Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's a Present! No, that's not what I mean by Book Packagers

My brother-in-law used to work for a book packager. The funny thing was, he didn't know that's what it was called, even when he worked there, until he explained the job to me and I'm the one who told him what his job was.

A book packager puts a book together for a publishing house. These books can be religion, children's, crafts, teen series, all sorts of things. Teen series are the most famous packaged books, such as The Beacon Street Girls, the Clique books, Sweet Valley High, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, going all the way back to Nancy Drew. A packaging company will come up with a book concept, research and hire a writer (who normally is paid a flat fee and not paid a royalty), they will do editing, layout, copyediting, proofreading, jacket design, and they will sell a finished product to a publishing house (sometimes the publishing house has contracted with a packaging company to put a book together, also.) Sometimes the publisher prints the book, sometimes the packager does. Mostly the publisher catalogs the book, sells it to the marketplace, and fulfills orders. The customers have no idea that certain books in a publisher's catalog are packaged, as they appear the same as the books the publisher puts together themselves.

Packagers need most of the same people - editors, designers, copyeditors, marketers - as publishing houses. They're just companies you've likely not heard of. Some of the bigger packagers are 17th Street Productions, Alloy Media, becker&mayer!, Quirk Publishing, MTM Publishers, Amaranth, and Spooky Cheetah.

Why are some books packaged? They might have a very marketing-heavy component, such as a TV-show tie-in, they might be very difficult and complicated to put together, with multiple authors and very design-heavy components, such as For Dummies books, or licensed books with a lot of rights clearances. A book that might be hard to put together, hard to conceptualize, is a much easier sell when a packager can come to a publisher to sell them a finished product, and all the publisher has to do is say yes, and sell it.

1 comment:

Caroline Starr Rose said...

The Traveling Pants is a packaged book?