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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book Packagers--What They Do and How to Pitch Them

As a ghostwriter, you have a slew of clients to choose from. In addition to Everyday Joes and Pros with Platforms, book packagers hire ghostwriters on a regular basis. But what are packagers, and how do work with them?

Book packagers are similar to book publishers with one primary difference. Traditional book publishers offer a contract (that usually includes an advance, even a small one) for the right to publish a book. A packager is paid by someone else to publish a book. Often the packager is an individual who wants to get a book into print; in other cases, a traditional publisher hires a packager to create the book that the publisher will then sell.

Packagers hire ghostwriters all the time. They look for ghostwriters who have authored at least one book and usually prefer to use writers with ghosting experience. However a background in writing about the subject of the book gives you a leg up on other writers competing for the job. Case in point: my first job as a ghostwriter was for a packager and while I hadn't ghosted before, my interest in and experience writing about psychology helped me get the job.

What about money? Fees range across the board, depending on the client, the type of book you’re doing, and how long it takes you to complete it. I’ve seen packagers offer in the mid-five-figures for business books, and in the $15,000 to $40,000 range for books on other subjects. It’s the client’s budget (the individual or publisher that has hired the packager) that sets the fees.

To market yourself, reseach packagers and send an LOI highlighting your subject areas of specialty, asking that you be kept in mind for possible jobs. And if you respond to a packager's ad looking for a ghost for a particular book, make sure your LOI is customized for that project.
In addition to using Google to find book packagers, check out the American Book Producers Association for a list of members.

Intrigued? Thinking, "hey, mabye I should get in on this ghostwriting thing"? Then check out Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: The Writer's Guide to Making Money Ghostwriting and Coauthoring Books for samples of LOIs that work for packagers and other clients.