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Book Developer

This is the most important job in our company.

We’re searching for people to fill a role we call “Book Developer.”

It’s probably the single most important job in our company, so of course it’s the hardest to describe and hire for (how could it be any other way, right?). What do our Book Developers do?

Basically, our Book Developers help people turn their book ideas into a coherent book outline.

Umm… how was that hard to describe?

Well it’s simple to describe, but in practice, Book Developers do much, much more than that. Book Developers are sort of like developmental editors (because they help the author figure out the book positioning), but they’re also part book packager, marketer, psychologist, and information architect.

Most of the authors who come to us don’t have a clear book idea in their heads. They know they want to write a book, and they know they have a lot of knowledge and wisdom that could make a good book. They know this because (usually) other people have asked them to write a book, so they understand there’s something of value in their head to put into a book.

The problem is that the authors don’t always know how their knowledge fits together into a book. Even the ones who think they know how it fits together often need a lot of help with market positioning, structure, and organization.

It’s a Book Developer’s job to solve this problem, and help authors organize, structure, and flesh out their idea for a book. You will take the authors from the initial book concept in their heads, to having a skeleton table of contents and a detailed 5-15 page outline for the content of their books. This generally happens over the course of 4-5 hours on the phone with the authors, combined with 5-6 hours of self-directed work.

Perhaps the best job description would be this: Book Developers create detailed book order out of scattered author chaos.

This is a freelance position, but we are looking for people who would like to make a significant commitment to the job, as we are growing fast. Specifically, if you pass our trial period we’d like you to be willing to work on 4-10 book projects per month (if you are handling 10 a month, you are effectively full-time with us, and you’ll be making a decent living). We pay a flat rate per project, but we pay by the hour on top of the flat rate if you go above expected hours. In other words, we never ask you to work for free.

Required Skills

1. Communication Skills

This seems obvious, but we can’t take it as a given: you must be comfortable working with authors over the phone, and guiding or pushing back when you need to. Being a genius at story and structure won’t help if you can’t talk to people and get their story out of them.

This is not a sales position at all (they’re already clients when you work with them), so you don’t need advanced phone or persuasion skills; you just need to be willing to spend a few hours on the phone with people, talking through their ideas and pushing them to really examine things.

2. Book Organization and Editing Skills

There is no original writing involved in this role; instead, you will be focusing on the ideas, the structure, and the organization of the ideas in the book.

This job is perfect for someone who enjoys conceptualizing and bringing to life someone else’s ideas, in an organized and structured way. In essence, it’s for someone who loves listening to people and likes to make order out of chaos.

You should also have a good feel for non-fiction book structure—both memoir, story-based books, and non-narrative, idea-based books. You will only be doing non-fiction work; no fiction or works of imagination.

3. Book Marketing and Positioning Skills

If you’ve worked as a book agent, or at a publishing house (especially as an editor), you understand clearly why marketing and positioning are held out as distinct skills here: they are indeed different skills than editing and organization.

But as you also probably know, they are very much connected to everything else. These skills impact each other greatly, and are vital to creating good books. Part of your job with an author will be to:

  1. Understand her/his goals,
  2. Understand what audience they need to reach with their book, and,
  3. Understand precisely how the author can package their knowledge/wisdom to create a book that will be properly positioned to reach that audience.

That is where marketing and positioning skills come in, and it requires some artistry on your part. It’s more than just simple idea organization.

For example, many authors have a clear sense of what they want to say; they just have no clue how to frame or position their ideas into a marketable book. For them, you will not only need to organize their thoughts, but do it in a way that will appeal to their desired reader.

In other cases, the authors may not really understand what their book should be about, even if they know they have valuable wisdom to share. With authors like this, you’ll need to help them understand specific knowledge they possess that will be most valuable to an audience.

In the course of this process, you may even realize that they do not in fact have enough idea for a book at all! We vet these people in the sales process, but this does happen sometimes in the book development process, and is indeed part of your job—it’s a sort of anti-sales skill, but it’s important. We don’t want to create books with people who don’t have a book in them.

Above all, what our Book Developers see over and over is that authors have it backwards. They are approaching their book as a vessel for all of their accumulated wisdom, rather than as a way to give the reader what he or she wants. They are focused on themselves instead of their audience. The Book Developer’s job is to reverse this perspective, and get the author to think about their reader, what he or she would be looking for out of the book—and then essentially to work backwards from there (to think “we,” not “me”).

This process is what enables authors to create the best books possible, both for themselves and their reader.

4. Advanced People Skills

By that, we mean more than just the communication skills that we talked about earlier. This is where the Book Developer may need to step into the role of psychologist.

Authors are human beings; they’re needy and emotional and fragile (like all of us). Even the most accomplished experts in their fields often have insecurities like everyone else. They need to feel validated, and sometimes they need to be reminded that, yes, they have a great book in them and they are worthy of this endeavor. In fact, sometimes the most accomplished experts are the ones who need the most explanation that their knowledge is in fact valuable to the world. It’s been in their heads for so long, they have lost perspective on how valuable it is.

This is NOT about being a flatterer or a kiss-ass. In fact, it is crucial that you challenge the author and be brutally honest with them when called for.

This is more about the kind of people skills that require a sophisticated balance between encouragement and reinforcement, targeted critique and questioning, and positive but firm guidance and redirection. Authors want to be led, and you must lead them.

5. Self Directed

If you have the above four skills, you’re probably a serious professional, which means you already have this skill too, but we are putting it in here just in case. This is a freelance job to start; we pay by project, we don’t count hours, and we only care about results.

We assume you’re a competent professional, and we want to treat you like that, which means we don’t want to manage you or have to check up on you. So you’ve got to be able to work effectively without supervision.

Required Experience:

We have many roles in our company for people who don’t have direct experience at the job they’d be doing for us. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE ROLES. This is not a job that you can learn on the fly, or improvise on, or figure out as you go. You must have direct experience doing a similar job before, in some form or another.

To be even more clear:

DO NOT apply for this job unless you have extensive and high-level experience creating books.

Specifically, we are looking for experience as a development editor, a book positioner, a literary agent, or some similar role where you have a lot of direct experience working with authors to create and craft books.

You don’t need to have worked for a major publisher in the past, but you must have all of the skills listed above, and you must have a deep understanding of books and structure and marketing and author psychology that comes from experience.

So if this is you, then you are a really talented, amazing person, right? Which of course, begs a very real question:

Why would you even want to do this work?

Well, there are a few really good reasons.

1. This work can be really fulfilling

If you have the skills listed above, then you probably enjoy helping people organize their ideas into books, and take real fulfillment in solving those multivariable problems of author ideas, experienced wisdom, audience value, and book positioning.

If you work with us, you will get to do that as much as you want, with interesting people who have pretty amazing books in them, that you will play a vital role in creating.

Basically, if you do your job right, someone achieves a dream and makes the world a better place by sharing his or her wisdom. If that sounds appealing, that is literally what you would do every day with us.

2. You will learn a lot

This is what many of our Book Developers love most about outlining and why they relish this job. You will spend 8-12 hours learning the wisdom, stories, and ideas of some of the smartest people in the world, help organize them into a coherent book structure, and then move on to the next one. It’s a dream come true for a lifetime learner.

But although personal fulfillment is very important, there’s more to this job than that. We’re trying to do something new, something that we think can truly make the world a better place (through books), and you can help this mission.

To understand what we mean, here’s a little about us:

About Book In A Box

We’re a new type of publishing company, and what we do is simple:

We offer a professional publishing service that enables people to go from book idea to published book, and all they have to do is spend about 12 hours talking on the phone with us. We do everything else necessary, and in about five months, their book is finished.

Our company started because a frustrated entrepreneur wanted to put all of her incredible wisdom into a book to share with the world, but she didn’t have the time to write or the patience to deal with the frustrating publishing process. So we figured out how to solve her problem.

Her book was an amazing success, and we built a company out of this solution. Her case study is here, and the whole origin story of our company is here.

Since then, we discovered there are a LOT of people who have this same problem—they have valuable wisdom, or a great story to tell; they want to share it with the world, but they can’t find the time to write a book or figure out publishing. They just want a solution to their problem, and that’s what Book In A Box is:

The easiest, quickest, most effective way to turn valuable wisdom into a professional book.

This means you’d be part of something much bigger than any one book, or even bigger than our company. You’d be a crucial and integral part of a process that is working to systematically record and share some of the most important wisdom in the world from the smartest, most successful people out there.

OK, that’s awesome, but let’s get back to reality. What’s in it for you personally?

Good Pay

Before we officially work with you, we test you to make sure you’re as talented as we need you to be, because only a select few people are skilled enough to be an Book Developer for us.

Well, if you pass the test and show you have what it takes, then shouldn’t we pay you like you’re the best?

Yes, we should—and we do!

Our book developer gigs pay a flat fee, but we guarantee a minimum hourly rate of $50. If you go above expected hours, we pay you for the additional time. If you prove to be exceptionally good, we move you onto our “A-List” and you get a 20% across-the-board raise, in addition to other benefits.

This is among the highest base pay rates for freelancers that we know of. We pay so much because we understand and believe in the idea that to work with the best, you have to pay for it. So we do.

We pay through Dwolla, so you generally get your money within 2-3 days. No “net 60” nonsense with us.

We Love Our Book Developers

Everyone says they care about the people they work with, but we actually show it. For example:

  • Our contracts are simple, fair, and in plain English
  • We pay you immediately and with zero hassle, through simple services like Dwolla and Zenefits
  • We create and share resources to help our Book Developers improve in their careers
  • We give regular gifts and bonuses to share our appreciation

Plainly put: we spend a lot of time making sure that all of our freelancers love working with us and produce the best work possible, so we can all enjoy what we do.

It just makes sense for both of us. If you don’t like who you work with, what’s the point?

Our Book Developers Love Us

Because we love our Book Developers and treat them like it, not so shockingly, they love us back. It’s better if they tell you, though:

“I’ve worked for a lot of companies over the years, and I have to say that BIAB has an extremely impressive system. Far more detailed and streamlined than any I’ve ever seen before. So excited to be part of the team.” — Nikki Van Noy, Book Developer, 6/2/16

Make a Meaningful Impact on the World

Books have a unique capacity to change the way people think and to change the world, but you already know this.

Well, with us, you’ll be working closely with some of the best and brightest in a wide range of fields and contributing to the marketplace of ideas with new and important books. Not every book we work on is life-changing, but some are life-changing. You will have the primary role in bringing them into existence.

Totally Flexible & No Bullshit

We’re a remote, results-oriented company. All that we care about is that you have a reliable phone and internet connection and that the author is happy with the results of your work. We have some processes and technology you need to master, but that’s part of getting results. Remember, we do all the bullshit that comes with client work; contracts, collecting pay, dealing with late payments, etc. All you do is your work, and then you get paid (like it should be).

Meet Fun & Interesting People

You will do books with all kinds of different people, most of whom are pretty amazing. Past authors include major company CEOs, famous entrepreneurs, professional athletes, and people with incredible personal stories.

Who You’d Be Working With

And then there is the Book In A Box team. We’re OK, I guess. These three are the main people you’d be interacting with at the company as a Book Developer:

Harlan “Hal” Clifford, Head of Book Creation: Hal runs the Book Development team and oversees the whole manuscript process. He has 30 years’ experience arranging words as a newspaper reporter, magazine journalist and editor, book author, and book editor. He brings together the ability to draw people and their stories out, and the black magic behind seeing a book’s structure inside chaos. He has a thing for mountains and lets his dog get up on the bed.

Mark Chait, Chief Creative Officer: Mark is an actual publishing industry badass. As a Senior Editor at Penguin and an Executive Editor at HarperCollins, Mark was responsible for editing over 15 best sellers and hundreds of other books. Now, Mark has brought his nearly two decades of publishing industry experience to Book In A Box, where he sets the standard for creating kick-ass book outlines like a tremendous machine, dragging the rest of us along in his wake.

Justine Schofield, Freelance Manager: Justine helps ensure all freelance roles are as awesome as possible, both from the freelancer’s perspective and in regards to the entire BIAB process. Previously, she worked at the publishing startup Pubslush, and has always been a writer at heart (even if lately she seems to just be writing a lot of emails). In her spare time, she runs an inspirational clothing company and maintains an ever-growing collection of yoga pants.

The rest of the company is here.

Next Steps?

We’re not currently hiring for this role, but will be soon! Please join this mailing list for updates about all available full-time and freelance positions with Book In A Box.

Please note that our application process for this role generally involves three steps:

  1. When you click on the application link we’ll ask you to fill in an online form.
  2. We’ll sort the best candidates and ask those of you who make the cut to take a short personality test. (At this point you’re saying, “Really? For a freelance role?” We do this for three reasons. First, as we noted up top, we are a relationship company, so we want to understand your skills in that regard. Second, our culture is the most important asset this company has, and we want to make sure you’ll thrive in it. Finally, we tend to hire our full-time staff from our freelancer pool, so this is our way of ensuring we have great talent in our pipeline.) If we don’t hire you, we’ll be happy to send you the results of your test—they can be pretty interesting.
  3. We’ll sort the best candidates again, and ask the finalists to take a brief editing test that simulates a piece of the editor’s job. If you rock that, we’ll interview you by phone (okay, that’s really a fourth step!).

Learn the Book In A Box Method

Sign up below for a free copy of our book, which shows you exactly how to:

  • Test your book idea
  • Create your outline
  • Write your book in hours by talking
  • Edit into a great manuscript
  • Publish and distribute easily
  • Make sure your book is professional
Book In A Box Method