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Book review: Writing White Papers

Fifteen years ago, Michael Stelzner was the world’s leading authority on white papers.

Based in San Diego, he wrote well over 100 white papers for firms such as HP, Microsoft and SAP.

He founded the biggest online forum ever devoted to white papers, called WhitePaperSource (now offline).

Mike Stelzner

He did groundbreaking work, including the biggest-ever survey of white paper writers in 2007.

For several years, he organized an extensive online conference on white papers that I was pleased to speak at.

Through all these efforts, Stelzner helped marketers and writers understand how and why white papers work.


Eventually, he shared his experience in a helpful book called Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged.

This was a great guide on how to create compelling white papers, packed with proven techniques and considered opinions.

It takes a practical, step-by-step approach, assuming the reader has never written a white paper before.

I would have loved to have this book back in 1997 when I was struggling with my very first white paper.

Back then, there was a painful lack of high-quality information on how to write white papers.

This book was the first to fill the gap. And for at least five years, it was the best thing on the market about white papers.

Of course, time moves on

During that time, strangely enough, Stelzner stopped writing white papers.

He wanted to jump into something he rightly perceived would be even bigger: social media.

He created Social Media Examiner which became one of the world’s most influential sources for tips and trends on social media.

So today his book is more of a historical curiosity than the latest and greatest, must-have info.

It’s available used for just a few dollars, as a Kindle e-book for less than $10, or as a new hardcover for around $50.

And I’ve since published the much larger and more comprehensive title, White Papers For Dummies.

But I’m leaving this book review online to pay tribute to Mike Stelzner, a true pioneer of the white paper field.

Thank you for everything you did, Mike.



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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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