Prepare for perfect publishing — ALWAYS

ID-10029251Join us for the September 2014 gathering of the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS).

Our discussion will center around everything you want to know about self-publishing your books and others’. Karen Mueller Bryson, multi-published author and publisher of Short On Time Books, will share her best practices at our gathering. She’ll  have back-up from other self-published authors and literary consultants in the group as well.

Buy your own lunch, share a tip, and reap the rewards of our informal get-together with other established authors.

Next gathering:
Thursday Sept. 11, 2014
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
(ALWAYS meets on the second Thursday of the month.)

Romeo’s Euro Café
(downtown GIlbert, AZ)
207 N. Gilbert Rd. #105
Gilbert, Arizona 85234
(480) 962-4224

Back-up location:
Joe’s BBQ
301 N. Gilbert Rd.
Gilbert, AZ 85234
(480) 503-3805

A writing tip, and the price of your own lunch.

PLEASE show the consideration of reserving your spot at the table by:
• RSVPing through the “Join” link on our Facebook Event page
• Contacting Ann Videan,

If you’ve RSVP’d, please SHOW UP. If you run into a conflict, please let me know BEFORE the event so Ann can make the necessary adjustments for the group meeting. Cheers!


• Need contacts to help your writing?
• Want advice about your writing?
• Like to hang with other cool writers?

If so, our tribe – the Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) – is the place for you. We’re an informal group of established writers looking for camaraderie, ideas, enlightenment and connection with writers, especially in the Phoenix metro area, to talk about our craft and businesses.

Any established writer can connect with us online through our ALWAYS Facebook page, get listed in our directory of writers on our ALWAYS LinkedIn page, or you can meet with us in person at a lunch meeting. We’d love to have any experienced writer join us at our next meeting … anyone who spends a significant part of his/her week writing, and wants to rub elbows with other writers.

The right tools to publish, inexpensively and efficiently. Savvy?

Photo: @2104 ANVidean

My bookshelf represents books published in all three areas: traditional, indie and self-published.

You already developed marketing content for your business. It may take the form of articles, blog posts, Web content, Twitter tips, Top 10 lists, white papers, or tools you’ve created for clients. You can leverage that valuable information by compiling it into a print or e-book. With today’s accessible publishing tools, it’s also easy, inexpensive, and valuable, too:

  • Books position you as an expert in your field.
  • Books can create a form of passive income.

So, do you know what tools are available to you? Do you know the effective shortcuts that keep you from cutting off an arm and a leg to pay for it? Here are some starting points.

Traditional publishers

Of course you can always pursue publishing with one of the Big 6 traditional publishers—Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Random House, Macmillan, The Penguin Group, and Hachette—but you lose time and control there. It’s typically a two- to three-year process of finding an agent, working through editing to the house specs and the design, and the actual production of the book. You also will need to, for the most part, go with their editing suggestions and cover design. Marketing is still on you, except for a short initial push, and that valuable shelf space in book stores.

Independent publishing

Indie publishers, a segment of which is considered vanity press, offer an option in between traditional publishers and self-publishing. They hold your hand through the book creation process and charge you for various steps, including printing. You often will need to store your own inventory and manage your own distribution with these companies.

Almost all the publishing folk I’ve run into like Lightning Source. Many say their printing quality is excellent, but their best benefit is their association with Ingram, the book distributor. They’ve recently added a print-on-demand service, as well, which stops the need for inventory.

LuLu offers many of these same benefits, but one of its differentiators is that it prints  hardcover books as well as the softcovers typically published by other providers.

Here’s a Live Hacked article comparing Lightning Source with some of the other publisher options to be covered below.

A note of caution: There’s quite a bit of speculation about the integrity of a group of indie houses, including Author House, iUniverse, and Abbot Press (Writer’s Digest). Do your research.

More and more boutique e-publishers are entering the market no, too. I happen to edit for one very reliable e-book, and now print, publisher—Desert Breeze Publishing—out of California.

Again, I urge you to do your research before using or, especially, giving any book rights to an indie or e-book publisher. Search online for ratings and comments, or talk to a publishing consultant. Find the great ones, amidst the chaff.


My favorite publishing option, and the resource most accepted in the publishing world to-date is the Amazon platform including CreateSpace (for print books, CDs, and videos), Kindle Direct Publishing (e-books), and ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange).

This on-line portal allows you to do everything yourself or, for a fee, can help you with various publishing steps from book creation through marketing. To use CreateSpace for a print book, here are the basic steps:

  • Open an online account
  • Fill out their online form, to get an ISBN, pick book size, paper color, pick distribution options. You may opt to pay a minimal fee for extended distribution, which gets you into the computer systems of the larger book store chains.
  • In the online form you’ll also upload a book blurb and author bio.
  • The site provides access to design tools and templates to help you create your cover spread and interior layout.
  • Once the materials are completed to your satisfaction, you upload PDF files.
  • You review an online proof once CreateSpace approves your materials (usually within 48 hours)
  • When everything’s perfect in the proof, you click a button to publish.
  • CreateSpace will automatically generate an Amazon book page for you (typically within 48 hours)
  • Then, your book is available and CreateSpace will print up any books as they are ordered (print-on-demand)


You manage Kindle e-book creation through CreateSpace.

Another author favorite is Smashwords, the world’s largest distributor of indie e-books. The beauty of this platform is its ability to publish e-books in all reader formats: for Apple, computer, Kindle, Nook, etc. Its upload process is very similar to CreateSpace, but may take some additional formatting.


I often tell authors to budget at least $5,000 to create a quality book… your biggest investments will include editing, design and layout, and the base cost of books you plan to sell yourself.

If you already invested time in creating  quality blog entries, for example, you should be close to having finished documents to compile into a book. This means you could get away with a medium-priced editor and a design contest—through for example, upload everything yourself and spend only a few hundred dollars.

You can save a ton, if do almost everything yourself, but you a solid skill set in design, writing/editing, and marketing to be able to do this effectively. Your best bet is to hire professionals, especially for editing and design.

I challenge you to build your credibility and generate passive income. Simply look at your marketing materials to see what you might already have on deck to compile into a book.

Tell us about your book publishing experience or tools…


Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth

27 Steps from Book Idea to Published

Ready to save years of research on what exact steps to take to get a book from idea to publication, inexpensively? I’ve saved you the trouble by outlining every action I took to write and self-publish my Rhythms & Muse novel and music CD, spending about $1,500 total. A real deal in the book publishing realm!

I recently related this information in my presentation Taking a Book from Idea to Publishing on a Budget at the Write Stuff conference at the Chandler Public Library.

The following 7 Book-Creation Phases, and 27 Action Steps, are those I identified (and got approved by a publishing coach) as necessary to self-publish a book.

7 Book-Creation Phases

  1. Research/writing
  2. Editing
  3. Positioning
  4. Production
  5. Publishing
  6. Distribution
  7. Marketing

27 Action Steps

Phase 1: Research/writing

1. Develop  your idea.

2. Create the best content possible through research and intuition.

3. Network!

  • Meet with a critique partner.

4. Clarify legal issues with a copyright lawyer: music lyrics, quotes, celebrity and trademarked names, recognized commercial verbiage, etc.

5. Read!

  • My fav’ for character development: Goal Motivation Conflict, Debra Dixon
  • My fav’ for plot development: The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler

6. Make time to write, consistently.

Phase 2: Editing

7. Ask for feedback from other writers/prolific readers in your target market, on scenes as you write them and on your final manuscript.

8. Hire a professional editor. I found mine through the FictionThatSells listserv on Yahoo!

Phase 3: Positioning

9. Determine if you need an agent. Some publishers will not consider your manuscript without an agent.

  • Find out everything you need to know about the writing marketplace in the Writer’s Market publication available online, at libraries and book stores.
  • Check into agents, their histories, success rates and more at Agent Query.

10. Decide if you want to publish traditionally or self-publish. Pros and cons:

  • Traditional:
    • You have a team so you don’t have to do it all yourself
    • Offers some financial support
    • Less ROI Less control
    • You still do most of the marketing
  • Self:
    • You do it all yourself
    • Self-funded
    • More ROI
    • More control
    • You do all the marketing

Phase 4: Production

11. Decide if you want support from a virtual author’s assistant to accomplish steps 12–27.)

12. Obtain an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) from Bowker. A unique ISBN is required for each book format you use (hardback, softcover, e-book, audio book, etc.) You must buy blocks of 10 numbers. They cost about $125.

13. Obtain a bar code, also from Bowker. Required. This small image encrypts the cost, ISBN, and other information about each individual book.

14. Obtain a Library of Congress card number. Required only if you want your book to be available in libraries.

[Note: Steps 12–14 are available for free when publishing through CreateSpace, an Amazon company enabling do-it-yourself or with-help production and print-on-demand for media such as books, CDs, DVDs, MP3 files, video, and more), plus a broad distribution system.]

15. Obtain legal permissions, and licenses (for which you’ll pay royalties). This means you must check to see if the individual’s creation you’re using is available in the public domain, or whether you must pay for its use.

16. Decide if you want to officially copyright your work through the U.S. Copyright Office. This is optional, as anything you create is already technically your copyrighted material.

17. Decide whether to hire a designer or if you have the professional talent to create the “look” of your book by yourself.

18. Create images to use in the book creation. You MUST get a designer who understands the psychology of book purchasing, especially if you want your book on a main bookstore shelf. Options include:

19. Create the front and back covers, including the images developed in step 18. This can be accomplished using a graphic designer, a contest design site like Mycroburst, or CreateSpace templates.

20. Create the interior page layout. Consider the size of the book itself, margins, fonts, page numbers, graphic images, and more. A graphic designer can do this, or you can do it yourself using software programs like Word, Publisher or Pagemaker.)

Phase 5: Publishing

21. Determine how you want to get the book printed.

  • Traditional publishing house.
  • Independent publisher.  My finalist was Lightning Source, because other indie publishers outsource to them, and they are affiliated with Ingram, a leading distribution house.
  • Print-on-demand.  I decided to use CreateSpace for reasons including cost and easy tools to create the book and CD myself.

22. Identify what other formats you want to create:

  • E-book.  Smashwords takes your upload and formats it to fit all the available e-book formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad, and many more.
  • Audio book.  You can record your book relatively easily in the GarageBand software podcast function.

Phase 6: Distribution

23. Determine how your book will be distributed.

  • Traditional publisher
  • Fulfillment house, such as Lightning Source with its Ingram distribution arm
  • You and the post office
  • Amazon, through an account set up by you
  • A print-on-demand provider like CreateSpace, that sets up your Amazon page, a CreateSpace eStore page and, for $39, puts you into its expanded distribution into the computer systems of Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other national book sellers.

24. Consider the ease of your payment options and set up avenues for receiving:

  • Cash/check
  • Credit cards
  • PayPal (allows both EFT bank transfers or credit card payments)

25. Obtain sales tax forms from every city and state in which you sell your book.

26. Obtain inventory recording forms to report to the state.

Phase 7: Marketing
(This section could be another entire blog post, so I’ll just give you some pointers.)

27. Figure out how you plan to accomplish your marketing.

  • All you.
  • Traditional publisher.
  • A publicist. I lead a group of independent PR pros – the AZ Independent Communicators & Creatives Tribe – who are available to help you. Plus, I am willing to help any time. Just contact me to ask a question, bounce an idea, or ask for more help.

I also offer online resources, many of which are free or low cost on my vIDEAn Unlimited Web site, BizTribe blog, and ANVidean blog. If you are an established writer, you also might want to consider participating in my ALWAYS writers’ tribe.

Or, if you’d benefit from an in-depth Catch Your Dream strategic workshop to help you move forward in creating your book, give me a shout and I’ll provide you with a free one-hour consultation.


I would love to have your feedback and additions to this conversation as, obviously, this is just one person’s journey through the book creation process, and we can all stand to benefit from each others’ knowledge and experience. Cheers!