My presentation style is really interactive. I try to write my presentations so that I can go off on wild tangents when it’s a great question that pertains to the presentation.
In every session, though, I get at least a couple of questions that are good, but don’t quite relate to the topic. They’re just enough off-topic that it would take me more than 5 minutes to answer. When that happens, I either point people to a webcast or a book. Sometimes the book is Grant Fritchey’s excellent Query Performance Tuning Distilled, and sometimes – many times – it’s Professional SQL Server 2008 Internals and Troubleshooting, and my name’s on the cover of that one.
Inevitably somebody groans and says, “Here he goes promoting his book again.” Wanna know why I do it?
Because nobody else will, and I think it’s worth the money.
When you write a book for a publisher, that publisher has a team of marketing people who want to help promote your work. One of their tricks is to give free copies out to encourage bloggers to write reviews. They ask the authors who should get review copies of the book. Rather than guess, I just tweeted, “Who wants a free copy of our book to review it on their blog?” I got dozens of responses, so Wiley shipped them out back in January.
“There is no doubt that this book is by far one of the best books available for anybody who is interested in SQL Server Internals and applying its knowledge to real world troubleshooting scenarios. I think this is one of the must-have books for understanding SQL Server, and believe me, you will find yourself flipping the pages of the book when you are facing a trouble with the SQL Server instead of using search engine!”
So at least it was a good review, so I wanna thank him for that. We’ve also gotten 8 5-star reviews on the book’s Amazon page, all glowing. (Granted, a couple of them are from my family, who share my wacko sense of humor.) But that’s it on the blog front. I’m not upset with the people who got free review copies and didn’t write reviews. I know people are busy, and they’ve got real jobs, and it’s a massive book to try to digest. This post isn’t about them.
This post is about what it takes to have a successful book go out the door. You can’t bang away on a word processor for months, throw your baby out into the wild, and expect it to fend for itself. You have to get in front of people and say, “The answer to your question is in here. I know, because I either wrote it, or I read the work of my coauthors, and I give it My Seal of Approval.” Chapter 6 on Locking & Latches alone by James Rowland-Jones is one of the best chapters I’ve ever read in a technical book.
I don’t make money off the book royalties. To put things in perspective, I would have a bigger impact on my money if I changed my health plan from PPO to HMO. I flack this book because it solves real problems, and I know because I hear the same questions over and over when I present. How do I troubleshoot deadlocks? Page 216. How do AWE, PAE, and /3GB interact? Page 36. How should you configure MAXDOP? Page 163. How many TempDB data and log files should I have? That’s page 300. I could go on and on.
It’s a good book, and if you’re struggling with how SQL Server works, you should buy it. If you buy it and read it, you should review it, whether you liked it or not, because there’s some really crappy books out there, and your fellow SQL Server professionals need your help to pick the right one.