Mash-up: Book giveaway, Back to The Future, and bad-boy rock-star Fae in New Zealand

What do movies, involvement of future readers, and bad-boy rock stars in New Zealand have to do with my stories? Find out in my guest blog today at L.H. Nicole’s Legendary  Web site. I talk about:

  • The world I’ve created, including how my Dark Fae characters are patterned after burned-out rock legends.
  • Why New Zealand is the perfect setting for this story.
  • Why Back To The Future inspired my writing, including one of it’s famous stars who was my movie buddy at Arizona State University.
Song of the Ocarina novel cover, Ann Narcisian Videan

Here’s a sneak peek at the cover of book one in my Delfaerune Rhapsody new-adult fantasy series!

I’m also giving away the second printed book of Song of the Ocarina. When I open my first shipment box (hopefully within a month), I claim the first book I pick up. The second one, though, could be yours. The lucky winner will be someone who comments on:

L.H. Nicole is a member of my young-adult fiction critique group and a great storyteller, so be sure to check out her books when you visit her site.

What do you think?

 

 

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

Axyl Thorne: Reveal #1

Reveal #1: Axyl Thorne, a famous Fae rock star

Logo for Thorne, a band in the Delfaerune Rhapsody series of novels

The logo of Axyl’s band “Thorne,”
a modified skull and crossbones.
Image: Stacy Lefevre

He may be a Dark Fae, or maybe he just chooses to hang with them. He may carry a full Fae bloodline, or he might not. One thing for sure, though, Axyl is a brilliant musician.

Constantly followed by a gaggle of fangirls, he’s a charmer, but he also holds a place in his heart for the heroine’s sister B’rook, who you will also meet in the coming days.

Axyl’s story unfolds in Song of the Ocarina, the first book in my new-adult fantasy adventures — the Delfaerune Rhapsody series.

Watch for more character image reveals this week of Axyl here in my blog, and also in my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds.

…………………..

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

Key insider tips on formatting a readable book interior – ALWAYS author roundtable

interior book formatting on Rhythms & Muse. Photo: @2014 ANVidean

I did my own interior book formatting on Rhythms & Muse using MS Word, and can’t wait to gain some additional tips from Caren Cantrell, founder and CEO of 102nd Place, at our next ALWAYS meeting, May 8. Photo: @2014 ANVidean

Do you want a resource to help you with your book’s layout? Caren Cantrell, founder and CEO of 102nd Place, who formats book interiors using MS Word for clients self-publishing through Createspace or Kindle. She joins us at our ALWAYS roundtable discussion in May to share her insider tips.

Phoenix, AZ-area established authors, feel free to join us! Please RSVP.

Next gathering:
THURSDAY, May 8, 2014
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

(ALWAYS meets on the second Thursday of each month.)

Where:
PLEASE NOTE LOCATION
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

Cost:  A writing tip, and your own lunch.

RSVP:  PLEASE show the consideration of reserving your spot at the table by RSVPing through the “Join” link on our ALWAYS Facebook Event page or 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 I can make the necessary adjustments for the group meeting. Cheers!

So, what’s your best tip for creating an excellent interior book layout?

ABOUT ALWAYS

  • 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

Coffee CommuniTea form: Add your own favorite tea/coffee shop

Add your favorite tea or coffee shop to this community! I’m looking for hot spots all over the world, so please share any place you truly admire.

Ann at Carmel's Cafe in Phoenix, AZ

Ann at Carmel’s Cafe in Phoenix, AZ

I created the Coffee CommuniTea blog  because I deal with a lot of indie businesses and authors, and — since I love connecting people and ideas — what better place to do it than a coffee or tea shop? Besides, I wrote most of my Rhythms & Muse novel and Delfaerune Rhapsody series-in-progress in such venues.

I already covered many of my favorite hot spots on this site, but want to include your favorites, as well. I would be delighted to add your perfect little meeting place for a “cuppa.”

Simply copy my “Coffee CommuniTea” form (below) into the comments, and fill it out. Or, you can print it out, complete the form, and email it to avidean@videanunlimited.com. 

I will follow up with the owner/manager to fill out any missing details, secure photos, and post everything to this site. Cheers!

…………………………………………………………………………….

Coffee CommuniTea Blog
Contributor Form

Contributor: (your name, city, state, and other contact info you wish to make available, even a mug shot – pun intended)

Today’s Cup o’ Tea (name of shop, its city/state location, its Web site and/or best online site, with its owners’ names and contact emails)

Perks (what I really like!)

Share a Cuppa (the stories about the owner, building, history, name)

What’s Brewing (coffee, tea, food)

Percolation Factor (the activity/environment/energy/service)

The Grind (what I would change)

The Grounds (location)

Tea Times (hours)

Yelp rating: ____ stars from ___ reviews

…………………..

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

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

Authors, understand the legality behind your books, ALWAYS

TOPIC:
Do you know the legal ins and outs regarding your book? Let’s get together with Megan D. Scott with The Kleinman Law Firm, to learn more about keeping our content legal and protecting our work.

Josh Groban, Phoenix 2013

In your book, can you use photos of celebrities like the one my daughter took at the Josh Groban concert?
Can you even use their names? Can you use music lyrics and quotes?
Should you officially copyright your writing?
Find out by attending the Dec. 12 ALWAYS writers gathering in Tempe, AZ.

[In case you’re wondering, Josh is the guy in the shadows just to the right of the violinist
and behind the guy with his knee up.]
Photo: 2013 CEVidean

Next gathering:
Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
(ALWAYS meets on the second Thursday of each month.)

Where:
DAVE & BUSTERS
(private board room)
Tempe Marketplace
2000 E Rio Salado Pkwy
Tempe , AZ – 85281
480-281-8456

back-up location:
Tea Infusion
2000 E Rio Salado Pkwy # 1064
Tempe, AZ 85281-4927
(480) 967-1141

Cost:
A writing tip, and your own lunch.

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

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

ABOUT ALWAYS

• 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.

Coffee CommuniTea: Solo Café Gourmet Coffee and Tea House – Tempe, AZ

Today’s Cup o’ Tea
Solo Café Gourmet Coffee & Tea House
Tempe, AZ

Solo Café's quaint storefront and patio seating

Solo Café’s quaint storefront and patio seating

Perks (what I really like!)

  • A whole wall full of loose-leaf tea selections
  • Delicious hazelnut mocha latte
  • Super friendly barista/co-owner, Chad

    Co-owner Chad hard at work

    Co-owner Chad hard at work

  • Edgy artwork
  • Lots of comfy seating, inside and out, giving the place a homey feel

Share a cuppa (the stories about the owner, building, history, name)

My research turned up little marketing material online or otherwise for patrons to discover more details about this hot spot. They may not need it, as the shop was packed in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon, but I still would like to find more background on the place… (If you know more, please comment below.)

Plenty of delicious choices.

Plenty of delicious choices.

What’s Brewing (coffee, tea, food)

  • Coffee drinks of all kinds
  • Did I mention a whole wall of loose-leaf tea? Ahh!
  • Pastries and snacks

The Grind (what I would change)
No decaf offered. This place must be for purists!

Relax in the intimate library

Relax in the intimate library

Percolation Factor (the activity/environment/energy/service)

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Cool little library with cushy seating
  • Turntable and vinyl available for a listen
  • Small TV with DVDs
  • A community night for musicians on Wednesdays

The Grounds (location)
107 E Baseline Rd., #A-4
Tempe, AZ 85283
(480) 838-7656

Tea Times (hours)
M–Sa 8 a.m.–9 p.m.
Su. 11 a.m.- 8 p.m.

Yelp rating: 4.5 stars

……………………

I love connecting people and ideas, so I’ve been creating small villages my entire life. Really, what better places can writers and musicians find to create “village” than independent coffee/tea shops? I wrote most of my Rhythms & Muse novel and Delfaerune Rhapsody series-in-progress in coffee/tea venues, so it seemed natural to create this blog. Whether you came here to find a new favorite hangout, or suggest a spot not yet not posted, may you find Coffee CommuniTea exactly to your taste!

Create a book readers want to read, through design

#13 Writing Tip: Create a book readers want to read, through design—Step 1

You walk through a book store. Shelf upon shelf of books surround you. Something on a cover makes you stop and pick up a volume.
Or…
You search online for a book to read. You click through to a genre you like and scroll down the listings. Something catches your eye, and you click to learn more.

What made you stop and look? The book cover design, of course. So, would your book meet the reader-catching test? The next few blogs entries will deal with this topic, starting today with cover design.

I created my own back cover for Rhythms & Muse using Photoshop and a photo editing software.

I created my own back cover for Rhythms & Muse using Photoshop and a photo editing software.

For my front cover, I did my research and asked contest-site designers for a specific look including certain elements. I chose this one from among more than 25 designs.

For Rhythms & Muse, I did my research and asked contest-site designers for a specific look with certain elements. I chose this one from among 25+ front-cover designs.

Book cover art involves both art and science. Not all designers—let alone authors—know the secrets to what draws a buyer’s attention. If you want an enticing design, you must do your research, considering:

  • Image elements
  • Mood
  • Color
  • Impact of photos vs. illustration
  • Font choice
  • Composition
  • Much more

Are you clear on these areas, and how your choices can influence your book design’s success? If not, you need to hire a designer. Now, I’m not saying you have to pay the big bucks for a graphic designer who specializes in book design, although that may just be the ideal solution. Today’s accessible information and technology provide a number of options:

  • Hire a professional book designer ($$$)
  • Pay for support services from print-on-demand publisher, like CreateSpace ($$)
  • Research book design online, learn the ins-and-outs, and ask for on-spec designs from a contest site like ($)
  • Research online, learn the ins-and-outs, and do it yourself using design software like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or even Word, although the latter has limitations (minimal cost)

Your first step for eye-catching book design involves choosing one of the above options.

If you would like additional resources, tried and true, per my own experience, please contact me.

P.S. Can you recommend an additional resource for other writers? Do you have a book design secret to share? 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