Incorporating third-party books

Subject: Incorporating third-party books
From: Jessica -dot- Nealon -at- handheld -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 2006 11:11:59 -0500

Does anyone on this list have experience with re-branding,
re-distributing, re-writing (?) another company's manual as your own?
This is a situation where your company purchases the rights to sell
another company's software product under your company's name.
The software product already has documentation from the original company
that is updated with each build just like your own documentation.

As the tech writer, you have to develop some kind of strategy for the
documentation your company distributes for the product. This is a product
1) you don't know,
2) usually don't have the time to learn (because of the compressed release
cycle), and
3) has documentation you inherit but have no control over from release to

There can be source files exchanged or not. There can lists of changes
from that company or not. Lastly, you may or may not have access to the
tech writing group at that company, for whatever reason. So, how do you
develop a coherent strategy? Both for initial release and maintenance of
your document? Do you simply re-distribute their guide at each release and
write your own adjunct startup guide?

Is there an industry term or phrase for this process? In my own mind, I
call this "third-party documentation" because we call it "third-party
software." My initial research has revealed that the phrase "third-party
documentation" most often refers to off-the-shelf technology books you
find at Barnes & Noble. That's not what I'm talking about. Is there a
phrase I should be using in my searches?

As you may be able to tell, I'm kind of at a loss here.


Jessica Nealon

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