Flash MX Magic

An Adventure in Publishing



Book Publishing
Flash MX Magic
Flash MX Magic

The Project

Flash MX Magic was a book published by New Riders. It shipped shortly after the release of Macromedia's Flash MX.

The lead author approached me to work on the book. He had read my Date and Time tutorial on the website Ultrashock.com.

What I worked on

This book had several authors. I worked on a chapter about Time Zones and the Actionscript Date object. I also provided technical reviews for several other chapters.

Working on the book led to speaking engagements and further book offers. I went onto work as a Technical Editor on two books for publisher McGraw Hill.

What I learned

Writing won't make you rich. I can't remember what New Riders paid me but it wasn't a lot compared to the amount of work involved. I also got some royalties but technical books have a short shelf life.

Luckily I didn't do this to retire. I wanted to see how publishing works from an authors perspective. I also had access to the Macromedia private beta programme. That gave me an early glimpse behind the scenes of the software industry. Two for one!

Writing elevates your status. Publishing online is easy. Being published in print is harder and still has a certain kudos. It confers some level of name recognition within your peer group. It also implies an assumed level of domain expertise. I received a bunch of interesting offers on the back of writing one chapter.

Backup your work. Cloud backups didn't exist at the time. The cutting edge solution was a CD ROM burner built into my laptop. Every time I worked on the code or the chapter, I burned a backup copy to a CD ROM.

This solution worked great until a burglar made off my laptop. With the backup CD ROM still inside. Doh!

You sell more books if you publish first. There's a puzzle in technical book publishing that goes like this: It takes a long time to write a book. Especially a technical book where the details are often changing as you write. A book shipped to coincide with the launch of a new technology can do very well as there's no competition.

New Riders solved this puzzle by having many authors on the Magic series. One per chapter. This allowed them to ship a quality product on day one. Clever.