Documentation plans–Marketing information

The marketing information section answers the “Why?” questions. This section is important for book proposals, but if you’re working on some document for a company, you may not need this section. After all, they know why they want to do this; that’s why you’re working on it.

Why write this book? What need does this book fulfill? Where is the perceived hole in the market that this book will plug? You might have a great idea for a book that sounds like fun, but there has to be an identifiable market need for the book that will motivate people to buy it and read it. Sadly, I’ve proposed a number of books (most of which thankfully did not get picked up) that would’ve been a lot of fun to write but would have been a solution with no matching problem.

What’s the competition like? Even if you’ve got a great idea for a book, it doesn’t do you any good if someone published the same or similar book three months ago. List the books that are currently in print that are or could be competition and why this book is better than any of them, or at least what it offers that they don’t. This may simply be the freshest thing on the market or it might be a book that a publisher can offer in their line to match up with another publisher’s similar lines. Everyone comes out with a new book on Microsoft Word, everyone comes out with a basic cookbook every so often, that sort of thing. (BTW, every author I know does their research for this on Amazon. You can identify sales rank, publication date, and so on. In fact, knowing your competition’s publishers will help you avoid the publishers who have just published a book like you’re like to write.)

What marketing strategies should we use? What marketing strategies are of note for this book? Will this document have any major function as a marketing piece (for example, will this tutorial also be used for a marketing piece to sell new customers on the product)? Fill out whatever may be relevant for marketing information.

Are there special marketing considerations? Are there special marketing considerations, such as product tie-ins, plugs on TV shows, websites, forewords, endorsements? Can you get someone with name recognition to do a back cover quote? Did you go to school with someone famous you’ve kept in touch with? (I was at Reed with Steve Jobs, which sounds cool but in fact I didn’t know him.) What about a cover snipe to show that you’re an award-winning author? An Oprah book club sticker? (Hey, it can be done!)

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