Things have changed in the world of publication.

Not many years ago, the Holy Grail for new authors was to find an agent who would sell your book to a publishing house that would edit, print, and market your book. After raking in the royalties, you hoped for a long partnership. Back then, publishing your own book held a kind of stigma. Not so much now.  Many well-known writers also self-publish some of their work.


Eight years ago, when John Caligiuri left Kodak, he decided to become a full-time writer. It helped that he is gifted, because after writing his first book, the alternative history novel “Red Fist of Rome”, a publishing company signed him up and released his next three novels: the alternative history (Last Roman’s Prayer) and three of his Cocytus series of four stand-alone novels. We thought the most prolific writer in our critique group was all set.

Then he informed us (with a wide grin) that he had decided to go it alone. He would self-publish the fourth of his Cocytus series and would do so under his own imprint, Guardian Tree Publishing. Our friend had turned into a writer and publisher! And I wanted to know why and how.

The Why

“Since I started writing eight years ago, the stigma of self-publishing has changed to an economic decision…For every book I sold, I received 15% rather than the 60% my publishing house got. Since writers must do most of their own marketing now, the editing and cover art from the publisher did not make up for the difference. It was an economic decision, and not so difficult,” John said.

“Physical publishing is done by Kindle, WordPress, and Amazon rules. There are no more bulk orders. It’s now POD (print on demand). The reader orders a book. It is printed and sent to him.” (At least writers don’t have to clear space in garage for stacks of their books.) Besides, marketing has become even more difficult since Covid has nixed book shows, book signings and other public appearances.

The How

I must admit, I thought self-publishing was incredibly involved. Well and good enough for John with his background, but  what about the rest of us? Besides, there are thousands of self-published books out there. Some are excellent and written by seasoned writers. Others, well, not so much. I now look to see if the book is published under an imprint, check out the author, and read the reviews.

“So John,” I asked, “how did you do this?”

First, he chose the name Guardian Tree Publishing. “Sounds kind of familiar,” he said, “but it isn’t.”  (Kind of catchy though, I thought.) The easiest part was getting his DBA (doing business as) for Guardian Tree Publishing. He got it by mail from Monroe County. Next, he registered his manuscript with the Library of Congress with the ISBN number(s) he bought.

He then linked his John Caligiuri author website to Guardian Tree Publishing so people can find him at both sites.

Through networking, John met a fellow writer who is also an editor and skilled in formatting books for eBooks and hard copy.

But before John is ready for that step, he must perfect his manuscript as much as possible. And that’s where we, the Greece Writers Group, come it. We submit the manuscript or chapter we want to be critiqued (read “lovingly shredded”) by the group.

“It’s critical for any writer to have a peer group review. We try to put the best product forward, but often can’t see our own mistakes. The group will ask, (for example) ’How did that character do that?’ Then you need a formal editor beyond the peer group because you want a really good product out there.”

Time Management

Since I personally have enough difficulty finding uninterrupted time to concentrate on my own writing, I wondered how John managed two jobs now—writer and publisher.

He jogs in the morning and brings along his characters. The bunch of them work everything out amid their little group. Then they gather together, and he writes for about three hours, but stops before he finds himself rushing things (telling instead of showing, for example). Later, he will return to writing, often with inspiring music in the background. “Gets my mind working along the right themes…provides mood.”

Then, each day he does a promoting or “publishing” task.

I asked about publishing other writers’ works. John does not think he could offer other writers that much now. However, he is open to discussion with other writers in his genre. Perhaps they could make useful connections. You can contact John at his website

I have no doubt his latest book, and the upcoming next series, will make Guardian Tree Publishing bear much fruit. I’m so glad though our little group gets to read the originals!

His current offerings under Guardian Tree Publishing are:


The Red Fist of Rome

Last Roman’s Prayer




Planet of the Damned

Sanctuary in Hell

Deal with the Devil

Face Ones Demons (available in Spring of 2021)



Perdition’s Angel (Coming in 2022)