When one wants to start a „big“ IT company, getting all the facts needed to get going can provide difficult for a “IT only” guy. The title of Edward Hasted’s book is actually misleading, as the book doesn’t focus on marketing software, but rather on creating a big (as in non-Micro-ISV) software company.
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Software that sells starts off by looking at the creation of the initial program. You are introduced to topics such as market research(!!really helpful!!), competition analysis and also a bit of basic marketing. This part was interesting, and most of it actually is helpful even for very small software shacks.

After that, the book looks a bit at software development and staff. There is little to say about these chapters; the material provided is useful and good, but since I am a staff freak myself, I didn’t learn much new here. Newbies to staff, however, will pick up a lot of good stuff here.

The next part of the book looks at the actual software selling process. At first, the book goes over the software release process and how to get it done well. The book then moves on to distribution, sales and support. This part of the book is mostly targeted at a business that wants to deliver shrink-wrapped(AKA boxed) software at high per-pcs prices – a shareware style business can’t apply 50% of the material given.

The final part of the book looks at business matters. It starts off by looking at creating a business legally, then moves on to growing your business below a specific level and ends at selling the convolute to another company. Most of the stuff in this chapter is useless for a small ISV – however, if you want to go the shrink-wrapped route, this is a must-read!

Software that sells is no difficult read; the text is simple from a language point of view. It contains little ‘jargon’ – well done. However, paper quality is bad. The Parker 45 with X-nib leaked through the pages regularly – other publishers do much better here!

Overall, this book is good if you want to go the shrink-wrapped business route. Non-shrinkwrapped businesses can benefit from this book too, but they should read Bob Walsh’s Micro ISV first and this afterwards. This way, you can get a truly good overview of the sector!

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