September 22nd, 2014
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I had been reading Nathan Barry’s excellent book Authority and something about it inspired me. I started throwing around ideas, things that I knew well and that weren’t well covered already, and I turned up Stripe. I know Stripe very well having used it for a bunch of projects in the past few years. I also know Rails, using it in most of those projects plus at my day job. I knew for sure that there were things about payment processing that weren’t really talked about much in the 10 minute Stripe tutorials. Thus began my five month journey of writing and self-publishing Mastering Modern Payments: Using Stripe with Rails.
Why self publish?
For me, it wasn’t even really a question. There’s no way a traditional publisher would be interested in a tiny niche topic like this, and even if they were I wanted as much control as I could get for my first major writing project. Not to mention, the amount of money I would get from direct sales is vastly more than I would get from the same number of sales if I were getting royalties.
So, why not something like Leanpub? Again, it comes down to control. Leanpub provides a valuable service but I wanted to control the entire experience, from building the book files to the landing page all the way through to the sales experience. A great part of the value of the guide is that the Guide + Code edition comes with the code for the application that actually sells the book, and with Leanpub that wouldn’t be possible.
Process and Tools
My writing process is pretty simple. I make an outline, at first just broad themes for chapters or sections. I step back, play with the order a little maybe, and then start adding more detail to the outline. At some point I get bored with that and start filling in chunks with prose. This is the same process I’ve used for most of my blog posts and it’s been pretty successful.
Editing was a much bigger job for the guide than it has been for my blog, of course. I did a first pass by hand on actual paper with an actual red pen and then followed that up with another pass on the computer. Shortly after that I released the guide as preorders to my mailing list (more on that below) and they provided vast quantities of feedback, ranging from typos to bug fixes all the way through to high level feedback on the shape and intent of the guide. I can’t thank those reviewers enough. They made it possible to have a polished product on launch day.