Are there any guides, howtos, books, etc about installing and maintaining a publicly-accessible Windows Server 2008 (with IIS and SQL server) for programmers (that want to deploy their own apps)?
Assuming this will be a publicly accessible server you should look specifically at Microsofts Windows Server Operations guide and their server hardening guide which will give good guidance on a secure deployment - you'll find both in Technet.
There are the usual answers like Patching, Firewalls, Defense in Depth etc....
More specifically there is the Windows Server 2003 Security Guide that includes a lot of info on hardening a base win2k3 box.
There is also the Windows Server 2003 Security Compliance Management Toolkit. Not a straight forward document, but a lot of good information.
(There are equivalent documents for other Windows versions)