It’s interesting to contrast publishing of technical books now versus 1999 when Core PHP Programming first came out. Back then, I’m confident would have been a complete waste of time trying to publish it myself. Few would have considered a PDF an interesting source for the information. And while it certainly was a feather in my cap with regard to my career, the reward for the effort was respectable. I wouldn’t work for that rate today, but the publishing of the book helped me get to where I am.
For some time I’ve said I wouldn’t try writing another book because the reward couldn’t justify the effort, but we might be coming close to full circle with printed books in decline and self-publishing in .epub looking more feasible every day. Plus, I have to consider the thrill of sticking it to those emperors of walled gardens: Amazon, Apple, et al.
Wondering what your “hourly rate” is when you go out and write a technical book? Traditionally, publishers will tell you that you do it for “exposure” but we all know that you can die from that. Seriously, even for the publisher it’s a big gamble, and with all the extra costs for printing, marketing, publishing, whole-sale prices, etc. there will be nothing left over for you. And “exposure” will not pay the bills.