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This post is brought to you by Heather Pilkington. Pilkington is currently penning a novel and is one of the writers who submitted queries for my $100 offer for guest bloggers. She has worked in internal security audit, risk management, incident response, change management, server administration, application support, and even help desk. Pilkington maintains a blog here.

author ryan linn

Writer Ryan Linn

Ryan Linn is an open source project code contributor, computer security consultant, educator, columnist, and internationally recognized public speaker.

He says he doesn’t want people to think of him as “a hacker.” Instead, he wants to help people use technology better by providing education and software tools that make computing more secure.

He recently published his first book, Coding for Penetration Testers (Syngress) with co-author Jason Andress. When he was originally approached to co-author a book, Ryan says he wasn’t sure he’d be up to the task. Ironically, the nervousness of speaking in front of hundreds of people didn’t come close to his nervousness about writing a book. As a self-proclaimed “technical guy,” he says:

“Words are hard.”

But, confident in his technical knowledge, he knew he had to give it a try. It turns out, the experience was nothing like what he expected. Ryan and Jason took about three weeks to finalize the proposal and the book outline before getting approval to write from the publisher. Originally, Syngress suggested five months to write and edit the ten chapter book. But, that time was cut to only eight weeks when it became clear how much time would be required to make publication in time for release during one of Ryan’s major speaking engagements.

While there’s no industry standard time to write a book, (research and collaboration times vary for non-fiction books), the timeline was extremely tight for someone with a busy existing schedule and a full-time job.

To add to the complexity, Ryan lives in North Carolina. His co-author, Jason Andress lives in Colorado. While the publisher was able to handle all the legal complexities, Ryan found that any creative differences and all collaboration had to be resolved exclusively via phone and e-mail. In the end, they finished in ten weeks and still met the publication deadline.

If you know someone you’d like to interview, you’re welcome to be a guest blogger. Read more details here.

200 Words with Author Ryan Linn

Coding for Penetration Testers

Ryan Linn's Book

(In this guest blog post Heather Pilkington is Write Naked!)

Write Naked: Is this what you expected writing your first book would be like?

Ryan Linn: I’d written online magazine articles before, but nothing this structured. So, I didn’t really know what to expect going in. The process of going from having words down to seeing proofs is unreal. You see it and think, This is weird. It looks all grown up now.

WN: Two months to collaborate with a co-author, plus finishing two technical edits and a copy edit sounds pretty crazy. What was the hardest thing about getting it finished and meeting your deadlines?

RL: When timelines started getting shorter, it became Bootcamp Writing. Somewhere along the way it changed from “I get to sit down write” to “I have to finish.” Some days you don’t feel like writing, but you have to do it anyway. Once you’re done, you get to look back and say “That’s pretty good!” That makes it all worth it.

WN: Was that the hardest part about writing the book?

RL: The hardest part was getting the concept boiled down to something that we felt like people would be interested in reading. We had to look at what people as a larger group would be interested in as opposed to what we liked. We had to talk to acquaintances, friends and co-workers to get an idea of where people felt the material should go. Then we had to boil that down to individual elements we could work on. It turns out it isn’t really that simple.

WN: How are things different now that you are a published author?

RL: I’m generally a pretty reserved person. Having to go out and ask people to endorse the book, respond to people’s questions, and overall promote the book is a little bit stressful. You have to be engaged so that people know the book is out there and want to read it. You have to get reviews so the material can be presented in the best possible light. And you have to make sure people understand it’s something that you are actually interested in and excited about, not just commercially.

WN: In keeping with Write Naked’s tradition, I’d like to ask you a James Lipton question. What is your favorite word?

RL: Onomatopoeia. I like the way your tongue feels when you say it.