There are plenty of good, well-balanced guides that discuss raising capital through an initial public offering. But remember, if your accounting and legal firms are well versed in serving the entrepreneurial community, they should be able to provide you with plenty of resources (human as well as written) to supplement whatever reading material you find on your own.

If you're just looking for a really quick introduction, a good place to start is with business consultant Arthur R. DeThomas's book Financing Your Small Business: Techniques for Planning, Acquiring and Managing Debt, (Oasis Press, 800-228-2275, 1992, $19.95). It certainly isn't the only guide worth considering, but we do like its concise, easy-to-scan approach. You can learn a lot in its well-written 14-page chapter on going public.

For a quirkier exploration of the whole process, we'd like to recommend a short play (yes, play) written by two lawyers, Lloyd E. Shefsky and Misty S. Gruber. The two felt that they needed a more humorous and accessible approach for conveying technical IPO information to their clients. While the title, Prospectus Perspective: Private Deliberations About Going Public, is hardly catchy, this offbeat document has a great deal to recommend it, including some fairly realistic discussions among its characters about whether to hire a top-tier accounting firm ($9; not available in stores). To order a copy, write Lloyd Shefsky, Shefsky & Froelich Ltd., Suite 2400, 444 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611; call 312-836-4001; or fax your order to 312-527-9931.

Would you love to sell stock to the public but can't get Wall Street's big players to give your company the time of day? Then you might decide to investigate the direct-public-offering option. Your accounting and legal advisers should be your first source of information on this one. Then if you're still interested, check out Direct Public Offerings: The New Method for Taking Your Company Public, by lawyer Drew Field (Sourcebooks, 800-432-7444, 1997, $19.95). DPOs aren't simple, so it pays to devote serious attention to chapter 5, "How to Do a Direct Public Offering." There's also a good chapter about selling stock through the Internet, and chapter 8 includes some fascinating case studies.