Russell J.T. Dyer

Russell J.T. Dyer

Writer & Editor

the works and musings of an american writer in europe • Updated: Feb 15, 2019 • hits: 17892 past month

Writing Book on MySQL Replication

by Russell Dyer
published:  january 12, 2010;  revised:  september 10, 2017;  readers in past month:  92

This may sound bizarre, but a few weeks ago—actually, only three weeks ago—without thinking, I started writing a book on MySQL Replication. For those who don’t know about MySQL and me, it’s a type of software used on sites like Google. I wrote a book for O’Reilly Media on this topic, as well as work as an editor for the company that makes the software. So, the surprising part is not what I wrote about, but that I wrote a book so quickly.

I don’t know why I started. Maybe I was bored. I don’t remember. I just started numbly and without thinking—as strage as that sounds. I started cutting and pasting together some existing text that I had written a couple of years ago on MySQL Replication, text that I meant to use for a book I was to write for O’Reilly about MySQL administration. However, they canceled the contract because the book market fell dramatically. After a few days, I had something that looked like a booklet on the topic. It was kind of neat and I was going to stop there, but then I decided to add a little more text, rewrite all of the old text, update it all. After three weeks, as of yesterday, I finished.

I wrote it in OpenOffice, which is what I used for the layout of my Kafka novel. So it was easy to lay out this new book in the same format. In this smaller size (8” x 5.25”), it’s about two hundred pages long. I figure I could publish it myself, promote it on my MySQL related site (mysqlresources.com), use CreateSpace to print it, and distribute it through Amazon. Like my novel, since it’s the same size and about the same length, it should list at $12 a copy. I probably won’t sell many copies on my own, but if I could sell a few hundred or even a thousand copies, that would be sweet.

The Editing Process

Although I did it all in just a few weeks, I can really appreciate what my editor and publisher did for me when I wrote MySQL in a Nutshell. With this new book, I had to be my own editor and do all of the layout work myself. So many details. You cannot imagine how much is involved in getting all of the details just right: fonts, page numbering, indexes, etc. Even more work than that was trying to keep my brain focused on the text as I edited it. It’s boring to read computer book in general, but it’s terribly boring to read the same computer book several times. To keep myself on track, after I finished the first draft, I printed the book on A5 paper, but left the text the same size. That gave me plenty of room to write corrections around the text. After drudging through the book and writing lots of edits and additions, I would enter all of my corrections in OpenOffice, print the pages out again and bind them and start all over again. I did that a few times. As an artist of sorts, I so desperately wanted to say, “Alright, I’m done. I’ll leave the rest to the editor to fix.” But in this case, I’m the editor. So I had to slap myself around and keep editing, not tolerating sloppy writing or omissions of informatin because I didn’t feel like researching it. How I wished I could have done this with O’Reilly.

As I said, I’ve finished writing the book, and, as I implied, I’ve finished the edits and layout. However, I still need to go through tech review. I’ve recruited a few of my co-workers from MySQL to review the book for technical accuracy. That will take a couple of weeks, considering their schedules and the fact that they’re not charging me for this important service. When I get their comments back, I’ll have to spend some time making changes. Then I’ll probably do one last read of it, checking typing, grammar, and continuity. Then I will have to check the layout again to make sure chapters are starting on odd pages, looking to see that sub-chapter headings aren’t sitting at the bottom of a page by themselves, and countless other details that would haunt me later when it’s printed. Once that’s all done, I’ll get an ISBN and load my book on CreateSpace, which will in turn put it on Amazon. Then I just have to wait for the sales to come in.

For now, it feels good to have written another book. I’ve been a bit idle in this aspect of my life and have been wanting to kick myself in my complacency to get something done. I’m proud of myself for doing this. Maybe I’ll finish finally my second novel.