It was 10 years ago last month that I began writing what would eventually become “Managing Online Forums.” April 28 will mark 5 years that it has been in publication.
Digging through my emails, the earliest message that I can find mentioning the project is in May of 2004. I had told some friends about it before that, but it was via instant message. I kept the whole project very close to the vest, not even telling my family until I had an offer from a publisher. The email was sent to Jared Smith, Chrispian Burks and Stephan Segraves. It was titled “Book/Long Article.” Note that I had not yet committed to the idea of it being a book and was not sure if I could do it. It included this:
“As you know, I’ve been working when I can on a book/long article on Internet Community Development. It is sitting at 38,888 words right now. I wanted to ask you if you might want to take a look at it, read it, let me know what you think and possibly suggest some new things for me to cover (if you had any). No real rush, just when you can.”
In 2005, I signed a deal with a small publisher but months later, they dropped me, deciding that it didn’t fit in with their titles, after re-evaluation. I emailed Stephan and he said: “The book definitely has the potential to be very, very popular, publishers just need to realize it.”
That week, after being dropped, I contacted Jeremy Wright and asked for him to introduce me to his agent, Neil Salkind. Within a few weeks, I signed and went to work on proposals and on expanding the tentatively titled “Managing Internet Community Forums.” It took years and many, many publishers saying no. But finally, one editor (Jacqueline Flynn of AMACOM) said that she wanted it. A year later, it was released.
Community management wasn’t the hot job it is now. But in my proposal, written 8 years ago, I said that I wanted to write a book that would “focus on forums, but with principles that can be applied to most types of internet communities” and would “give everyone something to think about and to broaden their community management knowledge.”
I’ve been very grateful for how well the book has been received and adopted. From veterans of the profession to people who are brand new, small communities and large corporations, people have found value in it and utilized it as a resource as they grow their own online communities. It’s always meaningful to me when I see someone utilizing some piece of strategy I provided, using my guideline examples or something similar.
I am humbled by and proud of the reviews that the book has received. For example, I remember reading the reviews written by Chris Brogan, Jason Falls and Jay Baer for the first time and being blown away that they even took the time, for someone they didn’t really know, and touched by how kind they were. Those emotions were repeated more than a few times as different people reviewed the book. I was similarly amazed when I received advance praise from recording artist and producer Ryan Leslie. And, of course, all of the reviews and advance praise meant a lot to me. Thank you to everyone who provided them.
I’m proud that the book has 64 reviews on Amazon.com and 77 across all Amazon sites. I have this crazy dream that a book about forums could hit 100 reviews on Amazon. The important parts of the book are still as relevant today as when they were released, so I feel like we could do it. Maybe I’m crazy. Similarly, it’s astonishing to me that the book is in at least 766 libraries.
I’m grateful for how community management veterans have embraced my work, those who came up after me, with me or before me. People like Rebecca Newton, Bill Johnston and Martin Reed. When Rebecca called the book, “the ‘Strunk and White’ for online forums,’ that really meant a lot.
There are many people I could thank. Everyone who has purchased the book, everyone who has shared the book, everyone who has reviewed it, everyone who has said a kind word or otherwise supported it. Thank you.
Thank you to my family and my friends mentioned above – Jared, Chrispian, Stephan and Jeremy – in addition to Brandon Eley for their support. Thank you to Neil, Jacquie, all of the people at AMACOM, all of the current and former staff members on my forums and everyone in the book’s acknowledgements.
The passage of time is crazy. To think that 10 years has passed since I had the idea for the book is hard to fathom. But with 10 years comes a lot of personal development and many relationships and friendships that I am grateful for. Thank you.