The Gross Ghost Mystery
Greenberg edited hundreds of Nancy Drew mysteries after they came in from book packagers, and suspects she worked on more books in the series approximately than anyone else. Alice Leonhardt, who wrote Nancy Drew books for Megabooks, never even met the intermediaries who passed on her manuscripts to the publisher. The industry that churns out children's books has changed surprisingly little in the last century.
In , a prolific writer named Edward Stratemeyer founded a network of freelance writers and editors. Though you might expect a writer collective to support writers the way labor unions support laborers, the Stratemeyer Syndicate's central aim was simply to produce a huge number of books at the lowest possible cost. The Stratemeyer Syndicate helped prove that book packaging with ghostwriters could be incredibly profitable—for managers and owners, at least. Writers signed away their rights to royalties and bylines in exchange for a flat fee. The syndicate launched dozens of series, guessing that only a few would be hits.
That same year, Stratemeyer died in New Jersey, by then not so much a writer as a tycoon. Readers rarely hear about book packagers, yet they're responsible for some of the most successful fiction series in existence, from Sweet Valley High to Goosebumps to For Dummies. Because ghostwriters and freelance editors do most of the work, packagers push down the considerable expenses of literary labor: They don't need to offer health insurance, vacation time, or office space.
There are a few benefits in writing for packagers, of course. Leonhardt says it was a relief not needing to do book tours or media appearances.
Second, the pay can be pretty good. Lampton spent about two weeks writing each manuscript, not including the time it took to develop new plots and edit manuscripts. At the time, giving up royalties and name recognition was just part of the deal. Book packagers are still fairly common in the industry, though some franchises—Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys included—have simply adopted the practices of packagers by contracting writers directly.
But strangely, the most recent Hardy Boys book, Deception on the Set , hints at the nature of writing children's fiction today. As Frank and Joe discover after some energetic detective work, the book's culprit—guilty of sabotaging film sets and nearly killing several actors—is a disgruntled writer. The book's plot essentially goes like this: Years ago, a character named Cody co-wrote a zombie script with his friend Josh.
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Cody moved on to new things, but Josh kept at it and found funding to direct the film. When Cody demanded credit for his contributions, however, Josh refused to give him anything more than a role as stuntman. That's Cody's motive for trying to sabotage the film. Click here. Dixon Author Who Took the Book? Dixon Author Marcy Ramsey Illustrator Pirates Ahoy! Required Cookies These cookies allow you to explore OverDrive services and use our core features. Performance and reliability cookies These cookies allow us to monitor OverDrive's performance and reliability.
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