Writing FAQ

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Updated May 3, 2008

This page is a living document. If your question is not here, send me a comment (at the bottom of this page). Thanks!

How many books have you written?

A lot. I’m losing count (really – I’m a greybeard, and I assure you that memory is the first thing to go). Around fourteen.

What are your books about?

All of my books fit into either data security or communications technology. Most books are written for business and industry, but one of my books was written for consumers (home computer users).

How did you get started?

My friend was writing her first book and needed help. Her book was on a topic I knew about (relational databases), and being a good writer, I helped her out. That got me a working relationship with a big publishing house. I reviewed several more book manuscripts for them, some by well known authors. Then in 1998 I decided to buy a book on Solaris security, and when I couldn’t find any, pitched the idea of my writing Solaris Security to Sun Microsystems Press. The next week they had a contract in the mail, and I wrote the book. Yes it really was that easy.

Can I write books too?

Yes you can write books. But no, it’s not easy, but extremely difficult to break in to the publishing business. Everybody wants to , but few get to. It’s like acting: everyone wants the fame and fortune of movie acting, but few make it to the top.

Is writing hard?

It depends. Some days are very difficult: progress can be very slow for many reasons. Sticking to the writing, especially at its most difficult moments, takes considerable discipline and nerve. Sometimes, “powering through” a difficult section is required; at other times, moving to something else and coming back to a difficult section can be easier.

When reviewing a completed manuscript, it is usually impossible for the reader to tell which sections were easily written, and which were exceedingly difficult. Writing, like every human endeavor, has its easier portions and its challenges, some of which are so intense that they can impede our progress or cause us to give up.

Have you ever given up?

No. I have had difficulties in my life when my writing suffered, but I have never given up. I have completed every writing project that I have started, despite these difficulties. In an especially difficult time, I had to bring in a co-author to help me write content for a book that was falling behind schedule. And, for three of my books, I have been that co-author who was brought in to help the lead author get the book finished on time.

Did you make it to the top?

Heavens no. I’m near the bottom of the food chain. My books aren’t best sellers. Technology books seldom are.

Will you make it to the top?

Probably not. I’m not trying to. I don’t write books for fame or money. Writing books doesn’t pay much, not enough to change one’s lifestyle. I write books to help others with technology.

Why?

Technology doesn’t come easy for everyone. It’s inherently complicated, and difficult to apply to real-world problems. Big companies fail at this every day – half of all technology projects fail.

Will you help me with my writing?

Sorry, no. I would like to, but my other priorities preclude the possibility at this time. But I can point you towards some resources to get you started.


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