❯ Guillaume Laforge

Becoming an O'Reilly book author

A few months ago, O’Reilly contacted the Codehaus to find some Groovy experts for writing a book about Groovy, the scripting language for the JVM. I was very interested in writing such a book, and I asked another expert, Chris Poirier, if he’d fancy co-authoring the book with me, and he accepted. That’s how we started writing “Learning Groovy”, in the famous animals/learning series.

This article is not about how to become an author, but rather, how O’Reilly helps you get up to speed with the task. Apart from helping you with your outline, with constant and useful feedback from your editors and so on, one of the things they do is to give you a nice welcome package as a new O’Reilly book author. Today, I just wanted to describe what they’ve just sent me.

As I’m writing a “Learning” series kind of book, my editor sent me two other Learning books: “Learning Java”, and “Learning Python”. That gives me some good references to take inspiration from.

But that’s not all, after my contract was signed, they sent me a Welcome package. Here is what it contains:

  • A letter from Tim O’Reilly congratuling me, summarizing what the goal is, how he wrote his first book, how the editor’s feedback is key, etc…
  • A really nice O’Reilly TShirt with a “Tarsier” (the little animal with big round eyes from “Unix in a Nutshell”),
  • A few O’Reilly stickers (I’m wondering where I could stick them though),
  • A document on how to best market our book,
  • A copy of “The Elements of Style”, from William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White,
  • A book on three audio CDs “On Writing Well”, from William Zinsser.
  • A little book about the O’Reilly animals, showing some of the animals used on their book covers.

I think that’s a really nice Welcome package, when you start writing your first book, especially when English is not your mother tongue. “The Elements of Style” is a real reference in the field. Good choice. I knew it by reputation, but now, I’ll be able to read it myself.

Do you want to know what other great advantage of being an author at O’Reilly there is? We’re granted a free access on Safari, their online bookshelf. Really, really cool!

So, thank you O’Reilly, Mike and Brett for your feedback, and for all these gifts.

I’m a happy author!