It's time to update my 2005 book "Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project". Help me do it right.
In 2005 I wrote a book called Producing Open Source Software, about the human side of running free software / open source projects. It was published by O'Reilly Media, and simultaneously released online under a free license. It's been pretty successful, at least in the ways I'd hoped: it's cited frequently by people I respect, it even sells decently, and I get plenty of constructive bug reports (my favorite measure of success). It's also been translated into many languages, often by volunteer translators or translation teams.
But 2005 is a long time ago. The world of free and open source software is changing -- technically, culturally, even legally -- and the book really needs to be updated after seven and a half years. To give you an idea: GitHub didn't even exist when the first edition came out!
I've been doing a lot of open source consulting since the first edition was published -- consulting about open source processes, how to launch and run projects, etc -- with a wide variety of clients: governments, for-profit companies, non-profits, and individual developers. I've also been talking to people in many different open source projects. Along the way, I kept thinking that I'd love to incorporate the things I'd learned into a second edition. Eventually, I realized that the way to find time to do it was to treat the book like a client -- hence this Kickstarter campaign.
The second edition, like the first, will be published by O'Reilly Media, and will be under the same free license.
Yes, overfunding is fine:
The amount I've set as the threshold is enough to make all the important updates I'm aware of right now, but things don't need to stop there. If this project gets overfunded, that's even better: that would allow me to spend even more time improving the book, including doing more research (e.g., talking to people in more open source projects, companies, etc), having more colleagues review the work-in-progress & incorporating their feedback, improving site infrastructure to better automate the ebook builds, improving the translation infrastructure, etc. More money == better book and better access, basically. I'll be doing my work in a publicly visible repository, so anyone can stop by and see what's going on at any time. Patches welcome, of course.
(That should really be "shouts-out", shouldn't it? Oh, well.)
Many friends and colleagues have been supportive of the book and of this campaign, but I'd like to mention three in particular. Lœfty Walkowiak patiently ran the video camera for take after take after take, to make the video above. Bradley Kuhn, on hearing my plans for a Kickstarter campaign, pulled a $20 out of his pocket and handed it to me, to be the first pledger, saying how much he liked the book; encouragement like that, from someone like Bradley, means a lot. Finally, O'Reilly Media, my publisher, has been super-supportive from the start, asking what they can do to help, offering to handle the shipping for the reward levels that involve sending copies of the book, etc. If you're ever thinking of writing a book, talk to them first.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Not to be flip about this, but there just aren't that many risks. It's a book: you do the research, you write, you keep writing, and at some point you declare it ready for release. I've written two books and very many articles, so am reasonably confident that writer's block is not a risk (haven't experienced it before, at least). I suppose I could come down with some disease or something, but let's not get macabre here. I'm confident I can finish the second edition in 2013, if this project is funded.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.