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Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

Different medium, different mindset

Ever wondered what it's like to make a physical book? It ain't as easy as shipping code lemme tell ya πŸ˜…

It's been 8 years since I published a physical book. Back then a publisher reached out and said "Hey wanna write a book based on this cool blogpost of yours?"

Heck yeah I do!

By the time it was done, I was so sick of the process that I never picked up my copies from the post office. Even gave a talk vowing never to do that again.

Writing books is like running marathons.

You finish the race, say this was stupid I'll never do it again, and sign up for the next race 3 weeks later.

Serverless Handbook

Learn everything you need to dive into modern backend. Understand any backend

these chapters gave me knowledge which is sufficient to build real products and the hand-drawn diagrams and high-leveled descriptions gave me the feeling that i don't have any critical "knowledge gaps"

Launching soon, be the first to know.

Join over 10,000 engineers just like you already improving their careers with my letters, workshops, courses, and talks. ✌️

Digital for the win

Since that first book, I've been publishing digital books and courses.

Digital books are easy. You write in markdown using a text editor. I like iA Writer because it's pretty and clean.

Writing in iA Writer
Writing in iA Writer

Put that on GitHub and you get version control and render previews on the web. Wonderful.

Add a pdf/epub generator like Leanpub or Remarq and you can offer "books". Ebooks were big as email signup freebies for a few years.

Desktop is where my e-books go to die. Never read a single freebie e-book that I downloaded. πŸ˜‚

That's why I always added a price to my ebooks. Figured people would value them more. And if you value it more, you read it. And if you read it, it becomes valuable.

Digital is Agile ❀️

Agile is a bad word among cynical engineers, but it's way better than waterfall.

Waterfall being the approach where you plan a big project in every detail, get to work, discover your plan is all wrong, and keep trying to hit the deadline. Then you wonder why everyone's tired and burned out.

Agile means you tinker. Garden your way to perfection.

Little trim here, supporting touch there, sprinkle a dash of love, hit submit. Then do it again tomorrow.

You iterate.

That's why Serverless Handbook started as an interactive website, not even a pdf. Oh there's a typo? A bug? Weird wording?

  1. tweak
  2. git commit
  3. git push master

Changes live in production in 2 minutes 😍

Look at how many "editions" it's had!

Every digital "edition" of Serverless Handbook

528 days since first going up 🀯

Paper means waterfall

And then I had a bright idea. What if Serverless Handbook became a real book? How hard can it be!

By mid January, the book was finished. All chapters done. Huzzah! πŸ’ͺ

Lulu can do print on demand, Gumroad can do sales, hook them together and that should work. Tell early supporters book is coming out by mid February.

Wait shit, you can't edit a physical book!

Editing to the rescue!

Went through the whole book and fixed a bunch. Whole paragraphs got cut, an entire chapter, and I reshuffled topics for better flow.

While doing that, I asked Stas, who designed the original chapter art, for a cover. He said yes!

A few days later we had a cover. And I kept editing.

Early cover draft
Early cover draft

The waterfall keeps waterfalling

A physical book cannot change after print. You have to read all 300+ pages out loud to find odd wordings.

That helped.

And then came the layouting. Oh god the layouting ...

Everyone who sells book layouting on Fiverr laughed me out of the chatroom. Serverless Handbook is way too complex πŸ˜…

Remarq to the rescue! One of the output modes is a print ready pdf. This'll be a breeze.

It was not a breeze.

Getting everything into Remarq was easy enough. I outsourced that part πŸ˜‡

We broke the layouting tool

Serverless Handbook was so complex it broke Remarq. Many times over. The founder said it was like a stress test of his technology. Fixed a bunch of bugs we uncovered 🀘

I ordered the first test print. Mid February by now.

It kinda looked like shit ...

The pages were weird, the cover looked bad, everything was terrible.

Back to Remarq! Painstakingly adding page breaks, tweaking image sizes, chapter by chapter, page by page.

And then Stas was like "Hey Swiz, I need exact dimensions, especially thickness, to make a nice cover". Can't know that until the layout is perfect can you πŸ˜…

It took over 2 weeks to get that ready. WEEKS! To finish a finished book.

But hot damn it looks great 😍

And guess what?

There's a typo on the cover and the inner margins are too small. Code on right pages goes into the spine and you can't read it.

New test print coming next week 🀘

And the publisher I hired to help with global distribution committed to a Mar 31st publication date. Stay tuned

Cheers,
~Swizec

PS: moving from old skool servers to serverless is a lot like going from physical to digital books πŸ˜‰

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Published on March 19th, 2021 in Books, Lessons, Serverless

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The perfect resource that shows you how to jump into modern backend and understand any backend. A why and how book.

Serverless Handbook

Learn everything you need to dive into modern backend. Understand any backend

these chapters gave me knowledge which is sufficient to build real products and the hand-drawn diagrams and high-leveled descriptions gave me the feeling that i don't have any critical "knowledge gaps"

Launching soon, be the first to know.

Join over 10,000 engineers just like you already improving their careers with my letters, workshops, courses, and talks. ✌️

Have a burning question that you think I can answer?Β I don't have all of the answers, but I have some! Hit me up on twitter or book a 30min ama for in-depth help.

Ready to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Β Learn how to build scalable dataviz components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, modern backend for the frontend engineer.

Ready to learn how it all fits together and build a modern webapp from scratch? Learn how to launch a webapp and make your first πŸ’° on the side with ServerlessReact.Dev

Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax?Β Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❀️