Re: Aging out was RE: job-hunt weirdness

Subject: Re: Aging out was RE: job-hunt weirdness
From: Mike McCallister <workingwriter -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 22:05:41 -0500

As someone who who got into this game very late, and who also shudders at
the very idea of being a manager (with apologies to those who enjoy the
role), I have one piece of advice: Write a book with your name on it.

The luckiest break I ever got was an email out of the blue about a decade
ago from an acquisitions editor at Arco Press. She'd seen my resume online
at some freelance site. Wrote me to ask if I could put together a Table of
Contents and a sample chapter for a book on computer certifications. I was
working in technical support for a software startup, and doing freelance
magazine/newspaper writing. Did a little research on the topic, and pulled
together the requested material. The day before my birthday, the editor
called to ask if I was still interested, because they really liked my
submission. Six months later, I finished the book. A couple months after
that, my company's tech writer moved into marketing, and I became the

When that job ended (our product line got sold to a pair of Silicon Valley
companies), the Arco Computer Certification Handbook allowed me to land
several tech writing contracts. It also got me an agent when I decided I had
another book idea; she eventually sold Sams Publishing on me to do their
SUSE Linux 10 book. When I finished that, a big-time consulting firm came
calling for me. Having the Linux book on hand for interviews always makes an
impression, even beyond the thud its nearly 700 pages makes on the table.
When the current downturn hit me broadside in February, I somehow managed to
find another software company (in the Midwest, for gosh sakes!) willing to
take on a relatively old guy who could prove he'd kept up with technology
over the years.

We're all writing books in various forms. We all know a lot, and know that
the best way to learn something new is to pull together a document about it.
So if you find yourself looking for work, try to take some time to find
something you're interested in and write about it. Ideally, you find a
publisher like I did, but self-publishing is a lot easier to do now too.

Speaking of which, I have to get back to work. I'm late with one book
project, and have to start on the next one any day now.

Mike McCallister
Technical Communications Consultant
Author, "openSUSE Linux Unleashed" -- at bookstores now!
Notes from the Metaverse:

On Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 8:50 PM, Mike Starr <mike -at- writestarr -dot- com> wrote:

> I'm one of those... I love being a technical writer and have absolutely no
> desire to be a manager. The only way I'd consider it would be if I was
> brought in as the only technical writer for a small company and growth force
> me to bring in someone else to help me. Whenever I interview, I make it a
> point to state that I'm not particularly interested in a move to management
> and that I love my career.
> --
> Mike Starr WriteStarr Information Services
> Technical Writer - Online Help Developer - Technical Illustrator
> Graphic Designer - Desktop Publisher - MS Office Expert
> (262) 694-1028 - mike -at- writestarr -dot- com -
> Sarah Stegall wrote:
> > Amen to that, Gene. To some managers, a tech writer over forty who has
> > never been a manager spells "loser".
> >
> > I don't like managing people. I'm no good at it. I like sitting in my
> > cubby working on documents, or interviewing my SMEs, or talking to
> > translators on the phone. I like the challenge of a new suite of
> > documents, or learning new tools (YAY). I even like meetings. But
> > hiring/firing people, mediating disputes, or managing a budget? No, no
> > and hell no.
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control!

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Re: job-hunt weirdness: From: Erik Hare
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Re: job-hunt weirdness: From: Dana Worley
RE: job-hunt weirdness: From: McLauchlan, Kevin
Aging out was RE: job-hunt weirdness: From: Sarah Stegall
RE: Aging out was RE: job-hunt weirdness: From: Leonard C. Porrello
Re: Aging out was RE: job-hunt weirdness: From: Gene Kim-Eng
RE: Aging out was RE: job-hunt weirdness: From: Sarah Stegall
Re: Aging out was RE: job-hunt weirdness: From: Mike Starr

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