How to become a published author in information security

A large security event is always filled with exceptionally clever attendees who are writers in one way or another. Some produce training materials for their employers, others write whitepapers or articles and have blogs.

But how do you translate this type of writing into a book? What kind of information do you need? Angelina Ward from Syngress shed some light on the requirements during a discussion group held at the RSA Conference in London.

First off, you need a book idea. Simple, right? Not so fast! Every publisher is going to require you to fill in a proposal, which is the key point for defining the specifics of a book. Proposals are usually very detailed and include a great deal of information including a full table of contents.

While preparing to write a proposal, your fist stop should be a website like Amazon.com that lists basically all information security titles available on the market. It’s crucial for aspiring authors to check out the competition and see how many titles have been written on the topic they’re prepared on tackling. You should have a clear idea on who your target audience is and have realistic expectations regarding the size of the book.

When it comes to timelines, it takes about one year to get a book published since the moment your proposal is accepted. This includes writing, the technical review process, layout and the actual printing process. It all depends on how fast you work and how many issues you encounter along the way.

Syngress created a strong LinkedIn community and social networking presence that involves current authors, technical editors and potential authors. This makes it easy to connect with peers, get their input on your work as well as find co-authors to cooperate with on the writing process.

When it comes to information security books, the market is naturally smaller than the one for fiction, for example. Syngress publishes books on specific topics that purposefully don’t speak to a broad audience but rather target working professionals in the field. Put into numbers, this means that the goal of a technical title is to reach around 5000 readers.

If you’re wondering what the rates are, they vary within the publishing industry. Syngress, for example, gives authors 10% of royalties on each book, but they don’t take a cut of the writer’s profits for production costs. When all is said and done, you’re probably not going to buy a house with the money you make, but you can add substantial credibility to your career.