books

I gave away my books for free, and sales increased 4x

In March, I made my DevOps books free to help anyone who wanted to learn new skills during the global pandemic lockdown. In April, Device42 generously extended that offer for another month.

I originally had the idea to give the books away on a whim on a Sunday night, thinking I'd give up a fair chunk of revenue, but nothing too substantial. The response I did get was overwhelming, to say the least!

As with many other metrics during these unprecedented times, book sales shot through the roof while they were free. The top chart is Ansible for DevOps, and the bottom is Ansible for Kubernetes:

Ansible for DevOps - Cumulative Sales over Time

You can get my DevOps books free the rest of this month

March 31st Update: Through Device42's generosity, this offer's been extended through the month of April!

The ongoing Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic and bear market made me realize how beneficial it has been to be adaptable in the tech industry. There are no guarantees in life, and the ability to earn a livelihood is probably the most underrated important aspect of overall health. Most people take it for granted until they are deeply affected by it.

I can't do much to help during this crises, but I figure that I can make my two books, Ansible for DevOps and Ansible for Kubernetes, free for anyone who wants to learn a new skillset as a buffer against possible coming layoffs.

The power curve

Besides being a software developer and photographer, I take a deep interest in spaceflight and love reading about the history and development of air- and spacecraft, with a special focus on early space program development.

A few books I've read in the past couple years have gone beyond being interesting just for their historic content—they gave me a lot of ideas to reflect on in relation to my approach to software development, especially what I'd term 'professional' software development (vs. hacking something together for fun, or churning out brochureware sites or cookie-cutter apps).

One book in particular, Failure is Not an Option (by Gene Kranz, director of Mission Control during NASA's early days into the Apollo era), illustrates high-performing teams operating well under pressure and with high stakes.

Ansible for Kubernetes, my second self-published book

Ansible for Kubernetes book cover - by Jeff Geerling

Five years ago, I set out to write a book. For a topic, I picked Ansible, since I was familiar with the software, and noticed there weren't any other books about it. I struck gold with Ansible for DevOps, and have since sold over 22,000 copies between eBook and paperback copies.

I've written about self-publishing before, and my opinion about publishing technical works is stronger than ever:

I wrote an entire article (Self-Publish, don't write for a Publisher) on the first topic. Regarding the second topic, I see writing a technical book on the same plane as building a software project:

Ansible for DevOps - 50% off on LeanPub for Black Friday 2017

Though I've had a little less time to work on the book lately, I'm still very much invested in keeping Ansible for DevOps the best and most up-to-date guide to using Ansible for infrastructure automation. It's been over two years since the first '100% complete' edition was released, and in that time I have published over 200 updates on LeanPub—and even have full test coverage for all the book's examples, which are open-sourced and available in the Ansible for DevOps GitHub repo!

Ansible for DevOps - 50% off for Black Friday 2017

For this year's Black Friday, I'm discounting the book—50% off—but only on LeanPub. I like to push readers to LeanPub, because:

Ansible for DevOps is $0.99 for Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2016!

I decided to discount Ansible for DevOps on LeanPub to $0.99 for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The book has already been purchased by over 8,000 people on Amazon, LeanPub, and the iBooks Store, and is the only book available that covers the latest version of Ansible—and is continuously updated!

I've written a lot about the process of self-publishing, in case you're interested. I'm hoping to keep updating Ansible for DevOps every quarter or so indefinitely, to make it the best resource now—and as long as possible—for learning infrastructure automation!

Self-Publish, don't write for a Publisher

I'm not a writer. I'm a software developer who communicates well. Because I'm a developer and software architect, I spend time evaluating solutions to find the best one. There are often multiple good options, but I try to pick the best among them.

When I chose to write a book two years ago, I evaluated whether to self-publish or seek out a publisher. I spent a lot of time evaluating my options, and chose the self-publishing route.

Because I'm asked about this a lot, I decided to summarize my reasons in a blog post, both to posit why self-publishing is almost always the right option for a beginning author, and to challenge publishers to convince me I'm wrong.

Podcast interview with Len Epp on the LeanPub podcast

Today LeanPub published it's 25th episode of the LeanPub Podcast, and in it, Len Epp asked me about a wide range of topics, including AI, the impact of smartphones on interpersonal relationships, how I got started in computing, and how I self-published a bestseller, Ansible for DevOps, on LeanPub.

A few decent quotes from the interview:

[On how I learned technical/tutorial writing:] Go sit down, sit through all the tutorials, and then write up a guide that will help people to quickly get up to speed on it”. Because the manuals you get with the manufacturer are pretty much junk.

As a technical person I hate the idea of DRM on a book. Because it’s like, when I go to a bookstore and buy a book, I don’t have like a locking mechanism that I have to unlock to read it.

Ansible for DevOps - available now!

Ansible is a simple, but powerful, server and configuration management tool. Ansible for Devops is a book I wrote to teach you to use Ansible effectively, whether you manage one server—or thousands.

Ansible for DevOps cover - Book by Jeff Geerling

I've spent a lot of time working with Ansible and Drupal over the past couple years, culminating in projects like Drupal VM (a VM for local Drupal development) and the Raspberry Pi Dramble (a cluster of Raspberry Pi computers running Drupal 8, powering http://www.pidramble.com/). I've also given multiple presentations on Ansible and Drupal, like a session at DrupalCon Austin, a session at MidCamp earlier this year, and a BoF at DrupalCon LA.