Over the past year or two, I’ve been contacted about three times by Packt Publishing, asking me if I want to write a book for them. The first time round (actually it might be the first couple of times), they asked if I wanted to write a book on IceFaces, a product I was using quite a lot at the time for work purposes. I was also blogging quite a bit about it on my Java Enterprise blog. The first time I politely declined, the second time I think I basically ignored the email.
Anyway, I was contacted again by them this morning asking if I wanted to write a “Spring Web Services Cookbook”. Apparently this is because I once blogged on Spring Web Services. Well, let me show you the first two paragraphs of the email they sent me:
I am an author recruiter at Packt Publishing (www.packtpub.com). We publish computer-related books on a wide variety of IT topics.
We are planning to publish a new book on Spring Web Services. While trying to look out for potential authors to write this book, I came across your profile and blog which shows your expertise in Spring Web Services. This gives me an impression that you could be a potential author for this book.
The first time I received one of these emails, I was flattered. But the second time, and third time… etc – well, it gets a little bit old. I think what they must do is have a look round at books, have a look round at potential subject areas, decide what needs covering, and then do a blog search for those topics. Anyone who comes up is a potential author.
Now, this struck me as being… well, a bit strange. Don’t get me wrong: I’m sure Packt are a 100% legit and above-board company, there doesn’t appear to be any funny business going on here. This is a pretty innovative way to do business in some respects – finding out who is involved in the community and getting them to write a book for you.
But what worries me slightly is the scattergun approach to authors that they seem to be taking. Not exactly “anyone will do”, but – I am FAR from an expert on Spring Web Services. If they found me, they didn’t exactly do their research.
Now if I was going to buy a book on Spring Web Services (which I probably wouldn’t – but that’s a whole other area of discussion) I would like it written by someone who was a bona fide expert. Not someone who once wrote a blog post about it. I’d ideally like it written by someone who was actually on the team who developed it.
Still, like I say, it’s an interesting way of doing business and it looks like it’s paying off for them, so they can’t be doing too much wrong. As always with my blog posts, there’s not much of a conclusion to this one. Just some random thoughts! 🙂