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?

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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!

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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.

#5 Writing tip: Writing is not a solitary sport

Writers at Virginia Piper Writing House

Actual writers look like this. Kris Tualla, Tisha Pelletier and Laurie Fagen at the Virginia G. Piper Writer’s House at Arizona State University. ©2010 ANVidean

Picture a writer.

Do you imagine a frazzle-haired, pajama-clad recluse sitting at odd hours and brooding over a computer screen, fiendishly snacking or imbibing caffeine? Perhaps she paces the floor, or maybe bangs her forehead on the desk, until inspiration hits. She might spend long hours taking guidance from characters who “tell her what to write.” She may even pour through defunct manuals explaining all the nitpicky grammatical rules no one pays attention to any more in this day of abbreviating and texting?

Yeah, that’s how the movies depict us. But, in real life, writing isn’t effective in solitary. Great writers get out and explore life, listen to conversations, try out experiences, and share their craft.

Sure we sit in the quiet when we’re actually putting words together, but most of the writing takes place mentally and experientially before we sit down at our computer or notebook. At least it should.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, or business memos…input from external sources encouraging emotional phrasing and storytelling gets your words read. Here are some ideas:

• Sit in a coffee shop to listen to conversations and watch mannerisms.

• Try doing something new, perhaps even something your book character or employees do, and note your emotional and mental reactions to include in your writing.

• Join a writing association. It can help you, even if you’re not writing books.

• Meet with a critique partner or group.

• Form your own writing group like my Alliance for Literary Writers, Authors and Yabbering Scribes (ALWAYS) tribe.

What do you do to garner input and experiences for your writing?

Share your best writing tip and get featured: ALWAYS

• Need contacts to help your writing?  • Want advice about your writing business?  • Like to hang with other cool writers?
If so, my 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.
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ALWAYS gathering
May 8, 2012

Topic:
Share your best writing tip and be featured in my Words•Music•Village blog

Expect an informal, let’s-help-one-another lunch gathering. Come ask questions, gain resources and meet other freelance writers. We’ll share our own best writing tips and hear what works for others. I’ll gather the tips and write up each one,  along with background on you and your writing, as an entry in my new series of writing-tip blogs.

Also, if you have something noncommercial you’d like to showcase — a tool, a resource, a tip — please contact me and I’ll slot you in for 15 minutes of our undivided attention at the meeting.

Next gathering:
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
(Freelancers typically meet for lunch on the second Tuesday, and authors on the fourth Tuesday of each month.)

Where:
T.C. Eggington’s
1660 S. Alma School Rd., #129
Mesa, AZ 85210
(Just one block south of I-60 on the west side of Alma School Road, toward the south end of the strip mall)
480.345.9288

Cost:
A writing tip, and your own lunch.

RSVP:
PLEASE show the consideration of reserving your spot at the table by:
• RSVPing through the “Attending” link on our Facebook Event page
• Emailing Ann Videan with “ALWAYS May 8” in the Subject line

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

Please do add a your best writing tip in the comments below, but I will feature only those who attend the meeting in my blog. I’m encouraging face time here, wordsmiths!

How to Catch Your Dream: Immediate Ideas

Recap of the “Catch Your Dreams” writing workshop and brainstorm for the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers, Jan. 26, 2011
By Ann Narcisian Videan

©2010 ANVidean

Do you have a life dream you want to catch and live, but can’t get past everyday reality? Need a jump-start to move you toward your goal?

In our January brainstorming session, we talked about how – by listening to intuitions, using available resources and taking action – you can find true fulfillment, just as I have, and also as my heroine does in my novel Rhythms & Muse.

I asked participants to express their life dream and, with input from everyone in the room, we shared the ideas, resources and support recorded in this blog post.

Expect to gain at least one, but probably many, positive action items to help you take the next step with your writing, or life goal.

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Writing Goal #1: Publish a historical fiction book for young adults.
Next step: Get started.

Ideas Resources/Action Items
Research how it’s done. • Read books on the topic.
• Attend professional meetings. Scottsdale Society of Women Writers is a good start.
Take a writing class. Check out Gotham online writing workshops.
Contact Stella Pope Duarte, author of If I Die in Juarez. Duarte teaches classes at Paradise Valley and Phoenix community colleges.
Contact Jessica McCann. (Glendale, AZ writer) McCann‘s book All Different Kinds of Free releases April.

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Writing Goal #2: Publish My Book(s)
Next step
: Get out of overwhelm.

Ideas Resources/Action Items
Hang out with others who will support and encourage your efforts. Start with the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers.
Set up one next step and do only that. Then, set one more step and do that.
Listen, and ask for what you want. Interview authors, get to know others who already do what you want to do.
Protect your rights. If you wrote it, you own it. You may also copyright works legally, using online forms.
Find an illustrator. Ask other writers, visit illustrators’ association meetings, and participate in pertinent blogs.
Never give up! Example: Misty Hyman, Mesa-born swimmer who swam 22,000 miles to earn Olympic gold.

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Life Goal #1: Buy cottage in Maine
Next step:
Find the money

Ideas How to apply the ideas to a writing goal
Visualize yourself in the place you want to be, in clear detail, and write it down. Visualize your writing goal, in clear detail, and write it down.
Create a picture board or three-ring binder with magazine cutouts showing what you want. Create a picture board or three-ring binder with magazine cutouts showing samples of other’s works or ideas representing what you want to create.
Never say never. Indeed!
Make a list of ways to obtain your cottage without money. Make a list of ways you can accomplish your writing goal, elements and resources you might need.
Rent a cabin/become part of the community. Immerse yourself in the community, connect with other industry people associated with what you want to do. Ask for input and ideas!
See what trades are available. See if you could create a mutual support system with someone else. You help them, they help you. Perhaps a critique partner.
Find a realtor/private person and switch places for a summer. Find a critique partner, agent, editor, publisher, writer’s group, or others with whom to swap information and skills.
Develop a pen pal in the area. Find a mentor who’s done what you want to do, and meet consistently.
Create a blog with entries about making the cottage purchase happen. Create a blog with entries about making your writing dream come true.
Start a savings account and fill it with change or any extra money. Divide the work into small, reasonable steps so you don’t get overwhelmed. Or collect needed notes or tools as you work forward.
Explore the costs and set a budget. Explore what’s involved in your next step and set aside the resources (time, money, people) to make it happen.
Keep the mindset, “I have enough.” (use play money) KNOW you can obtain anything you need to meet your goal.
Keep in mind what it represents to you. Picture yourself after accomplishing the goal and hold that image.

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Life Goal #2 Manifest a Civics Program for inmates.
Next step:
Bring Sandra Day O’Conner into the movement.

Ideas How to apply the ideas to a writing goal
Contact Sandra Day O’Conner. Get to know other successful writers.
Tie in your contact to your book, or maybe the book she wrote with her granddaughter. Existing work can open doors. Think about how you can leverage what you’ve already done.
Andrea Beaulieu (http://www.yourauthenticvoice.com/) knows Dick Snell, who went to college with Sandra Day O’Conner. Ask others if they would be willing to make introductions with others in their network (an editor, agent, publisher, mentor etc.).
Just ask!
• Sandra Day O’Conner to participate
• Everyone around you to help
(What’s the worst thing that could happen?)
Just ask!
(What’s the worst thing that could happen?) 😀
Sandra Day O’Conner may simply be a stepping stone for you to get to the person who can’t wait to help you reach your goal. (Supreme Court Judge Rebecca Burch? Or someone else!) Keep your options open and listen for ideas to move you in the right direction with your writing.

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Do you have other ideas or resources to share? Please comment.

Do you have a goal for which you’d like others’ help? Ask here and let’s see if we can’t get you moving forward with help from our “village.”