Nov 042013

I’m very proud to have contributed a chapter to Tribal SQL, which is now available for purchase at Amazon and finer bookstores everywhere. This is the first book I’ve had any part in writing, something I never thought I would do. I always hated English and literature classes in school – if it wasn’t math, hard science, or architectural history, I wanted no part of it. I credit the SQL community and blogging for slowly getting me excited about the written word.

Getting this book from idea to print was not a sprint but a marathon. While I’m sure there was plenty going on behind the scenes that I wasn’t aware of, here’s how everything came together from my point of view.

Tribal SQL CoverHow I got Involved

The first I heard about “SQL Tribal Knowledge” was from Matt Velic’s (@mvelicblog post almost two years ago. Despite being fans of MidnightDBAs (@MidnightDBAJen and Sean McCown, I missed their blog post announcing the project. Basically they wanted to get a whole bunch of unpublished people together, have everyone write a chapter, and then assemble them into a book. Seemed like a great idea to me, so I submitted a few topic ideas, and ended up writing about data compression – a feature I’ve done lots of work with and know rather well.


Actually writing the chapter was both the hardest and easiest parts for me. Getting started was difficult because I wasn’t sure about what style of writing to use. I ended up reading through about a dozen other books not for content, but to see what tone the authors took when putting their words to paper. I ended up going with something not much different from a blog post – perhaps slightly more formal. With a style established, everything flowed easily. After about 2 months, my initial draft was complete and to my liking.

Peer Editing

After the first drafts came peer editing. All the authors picked two other chapters to read and comment on. It was a great gut-check on things like grammar, effectiveness of explanations, etc. With both reviews in-hand it was back to the drawingkeyboard for revisions.

Volunteer Editing

After peer editing there was a second round of reviews, this time from outside the author pool. Over 20 bloggers and speakers from the SQL Server community volunteered their time to read and comment on our work. Afterwards, this was followed by another round of revisions.


Throughout the process, Jen and Sean were trying to find a publisher. There was some brief talk about self-publishing, but then Red Gate got involved and agreed to publish the book, now named “Tribal SQL”. This involved – you guessed it – another round of editing, this time by Red Gate’s Tony Davis (@TonyTheEditor). Tony was delightful to work with and I have tremendous respect for what he does. After a few rounds of back-and-forth with him, my chapter was done.

From this point on I’m sure there were a lot of things taking place that I didn’t know about, but the end result is that the book was published, and Red Gate was kind enough to hold a launch event at the PASS Summit and distribute copies. They also held a book signing for all the authors that were in attendance.

Would I do it again?

I would. Writing a chapter is a lot of work – writing an entire book is obviously much more, but I found it enjoyable and rewarding. Given the right topic and/or group of co-authors, I’m sure I could have just as much fun working on another one.

Write Book, Get Published, ?????, Profit?

HA! I should mention that all royalties from the sale of this book are being donated to Computers4Africa. Even if that weren’t the case, any money we might get would work out to a paltry rate when divided by the number of hours spent working on this project. If you ever decide to write a book, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Money is not one of them.

Thank You

Finally, some thanks are in order. Thanks to Jen and Sean McCown for putting this all together, and to Matt Velic for blogging and making me aware! Thanks to all the other co-authors and editors for their time and hard work. Finally, thanks to the wonderful people at Red Gate, not only for publishing this book, but for the tremendous support they give to the SQL Server community as a whole.

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