American Book Producers Association

Who We Are

What is a Book Producer?

Book producers, also known as packagers, are similar to independent producers in film and television; instead of shows, they make books for publishers, corporations, non-profits, and others. Book producers perform all of the creative and production functions commonly performed by agents and publishing houses, with the exception of marketing, sales, and distribution. Producers typically sell projects to publishers based on a proposal. They produce the book only once the project has been sold. Depending on the arrangement, the producer may deliver as a final product to the publisher a polished manuscript, printer-ready files, or finished books

The tasks typically handled by the book producer include:

  • writing the proposal, pitching the project to publishers
  • negotiating a contract
  • commissioning a writer
  • editing the text
  • acquiring art or photos
  • designing the book
  • copyediting, proofreading, indexing
  • and often prepress and printing as well.

Book producers tend to specialize in complicated books. A complicated book is just about any book that involves more than a straightforward, single-author text. Books created by producersundefined”packaged books”undefineddefy easy categorization. They cover all the major subjects: art, medicine, cooking, history, parenting, gardening, sports, popular culture, self-help, and more. They run the spectrum of publishing markets, including trade, mass market, educational, juvenile, professional, and reference.

Creating complicated books is a labor-intensive craft that often involves whole teams of writers, editors, designers, illustrators, photographers, researchers, and other specialized talent whose separate contributions must be integrated into a seamless whole by the book producer. 

Book Producers often originate projects. They come up with an idea for a book then develop a proposal to sell to a publisher. Book producers usually bring their products to market through deals with book publishers. They sell the project based on a proposal and only once a publication deal has been struck do they make the book. The sale to the publisher finances the book’s creation.

Book producers know publishing. The people who become book producers have usually worked in the publishing industry for years and are knowledgeable about every aspect of the publishing process. Producers are generalists within the industry whose daily jobs deal with editing, design, marketing, contracts, finance, printing, and many other functions. They have a keen sense for the demands of the marketplace and a savvy about what is technically feasible.      

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