Writing Opportunities

October 28, 2010 at 10:00 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Are you looking for opportunities to show off your elite writing skills and consumate SQL Server knowledge? Want a chance to build up the resume a bit? Are you like me and you have a hard time thinking of ideas to write about? I’ve got a solution for you. There’s a new forum over on SQL Server Central that is all about requests for articles. It’s mostly small stuff, easy one-page articles, a bit more than a blog post but a bit less than a full blown multi-page drill down. Also, if you have ideas for articles that you’d like to see someone write up, you can post them there. You should read the rules about the forum, which aren’t complicated, and then dive in.

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So You Want to Write a Book?

February 19, 2010 at 2:45 pm (sql server standard, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , )

What the heck is wrong with you?

Still interested? Fine. I’ll tell you my take on this whole business. I’m only an expert on this if you take the adage that the expert is the guy that’s a page head of you in reading a book. To date I have published two full books and three chapters in a third. I can easily think of enough people who all have more experience than that with book writing that I’d have to take off both shoes to count them all.

Is anyone still reading? Cool. So you have the desire to write a book? Let me pop your first bubble. You will make very little money. This bears repeating. You will make very little money. If you were to figure out your hourly rate for writing this book, something I’ve never had the guts to do, you’ll cry yourself to sleep at night for being such a total fool to agree to write a book.

Still here? Let me pop your second bubble. Your home life/free time/family time/sleep cycle/excercise will suffer. Yes, that’s right. You’re getting paid pennies and you’re suffering for it.

Glutton for punishment? OK. Here’s how you do it. Do you have an idea for a book? If not, stop here and go and think of one. I’m assuming a technical readership since this is a geek blog about geek topics by a geek. Do you think you know everything there is to know about… oh, I don’t know, SQL Server 2008 hierarchy data, and you’re convinced you can fill 200+ pages talking about it? Great! You’re on your way. Pick a publisher. I’m not providing links or suggestions here. If you don’t know any book publishers that means you’re not reading books. If you don’t read them, I don’t think you should write them. Stop here and go read a technical book, preferably one of mine.

Have a publisher in mind? Go to their web site. Every one I’ve looked at has a “write for us” web page. Follow the directions there and submit your idea. You’re now on your way. I’m sure things are different for the big name authors or authors outside the technical sphere, but since you don’t have a name and you’re writing technical books, that’s pretty much all you need to do. You don’t need an agent or a lawyer. You’re going to get a non-negotiable contract from the publisher and you’re going to sign it because you want to write a book. Assuming they like your idea. Ah, but you’re not done with simply submitting the idea. You need to do two other things, and these won’t be easy. You need to define your market. Are there more than 20 people interested in reading a book on the hierarchy data type? Sound easy? It is a bit. Here’s a more challenging one for you. You also need to define how your book will stand out from the rest. If Itzik or Kalen has written 50 pages on hierarchy data types… ready for it… how will your 50 pages be better than theirs?

Stopped crying? Other options are to write articles for publication in places like SQL Server Central or Simple-Talk or SQL Server Standard (and I know the editor from SQL Server Standard most intimately, he needs articles). A few articles about the hierarchy data type and you’ll be a recognized expert. Now, if one of the publishers decides, “Hey, we could really use a book on the hiearchy data type,” and they happen to notice your article, you might get invited to write for them. Or, someone else writing a book needs a chapter on the hiearchy data type, they may contact you to help out. Or, if you’re constantly hanging out on one of the online discussion sites answering detailed questions about the hiearchy data type, the publisher or another author may find you and ask you to write a chapter.

Anyone still here? Of the two approaches, I’d suggest writing articles first. That’s going to do two things for you. First, it gets your name out there and you’ll get noticed. That’s how I did it. Second, it’ll let you decide if you like writing. The first time you get an article back that’s gone through a serious technical edit and it looks like someone has questioned every other word you wrote and the comments, while kind, bash through your arguments and ideas like a wrecking ball… you get to decide how much you like writing. A book is 50 times worse.

Want more? That’s about all there is. There are lots of details when it comes to the act of writing the book, how versions are managed, the writing schedule, promotion (if you get any), how you split the oodles of cash with your co-authors, if any (authors I mean, there will be very little cash), that sort of thing.  Networking is a useful tool. I wrote my second book because I happened to be at a publishing party for an author and I ran into his editor. A short conversation and a couple of emails later… I’m losing sleep and skipping exercise for very little money. Having friends and contacts will lead toward getting partnered up for a book. That’s how you can get tapped to write a chapter or three.

Still reading or have you all long ago stopped reading because this book writing thing is way too much of a pain?

Would I do it again? In a heart beat.

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SQL Server Standard Article Abstracts

January 4, 2010 at 11:09 am (sql server standard) (, , , )

I’d really like to publish your article in SQL Server Standard. All I need from you is an abstract, a description of what the article will be. I’ve posted this before, but I’ve never provided examples. So, to get people started, here are a few examples of articles that have been accepted and will be published (shortly I hope).

Here’s a great example from Andy Leonard. It includes a great amount of detail, more than I need to make my decision, but with this much detail, the decision is much easier because I know exactly what this article is likely to look like:

   I’m interested in writing an article on SSIS for SQL Server Standard. I’d like to cover ways packages can exchange information at run-time. There are a couple obscure ways parent-child packages interact that make for some interesting design opportunities and architectures – especially when combined. For example, most SSIS developers realize Events “bubble” up through EventHandlers; so that if a Control Flow contains a Sequence Container which contains an Execute SQL Task, an error generated at the Execute SQL Task will raise the tasks’ OnError EventHandler, then the Sequence Container’s OnError EventHandler, and finally the OnError EventHandler of the package. What’s not so well know is: If a package calls another package via the Execute Package Task, the calling package is said to be the parent (or master) package; the called package is the child. In this scenario, events raised in the child at the package level will bubble to the parent package.
   The second obscure behavior is variables in the parent package are inherited in the child package. The cool thing is: they’re inherited ByRef – unlike parent package configurations, which pass variable values ByVal from parent to child. ByVal is one-way communication; ByRef is bi-directional, which means I can make a change to a variable in the child package and that change will persist in the parent after the child package has completed executing.
Here’s one from Sam Bendayan. It’s sharp and clear and defines the article in a way that I can understand what will be covered. It’s shorter than Andy’s, but it’s still enough:
It is common knowledge that Application Programmers and DBAs don’t get along in many cases, and the root of this is that the two technologies are fundamentally different.  It is also common knowledge that many Application Programmers write SQL as part of their job.  However, often their familiarity with loop-based programming is their undoing, taking them down strange SQL paths that produce bad SQL code and make their relationship with the DBAs even worse.  This article will show how difficult the transition is, even if it doesn’t seem to be at first, and how you have to adjust your thinking in order to successfully program in T-SQL.
And finally, one from Michelle Ufford. This is the most concise example and I would be less likely to accept it if I didn’t already have a good working knowledge of Michelle, her abilities and skill set. But still, this is enough:
In this article, I will give you a practical overview of how to design effective partitioning schemes.  I will cover good partitioning design, the differences between aligned and non-aligned indexes, and some examples of when to use each.  I’ll also discuss some issues to be aware of when designing partitioning schemes, including performance, replication, and sliding-window considerations. 
If you’re waiting because you think putting together the abstract will be as much work as the article itself, it won’t be. Four or five sentences that clearly define a topic that can obviously fill out 3000+ words is all that’s needed. At this time we’re only accepting articles from writers with some experience, but nothing extensive (previous articles in a technical reviewed publication or three articles in a peer-reviewed publication or a book). Send the abstracts to grant.fritchey@sqlpass.org.
 
 
 

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SQL Standard Update

December 2, 2009 at 9:01 am (sql server standard) (, , , , )

Andy Warren in the latest PASS Connector has posted an update on where we’re at with the SQL Server Standard. I’m so happy that Andy has been keeping this out in front of people. It provides some impetus to get the work done. Except for the authors thanks (and they’re receiving $500, so they should say thank you), there’s very little feedback on the Standard to show whether or not people are interested, if the goals and ideas are worthy… In other words, you guys need to let us know what you think about the thing.

Two more articles are in the hopper to be published. Another has gone into copy edit. We’re technical editing two others. That’s five more, so you guys can expect to see another ten weeks worth of SQL Server Standard. But after that…

Don’t you want $500? Just submit an abstract and your writing history to grant.fritchey@sqlpass.org. We’ll get you started.

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Another Book

October 10, 2009 at 9:05 am (SQL Server 2008, SQLServerPedia Syndication) (, , , )

Well, part of one anyway. I wrote three chapters of Rob Walter’s new book, Beginning SQL Server 2008 Administration. I think I’ve mentioned it before. Well, my copies showed up in the mail. Nothing like holding that book in your hands as proof that you’ve done it. When everything is electronic and we stop printing dead tree books… I don’t think it’s going to be nearly as satisfying to finish a book. Please, look it over. I think it’s going to be a good resource for people just getting started as DBA’s.

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