Turning a Blog Into a Book

Turning a Blog Into a Book

I'm fascinated by people's stories and the decisions they made to move their career forward or, in some cases, backwards. I decided to take that to a whole new level with my friend Troy Hunt. We're turning his blog into a book...

· 3 min read

I find programmers to be fascinating people. We’re all human but there’s an additional something that, to me, is fascinating to dig for. It’s the main reason I created This Developer’s Life with Scott Hanselman: I like digging into the human side of programmers.

We’re All Human… But…

There’s usually something more to our stories. Maybe it’s an extra bit of analysis we give to a life decision or, in my case at least, not reading a social situation in the same way as someone else which can cause issues.

I was listening to my favorite TDL interview the other day and marveled at the way Bill Hill, with his thick Scottish Brogue, was able to effortlessly weave a story about fonts and tracking animals in a forest. I also couldn’t get over how taken Geoffrey Grosenbach was the first time he saw the Klavika font!

I loved having the time to sit with people during the interviews I did for TDL. We would talk for hours and for the first 45 minutes I would usually ask “easy” questions, letting the person I was talking to ease into the idea of going deeper into the more human side of things.

I got surprising candid interviews this way! And then a few years ago, a thought occurred to me…

Why Not Try This With a Blog?

Let’s be honest: most blog posts are written with little time given to the story being told. Even if the time is taken, blog writers (myself included) have become much more anodyne and cautious with what they’re writing about.

There are a few writers who are a bit different, however. Some are a bit more brazen and don’t give a toss if people are offended and yet others write with a degree of personal candor that you feel like their a good friend of yours!

That, my friends, is Troy Hunt. It’s entirely likely you already know who Troy is or, more likely, have used (directly or not) his service Have I Been Pwnd!. He’s an outstanding writer and has no problem sharing the ups and downs of his career and personal life, but.

But.

There’s Something More There

As open as Troy is, I know there are details in his story that I would find fascinating. If I was to interview him I would probably start with a simple question like:

How did you end up doing security stuff? How does anyone?

From there I would keep digging because I would want to know if it was a conscious decision, dumb luck, or both! The fun thing is that Troy has sort of blogged about this stuff, but like I said, there’s more there.

This, to me, is the pivotal thing about this idea: Troy is writing introductions and epilogs to each post, often times providing answers to my questions. Mind you this isn’t juicy gossipy stuff (for the most part) - often it’s from a simple question like “wait - you worked at Pfizer for a long time - until 2015 or something! What made you quit? Did you leave because of the Big Training Bucks or… what?”

He told me a few things, a lot of which he had written in the post (which I had read). It all made sense but there was something missing. He then said to me “OK, let me tell you about Gerard…”

It was a fantastic story and is exactly what I was looking for. The small, major details that make us human and make stories come alive.

Help Us?

We don’t have a title, a cover and we’re not entirely sure of the posts we’re going to include. Troy is hard at work refining the intros and epilogs (which are all written but we’re in the editing process) and we would both love your help.

To be specific:

  • I feel good about the presentation/focus of the book, however I could be missing something
  • Try as I might, I just can’t find the right title. We have a few candidates but I think something from the public would be good
  • Same goes for the cover. I keep vascilating between dramatic, goofy and personable. Would love some feedback!

To that end I created a mailing list and we’ll be sending out updates when they happen… maybe twice a week. We’re also going to live stream an editing/writing session as an experiment to see if doing this completely transparently helps unblock us on some things.

I can’t post the link to the live stream because of YouTube reasons (which I don’t understand) but if you want to watch we’re “doin it live” on April 13th at 2PM PDT. I’ll post the link here when I can but you can also check twitter (@robconery and @troyhunt) as we’ll post it there too.

I’m excited about this idea. I’d love to work with others in the future if it all pans out.

Self-taught programmer like me?
Don’t have a CS degree and feel like you’re falling behind in conversation? Hey - me too... so I wrote this book.

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