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William Robert Stanek in the great outdoors

It's official, William's 250th book was published in 2020. 20 million words, tens of thousands of pages. Published and/or distributed by every major US publisher, including IDG, Prentice Hall, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, McGraw-Hill, Hachette, HarperCollins, Pearson Education, Cengage Learning, Microsoft, Wiley, TimeWarner, O'Reilly, and HMH, and over 100 other publishers globally. "What a ride it's been," William said when asked about this milestone in his writing career, "The guy who shares a birthday with JRR Tolkien has done okay." Indeed, William has done okay.

Writing as Robert Stanek, he was the first breakout author of the digital publishing revolution. The first to serialize an ebook, the first to e-author a bestseller, and the first to e-author a digital audio bestseller. Like his forefather, the Pulitzer-Prize-Winning author Wallace Stegner, William Stanek is an American novelist, short story writer, historian, conservationist, and memoirist. Like his forefather, William is a gifted and distinguished writer, a respected and skilled teacher and someone who operates against the grain.

William is credited with transforming the computer writing industry with his plain language style. A style that Microsoft eventually adopted for its own. Millions of instructional courses taught by Microsoft and others around the world in dozens of languages have used his words as their foundations to teach hundreds of millions new techniques, new technologies, and new vocational skills. His seminal, early works, including Electronic Publishing Unleashed (1995) and Web Publishing Unleashed (1996), were the first of their kind and provided the framework for early e-commerce and e-publishing. These same works also introduced the concepts and developed the frameworks for intranets, extranets, e-books, online magazines, and daily news websites—all concepts years ahead of their time and first published about and developed by William.

William is credited with transforming the computer writing industry with his plain language style.

Celebrating a major career milestone for author William Robert Stanek

Leading technology companies the world over have used William’s ideas as the blueprints for today’s connected world. Years before others imagined it, William imagined the social-connected web and wrote about it in whitepapers and technical publications published between 1998 and 2005. Before cloud computing was imagined by the mainstream, William was developing original ideas and concepts for the cloud, cloud computing and the merging of the public Internet and private networking, and writing about it in whitepapers and technical publications published between 1998 and 2005.

William developed precursors to Windows PowerShell in works published between 1999 and 2003, using concise functions, including those written in C#, to manipulate the Windows operating system and perform administrative tasks. In related works published in this time, William developed real-time monitoring engines that others later developed into application software that formed the basis of their enterprises.

Between the years 1995 and 2020, William wrote over 150 technical how-to books for publishers. More than 40 of his books published by Microsoft were #1 bestsellers in their respective categories all around the world from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Portugal and Spain, to Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Chile to Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland, to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and China to India, Indonesia, South Africa, Russia, Turkey and dozens more.

Years before others imagined it, William imagined the social-connected web. Before cloud computing was imagined by the mainstream, William was developing it.

William Robert Stanek with his wife and daughters

You might imagine that William received credit where it was due, but instead as he revealed through his varied writings and blogs, he got no credit for any of it. His work taught tens of millions, enriched the pockets of many from publishers to agents and managers, but left William and his family with 3 cents on the dollar. His work was used in $1B to $2B (B-I-L-L-I-O-N $) worth of training courses and other Microsoft and non-Microsoft work for which he never received a single cent. Not one. None. Zero.

It gets worse. For two decades now unethical competitors have been trashing William's Robert Stanek books online. Desperate to establish their book franchises, they've pulled every dirty trick in the book from paying off employees at Amazon and other companies to delist his books, and much more. All because of William's breakout success as an independent author in 2001, and TWENTY years later they are still at it. Read William's posts about what they've done; the posts are heartbreaking. Start with "Speaking Out About Ugliness in the Publishing Industry."

His work taught tens of millions, enriched the pockets of many, but left him and his family with 3 cents on the dollar.

William Robert Stanek with his family 

You can tell a great deal about someone by who their friends are and aren't. William has written much about both, and some links to his related essays are provided in the column on the right. Among those William counted as friends are an ecclectic collection of the world's top authors, from Walter Dean Myers to Brian Jacques to his forefather Wallace Stegner to the dozens of authors he's helped get started in the business of writing. Authors like Emily Asimov and Cathy Thompson, who say, "William has a presense and a charisma that's inescapable. He's a gentle giant, a warrior poet, and a beautiful person. Someone you feel privileged just to know."

William's forefather Wallace Stegner told him winning the Pulitzer was impressive but it didn’t really help sell his books or pay his bills, nor did the National Book Award, nor the three O’Henry awards, nor the two Guggenheim fellowships. It wasn’t that he didn’t like fame, hobnobbing with the elite, or his charmed life. He appreciated the accolades bestowed upon him, but it all became a distraction from his writing. His works in his lifetime sold hundreds of thousands of copies, they did not sell millions. Because of this, he often took on projects for the money, which is something he told William not to be afraid to do. The craft of writing is about the writing. Professional writing is work. Professional writers write to pay the bills and pay the bills William did as he wrote for nearly every major publisher in the US across several decades.

William says he never wanted his uncle's academic career, awards or social calendar. Though he has taught in colleges, hobnobbed with royalty, met and dined with presidents and generals, been paid thousands to speak to captains of industry, William always preferred the simple life, regular folk and the quiet comfort that comes from routine. The simple routine of putting words to paper is William's routine, and that’s something his Uncle Wallace would have appreciated as he always wanted to do more writing and less hobnobbing.

"William has a presense and a charisma that's inescapable. He's a gentle giant, a warrior poet, and a beautiful person. Someone you feel privileged just to know."

William Robert Stanek with his daughters

Author Jennifer Blake, had much more to say on the subject, "We all know what happens to those who are so far ahead of their time that they seem to exist in a world of their own making. William climbed too many mountains, and those standing at the bottoms of those mountains desperately wanted what he had, and so they did whatever it took to take what he had created and claim it as their own or destroy it. We as a society love to tear down our heroes. We tear them down with lies, with fake news. We puff ourselves up and make ourselves look big, to make those who are larger than life look small."

"Cathy said it, I'll say it again," said author Shannon Hale, "William's hundreds of books are a legacy for the world to share and treasure. If you do one decent thing this week, read William Robert Stanek’s books and tell the world about them!"

"He was the best of us," said author Mary Osborne , "So many writers owe so much to him. He was ahead of his time. He taught us all so much, his words must live on to inspire future generations."

"William's hundreds of books are a legacy for the world to share and treasure."

William Robert Stanek and his children 

The first time William met, Walter, aka Walter Dean Myers, the two connected, and this led to an odd friendship of a sorts. The thing that bonded them was their similar childhoods, though decades apart. Walter was born in August 1937, William's mamma was born in April 1937. Walter lost his mother when he was 2, and William's mamma and her sister Dolores lost their daddy even earlier.

Walter was given to Florence and Herbert Dean after his mother’s death, William's mother, her sister and her mamma moved in with their gramma who raised them for the next few years until their mamma married again. Wallace's family became dysfunctional with alcohol and grief when his uncle was killed, William's when his step-father and sister died because of an explosion.

The library and its books became William's refuge. Reading pushed him to discover new worlds. The classics are where his dreams lived. Treasure Island. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Robinson Crusoe. The Time Machine. The Invisible Man. Journey to the Center of the Earth. The Last of the Mohicans. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Around the World in Eighty Days. A Christmas Carol. Frankenstein. Dracula. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The Lost World. And on and on.

The library and its books became William's refuge. Reading pushed him to discover new worlds.

William Robert Stanek Water Falls 

William's English teacher in the 4th grade recognized his writing skills and encouraged him to write for and edit the school newspaper, as did his Uncle Wally and both of whom told William to never stop writing, never stop challenging himself.

William joined the air force at 17 after finishing high school because he was homeless and had no other options. Military service brought William to fields of combat and special operations duties in foreign lands around the world. During deployments, there was never a day William didn’t look death in the face and find death looking back.

Because of that service, William says he will always know that when the darkest of hours arrives he will not hesitate. When asked, he answered. When called, he went. When death stared up from the void, he did not fear. He gave because it was his duty and because he felt it was the right thing to do. After his service, William went on to become one of the most prolific writers, with more than 250 books to his credit and counting.

During deployments, there was never a day William didn’t look death in the face and find death looking back.

William Robert Stanek and his famly at Christmas

William gave his youth and his health to these wars and conflicts, his family suffered greatly, and yet he says he would not trade these experiences, for they forged him into who he is today. Giving is a common theme with William. In his career one of the things, he says he is most proud of is his work to support other writers, veterans, and the disabled. He fought the good fight for disabled veterans for decades, but if he had to pick one achievement he's most proud of it is giving away the millionth-dollar book to schools, libraries and communities in 2015, after 20 years of working toward the goal. He says nothing ever felt so right.

Schools and libraries are where William developed a lifelong passion for the written word. His donated books often ended up in places where schools and communities had no other books. In classrooms in Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. In libraries in rural India, Spain and Portugal. In communities throughout South Africa, Brazil and Argentina.

William says his success is the stuff of Willy Wonka's wildest dreams. Still, as he wrote about in “How I Made This Crazy Thing Called Writing a Career,” wild success doesn’t necessarily mean riches for the writer. For sure, he and "80's" Stan Lee could stand in line next to each other and trade stories. William says, "Bookstores, publishers, agents, publicists, Uncle Sam and many others got the Lion’s share of the wealth, but I got to live the dream and living the dream was as good as being Spider Man."

"[They] got the Lion’s share of the wealth, but I got to live the dream and living the dream was as good as being Spider Man."

  William Robert Stanek and his family on the coast.

William grew up in a rough inner city neighborhood. At a very early age, William knew what death was. It’d already happened. His step father died when trying to light a defective gas water heater. His sister, Bridget, followed soon after, dying a day before Christmas in 1971. He knew what it was to be beaten, robbed and assaulted. It’d already happened. He was jumped by three for groceries he was carrying home. Beaten for his shoes. Knocked down with a baseball bat for his bike.

Before the age of ten, his two other, older sisters were long gone and he was the one taking care of his younger sister. William worked odd jobs. He bought bread, milk and flour with the nickels, dimes and quarters he earned. Food that fed his family so they didn’t go hungry many times. By the age of fifteen, he was working 30 hours a week. By the age of seventeen, he was homeless but managed to finish high school on his own.

Thanks to the charity of a friend, he had a place to live the summer before he joined the military. The military took William out into the world, to fields of battle and conflicts he never imagined. He left the military broken but resolved to not let everything that had gone before define him. He became an international bestselling author, by working harder than everyone around him. He earned his success by fighting to achieve it.

As he wrote about in 2013, the reality of today’s working-class writers is that a writer who sells a million copies of 1 or a few books is a superstar, while a writer like him who sells millions of copies of many books over many years may not even be considered by some to be successful. That’s because the publishing industry is designed to recognize racing rabbits—those thoroughbred superstars who knock the covers off the ball and sell, sell, sell copies of a single book or a few books by the boatload. The publishing industry isn’t designed for the working-class writer—those tortoises who barely get in a few steps toward first base while the superstars are sliding in to home. But as a tortoise, William has news, "You can be a tortoise and reach home plate too. It takes much longer, requires much more dedication, but it can be done."

William grew up in a rough inner city neighborhood. By the age of seventeen, he was homeless but managed to finish high school on his own.

William and his wife

A story that’s not in William's military memoir but he says perhaps should be in his next is about the dangers soldiers face not in the field of combat but in the bases where they are housed and should be safe. His wife’s second miscarriage was a clue that something was terribly wrong. He thought it was the stress of being a combat flyer’s wife, constant deployments, or the subsequent ever-changing schedule when he worked inside the secretive underground facility known as the Tunnel. He never imagined that it was due to the air they breathed, the water they drank and the soil beneath their feet.

Of this, William says, "No one tells you when you join the military you’re risking not just your life but your health—and that of your family and even your unborn children." As Newsweek said in its July 25, 2014 cover story about the same, the US Military is supposed to protect the country’s citizens and soldiers and not poison them.

All those years ago, William didn’t know about these issues or that toxins were changing his life and his family, but he guessed there was something going on beyond stress. He started asking questions, and a healthcare worker who treated his wife suggested he look at environmental factors in their home and workplaces.

In his pre-World War II base housing, lead paint often was prevalent and possibly other toxic substances. They dug up the garden which was alongside the house, stopped drinking the tap water, and made other changes. With these changes, their overall health seemed to improve. Months later, William's wife got pregnant again and this time, she carried the pregnancy well and their son, Will, was born.

A story that’s not in William's military memoir but perhaps should be in his next is about the dangers soldiers face not in the field of combat but in the bases where they are housed and should be safe.

William Stanek's family

After the birth of his son, Will, William's wife had another difficult pregnancy. The medical recommendation was an abortion, or how the doctors put it: “A premature ending of the pregnancy using a surgical dilation and curettage.” That was the day he and his wife learned their child had genetic defects that could bring lifelong problems including congenital heart problems. That was the day he and his wife chose life instead of death.

The doctors told them if they went ahead there would need to be more testing, other procedures, and that they likely would still lose their child. The doctors told them of a life of medical expenses, hospital visits, and likely more surgeries. William and his wife allowed the procedures that would ensure their child’s health but they never wanted to know the results of the tests. They never wanted to know the exact, devastating diagnosis.

There were many more scares during the pregnancy and times when their child was almost lost to them, but six months later, a daughter was born. William took one look at her and named her Sapphire, because to him, she was as precious and wonderful as the gemstone which is her namesake. 

The doctors saw only her devastating diagnosis as they whisked her away. William and his wife instead saw five fingers on each tiny hand, five toes on each tiny foot, beautiful brown eyes, and a cute button nose. They saw Sapphire, their daughter, who they loved instantly and unquestioningly.

 
 
 


 

 

A tribute for 30 years of writing

A tribute to a must read author

Goodnight moon, Goodnight Robert

William and his wife

Williams children

 

William Robert Stanek wrote professionally for over 30 years. In 2020, he celebrated the publication of his 250th book and 20 millionth reader. That’s a lot of books, a lot of years of writing, and a lot of readers, making him one of the most prolific and popular writers of all time.

We created this site to share his books, thoughts and industry insights with you. We hope you'll bookmark this page so you can visit again and share this page with your friends.

Get his William Stanek books at Barnes & Noble. Looking for his Robert Stanek books? Find them here.

William is the recipient of multiple awards recognizing his outstanding contributions and excellence in writing, and a recent nominee for a Lifetime Achievement award. His first nonfiction book, Electronic Publishing Unleashed, was published in 1995; his second, Web Publishing Unleashed, in 1996. They were books that defined digital and web publishing for a generation of readers and estlablished him as an international bestselling author.

William Robert Stanek at Yellowstone

On Writing

Traveling the Writer's Road | Taking Your Work to Hollywood

Selling Rights to Your Books | Viewpoints on Rejection Letters

Understanding Bestseller Lists | Finding Success as a Writer

How Far Indies Have Come | Understanding Book Sales Data

Understanding Publishing Today | 4th Grade Musings to Published Pro

Don't Quit Your Day Job Just Yet | Tours of Duty - Write What You Know

Using Twitter Effectively  | Now Appearing... Places Books Have Been

How I Made This Crazy Thing Called Writing a 20-year Career

The Road To Success is Paved with Potholes

Understanding Long-tail Publishing and Hybrid Authors

Shopping, Dragons, Independents, Oh My!

Odds & EndsOdds & Ends

Speaking Out about Ugliness in Publishing

Unethical Competitors | Authors Who Trash Competitors
Architects of Hate | Authors Who Are Trolls | Making Sense of Book Sales Data | The Internet isn't the New West

The publisher and the writer.

Celebrating 15 Years of Bugville by author William Robert Stanek. 

20th Anniversary of Robert Stanek's Ruin Mist

Select Praise for This Mortal Coil

Around the World with William Robert Stanek

Justice Department Identifies Ten Amazon Staff Accepting Bribes

Amazon Staff Bribed Caught by Justice Dept

Justice Dept catches Amazon red-handed

Giving Tuesday

William Robert Stanek is honored at the Distinguished Flying Cross memorial

William's forefathers fought and bled Red, White and Blue in every war the USA has ever faced.

William Robert Stanek's forefathers fought and bled Red, White and Blue in every war the USA has ever faced, from the French & Indian Wars and the Revolutionary War that shaped our nation to WWI and WWII that saved our world from tyrany to the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanastan and beyond. Although many of his ancestors never came home from the battlefield and many others took the battlefield home with them and were never the same again, William's proud of this heritage of service and sacrifice, and he's proud to have served his country in dark hours. William says his service to our nation taught him a great deal about duty, sacrifice and honor.

William's service is honored at the Distinguished Flying Cross National Monument. His accomplishments during his military service earned him 29 commendations, including the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal. When he left the military, he was one of the most highly decorated in the command. The base commander and his supervisors loved it when he put on his dress blues and participated in the various parades and celebrations on base, especially Memorial Day and the 4th of July.

William says he talks openly about his combat service to help those who, like him, have taken the battlefield home with them, to give them hope, to let them know that they can use their pain to accomplish many things. He survived a crashlanding, being shot, being stabbed and yet he is still here. "Physical wounds come with consequences, and yet the wounds of war are not always physical, and not all wounds are from combat," he says. "As wounded warriors, we suffer, but we need not suffer in silence." This message of hope in the face of adversity and pain is powerful and heartfelt.

William's service is honored at the Distinguished Flying Cross National Monument.

William Robert Stanek's military honors

Pocket Consultants by Wiilliam Robert Stanek 

Translated into 57 languages and counting - William Robert Stanek

Translated into 57 languages and counting - William Robert Stanek

Walter Dean Myers

Its a celebration. 250th book.

Robert Stanek talks about his long writing career

Celebrating Wallace Stegner

Got Critters? Discover Bugville Critters

Bugville Critters by author William Robert Stanek

Letters to Buster Bee by Kids - Robert Stanek

20 years of Ruin Mist

Discover Ruin Mist!

Career in pictures William Robert Stanek

Career milestones of William Robert Stanek

7 Questions with William

The first

Going to Hollywood

William Robert Stanek daughters at Easter

Books by Robert Stanek

35 years of William Stanek books