Aug 22 2019

Let them know

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 14:44

In 2014 Steve Anglin contacted me to write a book for Apress I thought it was a hoax. Something similar to those Nigerian princes that just need a little bit of your money for some paperwork so they can move their wealth outside their politically problematic region and then share it with you. Honestly, I’ve kept the emails going and only after 6 months, I finally submitted a proposed summary and finally accepted a contract. It was just too unbelievable that something like this would happen to me, a nobody from Romania, working in outsource, not the top of my class, not really expecting to be working in this domain for five years while at the university.

But it did happen to me, and it happened because I had this blog, where I just put a banner letting the world know I am a certified Spring developer. Yes, that’s how Steve found me, he found my blog, out of all things. He did not find me on Xing or LinkedIn, he found my blog, a personal blog, not even a technical blog. So, even if sometimes I write useless things, that nobody will ever read, I will continue producing content just to trick the Google search engine into thinking I am worth its attention. And so far it seems to be working.

My first book was pretty lame, it was about writing Spring Web applications. Or maybe the book was not lame, but I was clearly a nobody, in the technical authoring world, and I was a grain of sand in the IT world. And no matter how much investment Apress did in promoting the book, it did not sell well.  Also, the fact that you could find it in PDF format on most torrenting sites in the first week it was released did not help much.  Anyway, this post is not about selling books, it is about writing them and knowing they are valuable.

When I started doing this I had no idea how good I’d be at it. Even now while I’m finishing my 5th, I still do not know if I’m doing it right(imposter syndrome right here). Sure, books started selling better after my name got linked to Pro Spring 5, but I do doubt myself, because well… I’m no Josh Long, nor Trisha Gee, that’s sure. I do have my strong points, but being good in the spotlight is not one of them. :P

The only way I’ve received some confirmation that I’m doing this right is the fact that Apress still wants me to write for them(doh!) and the emails I sometimes receive from people reading my books. Also, LinkedIn is a good medium where people reading my books can reach me and send messages and I do receive a few of them there too. The first email I ever received was about my first book, apparently, until my book, nobody knew how to configure Spring WebFlow using only Java Configurations and annotations. It felt so good, knowing that in this ever-growing and complex ecosystem that is Spring, I managed to build something in a way nobody thought it could be built.

Sometimes I receive questions about things in the books that are not clear, and I answer them because if somebody was unable to grasp how something in the books works, that is on me. I fucked up.

But most emails and messages are from people thankful that I wrote those books and provided functional code that helped them move forward in their career or helped them understand the fundamentals of the software they are working with.

There was one person, that even after reading my book and working through the exercises, failed the certification exam. And it broke my heart to read that message, especially since I really couldn’t do anything to help. I felt like I failed him somehow, that my book could have been better. It took a while to realize that even if one of the books is designed to help you prepare for the certification exam, in the end, if you pass or not, depends on a lot of other factors. In my life, I’ve failed exams too, and I had a lot of resources to prepare from, just like everybody else that took that exam. So, yeah, these things happen, but a single moment does not define a person and is not relevant to their talent, determination or career.

Today, I received another message on LinkedIn from a young student in Macedonia.

It melts my heart! See, I’ve been a student in Romania, in 2001 when good resources were so hard to find. And I am just so happy that my book might help him jump-start his career. So thank you, David, for letting me know I’m doing this right. Thank you for buying my book! I might doubt myself the next time my build fails or I have writer’s block, but for the next few days, I’ll be able to write with confidence because of your message.

I wanted to give this up after my first book did not sell. I felt like Apress made a very bad investment taking me on. And that first email convinced me that maybe I can do this. And when Apress gave the opportunity of writing Pivotal Certified Professional Spring Developer Exam I took it. I tried a second time. What was the worst that could happen, right?  And here I am, taking a break from writing its second edition to say a big thank you to all of you that reached out and let me know that my books are a valuable resource to you.

Thank you all for reaching out! I’m not making that much money out of the books, I just write them because it allows me to experiment with technologies in a way a rigid working environment does not really allow it. And I  do it because I enjoy writing. I know that I’m not a native English speaker and sometimes the way I express myself is not clear enough and I’m sorry for that. But I enjoy writing, I enjoy sharing my understanding of things with others and it just feels good being useful overall. These books are my legacy, I have not that much to leave behind after I’m gone, and it’s very rewarding knowing they are appreciated.

So yeah, if you appreciate something, let the creator know how thankful you are. You have no idea how as little as a few words means to them. You might the light that brightens their day.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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