Manos is the author of Actionable Insights with Amazon QuickSight; we got the chance to sit down with him and learn more about his writing experience with Packt.
Q: What is/are your specialist tech area(s)?
Manos: Big Data and Analytics
Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?
Manos: Packt identified that QuickSight is somehow under-represented when we look at scientific books. Therefore this book was a great opportunity to address this space. I wrote a book outline, following the Packt guidelines on the Hands-On series. The outline was approved, and then I quickly started working on the book!
Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?
Manos: I have been working with Amazon QuickSight and AWS Analytics services for many years. I love QuickSight, and I follow it closely to keep up to date with the latest features. Whenever a new feature is released, I first read the release announcement and then I jump straight into the QuickSight console and try hands-on every new feature!
Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?
Manos: Writing a book, take months, and during that period QuickSight evolves fast. Keeping up with the latest features and ensuring that they are appropriately covered was my biggest challenge in writing this book. To overcome this challenge, I was provided with flexibility by the Packt team, to add or alter topics when that was appropriate.
Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?
Manos: Organizations collect an ever-increasing amount of data, a trend that will continue. At the same time, organizations are moving to the cloud, to get the scalability, elasticity and cost benefits that the cloud provides. While the amount of data is increasing, not all organizations are successful in getting insights from their data. I expect cloud-native Business Intelligence services, like Amazon QuickSight to continue grow in popularity. We also see a lot of Machine Learning driven insights, that can be configured easily without the need for developers to have expert ML knowledge or developing algorithms. I believe this trend will remain strong in the near future too.
Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?
Manos: At the time of this publication, QuickSight is somehow under-represented when it comes to scientific books. This book starts from the fundamentals of the AWS Analytics ecosystem and then explores QuickSight using simple hands-on examples. The hands-on examples come with instructions and screenshots, so that the readers have the option to follow along those examples on their own environment, or just read and understand them by observing the screenshots provided.
Q. What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away from the book with?
Manos: Understanding the fundamental concepts of Amazon QuickSight, configuring data sources and develop interactive dashboards. Also, the readers will have the opportunity to explore some of the newer features of Amazon QuickSight, such as embedded analytics and ML-driven insights.
Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?
Manos: We always need to connect the technology with a real problem. In my experience, learning tech without a business problem can be challenging. On the other hand, when we learn tech, when there is a real business problem to solve, it can be much more motivating and rewarding. This is why in this book, I chose to use the same dataset throughout the book, and somehow form a coherent story, rather than explain each feature in isolation.
Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?
Manos: I don’t maintain a personal blog. I have contributed to the AWS Big Data Blog. You can find my posts here https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/big-data/author/samatas/.
Q. Can you share any blogs, websites, and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?
Manos: There are a number of publicly available learning resources for Amazon QuickSight. A good starting point is https://learnquicksight.workshop.aws/en/. QuickSight also appears in the AWS Big Data blog, AWS forums and of course the QuickSight User Guide. These are great resources for readers to get a holistic view of QuickSight.
Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?
Manos: I worked on this book outside of my full-time job. I used some of my evenings, Saturdays and Sundays. I always kept my Friday nights free, to ensure I get some rest. Packt has been particularly helpful during the planning phase, as they helped me define clear milestones during the book development.
Q. How would you describe your author journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?
Manos: It has been really nice working with Packt. Packt provided me with excellent templates, technical reviewers, editorial reviewers, delivery manager support, and other services all of which were essential for the development of this book. I would highly recommend Packt to other aspiring authors.
Q. What are your favourite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?
Manos: I follow closely the AWS announcements in Analytics services and the AWS Big Data Blog. Other than that, I don’t have a favourite, I always search for recent material to keep myself up to date on the latest tech.
Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?
Manos: I used to attend various meetups in London, around AWS and Big Data, but not recently due to the pandemic. I hope these events will restart when it is safe to do so.
Q. What is the one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?
Manos: Writing a book is a demanding but also rewarding process. Break down large chapters into smaller sections, and address one section at a time. If you get stuck in one section, move on to the next section, and revisit the ones that are causing delays at a later time. Make sure you get some good rest. I personally noticed a significant productivity difference when I was fully rested.
You can find Manos’s book on Amazon by following this link click.