Mar 22 2020

Friends and readers, I need your help

Category: TechnicalIuliana @ 14:51

I never thought I would be writing this kind of entry, but here we are. My new book is getting thrashed on Amazon by 5 ratings under five, given by 5 people that could afford to spend more than 50$ on Amazon; because, this is the condition to be allowed to post a review on Amazon. Which makes sense, but it doesn’t mean it’s fair.

I’m not looking for a definite 5 rating for the book and I do not ask for praises that are undeserved. I just want people that actually read the book and found it useful to have a say in it. Which won’t happen on Amazon, unless the people will buy the book from Amazon. Which will make Amazon profit, but Apress and me won’t.

After reading those reviews, I thought that maybe I shoudl stop writing technical books. But then again, it’s just 5 people. And there are many others that liked the book and started shifting my thinking. Maybe the way I write isn’t for everyone, maybe I have trouble expressing some ideas; maybe some people just don’t like the way I write. It’s perfectly normal and expected. But, to trash a book just because you weren’t able to understand it, that’s unfair.

I have tried to read a lot of technical books that people recommended and I ended up just reading the chapter I needed for the topic I had an issue with. Technical books are not always easy to read. I know. But I never went online to trash a book or an author. Especially now, that I am a technical author myself and I know what it takes to write a book and the rewards you get. Which are mostly not financial. I’ve written about how much money I make from my four books before, here.

Also, people are more prone to voice their criticism than praise. I know, I’m Romanian, my people likes to complain, criticize and satirize a lot. I’ve worked for companies where I was doing my job and working extra hours, and I never received a pat on the back. But the first time I made a mistake, my head almost got snapped off. Figuratively, but you get my point.

Like I said, I do not want undeserved praise, but that rating and the comments are unfair. How do I know? Because I have a lot of messages by people adding me on LinkedIn because of my books. When I first started receiving messages from people buying my books I was shocked. I never even considered sending a message to an author, even if I loved their books. These people must have really benefitted from my books to make the effort. I am humbled by their messages and it was a slap in the face. Because I never took the time to say thank you to an author I liked, a mistake which I plan of correcting from now on.

And since we’ve talked so much about the LinkedIn messages, I’m gonna post a few screenshots. I haven’t asked these darlings for their permission so I’m gonna delete their names. But I’ll leave their titles as proof that some of them have enough technical expertise to be taken seriously. Some of the messages are about the previous edition of the book, but still. There are more in Romanian, but I really did not have the time to translate them all. And there are more I did not get to answer to. I asked some of them to help me with a review. Most of them tried and they were blocked by the Amazon rule of being a good spender. There are more, some of them are about my other books, but I’ve taken enough time to write this entry and I do have other things to do.

And then there is this young woman, a student, new to programming and I made sure she gets a copy of my book for free, because she needs it the most. I am almost sure she is not shopping on Amazon too much and she won’t be able to help with a review. But if my book helps her become a better developer and gain confidence in her skills, that is better than any book review.

I owe my own career to some technical authors like Adam Bien, Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John Vlissides, all the authors on Baeldung.com, the guy behind mkyong.com (that sometimes post scode and configurations that do not really work, but he has the right idea and it just points me in the right direction) and all developers confident enough to answer technical questions on stackoverflow.com.  And I feel so proud knowing that for some people, I’ll be in the same list with these guys. I am grateful for each and every line of existing text, code or configuration produced by these guys that helped me become better! But they wouldn’t have been where they are if they would have been brought down by a few bad reviews. So I won’t either.

I would like to end this entry by saying thank you to all of you that have bought my books and that have provided feedback. And if you are kind enough to provide an Amazon review, to try to correct my score there please do so, otherwise just post your reviews on your blogs, write about it on Twitter, send a feedback to Apress, or just leave a comment on my Books page and hopefully Google indexing will take care of the rest.

Thank you again for your support and for the people dissapointed by my books, I am really, really sorry, but if  your negative reviews cause Apress to break up with me and I would stop writing, I’ll never get a chance to make it up to you. Oh well, it is what it is.

Stay safe, stay happy!

[Later edit:] One of the reviews on Amazon says that the book is horrible because the formatting is bad. I have to agree, I don’t like it very much either. I’ll have to check with Apress and see how that can be improved in the future.

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