producing documentary books

Producing Documentary Books: Creating Marketing Materials

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Now that the design direction is underway, it’s time to start creating marketing materials for your documentary book project. Naturally, I have some pointers for you in The Ultimate Guide to Producing Documentary Books.

It was a market once.
It could have been a market in its day.

In the design direction phase, you’ve established the book’s colors, type treatments and general layout grid. Next, you’ll need to select about a dozen images from the entire take which will be designated as promo images. Remember, the rights granted for these photos must include promotional use in conjunction with the specific title. Marketing copy needs to be written and polished up for impact and punch. Some of this might come from the original proposal but at this stage, you’ll need tightly edited words plus a handful of great tag lines and simple message blocks to convey your book’s uniqueness and build excitement. All of these pieces will be used over and over again throughout the life of the project.

One of the staples of book marketing is the layout and design sample (BLAD), which needs to be ready as soon as possible for the sales team or distributor to submit to retail shops. You’ll also use these to start gaining traction with special sales outlets and sponsors. Typically BLADs are designed at the same trim size for the book and include a front and back cover plus eight inside pages. Good quality printing and paper is essential. Staple binding is fine. (If you have never seen one, ping me and I’ll send you some PDF examples.)

The cover of the BLAD should look like a cover, even if it isn’t the final cover. It needs to have a solid title treatment and a very strong image or representative visual treatment. The back cover is really important as it needs to list all of the title’s specifications and ordering information. A good photo with a caption, short bios of the authors, influential endorsements and a bullet list of features all need to fit on the back cover, too.

The first page is a single, recto page with copy to introduce the book’s theme. It’s pretty much what will end up being the description for other marketing materials and for flap copy. Then the next three-and-a-half spreads need to represent the photography, narrative style and the various sections or chapters of the final book.

A great thing about getting a BLAD done is that all other marketing materials can be created out of this! All of the BLAD content becomes the well for everything else you’ll need to create because it’s a long list:

  • website
  • blog posts
  • promo mailers
  • posters
  • press kits
  • press releases
  • pitch packages
  • sales sheets
  • book reviews
  • merchandise packaging
  • trade show booth graphics
  • tweets and stuff we can’t even image yet

That is the long and short of creating marketing materials! Speaking of Editing Images that is the next topic up in this blog series.

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