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The making of the CCSK All-in-One Exam Guide by Me and McGraw-Hill

I’m putting this out there as simply as possible. I want you to buy my book. I want you to buy it because I believe in it. I believe in it because I believe this book will get you ahead. I wrote this book so you will succeed in passing your CCSK exam.

They say you don’t write a book to become rich. I believe this to be true. I didn’t write this book for money. I wrote this book for you. This subject is after all literally a niche (cloud security) of a niche (security) of a niche (Information Technology). There isn’t any Cloud Security book that will ever sell 1 million copies.

I tried to keep the book as relatable to everyone as possible. The last thing I wanted to create was a dry academic book that required a thesaurus to follow. At every opportunity I included a ‘backgrounder’ section. These backgrounders are meant to fill in any gaps you may have with subjects covered. I think these backgrounders make this book worth your investment as opposed to just reading the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) guidance and other documents (ENISA as well as the CCM and CAIQ) that you need to study before taking your exam.

The Team

This book is more than a single author. Behind the scenes was a team of three technical reviewers, including the CTO of the Cloud Security Alliance, Daniele Cattedu. This team made sure that anything I wrote from a technical perspective was 100% accurate and in-line with CSA best practices and guidance. This review takes place after I would spend an hour researching a statement I knew was true, but had to prove it to myself so I wouldn’t be humiliated by the reviewers before it even got to you. It’s quite different than training the CCSK course. If I make a mistake in a class, I can address it immediately. A mistake in a book means it’s out there forever and in the Library of Congress. It’s probably this reason why it took almost an entire year to finish this book. I was writing the final exam questions on New Year’s Eve 2020 to meet the RSA Conference launch.

Then there’s the McGraw-Hill team behind the book itself. First, there’s my Sponsoring Editor, Wendy Rinaldi. Wendy is simply incredible. Part sponsor, part friend, part psychiatrist. If you ever want to write a book, you need to talk with Wendy before you begin. Wendy does a lot, but doesn’t have anything to do with editing my random thoughts. That’s Lisa’s job. As the Copy Editor, Lisa Theobald was tasked with taking my brokenish English (like the very title of this entry for example!) and make a professional book out of them. Lisa worked with Janet Walden. Janet is the Editorial Supervisor who would ensure the book I was writing was in the same style as other All-in-One books, such as exam tips and notes.

The Process

So, in a nutshell, here’s what needed to happen for every single chapter of the CCSK All-In-One guide:

  • Graham writes chapter. Sends to Sponsoring Editor (Wendy).
  • Wendy sends to the review team (Daniele, Peter, Ryan) which reviews for accuracy and submits feedback.
  • Graham reviews and incorporates feedback and sends back to Sponsoring Editor.
  • Wendy distributes to Editorial Supervisor (Janet).
  • Janet reviews and sends to Copy Editor (Lisa) with notes.
  • Lisa works on manuscript and sends back to Author.
  • Graham approves final copy.
  • Chapter sent to production. Production creates the final format and sends back to author for final review.
  • Graham does final check and chapter is finalized.

This happened 17 times. This process even existed for the glossary. By my math, that’s over 150 steps that needed to be taken to publish this book. Then an additional 200 test questions needed to be created and reviewed. I sincerely feel this entire process resulted in a book that simply cannot be replicated by a single person. As I stated in the acknowledgements, this process made me appreciate just how difficult it is to create a book with a leading publishing company.

Your Benefit

Finally, let’s talk about dollars and cents. As of the time of writing, the CSA exam is $400. The book includes a 10% discount code towards your exam, a savings of $40. At this time, this awesome book is available on Amazon for under $40 as both a physical book and as a Kindle edition. You literally get this book for free or even save a few bucks. Did I mention it’s an awesome book and well worth your investment?

Interested in taking the CCSK training course with me instead? The following options are here for you:

CCSK Foundation Training (2 days official CSA training)

CCSK Plus Training (3 days official CSA foundation training and hands-on AWS labs)

CCSK On-demand Training

All my best,


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Graham Thompson is an Information Security professional with over 25 years of enterprise experience across engineering, architecture, assessment and training disciplines. He is the founder and CEO of Intrinsec Security, a leading training company that is solely focused on delivering leading authorized IT security training from partners such as the Cloud Security Alliance, ISC2, ISACA, EC-Council and CompTIA.

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