Editor's Note: A few months ago, one of my readers sent me an email. Here's what he had to say: "Mr. Colombo, I've enjoyed your articles in Security Sales & Integration magazine over the past few years. I've tried to find out more about you, like whatever possessed you to become a writer in a technical magazine, but I can't find much about you on the Internet, not even on your personal blog or your main TpromoCom website. You should consider writing a story about how and why you entered into this profession. I for one would enjoy reading it." Okay, here is part one, part two yet to come. -Al Colombo
In this world of Internet and eBook publishing, it's not too hard to find someone out there who will be glad to publish your work on their website, in their newsletter, or on their blog. But, 30 years ago, there was no Internet. Print magazines were and still are somewhat difficult to get published in, although with the economy being what it is and the advent of the Web, it's not as hard to get a byline in a print magazine as you might think, especially when you're willing to do it for free.
Many of you who come from the security and life safety markets know me from my articles in SDM (Security Distributing and Marketing) and SSI (Security Sales & Integration). In the 1990s, many of you cut your teeth on the technology by reading my Kinks & Hints column as well as the many Equipment Overviews and Technology Insights that appeared in SDM. Those of you who took the time and made the effort to connect with me soon learned that I had spent 15 years in the field as a technician.
More recently, many of you new to the business also have come to know me by my work in a number of magazines, such as Locksmith Ledger, The Electrical Distributor magazine, Electrical Contractor, and many others, including SSI. Today, in this blog post, I'm going to share with you how and why I left the field to enter the field of technical journalism.
One of the reasons I decided to move from field work to technical writing involves the fact that in 1980 I took a good look around me and I didn't see many older alarm technicians working in the field. Most of them were in their 20s through their 40s. Being born with a spinal defect (spina bifida), I was certain that moving over to the written word was the right course of action for me.
While I continued to work in the field installing and servicing security and fire equipment, I burned the candle at both ends to do it, but after six years of study and many rejection slips, I began to find work as a writer, and I made money doing it. Newspapers first, then small publications that had no involvement in technology issues of any kind. From there I began to solicit opportunities in the security area including locksmithing (I did lock work as a working field technician).
In 1986, I sold my first article, a six-article series actually, to National Locksmith in Carol Stream, Ill. The same year my byline appeared in SDM, Alarm Installing Dealer magazine, and I was hired under contract by McGraw Hill to write a security course for their NRI Correspondent School. I also began writing for Locksmith Ledger (which I still do) as well as Security Dealer, most all of them using pseudonyms (pen names), other than SDM and Locksmith Ledger, which I used my actual name of Allan Colombo.
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