Thursday, 4 December 2014

London Professional Series: An Evening with Book Packagers

David Richardson

It was a 'two for the price of one' evening for the last Professional Series meeting of the year on November 25th when we were pleased to welcome Michael Ford, editor (and writer) from Working Partners and author Benjamin Scott to speak on all things Book Packagers.


Book Packagers are the creative team behind many of the well-known children's series such as Animal Ark, Dinosaur Cove and Beast Quest. They are responsible for the creative process, brainstorming regularly on new concepts and ideas. It is these ideas that they will eventually look to sell to publishers.

Benjamin Scott and  Michael Ford

What they want is a series that can produce entertaining books which young readers will fall in love with. These ideas are then developed by them to become a full story synopsis.

During the discussion, we had an excellent overview of the writing process from both sides of the editing desk.

It's when a full, chapter-by-chapter synopsis has been written that the authors are invited to audition (by writing the first three chapters) for the opportunity to write a book in the series. All submissions will get detailed feedback, enabling even those who are not selected to receive something for their time.

But for the chosen author, the real work is just about to begin.

Benjamin as the writer explained how he approached a new synopsis, beginning with a thorough read through before next working on the overall story, getting in done quickly in an 'open' first draft, He would then spend time rewriting and rewriting the story making it ready to send to the editor.

Michael, back in the office, would be one of the two editors who would then read it, making lots of comments on the text, highlighting both good points and constructive criticism.

The next step is for Benjamin, with him reviewing the edited text before spending further time rewriting and honing it based on the editors' comments. He only has a certain amount of time before he needs to return it to the editorial team.

It was good to hear both Benjamin and Michael explain the collaborative process, the time scales involved, the feedback that the author receives and the discussions between them both.

Money was mentioned, and there is the opportunity to make a reasonable income from this type of writing. Money is paid by an advance (into the four figure territory) followed by bi-annual royalty payments. There is the possibility of overseas markets too.

Working Partners are always on the lookout for new writers. There is a lot of work available and if you're able to fit their need, they are interested. Check out their website for details on how to audition. As well as children's books, Working Partners also produce books for adult readers.

Benjamin also gave us a presentation on his school visits. It was full of useful tips to help those of us that do this, including how to keep things entertaining at how to get the children involved.

A great evening to finish off this year's London Professional Series.

The London Professional Series has been going a number of years now and we're reviewing it for 2015. So if you have any suggestions on things that could be changed to help it fit with what the SCBWI membership want, please email us on profseries@britishscbwi.org or leave a comment below and let us know.



David Richardson is co-organiser of the London Professional Series with Non Pratt. He's working on two new projects as well as continuing with his YA novel and Picture Book texts.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks again to Michael and Benjamin for a very entertaining and extremely useful evening.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for reporting, David. I had tickets to this but turned up a week late! It was useful to read what I'd missed...

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