With all apologies to Shakespeare, I'm looking for a bit of input from those of you interested enough in setup to follow my blog. There have been a number of cases where someone has suggested, "Rob, you should write a book about setup and the Windows Installer!" Each time I was buried in coding projects (I honestly felt like I was doing the job of three developers some days. It was awesome!) and wouldn't even consider it.
Well, I've been approached about writing a book about the Windows Installer and setup again recently. For some reason, this time I keep entertaining the idea. I know Raymond Chen has said he would never write a book but my style of writing is very different from his and from what I've heard the world could do with another good book on setup (not that I can write a good book, but I could try). I also know that Scott Mitchell has said you can't get rich by writing a "computer trade" book but I'm not really looking to get rich by writing a book on setup.
So why am I entertaining the idea of writing a book? Well, let's see if I can present these in order of importance.
1. I have always wanted to write a book. I enjoy writing (I actually enjoy communicating, writing happens to be one of the easiest ways to reach a larger audience) and think it would be incredibly satisfying to have published something. Writing a book about something I know quite a bit about seems like the most reasonable way through what I've always heard described as a grueling process.
2. I enjoy sharing the information that I've learned over the years. I like to pretend that maybe my explanations and opinions about setup make someone's life somewhere a little bit easier. A book would potentially be able to reach a wider audience.
3. Writing a book would force me to organize my thoughts and opinions. I have a lot of ideas about what works when designing setup but I have never written them all down. Often in discussions and presentations, I only remember some set of the rules. A book could capture them all in one place.
Sounds good, eh? So why not just go off and write the book? Well, let's see if I can present the reasons not to write a book in order of importance.
1. Everyone says writing a book is a hard thing to do. It is not just hard on you but the people around you. That's why authors always thank their loved ones in the acknowledgements. I suppose I'd have to at least inform my friends and family before starting the book.
2. I wonder if it would be better to spend my creative energy on improving the state of setup instead of just writing about it. I am fortunately in a place where I hope to seriously improve the setup experience for developers and end users over the next few years. So I have to consider if the extra hours spent working on a book would be better put towards designing new features and writing/debugging more code.
3. Blogging would essentially halt. This is the one issue that would affect you (the blog reader) most. I would feel guilty writing words into blog entries when words should really be flowing into a book. I'm not sure many people would miss me but from what I've read it seems like six to seven months to complete the book sounds very optimistic. I wonder if they'd delete my blog if I didn't post for a year? Hmm.
That's my current thinking. If you have comments or suggestions, I'm very interested in hearing them so please leave some feedback. If you don't want to post publicly (for whatever reason), feel free to drop me a private comment. In the mean time, keep coding, you know I am.