In this edition…
- About This Newsletter
- On the Blog => “E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL” Table of Contents
- On the Web => “Five Flex/Flash Builder Tips in Five Days” Blog Posts
- On the Web => The Open Standard Media (OSM) Player for HTML5
- On the Web => A Roundup of 15 Mobile Web Design Tutorials
- Q&A => What is the target group of Flex and why would one start with Flex?
- What is Larry Thinking? => Testing the Waters: Self-Publishing
- Book Giveaway=> “Effortless Flex 4 Development”
- Larry Ullman’s Book News => “Effortless Flex 4 Development” and More!
About This Newsletter
On the Blog => “E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL” Table of Contents
I’ve posted the first draft of the table of contents for my next book, “E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL”, on my blog. The post starts with some background information as to what I’m hoping to accomplish and then outlines the individual chapters, some more than others. I would love to hear any feedback and thoughts you may have on the structure, as you’re the target audience!
On the Web => “Five Flex/Flash Builder Tips in Five Days” Blog Posts
Peachpit Press, on their Web site, is in the process of publishing two series of “Five Tips in Five Days” blog posts that I have written. One is on the Flex 4 framework and the other is on the Flash Builder IDE. As of this writing, nine of the ten posts have gone live with the other one expected tomorrow. All of the posts are written for those with an understanding of Flex 4 and Flash Builder, respectively, highlighting new or less-known features and concepts. But even if you aren’t familiar with either, you may want to take a gander at them to get a sense of what Flex 4 and Flash Builder are capable of doing. The best way to access them is through my reference page at Peachpit’s site.
On the Web => The Open Standard Media (OSM) Player for HTML5
In my previous newsletter, I highlighted two HTML5 video players that I’ve come across lately. Well, ironically, one reader of this newsletter has been working on an HTML5 player as well, called the Open Standard Media (OSM) Player. As the name implies, this tool is open-sourced, making it even more enticing than the others I’ve seen. If you check out the Web site, you can see the player in action. The player is also theme-able (using jQuery’s ThemeRoller), so you can better integrate it into your Web site. Great work and thanks for pointing it out, Shaun!
On the Web => A Roundup of 15 Mobile Web Design Tutorials
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not much of a cell-phone person (I have one, but most days it doesn’t get turned on and my wife is pretty much the only one that has the number). Although this means I’m a bit of a dinosaur, it’s not really a problem, I feel, except that more and more Web sites have created mobile versions, so being familiar with Web development for mobile devices is necessary these days. I recently came across a post of 15 tutorials with respect to creating a mobile version of your Web site. The tutorials are a good place for people to start learning this subject.
Q&A => What is the target group of Flex and why would one start with Flex?
Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that Flash is better than Ajax or vice versa. There are pro’s and con’s to both. Personally, I think knowing multiple technologies and then choosing what you want to use is a much better route than just using what you know because that’s all you know (if that makes sense; for example, you can use PHP to perform command-line scripting but there are better technologies for that purpose). So learning Flex puts another tool in your toolbox. On a recent Web site I did, I used jQuery-based Ajax on the public side of things and Flash on the administration side. I made that choice in this case because the administration got to be complex and would have been hard to do in Ajax but was easy to do in Flex. Conversely the public side had much simpler requirements and a splash of jQuery was all that was required.
What is Larry Thinking? => Testing the Waters: Self-Publishing
When you write a book for a publisher, you’ll get a guaranteed advance of $5,000 to $15,000 (US), depending upon the publisher, the book, and the writer. Even if you never sell a copy of the book, that money is yours to keep. You then earn a percentage on each book sold (to bookstores, not necessarily to readers), and that percentage is first deducted from the advance. In my experience, I get from less than a dollar per book (for translated or non-US sales) to a bit over two dollars per. So if you assume an advance of $10,000 and royalties per book averaging $1, then I would make $10,000 for the sales of up to 10,000 copies. And, in my experience, 10,000 copies qualifies as good, but not great, sales. (By the way, that $10,000 is for three to four months of work, and I have to pay all my taxes out of it, so if you think you can get rich writing books….)
Conversely, when you self-publish, you get no money up front at all and you’re actually doing a lot more work, so there’s a risk involved in terms of time lost (time when you could have been doing paid work!). On the other hand, if I charge, say, $10 for an electronic copy of the book, then I only need to sell 1,000 copies to be at the same point as I would be selling 10,000 copies of a physical book. The ratio is good, but there are other factors…
Publishers provide well more to the writer than just an advance. There’s the project editor, whose job it is to shepherd the book along, provide suggestions for organization, and make sure the book fits in with the series (if applicable) and styles of the publisher. Then there’s the line editor, who goes through the book editing grammar, checking consistencies, and making suggestions in places where the meaning isn’t clear. There’s also the technical editor, who’s an expert in the field and validates the accuracy of the code and text, as well as making suggestions for improvement. And those people are just for improving the content. A compositor takes the text, code, and images and turns them into proper pages. An indexer creates the index. And then all the marketing people sell the book to bookstores, events, and so forth. It’s safe to say that in almost every case, working with a publisher results in a better book and you have people, to some degree, actively trying to get bookstores to buy the book.
By self-publishing, I’ll be sacrificing these valuable roles (unless I felt like paying someone out of pocket to perform these jobs) and will need to be extra vigilant myself to ensure the quality of the work. Plus I’ll need to do my own marketing, which is not my forté (and that’s part of the reason why I intend to make the HTML version freely available). On the other hand, I won’t have a deadline, although that’s not necessarily a good thing! Another key difference will be the lack of a page count limit. Publishers factor in the number of pages in a book when they calculate its price: a book with more pages is more expensive to produce and ship. But a book’s price is driven by the market. Whereas publishers used to be rather lenient when I went over the intended page count (which happened frequently), they’re tightening the reins more and more. This means that I need to choose carefully about what does or does not go into the book. Without a publisher, the book won’t have that restriction, although this could again be a mixed blessing.
I’m very excited about this self-publishing opportunity (“opportunity” in the sense that I’m making this happen for myself) and will be curious as to how I feel about the endeavor when all is said and done. But one of the great things about working for myself is that I can try new things, take risks, and adjust my habits to an ever-changing marketplace and technical arena.
Book Giveaway=> “Effortless Flex 4 Development”
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Larry Ullman’s Book News => “Effortless Flex 4 Development” and More!
There’s a lot going on in my office, obviously. I’m very pleased to say that my “Effortless Flex 4 Development” has just been printed (I received my copies two days ago, so it should be in bookstores soon). I’ve been looking through the hard copy and I think it turned out well. It’s not in the Visual QuickPro/Start Guide series that I’ve mostly written in, so the format is less constricting and I think there’s more content in there because of that. It’s definitely geared towards PHP developers, but is written for complete beginners to Flex and Flash. Amazon is currently selling it for $29.69.
The second bit of news is my “E-Commerce with PHP and MySQL” book, which I’m officially working on now. As mentioned earlier in the newsletter, the table of contents are online for public viewing. I’m currently doing a bit more research into what I want to do (for example, selecting the second payment gateway), and starting to work on the code. My plan is to put live versions of both sites online and will ask for feedback on those in the next newsletter (I hope).