In this keynote, Kathy Sierra starts with an interesting premise. Can authors and publishers make money with a new book? While that may seem like a ludicrous propostion, the reality is that only 5% of all books are profitable.
Using examples from her own personal experience, Sierra delves into the key problems that face the modern author, as quality does not necessarily promise success and success does not necessarily mean quality; instead, Sierra suggests that media, presentation, and audience are the most important factors.
Sierra is adamant that the content of the book should make the reader act in a way the reader wants to act, more importantly, books should help readers DO what they want, not just learn about what they want. It is a subtle difference that Sierra illustrates with real-life results. In reaching the top of the technology and software book sales list, Sierra focused on writing books that actually get readers to write programs, instead of just learning about writing programs.
The new media environment of the 21st century makes readers like users of software. She submits that this places the focus on context and usability. In the end, Sierra suggests that authors and publishers focus on making their users (readers) the best at what they are most passionate about. You may ask yourself, does this really work? You be the judge, with best selling titles in some of the most crowded categories, there just might be something to her formula.
Kathy Sierra has been interested in learning theory since her days as a game developer (Virgin, MGM, Amblin'). More recently, she's been a master trainer for Sun Microsystems, teaching Sun's Java instructors how to teach the latest technologies to customers, and a lead developer of several Sun certification exams. Along with her partner Bert Bates, Kathy created the Head First series. She's also the original founder of the Software Development/Jolt Productivity Award-winning javaranch.com, the largest (and friendliest) all-volunteer Java community.
This free podcast is from our Tools of Change Conference series.
Photo: James Davidson