Loose Bits Thoughts on distributed systems, cloud computing, and the intersection of law and technology.

Writing a Technical Book, Part 4 - Marketing & Beyond

Marketing & Post-Publication

In my fourth and final post about my adventure writing Backbone.js Testing, I take a look back on what has happened since the book was published in July, 2013, discuss the marketing initiatives we used to drive book sales, and finally reflect on the awkward, tough, and wonderful experience of writing my first book.

As it’s now been over two years since my book’s publication and the first post in this series, I’ll just chalk up this tardy final post to something quite familiar in the book publishing world – deadlines slip. And as a refresher, here are some quick links to the previous posts in this series:

  1. Finding and starting a book project
  2. Authoring a technical book
  3. Publishing a technical book

Marketing & Selling a Book

In my latest post on publishing the book, I discussed all of the legwork needed to translate the various chapter drafts into a book that you could purchase. On July 12th, 2013, the book was published, after which Packt (my publisher) turned our focus to marketing the book.


Writing a Technical Book, Part 3 - Publication

Publishing a Book

At long last, this is the third post in a series on my experiences writing Backbone.js Testing, published in July, 2013. In this post, I’ll dive into the publication process for my book and expand on the following takeaway points:

  • There is a good amount of boring, necessary work on your book to turn final drafts into correctly laid-out, ready-for-printing pages.
  • You need to keep a keen eye to everything about your book, including the cover / marketing language and especially your publisher’s book webpage.
  • This is your last chance to catch both small and extremely large errors.
  • Working though the final mile of publication with your publisher can be frustrating…
  • … but it feels wonderful to actually have the book done, published and in a very literal sense, “shipped”.

You’ve Written a Book. Now What?

In my previous post on authoring a book, I recount writing the individual chapters of the book, going through technical and editorial review, and submitting the “final” draft for publication at the end of April, 2013.

After this final submission, I asked the publisher’s project folks what to expect from that point to actual publication and was told that the process for each chapter was something along the lines of:

  • Technical editing.
  • Copy editing
  • Indexing key terms
  • Layout adjustments for actual, rendered book pages
  • Proofreading
  • “Prefinal” submission for the author’s final review
  • Finalization and clubbing

Each of those steps was forecast to take 1-2 days and run in parallel for all the chapters.

It was at that time that I also reminded Packt (my publisher) that we still needed to formally update the book’s title from “Backbone Testing” to “Backbone.js Testing” in all of the materials, something Packt repeatedly told me was easy to do throughout the process.


Backbone.js with React Views

Cross-posted from the Formidable Labs blog.

On Nov. 18, 2014, I presented a talk on “Backbone.js with React Views” at the inaugural Seattle ReactJS Meetup.


Backbone.js powers some of the largest web applications on the Internet and we use the framework extensively at Formidable Labs. It provides simple and flexible abstractions that developers can use to organize and create large-scale applications.

At the same time, Backbone.js application development runs in to complexities with issues such as:

  • Heavy handed DOM wiping and reflows.
  • Preventing memory leaks and dreaded “Zombie Views”.
  • Composing and aggregating child views correctly.


Enter React. React is a UI (view) layer for web applications that uses virtual DOM rendering and a modular architecture for creating reusable, web components. It offers some exciting new possibilities as a replacement for Backbone.js views, while keeping the rest of the framework pieces that Backbone.js does very well.

Backbone.js with React!

In my talk, I walk through a simple application, “Notes” (live demo), that uses Backbone.js with React views. The full source is available from one of our GitHub repos.