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

Three top options for easy book printing

#15 Writing Tip: Three top options for easy book printing

Now, you’ve written your book and want to make sure it’s produced beautifully in printed form. [A future post will cover the ins and outs of e-book creation.]

Rhythms & Muse books

My first novel, printed on demand by CreateSpace. Almost all the authors I know — even those traditionally published before — are now using this Amazon company to produce their printed books.

So, where do you start? First, ask yourself some questions to help you decide between the three main options:

Option 1

  • Do you want your book publisher/printer to lend credibility to your book?
  • Do you want others to worry about publishing your book?
  • Do you want your book to appear on book store shelves?
  • Are you willing to give up most of the control as to the book’s content and design?
  • Are you willing to wait at least a year to obtain printed copies of your book?

If you answered yes to any of these, you probably want to go through a traditional publishing house that will print your book for you. These are known as the “Big Six.”

  • Hachette Book Group
  • HarperCollins
  • Macmillan
  • Penguin Group
  • Random House
  • Simon & Schuster

[Learn more about the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing in my previous blog.]

Option 2

  • Do you want at least some help publishing your book?
  • Do you want a bit of control regarding the book’s content and design?
  • Are you willing to pay a few thousand dollars for publishing support?
  • Do you want a book within a few months?

If yes, you’ll want to consider an independent publisher, sometimes called small press, that will print your book for you. You might consider these publisher/printers as “self-publishing with support” I know authors who have successfully published books through:

  • AuthorHouse
  • Abbott Press (a division of Writer’s Digest)
  • CreateSpace (with a paid support package)
  • Lightning Source

My research into this area pointed me to Lightning Source, because other indie publishers outsource to them for printing, and they are affiliated with Ingram, a leading distribution house. But, I ended up going with Option 3 in the end.

Option 3

  • Are you willing to do most of the work to prepare your book for publishing/printing?
  • Do you want total control regarding the book’s content and design?
  • Do you not care if your book appears on book store shelves?
  • Do you want to publish as inexpensively as possible?
  • Do you want a book within a month or two?

Your option is a print-on-demand publisher that will print your book only when someone orders it. I went this way for my Rhythms & Muse novel, and enjoyed working with CreateSpace. This Amazon affiliate is also linked with Kindle. You can’t beat the cost [nothing until you order your book(s)], and they provide easy do-it-yourself (DIY) tools to help create books and other media. Upload, proof, print. Your book is on Amazon.

As a caveat,  I will add one additional option. You may want to find a printing house and work with them directly to create your book. I recommend this option if you fully understand the printing process, want to babysit your book as it goes through every step of the process, and have a very large bank account. [In other words, I don’t recommend this option.]

Tell us how you produced/printed your book and where we can find it!

…………………..

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.

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

Authors, generate outrageous readership-building ideas, ALWAYS

Celestial Seasonings tea bags create this dress and its accessories. If you wore this, would people talk about it? Duh. So, what creative idea can you come up with to get people talking about your book? We'll brainstorm ideas together at our next ALWAYS authors lunch. Photo: ©2013 ANVidean

Celestial Seasonings tea bags create this dress and its accessories. If you wore this, would people talk about it? Duh. So, what creative idea can you come up with to get people talking about your book? We’ll brainstorm ideas together at our next ALWAYS authors lunch. Photo: ©2013 ANVidean

Topic for our gathering:
“Marketing Outside The Book: Outrageous Ideas to Build Readership:” a brainstorming session

At our next authors’ Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) gathering in Tempe, AZ, I’ll lead a mini brainstorm to generate unique ideas to entice readers to buy your book. I’ve conducted thousands of hours of marketing strategy sessions with entrepreneurs and authors to generate “out-of-the-circle” ideas to make people want to chat you up. I assure you, you’ll leave the meeting with at least one powerful idea to use immediately.
– Ann

When:
Thurs., Sept. 12, 2013
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
(Due to a concentration of writers’ meetings the last week of each month, ALWAYS will meet now on second Thursdays.)

Where:
Tea Infusion
2000 E Rio Salado Pkwy # 1064
Tempe, AZ 85281-4927
(480) 967-1141
(I am taking suggestions for another meeting place at or near Tempe Marketplace.)

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?
The Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) is an informal group of established fiction and nonfiction writers in the Phoenix area who want to support each other’s work, share ideas and best practices, and just discuss writing topics. I’ve led this group since 2006.
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.

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

Secrets to choosing the perfect book marketing, ALWAYS

You’ve written and published your book. Now you must sell it. But how?

At the next authors’ Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) gathering, we’ll discuss this overwhelming topic with best-selling author and publicity guru Raleigh Pinskey.

Standing in front of shelves lined with Celestial Seasonings teas is very similar to standing in front of shelves (or Web pages) filled with book publicity options. Which do you choose to get the best bang for your book? How do you make yours stand out? Publicity, is one answer. This topic will be addressed at our August 2013 authors' ALWAYS gathering. Photo: @2013 ANVidean

Standing in front of shelves lined with myriad Celestial Seasonings teas is very similar to standing in front of shelves (or Web pages) filled with book publicity options.
Which do you choose to get the best bang for your book?
Photo: @2013 ANVidean

When:
Thurs. Aug. 15, 2013
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

Where:
Tea Infusion
2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy.
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 page or contacting Ann Videan, avidean@videanunlimited.com.

If you’ve RSVP’d, PLEASE show up. If you run into a conflict later, please let me know before the event so I can make the necessary adjustments for the group. Cheers!
…………………………………………………………….

ABOUT ALWAYS
• Need contacts to help your writing?
• Want advice about your writing?
• Like to hang with other cool writers?
The Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors & Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) is an informal group of established fiction and nonfiction writers in the Phoenix area who want to support each other’s work, share ideas and best practices, and just discuss writing topics. I’ve led this group since 2006.
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.

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?