Second VMware Press Book Published – My Thoughts and Tips

VMware Press Book VMware Cloud on AWS - NSX Networking and Security First Print

VMware Press Book VMware Cloud on AWS - NSX Networking and Security First Print

Yes, above is the very first official print I received for approval. This is my second VMware Press book, this time co-authored with Gilles Chekroun and Nico Vibert. Caught a few slight print errors last minute and sending back to fix and giving approval. Books will be printing soon! Limited free books at VMworld 2019 book signing or buy at the VMworld book store! See link for details & relevant VMworld sessions or get free ebook version now https://blogs.vmware.com/networkvirtualization/2019/07/vmware-cloud-on-aws-nsx-networking-and-security-ebook.html Read the rest of the blog to see my thoughts on writing this book and my prior book for VMware Press!

So how was the book writing process for me this second time around? Well it was fun, and because I had a lot of the content already created and signed up co-authors this time, it made things easier. I also think because this was my second VMware Press book, it was easier as I was familiar with the process.

However, this second time around, I had to manage the complete process with the vendors (editor, book layout vendor, printer), and it was not easy :-). For my first book, all this administrative stuff was done for me by someone else. So, that was a new challenge :-). It really was a team effort between all the vendors to make sure book gets printed in time for VMworld 2019 where I’ll be handing out free copies and doing a book signing. The books will also be selling in the VMworld book store.

I signed up to write this new book in mid-2018 after I published my last VMware Press book, VMware NSX Multi-site Solutions and Cross-vCenter NSX Design: Day 1 Guide. You can download both books in PDF format for free here. Part of my job as a Sr. Technical Product Manager is creating internal TOIs/trainings and providing guidance for sales, SEs, and solution architects globally, so I really had a jump start writing this book as a lot of the content I already had and prior shared with the field in internal TOIs and events like our yearly sales Tech Summit for the global field.

Some of the content I had also published externally on VMware Network Virtualization Blog, this personal blog, or for public events like VMworld and AWS:reInvent. If you look at some of that content, no doubt you will see some content also present in this book. But, writing this book gave me the opportunity to share a lot of the additional content I had only shared internally for lack of time, such as traffic flows, routing behavior, and the ‘whys’ of why things work the way they do based on the architecture. Because of all this content and working on VMware Cloud on AWS networking and security for the last two years, I already had the rough Table of Contents (TOC) in mind and started creating the layout and writing in 2018.

This was very similar to my first book, VMware NSX Multi-site Solutions and Cross-vCenter NSX Design: Day 1 Guide, but in that case I had already published a VMware Design Guide on the same subject. There was a lot of updating to do and adding additional content, but I was able to leverage my work on the design guide for the book which was really helpful; my colleague, Yannick Meillier, was also very helpful here and contributed while also helping with the updating process; he is a contributor listed on the book. In affect, the book can be seen as an updated and improved design guide.

With the new book, VMware Cloud on AWS: NSX Networking and Security, I leveraged a lot of the internal TOI/training/event content I had created. Gilles, Nico, and I also leveraged some blog content we all had created on VMware or personal blogs. Of course, there was also some new content added.

Second Book – How It All Started

While attending Europe VMworld 2018 in Barcelona where I was speaking and doing a book signing for my last book, I started discussing with my colleagues Gilles Chekroun and Nico Vibert who are based in our EMEA/Europe locations, and who I know love blogging. I asked if they would like to contribute or co-author if writing at least a chapter/section and helping with review/editing process (which can be tedious back and forth). Both agreed to co-author and were able to contribute significantly. Getting co-authors is not hard to find; getting good co-authors is hard to find. Before you know it we’re all working on the book, and it has finally come to fruition. It was really a team effort to make sure book is completed on time.

People really underestimate the amount of work involved in writing the book. It is non-stop and you really need to manage the whole process in a timely manner or it just won’t get done. I can’t stress enough how important time management is. You really need to orchestrate the time management and completion of the book. Having done it twice now, below are several tips if you’re considering writing a book.

If you don’t allocate dedicated time and resources and orchestrate the process with some timelines around it, a few things will typically happen which I have seen several times:

1.) The book will just keep getting delayed until the content is outdated and major work needs to be redone, extending the timeline out further.

I made the call early on to put a disclaimer in the book that the book is based on VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC version 1.6, which was the current version at the time of initial writing. SDDC version 1.7 was released while we were writing the book, so we updated to reflect the 1.7 version and changed the disclaimer to SDDC version 1.7.

In technology, especially managed services and something as dynamic as the cloud, things change quickly. You need to set a foundation so the ground is not moving under you while you are writing the book. At the same time, you can’t take forever writing a book such that when it’s finally published you are two or three versions behind!

2.) The book has been delayed so long that there is no longer a need or requirement for the book for several possible reasons.

You also have to be careful here, although not always possible – sometimes, someone else can publish a book before you based on a lot of work you’ve already done. Although you should at least be given credit, this unfortunately does happen, but that is the case sometimes and happens if you just don’t have time yourself to write a book or publish content externally.

If you are the authority of a subject and have trained or created content whether internally or externally, expect this to happen now and then. As a Product Manager, this goes along with the territory. I’ve seen my work pasted left and right in other authors’ work, posters, blogs, etc., sometimes without even changing anything. I’ve even seen e-mails I’ve sent internally, copied and pasted practically word for word in some blog posts :-).

3.) The book just never gets done and lingers in incomplete status because there is never enough time to complete it – and #1 and #2 above usually come into play. I have seen this a few times. I know of a person who once handed out the first two chapters of his ‘soon to be completed book’ on an exciting new technology. The book never got published and people have since moved on to more new and exciting things.

4.) The book gets delayed until at some point in time it finally does get completed but the need or excitement for it has died down.

I’ve seen an instance where a book has been published on a technology, after the whole platform has practically changed. Obviously, the usefulness of the book has greatly diminished.

5.) The book gets delayed for so long that you develop other priorities or lose interest

Some additional tips:

I.) Get all stake holders involved early including vendors/publisher, any co-authors, person writing foreword, company or folks helping with budget, etc. Set expectations and deadlines and address any questions or outstanding issues.

II.) If you don’t have the time to write the complete book yourself, even if you have 80% done, but need to wrap it up, find a co-author or at least a contributor to help finish the last part. It is better to have co-authors and get the book out then let the book linger until it becomes outdated.

III.) If you do decide to have co-authors, you need to make sure you take the lead and orchestrate the timelines, set expectations, are the central point of contact for vendors, third parties, and other stake holders, and manage the process from start to finish. Working with co-authors can be great but it also creates more communication and syncing between the team.

One example of this is that people typically have different writing styles. I noticed that early when reviewing the book. In some sections, there was a lot of copying from personal blogs, so in these sections, the book read more like a blog than a book. We agreed to change the ‘blog’ style wording to make the content feel like a book and flow better from one author to the next.

IV.) When possible, try to leverage content you have already created; this will greatly speed up the process and you will get your book published a lot quicker. As I discussed earlier, I leveraged a lot of my existing work For me this was easier because I’m a product manager working on the product and also part of my job is the train and prep the field on the subject of the book, so naturally I had a lot of content for the book already. The key thing here is to make sure you created and own the content. If using someone else’s content, make sure to get their approval and give credit or include them as a contributor in the book.

V.) Find an interesting and credible person that people would want to hear from to write the foreword. Ask yourself who would people want to hear from and who is relevant based on the topic of the book? You should also keep in mind who is within reach and always have a backup. Some famous person may be cool but what relevance or credibility does he bring to the subject people want to know about? At the same time, the CEO of a company might be awesome and have relevance, but would the CEO actually have time to write a foreword for you in the required timeline? The key to this is to start your search early, because it takes time to find the right person and the person’s schedule is likely busy.

For my first book, VMware Press – VMware NSX Multi-site Solutions and Cross-vCenter NSX Design: Day 1 Guide, the CTO of iland, Justin Giardina, wrote the foreword. He was a great choice; he is a highly technical executive and his company is a heavy user of VMware NSX and VMware offerings. They also provide customers with many multi-site solutions based on VMware NSX. I asked Justin very early on and he was more than thrilled to collaborate on this and got me the foreword much ahead of time. I appreciate Justin taking the time out of his busy schedule to write the foreword.

For my second book, VMware Press – VMware Cloud on AWS: NSX Networking and Security, I asked the Senior Vice President/General Manager of VMware’s Networking and Security Business (NSBU), Tom Gillis, to write the foreword. Again, another great choice as Tom is leading VMware’s strategy and direction for all networking and security at VMware. Tom’s schedule is extremely busy, but, because I was able to ask him early on, he managed to make time to write the foreword for this book and I greatly appreciate it.

See my blog posts on VMware’s Network Virtualization blog site

Get my free ebooks below:

VMware Press – VMware Cloud on AWS: NSX Networking and Security

VMware Press – VMware NSX Multi-site Solutions and Cross-vCenter NSX Design: Day 1 Guide

Attending VMworld 2019 – don’t forget to register for my sessions on NSX Networking and Security in VMware Cloud on AWS!

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Humair_Ahmed

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