This year Microsoft Press will publish my 100th book. It has been some journey, let me tell you. I didn’t start out knowing I would be successful, but I had a dream, a vision, and a destination in mind. Still, the road I traveled certainly wasn’t without its potholes and off ramps. I started out as a guy who loved technology and writing almost as much as breathing. And, on the rare occasions when I wasn’t working or studying, I was with my wife and kids in the great outdoors—swimming, hiking, biking, and wandering about in the real depth of it.
My trip down the road to Book #100 began in 1994. At the time, I was working full-time in the United States Air Force and taking a full-time course load while trying to earn my Master’s degree. I had just earned my bachelor’s degree in May after three years of taking a full class load while also working rotating shifts for my job in the military. When one of my professors suggested I should try to publish my master’s thesis, I set out to do exactly that. My query letters led to a contract for a book titled Electronic Publishing Unleashed (Sams Publishing, 1995).
After having been unsuccessful in prior attempts to break into publishing with my fiction, I was elated to be on the road to having a published book to my credit. By the time I wrote Electronic Publishing Unleashed, gathered contributions from colleagues, and the book was published in 1995, the book was over 1000 pages long. It was my first published book, and it became the book that defined electronic and digital publishing for a generation of readers. Within days of publication, I was already writing the sequel, a book called Web Publishing Unleashed (Sams Publishing, 1996), which became one of the seminal early books on the topic of publishing on the World Wide Web. The huge success of those books lead to more book contracts with the same publisher and had a large impact on my decision to leave the military in June 1996.
In 1997, I wrote a little book about Web promotion. The book talked about silly stuff like how to get your Web page listed on Cool Site lists, how to use giveaways like free t-shirts to get visitors to your site, and how to register with search engines. That silly little book became one of the most talked about Web promotion books of its time, earning me radio and newspaper interviews, and eventually becoming the largest seller for its little publisher, Prima. The book was even mentioned and quoted by Donald Trump in his business books.
A year later, in 1998, I tried to move to full-time consulting in Internet and Web technology areas, but the promise of a new series that I could shape and make my own brought me back to the world of technology writing. The series was Administrator’s Pocket Consultant. My trademark style helped establish the series and was so successful that I became its sole author for a time. However, a strong desire to help shape Internet business brought me back to the tech industry for several short periods during 1999, 2000, and 2001.
This “transition period” was a difficult time for my family and me. I suffered a series of setbacks both personal and professional. Adding to those difficulties were my efforts to launch my career as a fiction writer. Finally, in 2002, I followed the successful publication of my first fiction book with a series of successes in technical writing and these combined successes helped to establish me as both a fiction writer and a nonfiction writer.
A few years later, a crisis nearly derailed me, but I held steady because I’m generally too darn stubborn to give up, stubbornness and tenacity being important ingredients for success, along with a willingness to work in partnership with others. Fast forward to 2009, a year when my 100th book will be published, and you’ll find the same guy—the guy who loves technology and writing, his family, and the outdoors—only now he’s a little older, a little grayer, and a little more sensible (but no less determined and no less exuberant when it comes to doing what he loves). Through sixteen years, 100 books, 50,000 pages, and ten million words, the dream, the vision, and the destination have remained the same, and I hope you will hang in there with me till the road ends. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support.
—William R. Stanek