I have an author who’s under pressure to include _only_ the publisher’s titles in the resource section. I understand the publisher’s desire to cross promote titles, and it’s not the first time that I’ve heard a publisher say “point to our books,” but the author is understandably peeved. They not only want him to point to their books, they want him to shill books he hasn’t even seen.

Publishers, if you want an author to feature your other books, please send review copies and let the author choose what belongs and what doesn’t. You have plenty of space in the back and front matter to promote your other titles. It demeans your book if, by design, it doesn’t include other credible resources, some classic, that happen to have been published elsewhere.

O’Reilly does a great job of not only encouraging their authors to list the best available resources in their books, they even allow their authors to promote their other titles on O’Reilly blogs. In fact, I remember Tim bragging about this many years ago at the Waterside conference. I’d love to hear about other publishers who are as open.

We live in a transparent world. If an author can’t include credible resources the readers will get the picture pretty quickly. A publisher who can confidently point to its competition will gain the confidence of its customers.

  4 Responses to ““Shill our books!””

  1. Hi Matt. I agree with you. Anytime an editor comes to me on something like this I tell them it’s fine to recommend books from other publishers. We’re trying to offer the reader a service, not necessarily upsell other titles. I hope it’s clear that I support this. After all, I’ve already hyped at least one O’Reilly book and their Make magazine on my blog.

  2. Thanks for posting, Joe. I think this would probably be more prevalent among consumer lines than among your books. This wasn’t a post about your program at any rate, but I appreciate your candor. I’m not trying to bust or demean any publisher. I want folks to be able to upsell other books, including my clients’, but I think that editors also need to allow for author voice, opinions, and authority, or else just do the books in house as a work for hire to begin with. And I recognize that there are situations where an individual editor implements policy overly much, where “pitch our other books” becomes “it’s our policy to list our books only.” I’m sure this situation it will be resolved at the query stage, but the initial response was disheartening and just adds another hoop for the author to go. I guess the unspoken point of my post was to advise authors that they can argue these points during the edit and to encourage publishers to listen to them for the good of the book.

  3. Shoot. I list other publisher’s books on my blog.

  4. That’s great, Juliana. I think that’s part and parcel of the blogosphere. (Did I really use that word?) This issue has at been resolved at any rate.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.