If you have ever starred blankly at your Kindle because it wouldn’t work right or tried to figure out how to set up a TypePad blog and went to the bookstore to get some help, then you probably know the name Scott McNulty. The author of several books about everything from Google + to WordPress, Scott has been helping people get in touch with their technology for years.
Scott was nice enough to answer a few questions about writing, being a foodie and giving writing advice to your wife.
So tell the Geekadelphia readers about yourself. Have you always been a tech guy?
I’ve always been a geek, even in the Dark ages when that wasn’t cool, but I haven’t always been a tech guy. I spent most of my childhood/teen years reading about elves and spaceships, but I wasn’t really interested in technology. In fact, I didn’t even own a computer of my own until a year after I graduated from college in 1999.
What’s the hardest part of taking something like, say, the Kindle Fire, and making it easy for anyone to use?
Probably getting people to realize that tech books offer up useful information that you won’t find in the manual. Technology companies spend a lot of money trying to convince people that their products are “intuitive” and “easy to use.” In some cases this is true, but I find that lots of people still turn to the geeks in their lives to answer a variety of questions.
When I write I try to image myself in that role of tech confidante, answering the questions people have but might be hesitant to ask because the gadget they’re using is supposed to be so simple to use.
Other than that it is all about judging how much your reader knows vs. what they don’t. Will they know what “tapping” and “swiping” on a screen means? Surely they’ve heard of apps, but do they really know what apps are?
You are also something of a foodie. Are there any similarities between writing about food and tech?
I don’t do a heck of a lot of food writing, but I can tell you that people really into food, just like those really into tech, have strong opinions and aren’t afraid to share them.
Your wife Marisa McClellan just published the Food in Jars cookbook. As someone who has written a whole bunch of tech how-to books, did you have any advice for her?
All writers have a natural enemy: the deadline. My biggest piece of advice for Marisa, which she ignored, was: start writing as much as you can now even though your deadline is months and months away. When I wrote my first book I had something like 7 months to write it, so I spent the first month thinking about how cool it was I was writing a book.
I spent the second month thinking maybe I should start. The third month was devoted to really getting that outline fleshed out while the fourth month was all about organizing my desk (I can’t write this all these distractions!). Then I freaked out because I only had a few weeks to turn in the first half of the book, so I spent as many of my waking hours as possible feverishly writing.
I hoped to spare Marisa this experience, but you really have to live through it to understand.
So what’s next for you in terms of writing?
I’m sure I’ll write another tech book or two that no one in my family will read.
If you had a choice, get your hands on the next-gen iPad a month before everyone else or dinner at a brand new high end restaurant so you could write a review, which would you choose?
Assuming the dinner was free, I’d go with the restaurant. It would be neat to play with a next-gen iPad, but you have to return those review units so I’d end up buying one for myself. However, I don’t think the restaurant would want me to return my meal.