- You will not get professional editorial feedback. Having an independent sanity check from a person who publishes books for a living helps you set the style and flow of the chapters, and arrange them reasonably. This is harder than it seems. Even the best ideas look bad when presented poorly.
- You will have to take care of technical illustrations, page layout, indexes, and so on - requiring some talent, and easily adding 50-100 hours of work into the mix.
- You will have to pay for technical editing and proofreading - or ship the book with typos and grammar errors, which never helps.
- You will have to invest some effort into marketing, accounting, etc.
August 29, 2011
Now that I am done with my side project, I wanted to post a note about something that my colleagues frequently ask about: the reality of publishing a security-themed book. The most important advice I can give is to start with a reality check: writing for technical audiences will probably not make you rich. You will invest somewhere between 200 and 1,000 hours of work over the course of several months. In the next two years, you will likely sell from 1,000 to 50,000 copies (10,000 is pretty good already). Your cut is between $2 and $5 per copy (that's 10-20% of the actual sale price, which in turn is usually around 50% of the cover price); proportionally less if there are multiple authors involved. The bottom line is that your motivation needs to be something other than money. If there are no quality, up-to-date reference materials in your field of expertise, or if you just have something interesting to share, go for it. If you just want to earn some cash, random consulting gigs would net you more. If you are still serious about the plan, the next step is choosing between a traditional publisher, and doing all the work yourself. I recommend the former. There are some reputable self-published security books (say, Fyodor's), and if you pursue this route, you will be able to get a slightly larger slice of the revenue pie. That said, you lose some important benefits: