Chapter 6: Marketing Your Book
Our marketing and sales groups have the same goal as you do: to sell
many copies of your book. This chapter gives you an overview of where
we sell your book and the kinds of questions we'll ask you to help us
make the sales.
O'Reilly Sales Channels
O'Reilly Media has some unique marketing strengths as a
publisher, as a result of our grounding in the technical community. We have
strong corporate ties--we concentrate on selling books in volume to
manufacturers wherever possible and we develop books with corporations
who are working with exciting new technology. And, we market strongly
to individuals, through catalogs and other mailings.
We are also developing traditional retail and distribution channels,
and in recent years, have increased bookstore sales dramatically, with
several books appearing on national bestseller lists. Most
bookstores now see us as the most important UNIX publisher and perhaps
even the most important computer book publisher.
How do we sell our titles?
Direct mail. We have a huge database of
repeat mail-order customers. We mail catalogs and newsletters to these
customers several times a year. (We are now experimenting with more
frequent and targeted mailings.) If you haven't seen one of our catalogs,
please ask to be put on our mailing list, so that you can keep apprised of
what we're doing.
Corporate sales. Books in our X Window System Series have
been shipped as documentation
and/or recommended by over 20 major workstation manufacturers, like Sun,
IBM, and HP. Many of our other books are also sold in
volume to corporations. Our corporate
sales staff also works as a liaison between corporations and editors
to develop new books on developing technology.
US/Canadian Bookstores. Technical and non-technical
bookstores stock computer
books. We now have approximately 3,200 stores as customers plus the
major bookstore chains, such as WaldenBooks and Barnes & Noble/B. Dalton's. (Our books
are of course not appropriate for many of the smaller mall stores, but
are carried where appropriate.)
In many of those stores, our books are prominently featured,
often face-out, and frequently populating window displays
because of their popularity, and their distinctive covers.
Our retail salespeople work
with our top bookstores to maximize sales by checking inventory, arranging
in-store promotions and co-op advertising, giving information about titles,
occasionally arranging in-store author appearances, etc.
US/Canadian Distributors. Distributors such as Ingram are the
preferred ordering source for many small bookstores. Our books are
carried by all of the major US distributors.
Overseas distribution. We sell books directly in the US, Canada,
South America, and Japan. In 1994, we started separate companies in
Germany and France to develop local language titles and to market
our English-language books there.
To get greater exposure in the large computer book market overseas, we
have tapped into some existing technical book distribution networks.
Woodslane distributes our books in Australia, and International Thomson
distributes our titles in the rest of the world.
Education/Training. More of our books are being adopted for courses.
We send information to professors, trainers, and college
Trade shows. Shows give us direct customer feedback,
new customers at a reasonable cost, and editorial and corporate
contacts. We attend both technical and publishing shows.
In 1994, we attended Usenix, LISA, UNIX Expo, InterOp, Internet
World, Xhibition, SIGGRAPH, Fed UNIX, Sun Expo, Uniforum, and
a number of smaller conferences. In the publishing world, we attended the
Frankfurt Book Fair,
the American Booksellers Association (ABA) show, as well as numerous
regional ABA shows.
We have a first class operation, and regularly get dozens (if not
hundreds) of reviews of our books in both technical and general
publications, as well as on the net. Our books, authors and
editors have been quoted frequently in national publications
such as Time Magazine, The New York Times,
and The Wall Street Journal.
The O'Reilly website contains an online catalog, list of new and upcoming releases,
online magazine, and assorted product and topical information centers,
all of which feature our books. We design online promo pages and
online ads for new books, and announce them across the
Net (on Usenet, mailing lists, and to targeted Web sites).
maintain gopher and ftp servers, and use direct-email (to people who've
requested it) to keep people informed about our new books.
An Author Questionnaire
When your book is in draft form, marketing will send you an author
questionnaire. Your answers help us to sell your book.
Why do we need you to tell us how to do our job?
You're the one person who knows the most about your book--not only the
subject matter, but also about the audience. The people that we want
to reach--the people who will want to read your book--are a lot like
you. They are likely to read the same journals, attend the same
conferences, respect the same experts as you do. They are also likely
to have the same needs that led you to want to write the book in the
first place. To find out about the book's audience, we start by
finding out about you.
After you've written a first draft of the book we'll send you an author
questionnaire that asks questions like the following:
Personal information. We'll ask how you want your name to
appear on the book, a short biography for the back of the book,
and how to get in contact with you. We'll also
request a black-and-white photo (passport photos are fine) for
our newsletter and for fliers about author appearances.
Your affiliations. We'll want to know where you went to school
and where you live. (Bookstore buyers like to know; they often
promote "hometown" authors.) We'll ask what professional groups you are
a member of, what corporate contacts you have, who you might know
at publications, what influential people in the field you want to
receive complimentary copies, etc.
About the audience. What is the audience for the book? Why is the
subject matter important to them? ("The" audience
is often several groups of audiences. For example,
Computer Security Basics
would be of interest to VARs selling to the government who needs to
understand the Orange Book;
managers in any business that uses computers; system administrators who
want to educate themselves with an overview of security technology; or
system administrators or MIS managers who want to educate others in
their company about the importance of security.) We may want to do
different mailings/ads/press releases to the different audiences.
If the book has an audience outside our traditional markets, tell us
as much as possible about that audience: what journals they
read, what trade shows they attend, and any other details you think
might help us to reach more potential readers.
If there are any noted experts in your field, be sure to let us
know so we can send them advance copies, and perhaps receive
favorable review comments.
What appearances/writing you would like to do. We'll ask for
your plans to attend/speak at trade shows (in the US and overseas),
your willingness to hold informal Q&A sessions at our trade show booth
or at bookstores, what sections of the book could be spun off into
articles, etc. Let us know if there are any technical
bookstores in your area at which we might be able to arrange a
special promotion, such as a book signing.
Other ideas/leads. Finally, we'll ask a few open-ended questions.
You might well know of leads for specific corporate sales, college
courses, etc. that we can pursue. Or, you might have some great idea
for promotion that we would never think to ask.
We'll give you and the editor a marketing plan for the book, which will
include plans for PR, author appearances, targeted mailings, ads,
catalog description, announcement of the book at trade shows, net
announcement, and other activities. (And yes, we'd like to get
feedback about these plans.)
If You Have Questions
If you have questions to ask us, during any part of the process, please
speak right up. You can send mail to marketing and sales with the
- Marketing Communications. Ask us general questions and we'll try to
answer, or at least steer you to the right person to ask. Also ask us
specific questions about articles for publication, author appearances,
book reviews, catalog descriptions, ads, Net announcements, etc.
- Sales (for questions about corporate sales, bookstore sales,
Marketing and bookstore sales people can be reached at our
Sebastopol address; corporate sales (and East Coast bookstore
sales) people can be reached at our Cambridge address:
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North
Sebastopol, CA 95472
90 Sherman Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
Go back to Table of Contents.
Go back to Chapter 5.
Go forward to Chapter 7.