.  Answer the question “why is this important to me…”.

And what about video blogging? You can register and open a YouTube account at www.youtube.com.  This is an easy way to a share your information in a video format.  Most cameras produce either Mpeg3, Mpeg4, or AVI (Apple’s format) files.  YouTube takes all of these.  You give the video a title and some key search words and post it. 

I have run a weekly ‘Lunch n Learn’ type of lecture series via webcast. All broadcast software apps have record features you can use to create your video blog.  Click here to review some of them if you desire.  I have used WebEx, GoToMeeting, and FreeConferenceCall to do these lectures as well as for some of my training online.  I simply posted this video to YouTube, again using the title and key words for easy search by others. 

You can monitor how many people have watched your videos and blogs.  You will quickly get an idea of what your following feels is worth their time to read or watch.

Anyone can self-publish a book.  There are many websites that work with your material and turn them into books.  I prefer www.createspace.com, an Amazon subsidiary.  I like that my self-published books are searchable and appear on the Amazon website. 

CreateSpace allows you to use a word format (ask me for a template…this is helpful to get started…the site is very picky about margin locations) to upload your content.  You pick a cover design and you even get to determine the selling price of the book.  You will see how much each book costs to produce.  This site allows you to purchase your own books at a greatly reduced cost. 

I use my self-published books as promotional material mostly.  They do sell, as I reference them during my technical lectures.  Click here to see one of my self-published books.  I mostly give these away at my classes and the ‘Understanding Explain Plans’ one is basically the lecture notes that goe with the lectures I do for Oracle University.  This is an easy way for the attendees to purchase the notes that go with the presentations.

My main traditional publisher is Pearson Education.  They have published most of my books, including both Toad books (current Toad book is Toad Unleashed).  They also have published and managed my course videos.  I turned most of my course content into video in 2015 (yes! I’m a movie star J).  You gain a working relationship with your publisher and these opportunities appear.  You can also ask.

You can start with Pearson at this site:  https://www.pearson.com/us/contact-us.html

I have also written books for Oracle Press.  Their books get advertised via Oracle Magazine from time to time.  You can contact Oracle Press at https://www.mhprofessional.com/oraclepressbooks.  They are a subsidiary of McGraw Hill, who can be reached at www.osborne.com.

Tip:  Always good to tweet, blog, and post to social media (I use Linkedin.com, and Facebook.com…look for the Oracle groups) to let people know about your blogs, videos, and published books and articles.

Ok, that is how you get started and some places to consider when publishing material and technical content.

When you are working with a publisher, they will share ideas they have for books.  This conversation becomes the basis for the core content of the book they desire.  You have a lot of influence on the content.  They will tell you the page count that they are looking for.  This page count has a direct relationship to the cost of the book, that is, what it costs them to produce it, and determines an appropriate price for the book.

The first thing you will do then is create a Table of Contents (TOC).  I always start with a rough draft, just the chapters and the order in which the material should appear in the book.  Once there is buy-in from the publisher on your TOC, they will ask for a much more detailed version of the TOC.  This is where you start giving careful consideration to content.  The TOC is easy to create via Word.  The publisher will want everything submitted using Word. 

After the detailed TOC is approved, the publisher will arrive at a contract that will include payment schedules.  A typical arrangement for me has been that I receive half of the agreed-upon payment per chapter upon submission and acceptance of each chapter.  The second half of the payments are delivered upon completion of the editing process. 

It has been my experience with my publishers that they typically want material from you as soon as possible, but it can take up to six weeks for their editors and technical staff to get back to you for reviews.

The review process uses ‘Track Changes’ in Word.  You will need to respond to each suggestion made by the editors and the tech review people.

Tip: You can easily be a review person for these publishers as well.  They will pay you a bit to do a quality review and you typically can get your name in print as well as a few free copies of the completed book.

I write and work from the TOC.  If you want to change any of the content that has already been approved, you need to ask to do so.  The publisher is expecting the chapters to roughly follow the agreed-upon page counts and submission dates.  I might add sub-points to the TOC as I write but I rarely change the core content of each agreed-upon chapter.

Tip:  It’s best to let your publisher know if you cannot meet one or more of the chapter deadlines.  The contract will spell out any payment deductions for late submissions.

I have been a part of the ‘Oracle Unleashed’ books.  These books allow for multiple authors, each doing a chapter or two.  Bert Scalzo and I each did about half of the Toad Unleashed book.  My first published book was the original Oracle Unleashed (I think for Oracle8).  I received a call one day because one of the agreed authors backed out of their commitment and I was able to do two chapters for them very quickly. I think they found me via my user group participation. They were impressed and I was the lead on the next Oracle Unleashed book.  The lead author basically makes a bit more and has considerable input as to the content of the book and each chapter. 

Being published has been key to my success in the Oracle field.  These books become your resume and they open doors for more books and other kinds of publishing, such as articles, video on demand, etc.

If you are interested in more information or how to get started, feel free to reach out to me.  If you would like a createspace.com Word document to use as a template, ask me for that as well.

Dan Hotka

Author/Instructor/Oracle Expert




About the Author

Dan Hotka

Dan Hotka is an Author/Instructor/Expert/Oracle ACE Director Alumni who uses TOAD regularly in his web-based and on-line courses. He is well published with many books still available on Amazon or www.DanHotka.com. Dan is available for user groups and company educational events. He regularly speaks at user groups around the world. Check his website for course listings, references, and discount codes for his online courses based in Safari.

Start the discussion at forums.toadworld.com