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Writing White Papers book review

Ten years ago, Michael Stelzner was one of the world’s leading authorities on white papers.

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

He also founded the WhitePaperSource, the biggest online forum ever devoted to white papers.

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

And for several years running, he offered an extensive online conference on white papers that I was pleased to speak at.

Through all these efforts, Stelzner really helped B2B marketers gain a better understanding of 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.

Writing White Papers book cover

Stelzner produced a ground-breaking guide on how to create compelling white papers, focusing on what I call the problem/ solution flavor.

His book is 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, and for years afterward, there was a painful lack of high-quality information on how to write white papers. This book was the first to fill the gap.

Stelzner provides a 10-step process that starts with an all-important needs assessment to help clarify the topic, define the ideal reader and pinpoint the goals of the piece.

Then he deals with the essentials of white paper outlines, interviews, research, titles, contents and formats.

A final chapter covers how to promote your white paper once it’s finished: a critical detail that’s too often left to chance.

If you absolutely, positively have to get started right away, a quick-start guide shows how to jump right in and get to work.

Even today, eight years after it was published, this book is still a standard reference in the field.

Anyone seeking to develop or publish white papers in the problem/solution format should buy this book, study its approach, and follow its recommendations.

You will be far ahead of the crowd.

By the way, Stelzner only stopped writing white papers to jump into an even larger trend: social media. He created Social Media Examiner, an online magazine that is one of the world’s most influential sources for tips and trends on social media. Good luck, Mike!

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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 300+ 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 50+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. And named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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