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They develop new story ideas, recruit and manage freelance writers, and edit the first drafts of series books. Then they deliver manuscripts to the publisher, who rewrite and polish them to produce the final book. 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.


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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.

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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.

Jump Shot Detectives. Book 4. But somebody takes the tape and steals the whole show! First, send out a dog to sniff for clues. Then eat lots of pizza.

15 Mysterious Facts About ‘The Hardy Boys’

Sometimes detective work is even better than basketball. Dinosaur Disaster. Book 5. A special effects master has brought an exhibit of dinosaur movie models to Bayport Elementary. But before Frank and Joe can check out the prehistoric beasts, the best model vanishes. Now the boys face a monster of a mystery as they set out to save the dinosaur—and save the day.

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Who Took the Book? Book 6. The Hardys know Frank is being framed, but finding the real thief and clearing Frank's name means standing up to the meanest, toughest bullies in school. More featuring detectives.

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Three-Ring Terror. Book The Hardy boys never dreamed they'd be swinging for their lives on the circus's flying trapeze, but that's exactly what happens when their pal Chet Morton discovers a college for clowns. But Frank and Joe have no time for clowning around, for they've intercepted a coded message that may turn the greatest show on earth into a carnival of crime. Eye on Crime. Even more suspicious: this is the second store robbery committed by teens in just two days!

the Hardy Boy

Skin and Bones. The brothers are running hard and thinking fast—and up against a smart, desperate enemy ready to skin them alive! The Clue in the Camera.