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eCommPublishing Kit Curriculum Guide

Step 4 — Product Research

Lesson Plan

Your students begin to learn the critical relationship between product knowledge and successful marketing

Overview: The more you can learn about a new product the better prepared you will be to develop and implement an effective marketing plan for that product. In Step 4, your students get the opportunity to participate in a product review session for the new book and get important questions about the book’s content answered by the student authors and teachers who are writing and editing that content.

Suggested classroom time allowance: 40 minutes


Students will:

  1. Review some of the key things a publisher needs to know about a new book in order to develop an effective marketing strategy for it.

  2. Learn what the contents of the book are all about.

  3. Have the opportunity to participate in a product review session.


  1. The student authors and teachers responsible for the content of your new book

  2. eCommPublishing Kit’s Product Description Checklists
  3. The eCommPublish demonstration Web site for the Rug City Student Press publishing company.
  4. The catalog page for the book The Best American Short Stories at the Barnes and Noble Web site.

Teacher Preparation for this Step:

  1. Review this Step 4 Lesson Plan in its entirety.

  2. Go to the Barnes and Noble Web site and search for the phrase “the best American short stories.” The top results will include a book of short stories that was edited by Stephen King. Click on the image of that book and review all of the information elements Barnes and Noble makes available for this title.

  3. Review the Instructor Version of the Product Description Questionnaire. Notice that this version includes sample responses. The responses are based on one of the stories in the book being promoted by the Rug City Student Press eCommPublishing demo Web site. Now go to the Rug City press Web site and review the types of information it features. Find the connection between the answers provided on the questionnaire and how those answers were used to promote the story and the author at the Web site.

  4. You won’t be able to learn what the stories being published in your book are about until those stories have been written and selected. You’ll therefore need to time this step of your project closely with the writing schedule your writers are following. Arrange to have at least one of the English teachers involved in your book project on hand for this class along with students who wrote or are writing the stories for the book. Explain that they will be asked questions about what the content of the book will include and ask them to be prepared to explain their storylines and answer questions about their backgrounds and writing styles. Give them copies of the Product Description Checklists to help them prepare for this task. If the student-writers cannot be on hand for this class, try instead to get each student-writer to complete an eCommPublishing Kit Book Description Questionnaire for their story.

Class Activities:

  1. Introduction - Explain to your class that a business cannot be successful unless it has a product to sell to a market that wants to purchase it. To make an accurate determination that this condition exists requires two things:
    • knowledge of the market (what type of people are you dealing with and what do they like and don’t like to spend their money on)
    • knowledge of your product (what the product is and what it isn’t and reasons why people in your market would want to purchase this product and reasons why they may not)

    In your last lesson, you defined your publishing company’s niche market. Now it’s time to make sure your students become completely familiar with the product they will be trying to sell to that niche.

    Remind your class that this eCommPublishing project is not another school fundraiser. Your students can’t just go home and tell their parents “My teacher says you have to buy this book!” Point out if that’s all they do, the class will sell at best, one copy per student and their publishing business will go broke fast. Even worse, your students will learn nothing about business or what it’s actually like to work in a real job for a live publishing company.

    In this project, students are going to be measured and graded primarily on sales results. To get the very best grade and to make a heck of a lot of money, they have to figure out how to sell this book to everyone in your community. In order to do this they need to develop a persuasive ending to the following statement for everyone in your market:
    “A person like you is going to love reading this book because it...”

  2. Explain to your class that they will be participating in their first product review session for their new book. Introduce any English teachers and student-writers who’ve accepted your invitation to participate in this session. The first thing you want to show your students in this step is how product information is used by publishers and booksellers to sell books. Begin by going to the Barnes & Noble Web site and searching the phrase: “the best American short stories.” You’ll see results pop up and at the top those results will be a collection of the best American short stories as selected by the famous author, Stephen King. Click on that book cover and go through the information the Barnes & Noble Web site makes available for that book, with your students. That information includes links to backgrounds on each of the book’s editors, reviews by book critics, reader ratings, a synopsis, table of contents, excerpts from some of the stories, the price of the book, etc. As you do this, ask your students how each piece of information helps sell the book. While at the site, make sure you also point out how easy the Barnes & Noble site makes it to order and pay for the book.

  3. Next, go to the Rug City Press demo Web site and see how it uses author and content information to promote their book and encourage site visitors to order a copy. While still at the Rug City demo site, permit your entire class to see a copy of the Instructor Version of the eCommPublishing Kit’s Product Description Checklist and show them how the responses on the questionnaire are related to the content at the Web site. Make sure to also point out the similarities that exist between the types of content and author information featured at both the Barnes & Noble and Rug City Press sites.

  4. Now it’s time to complete your Company’s Product Description Questionnaires. With the help of your visiting English teachers and student writers, complete a questionnaire for each story that will be included in your Book.

Possible Homework Assignments:

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