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.

Self-publishing

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)

Ebooks:

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.

Resources:

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 Mycroburst.com 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
avidean@videanunlimited.com

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Top Design Resources to Create Compelling Books

#14 Writing Tip:  Top design resources to create compelling books—Step 2 Interior page layout

Interior page layout of Rhythms & Muse. ©2014 ANVidean
Interior page layout of Rhythms & Muse.
©2014 ANVidean

So, you completed writing your manuscript, and created a cover design with images to compel readers to pick up your book. The next step involves the production of its interior page layout.

You may think of this as a slam-dunk exercise, but it can require quite a bit of knowledge about word-processing or design programs. It takes into consideration the size of the book pages, width of margins, size of fonts, page number location, graphic images, and more. Making all these elements work well together requires quite a bit of skill with specific software programs.

Attention to detail can make a book more compelling. Like using a treble clef ampersand to tie in my book's music theme.  ©2014 ANVidean
Attention to detail can make a book more compelling. Like using a treble clef ampersand to tie in my book’s music theme.
©2014 ANVidean

I suggest hiring a knowledgeable designer to handle interior layout for you. Higher-cost options may involve independent designers or services provided by vanity presses and print-on-demand companies. Low-cost alternatives range from independent formatting and production experts, to do-it-yourself software such as:

  • Word processors like Microsoft Word, and Scrivener
  • Layout programs like Adobe InDesign and Quark Express
  • Hybrid software like Microsoft Publisher and Apple Pages

A very helpful entry at The Book Designer blog describes all these options in-depth.

You’re welcome to contact me to discuss what tools and resources worked for me, and what I recommend to clients.

P.S. Do you have a secret to share about managing a book’s interior page layout ? Feel free to comment below.

…………………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth
avidean@videanunlimited.com

Six Key Steps to Produce a Book

Writing Tip #12:
Six key steps to jump-start the production of your self-published book

Image
Don’t wait until the 11th hour to take care of book production details!
Photo: iStockphoto.com

So, you wrote your book, a professional edited it, and you’re ready to start the self-publishing process. But where do you start? What should you include? How do you cover yourself legally?

I self-published my first book Rhythms & Muse through CreateSpace (an Amazon company), but it took me years of research—online searches; conference attendance; and asking questions of other writers, editors and book consultants—to narrow down everything needed to actually get the book into printed form. I’m sharing my research here to make it easier for you, so you don’t have to spend all that time. I wish someone had done it for me, so I’m paying it forward.

To jump-start you, follow these six critical steps in the publishing process, and use the resources I provide as a starting point:

  1. Choose a virtual author’s assistant, if you want help
  2. Obtain an ISBN number
  3. Obtain a bar code
  4. Obtain a Library of Congress card number
  5. Find out if your content is legal
  6. Decide if you want to copyright your work

1. Decide if you want support from a virtual author’s assistant so you don’t have to do everything yourself.

This is someone who will do the legwork for the following few steps, and more. From my experience, you should expect to pay at least $65/hour for the services of a VAA. Because my novel included so much research on song permissions and royalties for lyrics, my quote from a VAA amounted to about $3,500. Standard novels without much legal research would probably cost much less.

A great resource to learn more about this: Jan B. King’s VAA Web site.

2. Obtain an International Standard Book Number (ISBN).*

The Bowker company sells ISBNs. A unique ISBN is required for each book format you use (hardcover, softcover, e-book, audio book, etc.)  One costs about $125. You may also buy blocks of 10 numbers for $250, a great value if you’re planning to produce your book in more than one format.*

3. Obtain a bar code.*

Bar codes are required, and are produced along with the ISBN number you purchase from Bowker. This small image encrypts the cost (which you’ll need to provide), ISBN, and other information about each individual book. Bowker will provide both an ISBN-10 and an ISBN-13 number. (An ISBN-13 is based on the ISBN-10, but with the prefix 978.)

* Note: Steps 2 and 3 are available for free when publishing through CreateSpace, and some other print on demand publishers. I know many authors who happily use CreateSpace, which enables do-it-yourself or with-help production and print-on-demand for books, CDs, DVDs, MP3 files, video, and more). Plus, they offer a very affordable broad distribution system.]

4. Obtain a Preassigned Control Number (PCN).

This is a unique number assigned to each Library of Congress catalog record (book). You need only acquire a PCN if you want your book available in libraries. PCNs are free, but you must apply for one, which takes about two weeks. For more details on applying, visit the Library of Congress PCN FAQ.

5. Obtain legal permissions, and licenses (for which you’ll pay royalties).

If you plan to use others’ works in your book—like quotes, lyrics, excerpts, and such—you must do three things to avoid legal issues:

  1. Identify if something is currently in the public domain
  2. Ask permission
  3. Pay the creator

I highly recommend talking with a copyright lawyer like Kevin Keener at Keener McPhail, LLC to make sure you’re in the clear using someone else’s words, images or other creative works.

6. Decide if you want to officially copyright your work.

This is optional, as anything you create is technically your copyrighted material already. But, if you’re paranoid about ownership, you can officially copyright the work through the U.S. Copyright Office. Just note that this can cost you a pretty penny.

These six steps serve as a good starting points. For my next blog entry, I plan to blog talk about design options for book production.

In the meantime, any other tips you’d care to share with other authors about the production of their books?

…………………..

Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth
avidean@videanunlimited.com

Author Publishing Options: 2 Starting Points

Writing Tip #11:
Two high-level considerations about traditional publishing vs. self-publishing

This article provides two initial decisions you must make to decide the best way to introduce your book into the market.

First,  know your manuscript and research possible publishers. Be clear what kinds of material potential publishers print. Does your story fit? Will you need an agent? (Some publishers will not consider your manuscript without one.) They also require you to follow very specific guidelines when submitting manuscripts and otherwise dealing with them.

Luckily, you can find out everything you need to know about the writing marketplace — not only for traditional and other publishers, but for magazine articles, greeting card companies, and more —  in the Writer’s Market publications available online, at libraries and in book stores.

If you do decide to pursue an agent and traditional publishing, check out individual agents, their histories, success rates and more at Agent Query. Writer’s Market provides a guide specific to literary agents, as well.

I decided to self-publish my first novel partly because agents I approached didn't have a good system for incorporating its music "soundtrack."
I decided to self-publish my first novel partly because agents I approached didn’t have a good system for incorporating its music “soundtrack.”

Second, armed with the above information, 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
    • Nearly full control
    • You do all the marketing

    P.S. The decision to publish traditionally or by yourself involves a lot of nuances and choices. If you need additional input, ask a question in the comments below to see what others suggest.

    …………………..

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

Catchy writing requires a fresh reader who is not YOU

Writing tip #10:
Catchy writing requires a fresh reader who is not YOU

I don’t care if you wrote 27 books, publish multiple corporate newsletters every month, or even edit others’ words. You cannot edit your own writing.

NO EXCEPTIONS! (Yes, that’s me stepping up on my soapbox and yelling.)

P1000845
@2011 CEVidean

Fresh eyes, peeps. That’s what it’s all about.

When you write, your brain repeatedly works through  messages the same way, and tends to gloss over words, phrases and ideas already “set” in your mind. It’s a subjective process. Someone else — and, preferably, a number of someone elses — can take a look at those same words, phrases and ideas and see something completely different. They provide a fresh, objective viewpoint.

Two quick examples:

• Writing a 68-page, four color, tabloid RealTime news magazine for computer resellers every two weeks required at least five sets of eyes on our team. Invariably, the designers would see mistakes the writer/editors missed, and vice versa.

• The professional editor of my initial Rhythms & Muse manuscript pointed out that I did not include any current-day scenes with my hero anywhere in the first half of the book. What? I couldn’t belief my oversight. Her input contributed to creating a much more complete, seamless, self-published novel, and helped make it interesting enough to rate almost all 5-star reviews on Amazon.

Sources of “other eyes,” though your #1 choice should always involve a professional editor:

  • A co-worker in your marketing department
  • Several fellow authors or editors (beta readers)
  • A critique partner or group
  • NOT solely your mother or good friends, even if they are avid readers.

OK, so did I make my point? You are not your own best editor!!!
Thank you. (I can step down off my soapbox now.]

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

P.S.  How do you get input on your writing?

Our Words, Music, and Village community

The Latest…
[updated 11/11/18]

Looking for details on faerie portals and Faeries’ Tales?
Visit our Absolutely Wild! web page.

You may benefit from this writing event…

Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors, and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS).
Meet in-person with the ALWAYS writers’ tribe of established authors to discuss writing and support one another. (We meet the second Thursday of each month in Gilbert, except for the first Thursday of each quarter when we meet in Phoenix.)
See you at:
Romeo’s Euro Cafe, downtown Gilbert
11:30 a.m., Thurs., Dec. 13, 2018


Come on in!

Ann.Tea.Carmel's
See this grin? That’s me, sharing creative works and ideas with you, and a cup of tea.
 See this grin? That’s me, sharing creative works and ideas with you, along with a cup of tea.

I’m so glad you’ve found our little online community! Here, we share ideas to create and market better writing, music, and “village.”

Throw in a few “Coffee CommuniTea” coffee and tea-shop reviews, and we’re golden, right? What better places for writing, enjoying music, and creating village?

Our goal is to generate success together, using fresh tactics to get the ‘verse buzzing about our—and others’—cool creative endeavors. Come in and join us…

Ann


Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan, Book Shepherd
Write • Edit • Publish • Word-of-mouth strategy

P.S. Learn more about my novels on Google+.

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!

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