Re: Writing for the Open Source Community
Is there a market of people willing to pay for good documentation for open
I'm betting that there is, but I won't be able to tell you for sure until my book is published. After all, people buy books on Linux, don't they? And I'm sure I'm not the only person around who would really appreciate a well-written, de-geeked book about several open source software products.
I decided late last year to write "third-party" type documentation for OpenOffice.org Writer and publish it myself, as I've done with my Word books. That project started because I was making such copious notes for my own use (the available doco, including the online help, was pretty hopeless, especially for anyone beyond the total-beginner stage), and I figured I might as well turn them into a book.
I participate on some of the discussion lists, where I'm getting a bit of a reputation for being helpful, and I will probably be making some of my how-to material available for free, but I'm also writing a book that I intend to sell. (There is precedent for this: several books on OOo are coming out within the next few months.)
Make a living? Possibly not, unless your cost-of-living requirements are as low as mine are. And certainly there's no immediate pay; I have to get the book written first <g>. I should look into writing articles for other paying markets, like Bruce Byfield does.
I also agree with those who mentioned the other benefits of the "gift culture." Long before I discovered open source, I learned that the way to make money or develop valuable networking contacts, was to first give away something of value to a community. It really does come back to benefit you, often in the most unexpected ways.
Jean Hollis Weber
jean -at- jeanweber -dot- com
The Technical Editors' Eyrie http://www.jeanweber.com/
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