Windows and Devices for IT MVP Will Panek is celebrating quite the accomplishment today. He’s released his 32nd book on Microsoft networking for Sybex, entitled MCSA Windows Server 2016 Study Guide: Exam 70-740. Yes, you read that right. Thirty-second book.
Will’s been in the computer industry since 1993. He’s consulted for universities and organizations across America., and has done training for the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Army, and U.S. Air Force. Today he’s a Senior Microsoft Instructor for live online IT training company, StormWind Studios - and course, an author. We spoke to Will about how he began writing, what advice he'd give to other MVPs, and how he keeps up momentum.
1) How did you get into writing books?
One of my very best friends is Todd Lammle. Todd is probably one of the best-selling Cisco authors in the entire world. For about 10 years, I did all of Todd’s Microsoft classes for his training company. Sybex needed a Microsoft author and Todd had told them that they should contact me and see if I was interested. I got a phone call from Sybex and as they say “the rest is history.”
2) Thirty-two books is a lot. How do you get the idea for each book?
Well Microsoft actually gives me the ideas for my books every time they put out a new Windows operating system. I have been very fortunate to be able to write many of the Sybex certification books for the different Windows operating systems (Server and client systems) over the years.
3) Many MVPs might be interested in writing a book, but feel they don't have the time. How do you find the time to write?
I don’t really sleep. Well it’s not actually that bad, but there are many nights and weekends that I don’t leave my home office. When I am writing a book, I spend most of my hours working. Between my classes for Stormwind Studios and working on the book, I don’t have much free time, if any.
4) And more, how do you keep up the momentum?
It’s actually very easy because I love what I do. StormWind Studios is one of the very best companies that I have ever worked for. They are on the cutting edge of training techniques and I get to help people learn new things every day. How great is that?
That’s why I love to write the books and train IT people. I really enjoy interacting with everyone in my classes. I am one of those people who feed off of the energy of others. When I help someone learn a new subject, I get pumped. Being able to teach for StormWind Studios and write books for Sybex is the greatest thing ever and I thank my lucky stars that I get to do what I absolutely love to do every day.
5) What advice would you give to other MVPs wanting to write?
Write about the things that you truly know and love. Don’t just write a book, to write a book. Make sure it’s on a subject that you enjoy talking about and working with. Because when you get tired and even discouraged at times, it’s that passion that helps keep you energized.
Once you have an idea for a book, contact other authors or IT publishers. I have helped people get writing contracts and many other authors are willing to do the same. Just don’t ask authors who write the same subjects as you. I can promise you that probably won’t go in the direction you want.
6) What other books or blogs are you reading these days?
Unfortunately, I don’t get to read as many blogs as I wish I could. I like to read Todd Lammle’s blog because I like to hear what’s coming down the Cisco Pike. I like to read the Microsoft Windows Server Blogs and TechNet Blogs. I enjoy hearing about the different issues that people face and how those issues get resolved. I just wish I could remember every cool trick that they talk about on those posts. I also love to listen to audio books. Being able to learn a new technology while driving or traveling is a great way to stay on top of subjects when time is an issue.
7) And finally, do you have anything else to add?
Don’t be afraid to learn new technologies and tricks. I try to learn something new every day and I am proud to admit that I don’t know everything. I know it’s hard to admit that we (MVPs, MCSEs, etc.) don’t know something in IT, but don’t be afraid of that. Embrace that and just always try to be better. The worst thing anyone can do is think that they are at the top of the mountain. That’s normally when we fall off.