Have you wanted to publish a spiral workbook on Amazon but didn’t know how? In this episode Alyssa Avant shares a resource she used to publish a workbook for teen girls. Listen to her inspiring story in this episode. Vervante also shared more information about their pricing in this followup guest post.
Get the PDF transcript here including my tips on publishing a spiral bound workbook:
In This Episode, You’ll Learn:
- How to publish a spiral workbook on Amazon
- The power of encouraging teens to write!
- How Alyssa inspired me to publish a spiral bound version of the Sell More Books Challenge Workbook
- And much more.
Find out more about Alyssa here: http://alyssaavant.com/
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Godly Gain Segment:
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Today’s scripture: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)
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Can’t listen right now? Read the transcript below:
Today I’m rolling out the red carpet and inviting you into my community for a behind the scenes look at what’s working for authors just like you. My name is Shelley Hitz and I’m the owner of Author Audience Academy. The most rewarding part of my job is helping others get results and reach their goals. In this episode I want to position the spotlight on one of my members, Alyssa Avant.
Alyssa is an author, speaker, strategist, and mom entrepreneur. She’s been working virtually since 2007, so she’s been around for a while, and has years of experience working with online professionals and business owners. Alyssa is also published in the Inspired Women Succeed book, in numerous magazines, and on various websites. She’s the author and creator of Christian Charm School workbook materials, which is one of the things we’re going to talk about today. I think you’re going to be really interested in learning about this option for publishing workbooks.
Alyssa is driven to help others, she knows there are other moms who have felt, or feel, just like she did in the early days of building a profitable business in the midst of craziness of kids, and on a budget, so she desires to share her knowledge with you and help you not to have to make the mistakes she did. So, welcome Alyssa.
ALYSSA. Thank you so much Shelley, I’m excited about being on your podcast.
SHELLEY. This week’s Center Stage Spotlight training I’m going to actually have you share a specific success strategy in our interview together, and this episode is going to be all about workbooks.
SHELLEY. This conversation started, it was interesting, I have a free Facebook group for Christian entrepreneurs—you can sign up at GodlyGain.com—and Alyssa was in there. Somebody asked a question about how to do a spiral bound workbook, so Alyssa was answering, she’s had one for years, before she joined Author Audience Academy she had done this. I said, “oh my goodness, can you talk about this on my podcast because I think people will be so interested to know about this option.” So, Alyssa, why don’t you just share a little bit about the workbook that you had created, and what lead you to searching out options for spiral bound workbooks.
ALYSSA. Yes. This was back in my early days of being online for business. I’d come online as a ministry leader, I was doing youth and children’s ministry at the time, and I had gotten my very first website in order to share my girl’s ministry that I was doing, in fact that’s how I found Shelly—she was speaking to girls as well around the same time. I was looking for a way to promote my ministry, so I came online and I began sharing my materials, mostly through articles, I had a podcast at the time, and then I was speaking in my local area.
One of the things that I was offering was called Christian Charm School, and it was basically etiquette and beauty, and things like that, from a Christian, Biblical, perspective. People began to ask me about the Charm School materials, they wanted to be able to get the materials into their churches, home school, or their home school association. They couldn’t have me come and speak from thousands of miles away, because I would get calls from all over the United States. States, and some from other countries, so they asked, “do you have a curriculum for this?” At the time I did not, so I was a little bit like, “I’m missing out on opportunity here.”
SHELLEY. Yeah, exactly.
ALYSSA. I had it in my head, I had it all out on paper, in fact the only thing I had it on was written on legal pads. I had this whole curriculum on legal pads.
SHELLEY. I love that! I think so many people could relate to that, how their book starts just with a simple paper and pen.
ALYSSA. Do you know, I actually started writing this curriculum when I was a teenager? What’s so funny about it was that I attended a modeling school when I was in, I think I was 15 or 16, and I learned a lot about etiquette and how to hold yourself properly, about posture, about beauty, and all those things. What bothered me about it the whole time I was attending, because I was raised in church, was that some of it wasn’t Biblical, some of it was very worldly. I remember telling my parents, “this material is so good, and it would be so great for girls, but I can’t see telling people about it because it’s not a Biblical thing. At that time, even, I had a heart for sharing things like that with other people. I wanted to.
My dad actually encouraged me, at the time I was a teenager, I was taking this material, I had a workbook and everything, I was taking the classes. A couple of years later they asked me to teach the etiquette, the modeling and etiquette classes, within this organization and it still bothered me. I started doing that when I was around 17 or 18. I did that till I had my first child, I would actually travel a couple hundred miles on the weekends—well, there and back was a couple hundred miles because it was about a 95 mile drive. I would do that on the weekend, and I would get paid for it because I was teaching these classes, but the whole time it bothered me because there were parts of it that wasn’t Biblical. I would kind of infuse my own self into it.
SHELLEY. I think that’s a good lesson even for parents, to encourage their kids to be able to do things like that, when they have a heart for a certain topic, or you see them rising up with certain strengths, to encourage them to seek after those things, and to do that writing. That is so awesome that it started when you were a teenager.
ALYSSA. Yeah, it really started then. The reason the legal pad came—I can remember know because the memories are coming back as I share this story—my dad had an in-home office because my dad ran a part time business from our home after work, and he had an office with a legal pad sitting there. I can remember him telling me that and he’s like, “here,” and he gave me the legal pad and I started writing my ideas.
Basically, I didn’t copy everything verbatim from them, what I did was I took the concepts that they had from this etiquette and modeling class and I made them Biblical concepts, and I wrote this out on a legal pad. I had been teaching when I started my ministry in 2005, which was fast forwarding 6-8 years down the road because I graduated high school in 1999, which was about the time I started writing the curriculum, so this was probably about 6 years later at least. I had the materials written down on a legal pad and I would take that with me and I would share it. We would get somebody to come and do make up, we would get somebody to come and do different things, and that’s how I would share it.
Back to the story, people were contacting me to get the curriculum, but I didn’t have the curriculum, I had everything on the legal pad. First, my option for that was that I had learned about eBooks, and it was just a PDF, that’s all that people were doing back then, that was before Kindle or anything.
P I was like, “yeah, I’m going to type this thing up, put some images in there, and format it.” I hired somebody to format it, “and I’m going to sell it as a PDF.” So I sold it for $7, or something, as a PDF. It was basically just a workbook, it was the workbook for the girl who was in the workshop. Then, it would have at the beginning of it a little background and everything.
Then, basically, the girl, either in her home school or her church, sit down with a bible study leader or something. I said, “get somebody to come in and do a make over session, get somebody to come in and plan a nice meal for the girls in your church and teach them about how to do that properly,” because one of them was dining etiquette. They loved it, people started ordering it, and they would get the PDF. It was automatic, I was using Wham Cart back int eh day when I was in a mom group. It was cool, I was amazed at it and everything.
Then I would get emails again, sometimes from the same people, saying, “can I get a printed copy of this? I would love to have it in my hands and be able to hand it to the girls.” Because, you know, printing was a pain. I was like, “OK, well, let me figure this out.” My first idea was I’ll print them myself.
SHELLEY. Oh my.
ALYSSA. I quickly figured out, that wasn’t a very good idea. My printer wasn’t as good a quality as I thought, in order to upgrade to a new printer it was pretty expensive at this point, it was 2008. I was like, “yeah, I don’t think I can do this.” So I contact a local printing company, I live in a really small town so there’s nothing here, but in the town I grew up in about 15 miles away there was a printing place that printed things for local businesses and things. I called those people up and I had to send over the PDF, she gave me a quote, and with the images in color it was really expensive.
So, I did that for a few and I thought, “I just can’t keep doing this.” Every time I ordered she would make me order at least a certain number, and then I would have to go over there and get it from her, and they did the coil bands—so she would actually punch them and coil them for me—but I would have to keep them on hand so that I could have them to sell. I was really loosing money because they were expensive and it was just a big deal.
That’s when I looked online like, “where can I go that I can find a place that would do this.” The reason that the spiral bound is so important is that you want it to lay flat so that you can write in it. It was a work book and the girls needed to be able to lay it flat and write on it. Then, people started asking for a leader guide, because the leader guide was in the front of the student workbook, they wanted it separate. I separated this and created two products, I have a Christian Charm School Student Workbook and a Christian Charm School Leader Guide, and they are two separate products.
That was when it was like, OK this got real, and I need to find a way to do this. I started researching, and I was in an organization that the president sent out, when we joined the organization, she sent out a binder with a bunch of goodies and a place to put our notes and stuff as we attended her training. I was like, “where did you get these?” I was really intrigued by it, because it was nice spiral bound notebook and everything, she gave me the name Vervante, which is a company that will do print on demand, which is what some of us as business owners and authors that are doing this self publishing route, to me it is the most economical way to do it.
I didn’t have money to invest upfront to order a bunch of books and things like that. When I found out about this I was excited. You can get the coil bound, if you want a spiral binder they can do that, and they have a bunch of options. That’s not all they do, they do CD’s they do promotional materials, everything that you can imagine.
Basically I sent them over the PDF, I found out how much it was going to cost, and I did that for a while, where somebody would come to my website and they would purchase it, and I would actually go and manually add it to Vervante as an order that they would ship. Then I found out, even better, that they connect with Amazon, so you can actually have your books on Amazon, people can shop on Amazon, and Vervante can print it, and you never even know that it happens. I don’t know unless I go and see how much I’ve made in Vervante.
SHELLEY. I love that, because I didn’t realize Vervante did that, I knew that they did print on demand, as far as like you said, going in and manually ordering it. Connecting with Amazon, that to me, is a game changer, because then it can be run without me.
ALYSSA. That’s what I like.
SHELLEY. And it’s on the biggest book retailer online. People love shopping on Amazon, they’re on there all the time, so it just makes it easier for your customers too. I love this idea of doing workbooks. You have your workbook, Christian Charm School Workbook, from your experience in just being around other authors what are some other ideas that authors could maybe put into a spiral bound workbook, through Vervante, and then sell it on Amazon through the print on demand services that they offer?
ALYSSA. This could really go far, because a lot of us have programs, or ideas, that lend itself to a do it yourself type workbook. Anything that you can imagine from journaling, I know we’ve talked about journaling a lot over in Author Audience Academy, you could do some journal options, you could teach someone how to do anything. So, if you know how to do something, you could do a step by step, how to, a cook book, how to workbooks of any type, how to set up your business, or how to organize something.
Anything that you would have to brain storm and answer questions as you go, a workbook would lend itself great to that because, I don’t know about you, but when I take workshops I love, and you’re really good at this, you always have handouts. If you’re doing a workshop online you could create a workbook to go with it so that person would be able to have everything in one place.
I know the lady that introduced me to this is Diane Cunningham, and she is the founder and president of NACWE—The National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs—and she actually has an inspired business tool kit.
So think about anything that you could put into a tool kit and it’s spiral bound. In fact, I asked her to make it spiral bound, and that’s how she got the idea, because she has all these wonderful tools and things, this is what you need to set up your business and that kind of thing, and then I’m like, “I can’t write in this.” She actually has it in book form, and then she did it in spiral after I asked her to.
SHELLEY. I’ve interviewed Diane on this podcast earlier about her anthology books, so that’s such a great idea. What I am looking at doing, and I have so many projects to prioritize, that’s part of business is always having different ideas. What I would love to do is take my writing challenge, my 30 day writing challenge, and have a corresponding journal. So, have a journal that you can write in and you can keep track of your words that you’re doing and all of that, but then I contacted CreateSpace and I asked them if I would want to do it through CreateSpace without the spiral bound and do the spiral bound through Vervante how that would work. Without the spiral bound would be cheaper for my customer. The spiral bound isn’t a make it or break it for everyone, so let’s say someone just wanted to save a few bucks. They said I could print it on Vervante as spiral bound, print it through CraySpace with the regular, and then connect them like I do my audio books, kindle books, print books, on Amazon so that your customers have both options.
ALYSSA. That’s awesome!
SHELLEY. Yeah, so I think that’s a really smart thing to do as well, is give your customers options. I did check into Vervante, and it’s not huge profit margins, but it’s so convenient for your customers. Some of your customers will love you for creating these.
ALYSSA. Yeah, exactly. Like with Diane, “I wish this would lie flat.” And that’s like with journals for some people. Some people prefer a bound journal and they don’t mind that they have to hold it open with their hand. Then, some people prefer the spiral. I have a spiral journal on my desk right now that someone gave me, and she had this created somewhere, but I like it because I can flip it back and I can write on it. I use it at church, it sits in my lap well. It depends on what the person prefers, and giving them options is great.
SHELLEY. Yes. I love that. I bet this is just giving people so many ideas of things that they can do, and journals, workbooks, those types of things don’t take a lot of words, it’s mostly just formatting, “fill in the blank,” and “write this” and “do that.” A couple of the other products that Vervante has, they do three ring binders, they do card decks.
So, one of the Author Audience Academy members, Susan Niel, she does Christian Yoga. So, she asked in the forums about creating cards with the different yoga poses and different things, and I said, “oh, I just saw Vervante has that.” So she’s looking into doing that.
They have calendars, posters, they have so many different options. It’s just kind of a fun place to explore, and ways that you can create additional products with information that maybe you already have.
Alyssa had this legal pad full of information, and then she had a PDF, and it’s like, you’re creating the ebook version, now you have the spiral bound version you can create the normal bound version wherever you print, Ingram Spark or whatever. It’s just a way to provide more value to your customers, and if you’re a speaker you can create these for your live events, so many different options. I love to end with a take action tip, I think we could talk for a while longer, but…
SHELLEY. What take action tip do you have for our listeners today?
ALYSSA. My tip is to go and look at the materials you have, maybe something you’ve already published, that you can create a companion journal to, or just go look on your computer. If you’re like me you have so much content that you could re-purpose, and you could put together, and you could make a workbook from. I think you would be surprised at how quickly you could actually make this work for you.
SHELLEY. Awesome. Alyssa, you’re also in the niche of helping people create a virtual system business, correct?
ALYSSA. That’s right.
SHELLEY. So, where’s the best place for people to find you, if they want to find your books, if they want to find out about your virtual assistance business, or all of that, where is the best place for them to connect with you online?
ALYSSA. My website is my name, AlyssaAvant.com.
SHELLEY. Awesome, and I encourage you guys to go check out her website, get connected with her, she is really just doing amazing things. It’s just so fun watching you grow and all the things that you’re launching in your new academy coming up for virtual assistants. Definitely connect with her, and keep learning from Alyssa. Thank you so much Alyssa for being on the show.
ALYSSA. Thank you Shelley, I enjoyed it. It was fun to reminisce and help others figure out how they can do this too.
SHELLEY. Yeah, I love the story, it’s such a fun story, and definitely one that you can incorporate into maybe some of the speaking you do, or creative video, or periscope on it.
ALYSSA. Yeah, I think so, that’s a great idea.
SHELLEY. Alright, thanks a lot. Bye bye.
ALYSSA. Thank you.
SHELLEY. Wow, what a jam packed interview that was. I was inspired after this interview to create my own spiral workbook. Heather Hart and I had worked on the Sell More Books Challenge over a year ago, and we had tons of content. She’d actually formatted most of it into a workbook style, and I contact her and said, “hey Heather, what would you think about publishing this?” And she was completely for it. We had already put all the time, effort, and energy into it.
So, we published the Sell More Books Challenge workbook. You can find it at trainingauthors.com/challenge. By going through the process myself I learned even more tips on publishing spiral bound workbooks.
So, I’ve included all of the tips that I’ve learned up to this point, from publishing on Vervante, that I want to share with you in the show notes. So, just go to this episodes show notes, it’s authoraudience.com/29, and you can get the transcript, and at the end of the transcript I’ll include those publishing tips for you.
I would love for you to check out our workbook, it’s the Sell More Books Challenge Workbook. What you get with this workbook, you can either get the spiral bound version or the regular version, and then you get access to our training, a $270 training, for free; it’s included with the workbook. So go and check it out at trainingauthors.com/challenge.
Thank you Alyssa for inspiring me to do this, and to learn this process, it was so fun.
Before we end I want to give you a backstage pass in this weeks’ Godly Gain segment. Alyssa talked about how she was encouraged to write when she was young, and it led to so much. Not only books and a ministry, and so much more, but she was able to really influence a lot of people’s lives. It reminded me of this verse from 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” My hope and my prayer is that these episodes are bringing you one step closer to being able to shine and reach more people with your message.
If you’re interested at all in publishing a spiral bound workbook make sure to get the show notes for this episode that will have the transcript, but you’ll also get my Vervante publishing tips, so make sure to download that at authoraudience.com/29. I’ll see you next time.
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