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17-2-13

Why I Write Books (and why you should, too)

By Adam Freeman

I wrote my first book in 1996. It was called Active Java and it was written when the web was starting to mature and running applications in browsers was an exciting idea. This week Apress has published Pro Angular, my 32nd book, and I am pleased to say that I still find the idea of running applications in browsers exciting.

Ask me to describe myself and you will hear key words: husband, runner, cook. Getting married, running my first marathon and going to cookery school are crisp snapshots in my memory, acting as well-defined milestones in my life. But author would be missing from the description because writing often happens around other activities and can fade into the background. And that’s a shame because writing has been such an important part of my life.

If you take my advice, you will write your own book and let writing be an important part of your life, too.

Let me tell you why I write books - and why writing is still enjoyable, even after twenty years:

I write books because they create opportunities. My biggest career break was when the Human Resources manager put my resume back on the “to interview” pile after the hiring manager rejected me. She saw that I was an author, thought that made me a good candidate and arranged the interview that led to a job that I loved.

I write books because they are challenging. I don’t truly understand a topic until I can explain it to someone else and writing a book forces me to dig deep into the details of how everything works. Writing is like solving a series of puzzles where every paragraph and chapter fits together perfectly.

I write books because they make me think. I am easily bored but my book projects give me something to turn over in my mind even in the dullest moment. Sitting in traffic, waiting for a train, standing in a queue, part of my mind is always ticking over, planning out how to structure my next book chapter or how to solve a problem with an example. 

I write books because they are rewarding. I still find starting a new book project exciting and there are few moments as satisfying as finishing a manuscript and sending it off to be edited. I am delighted when Apress sends me the final copy of a book: I put it on a bookshelf that contains every book I have written and that makes me smile every day.

I write books because they help people. I include an email address in my books, encouraging readers to contact me if they have problems (it is adam@adam-freeman.com, if you want to get in touch). The range and diversity of readers that I hear from often surprises me. I get emails from programmers from every corner of the world, working on every kind of project and with all skill levels. Hearing that I have helped a reader master a difficult topic is always satisfying and lifts my mood on even the glummest day. 

Writing isn’t always easy but it is always worthwhile. And you should write a book, too, if you want to be challenged, to think in new ways, to do something rewarding and to help programmers around the world. This is how you get started:

  1. Write about a topic that excites you. It takes time to write a book and you need something that won’t feel like a chore after a few months.
  2. Write for a reputable publisher and let them help you. Self-publishing might suit you once you are established but a lot of work is required to get a book into print and a publisher will take care of the details. I recommend Apress, of course, but there is healthy competition in the market and all of the top publishers will treat you well. 
  3. Write every day. Writing a book is easier when you maintain momentum, even if you only write for thirty minutes.
  4. Write for your readers. You need to know who you are writing a book for and write to solve their problems. 

The next time someone asks me to describe myself, I promise to use the word author. If you take my advice, you’ll be able to do the same.

-Adam Freeman, February 2017

About the Author

Adam Freeman is an experienced IT professional who has held senior positions in a range of companies, most recently serving as chief technology officer and chief operating officer of a global bank. Now retired, he spends his time writing and long-distance running. Adam's most recent titles with Apress include: