Book Packaging: A World to Explore
By Jessica Faust and Jacky Sach
co-founders of BookEnds, LLC—a New Jersey-based book packager and editorial service
formerly with Berkley Publishing and Penguin
Book packagers "are a cross between an agent and an editor, and more."
There seems to be a new word floating around publishing circles lately. That word is packaging—book packaging, to be more precise. But actually that word has been around for quite some time.
Book packaging-sometimes referred to as producing—has been around for years. In fact, many of today’s top-selling titles are books that have been packaged. And while that is interesting information, it still doesn’t give you an answer as to what book packaging is or what it can do for you as a writer.
Book Packaging 101
One of the easiest ways to describe a book packager is that we are a cross between an agent and an editor, and more. A book packager often works with agents, authors, editors, designers, illustrators, photographers, and printers. In other words, we do work with all of the people that make a book possible. By working with such a variety of people, a book packager has the ability to deliver a printer-ready manuscript to the publisher. That means that once the publisher receives the final product it has already been written, edited, pictures have been supplied, production people have been called in to lay out the book, and the entire project is ready to be sent to the printer.
This is still a somewhat simplistic approach to the whole process, however, and like anything else, the description of a book packager isn’t quite so cut and dry. While there are quite a few packagers who work to fully develop an illustrated book, there are just as many called editorial book packagers. An editorial book packager is just what she sounds like, a book packager primarily concerned with the editorial content of the project. Editorial book packagers rarely work with illustrated books or books containing numerous photographs. Their primary concern is putting together a well-written and edited book—a book that the publisher will know has been professionally written to their specifications and well-edited.
Much like an agent, a book packager submits manuscripts to an editor at a publishing house. These manuscripts are usually prepared in either of two ways:
The project has been requested by the publisher. The book packager puts together an outline and finds a writer interested in authoring the book. The concept is developed "in-house" (within the book packaging company) an outline, and sample materials are put together—with or without an author—and the material is sent to the publisher.
Then, just as if you or your agent were to submit a proposal to a publisher, the packager waits for that fateful phone call and checks the mailbox for rejections.
Once an editor agrees to buy or publish a project the process starts from the top. The packager works with the author to develop a well-written book and turns in the edited manuscript to the publisher.
The Author-Packager Relationship
As a writer your goal is probably to get your own book published: a noble and worthy goal and one of which you should never lose sight of. If that’s the case why would you want to get involved with a book packager, someone who obviously has their own ideas about what should be written and how it should be written? That’s easy…to get published of course.
"Your valuable reputation as a writer is on the line."
By getting involved with a book packager, you can help maintain your career as a writer, get your name in lights—or on covers—and still have time to write the great American novel, award-winning self-help book, or memoir. You can also be assured of having a top-notch professional editor working with your words to make the book the best it can be. Your valuable reputation as a writer is on the line, but so is the valuable reputation of the book packager. Together you can provide a professional manuscript of which you both can be proud.
Working with a book packager "will help your career."
Working with a book packager may not make you rich. However, it will help your career. Book packagers usually pay on a writer-for-hire basis. In other words, you get a flat fee for writing the book, no royalties, copyright ownership, or residuals. However, often, but not always, you do get to use your own name on the cover of the book–a great way to get name recognition within the industry, and a great way to make a little cash doing something you already know you love.
About the Authors
Jessica Faust and Jacky Sach are co-founders of BookEnds, LLC—a New Jersey-based book packager and editorial service company. With years of experience between them at Penguin Putnam Inc, MacMillan, and IDG Worldwide, Jessica and Jacky have both worked on books by and with such authors as Nora Roberts, Tom Clancy, Dick Francis, The Complete Idiot’s Guide series, and hundreds of other fiction and nonfiction titles. They also do editorial service work like book developing, ghost writing, copyediting, and proofreading for both authors and publishe