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View Full Version : What do I need? A book packager?



mdin
01-30-2010, 12:44 AM
Besides a miracle, I mean.

I just got a project at work placed in my lap, which I'm very happy to work on, but in terms of time and effort, it's a bit beyond my abilities to do alone. I've been given the go-ahead to get most of this stuff outsourced and a budget that's hopefully up to the task.

During the day, I work for a medium size, but well-known company in the aviation industry, and I've been tasked with producing a 'History of the Company' book for our 30th anniversary at the end of 2011. They want all the stops... full color, photograph-filled, hardback, over-sized coffee table-y, 100% professional presentation.

This isn't going to be a book that we sell. We'll give one out to all the employees, and we'll hand them out to our dealers and customers, etc. We'll probably get about 5,000 of them printed.

Since they expect me to not neglect my other duties while I work on this, and they won't pay for me to clone myself, I'll need help with almost every aspect of this project. Some of the writing. Some of the layout. Some of the interior graphic design. Some of the editing. Finding the best printer for our buck, etc.

So my question is, are there services out there that specialize in this sort of thing? Is this what book packagers do? And if so, do you know/can you recommend some that may be up to this task?

I need to start poking around and getting prices on this ASAP because I suspect while 'The end of 2011' seems like a long ways away, it's going to come awfully fast for what they're looking for. Thanks.

Chris P
01-30-2010, 12:49 AM
I know there are editing services that will work on the text; I work for one. Depending on length, service and turn-around time, it comes to 1 to 2 cents per word. Shop around, there are many such services (I don't want a reputation as a spammer, so I won't name my company; I'm here as a writer and not an editor)

As to the other elements, a self-publishing outlet (there are many) sounds like the way to go.

scope
01-30-2010, 02:45 AM
You could go the route of using one service to do the entire job -- (e.g., conception after consulting with you, receiving your approval of content, layout, and handling of all facets of production). You could also get several professionals involved, but IMO that would be messier, take more time, and put even more work on your shoulders. I don't know if you want to discuss this, but what's your entire budget for this huge project? I hope your company has deep pockets. This type of work isn't cheap and doesn't get done overnight. You have less than one year, and that's far from a lot given your description of the job. If you want, keep me posted, I may be able to give you some recommendations.

mdin
01-30-2010, 07:03 AM
I definitely want to keep the number of people/organizations involved in this is as low as possible.

Our budget for this, not including printing, is just about equal to my annual salary. So, mid 5 digit.

We don't have one year to get this done. We need it done by October of 2011, so we have 21 months.

The biggest challenge is going to be layout and graphic design.

And editing. I'm going to lean on several engineers and pilots for narratives, most of whom aren't really writers, but the amount of raw text for the whole project is going to be pretty minimal compared to images and graphics.

CAWriter
01-30-2010, 09:51 AM
I might be thinking out in left field here, but with that budget and that timeline, I'm thinking you might want to contact Chronicle Books. They do beautiful gift/coffee table books and they do have a "custom publishing" division that will work with you. They'd certainly be worth talking to; I don't think you could do any better on the production side of things.

http://custom.chroniclebooks.com/index.html

Ms Hollands
01-30-2010, 12:20 PM
I did a smaller scale version of this at my last tech authoring job. I don't remember how I found them, but I went with a graphic design company who took my words, rough graphics and photos and enhance the images and page layouts and packaged the whole thing as a PDF (the co I worked for had an account with a printer so I had to use them for printing).

I'm sorry I have no other details, but I can recommend working with professionals who can do things ten times quicker with the right tools and knowledge. Make sure you write up an agreement re timing, expectations etc. so that there's no confusion.

IceCreamEmpress
01-30-2010, 11:10 PM
This isn't really what book packagers do. Book packagers prepare work for mass-market sales, not for corporate image architecture.

You need a project manager who's familiar with corporate print production and message design, and who has good resources in terms of writers, editors, graphic design, book layout, and photographers and illustrators.

And you need someone local to you. I would find out who manages the print production, where it's outsourced, for the local universities that have good catalogues, annual reports, and alumni magazines and interview them. Edited to add: Also hospitals. Large hospitals produce this kind of thing as part of their institutional development and fundraising initiatives.

You'll find someone good. I used to do this kind of work, and know lots of people in Boston, New York, Washington, and Chicago who do it, but don't have any local-to-you leads. Local to you is important, because you'll want to meet face-to-face about stuff on a project like this, and your budget won't allow for long-distance travel.

scope
01-31-2010, 12:41 AM
I agree with IceCream on this and can't emphasize enough how important it is that you use somebody local. Guaranteed there will be a lot of back and forth on a slew of matters, and beyond wanting someone close by with who you can discuss things and reach a conclusion, your budget doesn't allow for a lot of money you can allot to travel expenses.

Namatu
01-31-2010, 04:01 AM
A few suggestions to help you figure out what you want and get you some material to consider:


I've been tasked with producing a 'History of the Company' book for our 30th anniversary at the end of 2011. They want all the stops... full color, photograph-filled, hardback, over-sized coffee table-y, 100% professional presentation. ...

I'll need help with almost every aspect of this project. Some of the writing. Some of the layout. Some of the interior graphic design. Some of the editing. Finding the best printer for our buck, etc.For cover and interior design, check out published books of a similar sort in the library or at book stores. Make a note of the designs you like. The designer is often credited somewhere on the copyright page. You can check them out and/or have copies made of the pages for reference when talking to a designer.

For content, especially photos, since it's a company history, solicit photos from employees current and past for consideration. Be clear that the photos must be of such-and-such quality and that they would be contributing them gratis for reproduction in the book, though their names would appear in the credit line.

Figure out what text you need for the book. Draft an annotated table of contents to serve as your outline. Are there documents already in existence that can help you develop the content you need or are you starting from scratch? Who are the most knowledgeable employees when it comes to company history?

If you find someone who can take this on for you, you'll want to give them a solid blueprint from which to work (and give you an estimate on cost). The above will help provide that.


I need to start poking around and getting prices on this ASAP because I suspect while 'The end of 2011' seems like a long ways away, it's going to come awfully fast for what they're looking for. Thanks.Plan on most of the work - the writing, photo selection, and design - being done by the end of this year.

mdin
02-03-2010, 12:11 AM
Thanks for all the comments, folks. Luckily, content isn't going to be an issue. We're not growing a garden from dirt here; we're hacking an overgrown forest down into a presentable form, which can be just as challenging.