Writing a book on Service Broker – a wise decision?

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Last week Brent Ozar published a blog post, where he talked about how choose a successful topic for a weblog. He gave 3 different examples of success and even failure:

Oooh, that last one – that’s me! I think we should talk about it.

Service Broker – what?

I think it was back in the year 2005 (almost 11 years ago!), that I decided to write a book about Service Broker.

My unsuccessful book on Service Broker

That was when Microsoft released the first CTP versions of SQL Server 2005, and as you know that version was full of new awesome features:

  • SQLCLR
  • XML
  • Web Services Support
  • Service Broker

As we know now 12 years later, almost all of these features (besides XML) are not really used anymore in SQL Server, and were also not evangelized very well by Microsoft over the years. Bummer! I simply decided to write a book on Service Broker because I loved that feature, and it was awesome for implementing a scalable, distributed database application. I have even used Service Broker multiple times in my own projects as a .NET developer (without knowing SQL Server in detail).

The book was published for SQL Server 2005, and a few years later also for SQL Server 2008. Great! But that‘s it! Almost nobody bought the book, because nobody knew Service Broker, and nobody had any idea what you could do and achieve with Service Broker. If you had bought the book, you would know the whole story about Service Broker. It was mostly a chicken-and-egg problem. I didn’t made any profits with that book, so it was a disaster from a financial perspective. Publishing that book took about 10 months (around 800 hours) of my (spare) time.

Was it really a disaster?

So the big question is if publishing this book was really a disaster for me? NO! Definitely NOT! It was the best decision that I have ever made in my (professional) life! Because for me that book opened the door into the international SQL Server market. What does that mean?

  • I was invited to speak at international conferences about Service Broker (with almost empty rooms compared to the other session rooms)
  • I wrote other unsuccessful online articles about Service Broker
  • I specialized more and more in SQL Server, and learned the whole story about the relational database engine
  • People know me because of my unsuccessful book, and hire me now for SQL Server consulting engagements

The last point is the most important one to me: I branded myself as a SQL Server specialist with my book, and positioned myself successfully in the international SQL Server community. Initially when I wrote the book I really had no idea about SQL Server (I was just a developer). SQL Server was a black box for me: data in, data out. But over the years I have learned all the other things about SQL Server that I needed to know and I was finally able to start my own consulting business about it, and now make a living out of it.

Summary

Without the book I would definitely be doing other things these days, because I would have not been able to move full-time into the SQL Server world. And these days I don’t even work with Service Broker. People hire me for completely different things: Performance Tuning! That’s my main market! I have no idea about Service Broker these days. But the book was the starting point for an awesome unplanned journey that ended up here. It just happened – I didn’t predict it at all.

Thanks for your time,

-Klaus

16 Comments

  • Ha, great story, Klaus, on how something unsuccesful can still pave the way to success and to doing something you really like, which you didn’t know you would.

    • Klaus Aschenbrenner

      Hello Rick,

      Thanks for your comment.
      I don’t call it unsuccessful, because the *whole* thing was success 🙂

      Thanks,

      -Klauss

  • Well, I’d say you could have picked any topic in the SQL Server world and gotten “famous” on it – you do really good work. You’re detail-oriented and you have a fun way of explaining things. You’re always going to be successful around here. 😀

    • Klaus Aschenbrenner

      Hey Brent,

      Thanks for your great feedback 🙂

      -Klaus

    • Klaus Aschenbrenner

      And maybe I should specialize in a BI related topic in the future? 😉

  • Allen White

    Hi Klaus. I’m actively delivering sessions on Service Broker now, and always recommend your book in them. I’ve implemented a few Service Broker solutions in production, and recommend it whenever I see opportunities to improve performance via async operations. It’s not a dead technology and now, 10 years after it was first released, I’m seeing more and more interest in the technology.

    • Klaus Aschenbrenner

      Hello Allen,

      Thanks for your kind words 🙂

      -Klaus

  • Mushtaq Mohammed

    This is a good example of “Hard-work never goes unrewarded”

  • I bought your book. And I recommend it to anyone asking for a good resource on Service Broker. It’s well-written, thorough, accessible and – best of all – still current. Service Broker may not be the hot, sexy topic-du-jour, but there are organizations out there who depend on it, and need resources who understand how it works.

  • Nobody

    I bought your 2005 book right after your session at PASS as SSB was a very possible solution to an application problem… and it worked very well for that situation.

  • Darryl

    It is such a shame that Microsoft has not marketed Service Broker and given it the headlines it deserves. I’ve used it in a few applications with good results. But Brent is right…you do such a great job for the SQL Server community.

  • Hello Darryl,

    Thanks for your kind words 🙂

    -Klaus

  • Klaus

    I bought and read your book. It was very helpful in understanding the most incredibly misunderstood and under used SQL Server feature. Often when I run across a client running some kind of SQL Server replication — I suggest a service broker strategy might make more sense and I usually get a blank stare.

  • Gordon Feeney

    For me Service Broker is one of those technologies I’ve looked at – usually from behind a strong wall – and never really done anything with. However I’m ‘glad’ the book – failure or not – led you into other areas of SQL Server as you’re one of my main sources of info.

    Whatever happened to that Brent Ozar guy by the way? 😉

  • Klaus,

    Thank you for writing Service Broker book. I bought it and used it. Its great to have one source of reference for a complex feature vs, having a book with 20 chapters that just skims over a bunch of SQL features.

    Best,
    Mark Varnas

  • Love your book especially SSB+WF 🙂 which nobody crazy about.

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