Writing a book

It's been a few months since my last post here. The reason for this, is that I'm currently writing a book, which I'm rather excited about.

The book I'm writing is about Microsoft Cognitive Services, and is aimed at .NET developers. It aims to provide some introduction to the different APIs. The goal that the reader is able to use the services, for whatever ideas they might have. The book itself is called "Learning Microsoft Cognitive Services", and will be released by Packt Publishing.

The kicker that I find rather cool, is that, as far as I know, this is the only book on the topic for know. The services is quite young, so I'd expect there to be more in the future, but for know it seems to be the first.

How it came about

A few months back, I started on a blog series about Microsoft Cognitive Services. More specifically I wrote about the Face API, to be able to identify people. The ultimate goal was to have a way to use a Raspberry Pi to recognize people entering my home.

About a week after the post was posted, I got a mail from an acquisition editor at Packt Publishing. He said they were planning a book on Microsoft Cognitive Services, and wondered if I wanted to write it. Seeing the great opportunity, I accepted.

It wasn't all done and dusted. I had to write an outline, where I described the purpose of the book, the typical audience and each chapter. I'd been given a page count to reach, so I had to estimate each chapter, to ensure I'd reach that goal. They sent me a template to use for the outline, as well as some examples of well written ones.

I quickly wrote up my ideas for the book, and except some more detailing of what to cover, Packt accepted it. We agreed to some terms, signing a contract, where the time frame was specified. The project was good to go.

Looking back, I believe I was very fortunate with my timing of the blog post that started it all.

The writing process

When the contract was signed, it was time to start writing. I was sent templates to use, guides as to how to write, how to show examples etc. So far so good.

This is a technical book, and as such, there is of course a lot of examples required. Throughout the entire book, I'm building an app, utilizing most of the APIs. Those that is not included gets their own examples. As you can imagine, writing all the examples takes quite some time. Writing the chapters does also take time.

Throughout the process, I deliver every chapter as they are completed. Along with each chapter, I also send the source code, specific to that chapter, and a working example of the applications built. When a chapter is delivered, a content editor reads through it. He provides me with great feedback, in terms of how I can improve certain paragraphs, as well as correcting grammatical and spelling errors I may have made.

So far I have completed six chapters, and I'm well underway with the 7th. What I've seen so far, is that most of the chapters have been longer than estimated, but not more than a few pages. Good thing I estimated to the lower end of the page count goal...

As I said, it is a lot of work, and time consuming. I quickly realized that there was no chance to keep up the blog during this process. I also realized that I had to be more absent from social media, as there is always something interesting to read there. There has been many late nights and early mornings, specially before deadlines. Which is quite often. On average each chapter is to be delivered in around 15 days, so that is 15 days to write up code, write the text and make sure it's any good.

Towards the end of the process, Packt will involve more technical resources as well. They will go through the code, making sure it's any good, and read through each chapters making sure they make any sense. I imagine this will cause some additional work, but that will ensure a good end result.

When the book has been released, I will write a more detailed post, giving some advice for others that may want to write a book.

Release

As I'm completing each chapter in time for each deadline, the book is currently estimated to be published late February/early March next year. I am quite looking forward to that, as it will be an achievement I never thought I'd make.

If you want to read it, and can't wait until the official release, it is possible to pre-order, and get each chapter as they are completed. That may be a good way to read now, and give feedback in terms of what may be missing. This will again ensure a good end-product. If this is something of interest, you can find the book here. At the time of writing, we're closing in on Black Friday, and I see that the book is 50% off the regular price.

Hopefully the end-result will turn out great, and help developers get started with Microsoft Cognitive Services.

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