Advice to Aspiring Technical Authors

In addition to all our bloggers, we have numerous published technical authors in residence here at the Office of the CTO at Extreme Networks. Take a quick moment to watch this short video, where Marcus Burton, Michael Rash, and David Coleman offer some helpful hints for aspiring technical authors:

And here is a little info about our published authors and their available publications:

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Marcus Burton

Title: Wireless and Cloud Architect, Office of the CTO

Book title: Cloud Managed Networking for Dummies (2020), CWDP Certified Wireless Design Professional Study Guide (co-authored, 2011). I’ve also edited many books.

Year published: 2020, 2011

When did you decide you wanted to write a book: My interest in writing started in college. I always thought my first book would be fiction, but it turns out that no one wants to pay for my fiction. Then my first job in technology was heavily tied to my English writing background, so the first real glimpse of a writing opportunity started at CWNP in 2009.

How long did it take you: For the dummies book, about three months. For the other book, I was a co-author, but the entire book took much longer, probably more like six months.

Hardest element: There’s a saying that is apropos in book writing: If I had more time, I would’ve made it shorter. The hardest part is deciding what to cut. Not everything needs to be written/said, and the author needs to decide what is meat and what is carbs.

Easiest part: I’m an introvert, so the easiest part is that I get to put on my headphones and avoid the world when I’m researching or writing. And it’s profound how much information is available on the web; nonetheless, it is often poorly organized and unstructured. So, the research part is fairly easy, but the collation, organization, and synthesis take some time and discipline.

What you’d do different: I’d add more images. Technical books need good images. There are too many competing mediums for information, most of which are more stimulating than prose. If you’re going to write a technology book, you need visuals to support the text. And if you do the images properly, you then need less text. And another thing. I don’t need to thank EVERYONE in the acknowledgments, but I just can’t help it.

Would you write another one: Yes, absolutely. Sign me up.

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Michael Rash

Title: Distinguished Engineer, Security – Office of the CTO

Book title: Linux Firewalls: Attack Detection and Response with iptables, psad, and fwsnort

Year published: 2007

When did you decide you wanted to write a book: Back in 2001 (ancient history). I started writing technical articles for the Linux Journal and other publications, and eventually graduated to wanting to write a full-length technical book.

How long did it take you: About two years.

Hardest element: At the time, there were books about firewalls and other books about intrusion detection, but such books rarely tried to combine the two technology domains. My goal for the book was to show that these domains are more powerful when treated together.

Easiest part: Within my open-source security projects I had lots of examples to draw from, and this assisted with the content I wanted to discuss.

What you’d do different: Nothing.

Would you write another one: Yes, if I can find the time.

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David Coleman

Title: Office of the CTO, Director of Wireless

Book title: I have written multiple books inside and outside of Extreme Networks. Below is a partial list. My biggest selling book is the CWNA study guide, co-authored with my good friend David Westcott. The book has gone through 6 editions over the last 15 years. It is a vendor-neutral book that sells according to my publisher is the #1 selling book about Wi-Fi in the world. Although it is a study guide for an IT certification exam, over 70 percent of people buy it as a Wi-Fi reference guide. It is used as a curriculum for wireless courses at many colleges and universities and is often considered as pre-requisite reading material for the training classes of many enterprise WLAN vendors.

CWNA: Certified Wireless Network Administrator Study Guide - 6th Edition

Publication date: 2021


Wi-Fi 6 & 6E for Dummies

Publication date: 2021


Wireless Intrusion Prevention Systems (WIPS) for Dummies

Publication date: 2021


Cloud Managed NAC for Dummies

Publication date: 2020


CWSP: Certified Wireless Security Professional Study Guide - 2nd Edition

Publication date: 2016


When did you decide you wanted to write a book: When Wiley/Sybex Publishing approached me about 16 years ago.

How long did it take you: Years. The main book is over a thousand pages. Lots of time spent writing at night and over weekends.

Hardest element: In order…

  • Getting started
  • Meeting deadlines – never happens
  • Time investment

Easiest part: Answering the door when the UPS driver delivers the first hard copies.

What you’d do differently: Hire a ghostwriter.

Would you write another one: Please shoot me first.

Bonus Question: How much money have you made from your books? If you divide up the number of hours spent writing by the amount of money made from royalties, I can say that finding a job flipping burgers will be much more lucrative. However, the books have been invaluable for my career advancement and personal brand. Finally, the most humbling aspect has been how many people have told me how their careers were jump-started after reading my main book.

About the Author
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Cammy Perry
Content Marketing Specialist

Cammy is a Content Marketing Specialist at Extreme Networks, leveraging her expertise to craft thought leadership and engaging content.

Full Bio