Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Book

We’ve decided to go with two volumes on the next book — I’m starting to call it the next book rather than the second edition of “Expert One on One Oracle” (which was recently released in hard back with a CD-ROM of the book included).  The reason I’m calling it the next book is two fold.

First, when WROX  went under, it sold most of its holdings to Wiley and Wiley owns the WROX name and the “Expert One on One”  tag line.  The name of the book was simply Oracle — Expert One on One, like their Professional and Beginning tags — was just that, a brand.  So, we cannot use the Expert One on One tag anymore.

Secondly, the amount of change is more than your typical “new updated to cover 10g” sort of thing.  Some chapters are unrecognizable, some will be 100% new.  It is a rewrite in many senses.

Add to that the fact that we are going to do two volumes and to me, it is a new book.  But why two volumes.  Well, one reason is getting something out there sooner rather than later.  It is becoming clear that if we waited to rewrite the entire book — we would not have a book until very near the end of this year (if then).  Also, the book is getting bigger, we’d have to cut something to make it fit. 

Also, by going with two volumes we’ll be able to use a slightly larger font and slightly thicker paper.  Those are two things I heard about a lot — “font is too small and paper is too thin, words bleed through”.  That was partly due to the page count.  By doing two smaller books that are collectively as long or longer — we’ll be able to avoid those issues.

Another reason was weight — I heard this frequently “great book, but I cannot travel with it, far too large”.  This will help that as well.

The first volume will be my rendition of the Concepts manual in a way.  Covering the architecture, memory structures, how PGA memory works (auto and manual), files and the like.  You can get a preview of it on the apress review site, as of today chapters 3 and 4 are there for down load and comments.  Chapters 1 and 2 are pretty much done.  Chapter 5 is in my in-box to edit, and chapters 6 through 11 are out for review by the reviewing team.  I do not envy them, tech editing a book is hard work (and it doesn’t pay well either so it has that going for it).

I’ve said before — a book is defined by its technical editing team and I have four of the best right now.  The details they are finding, the input they are giving is invaluable.  I got chapter four back — 38 pages, over 120 comments.  Each of which I have to go through and address.  I don’t mind, really — even when it results in me having to chop out a big example and redo it very differently.  The resulting text is always better, definitely more clear.  If these guys look at an example and are left going “huh?” I’m sure others would as well.  That and they point out side effects I didn’t think about (hey, autotrace allocates PGA memory, doh!  That explains that mysterious 64k I couldn’t account for…). 

Anyway, this will allow us to get volume one out much sooner than the entire book would have been.  It (volume one) will come with a CD of the first edition as well so you get a book that literally covers Oracle from about version 7.3 on through to Oracle 10g Release 1.  I will not be covering 10g Release 2 at all in this book as I have no real world experience with it as yet.  But architecturally speaking, there are no radical differences coming, not like 8i-9i with lots of things that begin with “A” for automatic, or 10g with more changes still.

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27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said....

And the four esteemed reviewers, pray tell

Tue May 24, 09:12:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Good move. Can't wait.
To me, Tom Kyte is the trusted brand.
Had it been some other authors(eh, I
better not name names), I will
bring out my tin foil hat and say
1. Split a book in two volumes
2. Profit!

Tue May 24, 09:40:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom ,
Its great to know that at last your book is coming out.

I dont know whether it makes commercial sense or not but it would be great to have the book in electronic form too ? I completely understand there might be some issues with people sharing it among themselves without paying for it but from plain usefullness point of view , having a copy of the book installed in the laptop will enahnce its use greatly for us.
Needless to say that I will buy it anyway - with or without electronic version.
Please keep up the wonderful work you are doing .

Tue May 24, 10:53:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Scot from Jacksonville said....

On Two Volumes: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

On Tech Editing Not Paying Well: Perhaps, with the two volumes and the (perhaps?) extra money coming in, there will be opportunity to change this, at least partially.

Tue May 24, 11:50:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Martin said....

Tom,

What color Ferrari are you going to buy exactly? ;-)

Can't wait to buy the book anyway.

Tue May 24, 12:07:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

see this for the reviewers

Profit isn't even really a consideration here. I believe the two volumes all told will sell for about 13% more than a single volume and most of that is in the cost of manufacturing two books.

To Scot -- this isn't tech editing, this is the writing part (that is royalty based). The tech editing is a fixed fee and given the hours you have to give it to do it right -- well, that doesn't pay very well -- reading someone else's book and pointing out mistakes, unclear concepts and the like.

Tue May 24, 12:16:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Bundit said....

Tom,

I've got a question on section of manual PGA.
- SORT_AREA_RETAINED_SIZE ... did not fit ... would be written out to temporary segments
- HASH_AREA_SIZE ... does not fit in ... would be stored in the temporary tablespace
Is it the same meaning on each hightlight ?

Other comment on SQL*PLUS output, it will be readily legible if it uses a sort of Courier font.

Tue May 24, 12:41:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Bundit --

comments about the chapter should be placed on oracle.apress.com, so we have them all in one place.

I know in the final book -- the font will be a fixed font. I'll ask them why it cannot be on the preview.

thanks

Tue May 24, 12:48:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Rachel said....

Having been on both sides of the tech-editing job (writing the book and getting edited as well as being an editor), it's a very tough job. The tech editor is basically the author's safety net to catch errors. If something slips by the tech editor, it's out to the world.

It's not a high-paying job by any means (even if you manage to get a contract that gives you a percentage of sales instead of a flat fee). Then again, being an author isn't really a high-paying job either, unless you are someone like John Grisham or Danielle Steel, whose books sell in the millions.

I know I didn't write for the money, and I seriously doubt Tom does either. As previously discussed in another of Tom's blog entries, it's a form of teaching, one that gets the message out to many more students than you could if you were teaching in a classroom.

Tue May 24, 01:31:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Niall said....

I was one of the tech editors on Mark Williams Oracle .Net programming book. It doesn't pay well, badly is probably the appropriate turn of phrase, and is nearly as bad for deadlines as authoring - please read these 38 pages, run all the examples and comment on the technical accuracy of them and the text by tomorrow night :)

Before I did that I wondered at how it was possible that so many tech books were so bad, now I wonder how so many books are so good.

Tue May 24, 02:32:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Having been on both sides

You don't want to go into the book writing thing thinking it will make you lots of money. You'd have to have tons of technology books in the air simultaneously to make a living from it. It is nice icing on the cake but like Rachel said -- unless you write Harry Potter or something like that, you are not going to get rich on it.

I did not write it for the money (I hardly looked at the contract really, had no idea if it was a good, bad or indifferent rate). It did help me professionally more than anything.

I was one of the tech editors on Mark Williams Oracle

Yes, I agree with you 100%. I found that if you just ignore their emails, they wait for you to finish :)

It is a lot of work to tech edit. I suggest when you are considering books -- you look at a couple of things

1) how large was the reviewing team. One person -- skip it. You need a team.

2) was it available to be reviewed externally (those comments I get on oracle.apress.com are really useful)

3) do I recognize and trust the names of some of the reviewers -- that is a bonus.

Tue May 24, 02:41:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Scot said....

To Scot -- this isn't tech editing, this is the writing part (that is royalty based). The tech editing is a fixed fee and given the hours you have to give it to do it right -- well, that doesn't pay very well -- reading someone else's book and pointing out mistakes, unclear concepts and the like.

Ahh, so the tech review/editing is generally fee based, not royalty. I wonder if that would be possible to change?

You and others recognize the importance of quality tech review, and how it directly contributes to the success or failure of the effort. Perhaps they could be linked financially as well?

Perhaps the publishers might recognize the importance also, and increase the overall percentage available. Would be worth it to them if they sold substantially more copies.

Perhaps on your next project, five years from now, you will be in such demand that you could write your own contract with the publisher, and you could dictate that a substantial portion for the tech editors be provided.

I understand that the goal isn't to get rich, but perhaps the extra money would be enough to allow a good reviewer to take more time out from their regular work to commit to doing a quality job.

Anyway, just a couple random thoughts; good luck with the books.

Tue May 24, 04:10:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Ajay said....

Tom,
When are the two volumes going to be published? Vol 1. in the fall and Vol. 2 sometime later?

Tue May 24, 04:15:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

When are the two volumes

Well, would like to have volume I on the shelves by Open World (september)

and just to get it over with, the rest as soon as we can afterwards :)

Tue May 24, 04:24:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

Did you know that The Book Episode I is already out for preorder ...

Expert Oracle: 9i and 10g Programming Techniques and Solutions

Tue May 24, 04:38:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Mark A. Williams said....

Niall,

But you were an excellent technical reviewer! The book was most definitely improved as a result of your efforts. Yes, those deadlines did get tighter towards the end, didn't they?!?!

- Mark

Tue May 24, 05:09:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Hi Tom,
What in your opinion is the hardest thing to do if you are a writer?
Probably a moot question, do you think it was harder to write a book on Oracle rather than learning the software itself?

Looking forward to your book.

Tue May 24, 06:12:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

To the people who have written books... has this helped your career in anyway?

Also, how much influence does the publisher have on the book? I have read parts of the Java Expert one on one book(which is VERY good) and it seems to havea similiar format to Tom's book.

Ryan

I have seen with some publishers that all their books follow a similiar 'format' and present information in similiar ways.

How much say do the publishers have on deadlines?

One question just for Tom, do you have any control over your Expert one on one book or do you sign over full control to the publisher when you write it?

Tue May 24, 07:39:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Rachel said....

not to replace any answer Tom might have but in my case, I think writing is much harder than learning the product for my own use.

For myself, I can pick and choose to learn those parts of the product that are most applicable to my job. I can even make mistakes in what I've learned (I'm the only one who suffers if I've misunderstood what I've learned)

When writing, I feel mush more responsibility to thoroughly understand the product so I can competently teach it. Not only that, but I may need to learn pieces of the product that I might not necessarily want/need to know, because it's of more general interest

Tue May 24, 07:44:00 PM EDT  

Blogger melanie caffrey said....

Also having been on both sides of the job, I can only see one very compelling reason to write a book, (or tech edit). And that is to learn.

One way to get "extra editors" is to pass sample chapters to former and current students.

It is some of the best feedback I've ever received, I must say, given that such books were definitely written with them, and others like them, in mind as the intended audience.

Tue May 24, 10:59:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Stewart Bryson said....

Is the September 12th date a fixed one, or sort of a moving target?

Thanks Tom for your incredible contribution to our industry.

Wed May 25, 09:15:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Is the September 12th date

I wasn't even aware of it until someone pointed it out to me so it must be a floating date by definition :)

However, since we just decided to break it in two, it is a very realistic "worst case" date for volume I for sure.

Wed May 25, 09:20:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

A dissenting view on book construction:
"Expert One on One" is very usable, "Effective Oracle by Design" is less so. The reasons are the font size and paper thickness.

With a larger font and associated larger margins, there are fewer words on a line, and fewer lines on a page. Less information is available at a glance...bad in the same way a procedure is bad when it doesn't fit on a screen. Since I wear reading glasses anyway, the original font size no problem.

As for thicker pages, I find the bleed-through is the same between the two books. But the stiffer pages prevents the book from laying open (a very important property), and makes the book heavier. Since I will now be carrying two books everywhere instead of one, the extra weight is a negative.

Two volumes at the original font and page weight would be ok.

Wed May 25, 11:39:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Mr. Ed said....

Get ready for complaints about how people need to carry around both volumes...

Just don't pull a Knuth on us with volume 2, please!

Thu May 26, 01:47:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom,
As you mentioned over at ask tom thread about making the content of the book searchable, it would be very nice if you could make it an all in one and index the content of Effective Oracle by Design as well

Thu May 26, 08:26:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

It is really hard to find Tom's books here in Vietnam but they are the must have for me. I will surely get Expert one on one as soon as it is available in Amazon (yuck, I really hate the shipping fee!!!!). One question Tom, you said on Asktom that the previous version of the book will be available in electronic form bundle together with this 2nd edition right? How does that work out, can you please update us on this.

Wed Jun 08, 12:53:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

It is really hard to find Tom's books here in Vietnam

http://apress.com/ecommerce/

Apress does have it in electronic form. And in the next release, (volume I of Expert Oracle), the CD of the entire first release is included.

As well, the CD is included in the hard back edition of Expert Oracle they just released (it is the *first* edition)

Wed Jun 08, 08:11:00 AM EDT  

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