The One Man Band Best-selling Author

Finding the time to write your books

It is quite hard to be a one-man band when you’re bootstrapping a business as an author. You don’t have the money to be able to afford help to do the marketing of your books for you. So it is quite likely you spend a lot of time doing that of work when you would rather be writing your next book. If you are a proper writer though, then you don’t really have much choice, you just have to find the time to do what you have to do. I think that the problem with the marketing side of being a bestselling author is that there are so many suggestions of what you need to do to be successful that it is quite bewildering. You have to ask yourself how long you are going to spend testing one way of building your business compared to another. Even then, things change and what worked six months ago might not work during the next six months. So when you are starting off, what do you do?

One book is not enough

It seems to be a particularly good course of action right at the very beginning to just get those books written. It isn’t a good plan just to write one book and then spend the next six months to a year promoting the book using whatever means you can find. From what I have seen so far, it seems that the best thing to do is to write two or three books, or more. While you are writing those spend a basic amount of time building up a website with a following and in particular an email list. This is my plan for my Good and Geeky Books brand.

Give your audience some content to find

If you’re going to have a website then you need to have some content on it. So the thing to do is to spend 15 minutes to half an hour per day adding small articles to your website. Write about things which are connected to the topics of your books. Maybe when you have been doing this for about six months or more you can cut back to only once a week of making a longer blog post. Anyway, you are going to want to have some content on your website to draw people in and to start a conversation going with your projected audience. You can be letting your audience know how things are going with your writing. You may ask your website viewers if they would like to be beta readers for your upcoming books. This can be very useful if you don’t have a lot of money to pay for a professional editor.

The email list is priority one

MailChimp

You need to start creating your email list as soon as possible. For this you will need to set up an account with something like MailChimp to collect those email addresses. On your website I suggest that you put on something that gives you friendly pop-ups inviting people to subscribe to your email list. You could just get a form from MailChimp that you can post onto your website, but I have found that using the pop-ups, people are more likely to subscribe. You will need to write a couple of welcome to the email list messages, to send out automatically when people sign up. You might also want to encourage subscribers by giving away something that they might find useful and makes a connection to your content. This could be a useful info-graphic or it could be a short story, or maybe at the early stages you could promise that you will give them your first book for free. When you have a few names upon your list you should then schedule to send an email once a week to your subscribers. In these emails you can put in links to your website highlighting a popular post from the week. It seems to be a good idea to try and engage with your subscribers and to ask them questions. Find out from them what they would like to see in your website and your books. So this could be quite a good way of gathering in ideas for your digital content.

The priorities for the self published author one-man band

  1. Write your books – Launch with three or four e-books as it gives your audience other books of yours to buy after they have read one of them.
  2. Create a website – Give your audience something to read that is connected to your stories so that you find people that are interested in what your books are about.
  3. Start your email subscriber list – It is never too soon to start collecting email addresses. These are the people that will be your fans and hopefully super fans.

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Posted in marketing.

Writing Books for the Kindle Market

Publishing for the Kindle

I have recently got a shot in the arm for the writing and publishing of my books business. After reading books encouraging the publishing of written works on Amazon Kindle I feel more inclined to get a book written and published as soon as possible. The recent book that I was reading was quite improbable in the way that it was saying you could write a book a week. It might well be possible, but they would have to be short and possibly not very good books. The main thing that I got from that book that I would pass on to other people would be that it is better to try and keep trying rather than to give up before even starting. It is highly likely that there will be some books that hardly sell anything at all and then others which could go like gangbusters. You can’t really go on what has been successful before or even what is being successful at the present time. For example when the zombie books were being very successful in terms of sales, everybody wants to go and write a zombie book and then probably finds that by the time the book is available to purchase, that other people have had the same idea and they were too late to the party also. So I have jumped into Scrivener author software and have a book in the works and will soom be published.

Photo by Mamasuco

More than one book in your store

It is most definitely a very good idea to have more than one eBook published so that if a person who has bought your book and likes it, will very likely also want to read more from you. You can put links into your books that you have written, to your other titles and maybe even have a sample chapter to get the reader started. Another thing about having number of books available is that if some do well and some don’t, then playing the percentages regards success you are more likely to be feeling better about how your sales are going if at least one of the books is doing well. If this is the case then it’s more likely that you will continue writing and get more books out there, rather than giving up.

Quantity versus quality

I recently read a book which reckoned it was possible to write one book a week to publish to Amazon. This was with writing for five hours a day for four days and on the fifth day doing the re-writing and editing. The Saturday and Sunday was for a little bit of thinking and writing of small notes so that you would have subjects and stories to write about from Monday to Thursday. I suppose it could be possible, but the books would have to be very short books or not very good books. Like most people, I would prefer to go for quality rather than getting a name for writing crappy books. Even if those crappy books were making some money, they are still crappy books that could hurt you in the long term as an author.

On the other hand, in marketing and selling terms of your books it is a good idea to have more than one book available for your readers. What this author does, is to write four books on one topic, one after the other. This would be a good idea as you would be already in the flow for that subject matter. So if you were writing fiction then you would have a series that your readers could follow one through to another. Same sort of thing with non-fiction books where you can cover another area in a different book and get more sales overall. If these books are cheap enough for people to buy then I don’t suppose people will mind too much if the books are short, so long as the information contained within are worthy of even that small price. In these days of online reviews by your readers that obviously it is going to make sense to make sure that you give good value.

Another book I read recently was based upon the idea of creating a book within 90 days and this seemed a little bit more reasonable as it gave specific advice on how to actually complete the task. Writing 1500 words per day and then on the next day to rewrite those words and to add another 1500 words would seem to be quite doable. The rewriting of the words from the previous day moves it on stage from being a first draft and also gets you into the swing of things for writing the next block of words. It seems like a fairly good plan and I think I would like to have a go at it. I reckon by using the process you would be more likely to get something of quality and worthy of charging a higher price for in the Amazon bookstore.

Getting the book into the hands of your readers

Whichever way you go about writing your book, it is going be necessary to spend some time in finding readers and making sales. There is a book by a writer called John Locke who managed to sell a large number of books of moderate quality through the Kindle store and he did this by building up an email list of his audience. Doing something like this takes quite some time and seems to be the best way to go forward these days; especially for the self published author.

The basic idea behind his marketing is to get people that are interested in his books onto his email list and this was his basic starting point. When somebody on this list bought something from him they were then moved on to another list or a sub list within the main list. It was then possible for him to make offers to these people that had already bought one product and to build up the sales numbers. The readers that bought more than one of his books would go on to the next list which is the list of super fans. Super fans are the people that will buy every book that you write and will most likely also tell their friends and therefore it makes good sense to treat your super fans extra well. You would have more personal contact with these super fans and offer things like naming a character in a book to come based on the name of your super fan. People like the personal approach and feeling special by having direct contact with the author of the books they like to read.

Posted in Kindle.

Ebooks are the future

This is what authors need!

These new methods of electronic publishing are changing forever the old-fashioned publishing business. The old ways of doing things no longer work and publishers are starting to realise that they have to make changes to accommodate new technology. Publishers are already asking authors to do more of the promotion for books and if this is the case then why shouldn’t authors strike out more on their own. If you can use social networking to build up a fan base of people that will buy your latest electronic book soon as you publish the immediacy of the books is quite alluring as well as sensible.


Posted in ePub.

Read iBooks on your Mac

iBooks becomes available on the Mac

What I hear you say? About bloody time that the iBooks application was available for reading the books that you can make in iBooks author, directly on your Mac. You have to wonder why it is that it took them so long to make the application so that it would work on the desktop and laptop computers as well as on the iPad. I wonder when there will be a version available for the iPhone?

Really good news for students

I suppose to a large extent you might say that the best reading experience for the iBooks would be on an iPad anyway, but why not cover all bases with a Mac app also. When you consider that many of the iBooks are for educational purposes students that are studying and using a MacBook to be their primary computer might not also have the iPad. So this new application that is now going to be available for Mac OS X, from the App Store will be marvellous for students, whatever the course might be.

Control it with Magic

Obviously this is going to work better when you are using a laptop or if you have the desktop computer with the Magic trackpad. This is so that you will be able to make the gestures that you need to get into certain parts of iBooks author publications. You will be able to control things like widgets and photo slideshows with gestures from the Magic trackpad. It will also be nice when you can have two or three items running on your screen, especially if you have a large screen or an extra display or two. This means that you can have a whole lot of information in front of you alongside the tool that you use for writing, such as Byword or Scrivener. Using the iBooks reader application like this could be much more efficient for getting your work done and in this case probably a better scenario than when using the iPad.

This will also be good for when you are authoring a new book

When you’re first putting together your book with iBooks Author, it will be very handy to have the iBook reader application available on the same machine that you are creating the book. You will be able to do faster proofing. Obviously it will be necessary to try out your book on both of the destinations so that you know that it is going to work with your using it on an iPad or a 27 inch iMac.

Posted in iBooks Author.

How to get your word document imported into Sigil and create your e-book

So you have a word document that you want to put into Sigil to make electronic epub book. There are a couple of ways of doing this and which one will be best will depend upon the length of the document. This is because when you bring the text into the Sigil application not all of the formatting will come in correctly when coming in directly from Word documents.

When you are doing this, one thing that you want to make sure of, is that the HTML that is created within Sigil is good clean HTML.

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Method 1 will be to go to a web tool which you can find by doing a Google search, one that I found that seems to work quite well. I had the document opened in Pages and I selected all of it and copied it to the clipboard. I pasted the text that I had copied into the webpage and then clicked on the button to convert to HTML.

Here you can see we have good clean HTML that can be pasted now into Sigil, double-click on the top of the tab in Sigil to get to the HTML side of the editor and paste in between the two body tags. Double-click again on the top of the tab so that you can see what it is going to look like in WYSIWYG format.

As you can see we’ve got a good layout for the text but there is still one more thing to do and this is to sort out the headers. If you put your cursor into the headers you can then click on the header button in the toolbar for the header level you want. You can also use a keyboard shortcut for your headers. So use Cmd-1 for header one and Cmd-2 for a header two and so on.

word docs to epub

What you can also do if you need to break apart the document into chapter sections is to place the cursor where you want the break to happen and then use the keyboard shortcut Cmd-Enter or choose it from the edit menu.

If there are any photographs or images that you need to bring in, then you can import those into the project and then put them into the layout where you want them.

Method 2 for putting text into your Sigil document is to miss out the step of converting it into HTML and paste directly into Sigil. It is not pretty and with a long document you will be complaining about how terrible it is. You will see that when it goes in, it all goes in as plain text and it also has a few places where there are spaces where you don’t want them.

It is easier and better with the previous method because you get to see where your headers are and with that method one there is less cleaning up to do. If you don’t bother with the cleaning up then you’re likely to find that there will be some odd page breaks or section breaks when looking at the final e-book in an e-reader.

Method 3 if you’re working with just a short document then you could just grab the text and to put it into a text editor and the one that I like to use is called Mou. I will then work with the text to format it with markdown and when I have got it ready, I will export it out as HTML.

Working with your text this way is really best for shorter pieces of text as it is a little bit more fiddly, but at least you do get your headers formatted correctly ready to paste into Sigil.

Method 4 is to export out from pages directly to an ePub. As you can see when you do this, it is a complete mess. There are spaces between paragraphs that we don’t want and when we look at the HTML we can see that it is not as clean as we would like it.

Method 5 there is the possibility to export out to PDF from Pages and then to convert the PDF in Calibre to an e-book format. I found that this way of doing it wasn’t particularly successful in terms of the formatting of the EPUB book. It is possible to use calibre to convert ebooks, but it is highly likely that you will find plenty of errors in your final EPUB book so I can’t recommend it.

Posted in ePub.

Getting Started With Writing A Book – A Workflow

Scrivener 2

So you have this marvellous idea knocking around inside your head and you want to turn it into a book. How on earth do you get started? That is the very big question, which for a lot of people would put such a huge roadblock in the way, that the book never actually get started. There are tools that you can use to get those ideas out of your head and into written form. There is even the trusted old analogue way of using pen and paper, but lets be a little bit more 21st-century about this. Let me suggest a workflow that will work for just about anybody. There will be some suggestions of software, some of them will be free and some of them will be paid for solutions. You will have to decide for yourself whether you want to go with the suggestions I make, or whether to substitute other applications/workflows in their place. It might even be, that you don’t like the suggested workflow at all and if that is the case then why not write something in the comments to say how you, would go about doing this.

The process of writing a book

  1. Do a mind map to explore your idea as fully as you can.
  2. Export out of the mind map out as an outline.
  3. Take the outline and build upon it and organise it so that it makes more sense in a linear way.
  4. The outline is the skeleton of your book and now is the time to add some flesh to it. See your book as small sections, scenes and chapters and use some software to split it up so that you can use it this way and I would suggest the writers app Scrivener .
  5. At this stage you have your first draft of your book and personally what I would do is to put it to one side and forget about it for a period of time. That could be a week, a fortnight or months. You can start writing your next book in the meantime. The idea of this is to put some distance between you and your baby, so that you go to the editing stage with a higher degree of objectivity.
  6. Read your book for the purposes of editing and also get other people to read your book for editing.
  7. Rewrite your book or parts of your book. Re-edit the book – rinse and repeat as many times as it requires until you are happy and can declare it to be finished.
  8. Using Scrivener you can compile your book into whatever format is needed for the publication of the document. You can compile it so that it is a manuscript of a format required by your publisher or an editor for a publisher. You can compile it out so that it will be ready to sell in the form of an electronic book, be that an EPUB to sell on your own website, or another electronic format that can be used, for example Amazon Kindle format.

Writing a book

The tools to do the job

I would recommend that the first tool to use would be the iPad using the application iThoughtsHD. There are other mind mapping tools out there that you could use on your PC or Mac, but I like iThoughtsHD the best. You could even just get a large sheet of paper and do it manually. The reason that I am recommending that you start with mind mapping, is that for most of us we think in a non-linear way. The idea is to just get those ideas out of the head and into some sort of document, so that our ideas can be collected and organised. We have to be able to convert those nonlinear ideas into the linear format that is a book.

Convert ideas into words – Mind Map to Outline

A good mind mapping tool will allow you to export the picture that you have drawn with words in the mind map, in a format which is called OPML. This is the standard format for outlining which can we then used in whichever text editor you want to use for the job of writing. This is where we start to put the flesh on the bones of our book in Scrivener.

Organise and refine with Scrivener

Byword text editor

If you’re not going to use Scrivener, then I would suggest that you use a straightforward text editor and to write in the Markdown format. The reason for this is because the thing that we want to work with now is text, plain text, the naked words that are the building blocks of our book. If you start using something like Microsoft Word, then you will start with fiddling about with formatting and how that text looks. Forget about how it looks for now, concentrate on those words and the telling of the story.

Plaintext for mobility as a writer

If you are serious about being a writer or an author then Scrivener is the application that you want to get. The other option I mentioned was to use Markdown and plaintext and the beauty of using this syntax is that it is so simple and can be used however you like. You can use free text editors either on your tablet device or on your PC and text is fast. Text editors are simple and always much faster to start and be ready for working than any full on word processor. The text editor that I like for the iPad and for the Mac is Byword, as I get full synchronisation with iCloud. Anything that I work on on my iPad is immediately available to me in the application on my Mac. There are plenty of text editors out there, choose the simplest, fastest and the one that suits you best and then stick with it. For Markdown I like Mou on the Mac.

Editing your first draft

PagesIcon 1

I recently created a video looking at methods of editing a manuscript with software. I have been asked to do some editing of a book by a friend and I found I needed something that would let me do the editing by tracking changes. I needed a way to make changes to the text without destroying what was already there, so that my friend would be able to either accept or reject individual edits. I tried a few different software solutions and I found that Pages on the Mac was the best one for me. It worked out well for reading to find and correct spelling and grammar mistakes.

Publishing your book

Scrivener is marvellous because it has some of the options for compiling your finished manuscript into the format required for publishing. So whether you’re going to try and sell your book into the traditional publishing channels or whether you’re going to self publish an electronic book, Scrivener is a good tool for the job.

It really is a good idea to get your book into as many e-book bookstores as possible. You want to have your book in as many formats as your readers are likely to want to get your book in. Give your fan bas a choice. So you should publish as a PDF, an EPUB, the Kindle format and also the EPUB that you get from iBooks Author. You can use Scrivener for much of this and you might also have a look at the application called Sigil . There is also the application called Calibre, which is good for converting from one format to another.

How would you do it?

How many ways are there to skin a cat? There is going to be a huge amount of variability in the way that a writer or author will go from start to finish with a book. You will have decide which way of doing it is going to be best for you and the way that you like to work creatively. I would love to hear from you and get your ideas for your best way to write a book . Please leave something in the comments below.

UPDATE:

I have written a book about the search for a Good and Geeky Writers Workflow and I will be giving it away for free. It took me a while to find something that I could say I was totally happy with but I managed it. I will have a link on here soon for you to get to it. If you use the Good and Geeky Writers Workflow your writers block will not survive.

Posted in ePub.

Using the application Sigil on the Mac to create EPUB books

The application Sigil is quite a good little application for editing EPUBs . There are versions available for working on Windows and also with LINUX, But my own experience will be from using the Mac version. It is an open source application, which means that you can get it for free. It isn’t one of those awful badly designed open source apps that fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. Sigil looks quite good and it also works pretty well too.

Write with a WYSIWYG editor or using HTML code

free applications

If you have a favourite text editor to use, like Byword, or maybe Writeroom , then you might want to use one of those for your editing of the text. When you have the text looking the way that you want it to look, you can do the copy and paste to bring into Sigil. On the other hand, if you prefer just to use one application or fewer applications, then you can work directly in Sigil. Personally, I prefer to use Dragon dictation for my first draft, followed by an editing of that draft in the application called Mou . I can then export out from that application in HTML code and it is ready to put into right into Sigil. The benefits of doing it this way, is that I get the speed of dictating, combined with the ease of converting from Markdown into HTML code. This way when the text is in Sigil, it already has all of the HTML headers applied to it. It is not difficult though, to apply headers in Sigil, but my method of working is faster if you’re using a longer piece of text.

Adding a cover page and setting up the meta data

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In the video I show you how to set up the cover page, it is a little bit fiddly, but not difficult to follow the steps. Once you have set up your cover page don’t forget also, that you need to set up the meta data for the book. This is important so that the reader will be able to find the book by either the title or the name of the author in the e-book reader. There is in fact a whole range of meta data tags that can be used when you are working within Sigil.

Putting pictures and images into your book

Sigil ePub editor

Getting the images into the book is simple and it is also a piece of cake to put the images on the page. I found that if I wanted to have text flowing around an image then I needed to do a little bit of HTML coding to get it to work just right. Watch the video to see how this is done. I have a Text Expander snippet set up that lets me organise the flow of the text to the right or to the left of the image.

Finishing off your book and exporting

There are tools within Sigil that will allow you to check the ePub coding of your e-book. You can submit the book to a test to make sure that everything is just as it should be. When you have it set up right, you can click on save and that is all you need to do to have created your electronic EPUB book. I found it was very easy to save the book into the Dropbox folder on my Mac and within seconds it was available for me to open up from Dropbox on my iPad in order to open it up in iBooks.

How does Sigil fit in with your electronic book publishing?

EPUB Logo

Sigil is a great application for creating the standard electronic EPUB book, that is mainly text and some images. It will give you the ePub publications that can be opened up and read in all the basic eReaders, such as the Kobo, the Sony e-reader and also iBooks on the iPad. It is not terribly difficult either to convert your EPUB book into a file that can be viewed on the Amazon Kindle.

The application Sigil will not give you the same bells and whistles that you find in the iBooks Author Mac application for creating electronic textbooks. That is okay because the books from iBooks Author can only be read on the iPad.

Publish all your books everywhere

In order to get the best advantage out of all of the sales channels available for electronic books, you should publish your books in as many places as possible. So you should have a version that is in standard EPUB format, a PDF version, an Amazon Kindle version and also an iBook’s textbook version. If you can cover all the bases with regards to publishing your novel or whatever type of book you are making, then you’re more likely to get better sales of your creative works. I thoroughly recommend the use of Sigil for creating your standard EPUB Electronic books.

Posted in ePub.

Creating eBooks on your iPad with Book Creator

In the previous article , we looked at a number of applications that are available for creating electronic books and some of them were iPad applications . Let’s have a look at one of those applications in more detail, the application called Book Creator. It is a fairly simple application in terms of facilities available to you, but it will allow you to make electronic books on your iPad.

Getting started with Book Creator on iPad

Book Creator for iPad

When you first open the application you are shown a view which allows you to choose books which you have already created or are working on. On the same screen you can tap on the symbol with the letter I and that will allow you to add the meta data of the book title and book author. This also gives you the iBook file size in the same pop-up window. Here you can also choose, using the standard share icon, to open up the book in iBooks or other applications that will open that type of file. You can for example send your book to Dropbox. If you send it to an application like Dropbox or Evernote, all you can do in there is to open it up in another application from the same list. At least at that stage, you have a backup of your e-book either in Dropbox, Evernote or maybe in a Google drive . One other option from that front page of Book Creator is to export the book out to the cloud, either as an iBook or as a PDF. So this could be quite a good option to export your book out as a PDF.

Video Tutorial Part One

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Creating your first digital book with Book Creator

First of all, tap on the button which has the plus icon and you can choose from making a new book or duplicating one of the books there already. Choose a new book and then you can choose from a set of three formats. You have portrait, square and landscape. If you’re making a photo book then perhaps the landscape version would be the best option, it depends upon the photos that you have, I suppose.

When you have opened up into the editing window, the first thing to do is to set up the cover for your book. It is as easy as rolling off a log to add an image for your book and you can also add text over the top of that image. When you’ve got your cover the way that you want it, tap on the button which says next. This takes you to the first pages ready for you to start adding images and text. With this Book Creator application you can also record sound using the built-in recorder. All you have to do is to tap the big red button to start recording. At the end of recording an audio, it would be nice to have the choice of listening to what you have just recorded before you add it to the book. Hopefully this will be something that is added in a future version. It is also possible to import, songs or other audio clips that you have in your iTunes library.

Book Creator Video Tutorial Part Two

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Adding text to your e-book in Book Creator for iPad

The pop-up window where you put in your text is a very, very simple text editor. The only option that you get is a space to type in or paste in your text. It is a little disappointing, to say the least. The idea is that you really do your text editing work in an application better suited to working with text. So you put your text in and tap on the button done.

The application is also quite basic in terms of allowing you to edit your text box. If you put in too much text, you may have some difficulty in finding the two blue buttons on the sides of the rectangle, that you use to size up your text box. In this situation the best thing to do is to use the icon for the Inspector window and to change the size of text to something much smaller. When you have done that, you will be able to use those blue buttons to size up the width of the text box. You can place the text box on page then, just where you want it.

Adding images to your e-book

When you tap on the standard icon in the menu bar at the top, you get a list of the places that you can get photos from. That will be from your Camera Roll or from your Photo Stream, it would be nice if there was an option to take a photo to use, using the camera. Once you have chosen the photo you wish to use, then you can size it up using the blue dots at the four corners of the image. It is also possible to use two fingers on the photo and rotate it. In the layout options of the image you can send it to front or move it to the back, but you don’t get any option to have text flow around it.

Options for setting up the page in Book Creator

There are settings that you get to from the inspector for the page. You can setup the background colour of the left page and of the right page independently. You may also enable a soundtrack and choose an audio file or song from your iTunes library. I have not tried it yet, but I expect that the soundtrack is an audio track that will play whenever you have the iBook open. Also within this area you can set up whether you want to have the Book Creator show guides or not. You can set it so that the objects you create will be able to snap to guides as well as being able to snap to a grid.

The Digital Book Maestro verdict on Book Creator

The application Book Creator, overall is quite simple in terms of how you use it to create books. However, if what you want is fairly simple, then it is a good application to use. I would recommend this application for the creation of photo books, where you’re not using an awful lot of text. So the text that you are adding, is basically titles and captions for your photos. If you are expecting to create a book that will be using a lot of text and no photos then the application to use would be Daedaus Touch on the iPad.

For the moment, the applications for the iPad are more suited for the quick and dirty iBooks that you want to create and then get on with something else. To do real work on the creation of electronic books , you are still better off using your desktop computer and applications like Sigil or iBooks Author . I would be quite happy to use the Book Creator app when it suited the type of book that I wanted to create.

Posted in iPad.

Deciding to make an e-book

If you decide that you want to make yourself an e-book and you want to do it using the iPad as your creation device, then you really need to think about what sort of the book you want to make. The questions that you need to ask are – Is it mostly text based? Or is the book going to be more photos and images? Are you planning to have a book that is more interactive or with animations on some or all of the pages? If you’re going to be using lots of text, do you need to have the text so it flows from one page to another? All of these questions that you need to ask before you get started, will determine the software that you need to use for creating your book.

iPad software for creating electronic books

I have searched through the iTunes App Store and I have found a few applications that are available for creating electronic books. They fall into a couple of main categories.

  • Text based books for readers.
  • Photos or images based books with only a small amount of text.
  • Multimedia books with a high level of interactivity with programmable animations.

So by knowing the type of book that you want to create, you will be able to choose the correct tool for the job.

Text based books, novels or textbooks

For this type of book what you need is an application that will allow you to bring in larger chunks of text that will automatically flow from page to page. Certainly you want to stay away from the applications that are mainly for working page by page, painstakingly setting up the interactivity of the graphics and text.

Daedalus Touch

You could work with an application like Daedalus which is a text editor application that allows you to export out to an EPUB format. It is a very simple application in terms of the final format of your electronic book. The finished book will be all text, apart from the added image you insert for a cover for the front of your book. The application Daedalus is perfect if you need to get out some text based information quickly in formats that can be used within iBooks on an iPad, or other basic e-book reader.

Another inexpensive application you might have a look at would be TXT To EPUB, it only costs 89 cents and is another way to get those text files into a format that can be read by the basic e-book readers. I haven’t actually tried this one out, so I’m not sure how it works out with regards getting the text formatted and sorting out headers. You do need to have some way of making the text readable and for that you will need to have headers, a way to make paragraphs and to perhaps have the ability to have some text either in bold or in italics. The underlying format of electronic books is HTML code, so it would be perfect to be able to use an application that utilised Markdown for the writing. Another possibility would be to have an application that converted RTF files into text suitable for putting into the electronic book creation application. In one of the applications that I tried, it was expected that the text was put in there in HTML format. If you’re somebody that doesn’t know how to do HTML coding then I would recommend that you learned how to do Markdown and use an application that converted it for you into HTML. It will be much easier that way or just find a wysiwyg type of ebook editor.

free applications

 

Electronic book formats

make an eBook

Most of the electronic book publisher apps, I have been looking at export out to the EPUB format. There was one that I looked at that exported out to PDF. I found an application called iBookWriter has its own proprietary format that works within its own ecosystem, but does also export to PDF. I am still in a testing phase with iBookWriter and it does look quite a good application. I would like to see how well it works at getting electronic books out ,so that they can be viewed in other applications.

Going the Kindle Route

One format that I’ve not mentioned much so far, is the Kindle format. This is the format that works with the Amazon bookstore and you will find that there are a number of EPUB to Kindle convertor applications. The Amazon marketplace for selling electronic books is huge and well worth considering as a place to sell your e-books. I would certainly recommend that you have your books in more than one store to optimise your sales potential. Amazon have a self publishing facility called Create Space and it is easier to get your books out into that store than it is to get into the Apple iBooks store. There is the Kindle Previewer app for Mac and Windows that will convert to .mobi format.

Electronic books for sale or not for sale

If you’re not selling your electronic books, but giving them away you do get more options with regards how you can distribute them. It makes it so much easier using iBooks Author application on your Mac to make the specialised textbook format that can be read on iPads, if you’re making them to give away rather than to sell. If you want to sell the books then you need to go to the expense of buying an ISBN number or using a third-party service like Lulu.

Easy EPUB Code Editor

This is an iPad application, which seems to me to be a little bit expensive. I would consider it, but I will be looking out for it in one of those applications that inform you when iOS apps have been put on sale. With it you can create fixed layout eBooks and you can edit text, you can edit the XHTML and you can also edit the CSS. This application seems to be more for the nerdy geek than it is for a teacher that wants to just create a quick electronic book to use as an extra resource within the classroom. I would like to give it a try, but not at that price. I would be more likely to create my e-book using one of the other e-book creator apps available.

What do you want to do and where do you want to do it?

In this article I have been primarily looking at the creation of electronic books on the iPad. You will get more options for creating electronic books on the Mac, so what you might consider is to do part of the creation work on the iPad in readiness to move to your Mac. For example, you can do the the writing part on your iPad because you always have your iPad with you, same with working with images for your books. You can take the media that you create on your iOS devices and put it into an application like Scrivener, Pages, iBooks Author or Sigil for the finishing off.

The Apple application Pages doesn’t export from the iPad to the EPUB format, but what you could do is to do all of the setup work within the iPad application of Pages and then open up the same document in the OS X version of the app. At this point you will be able to export it out to the EPUB format to create your e-book.

Lots of options available to publish your e-book

In future articles I will be going over in more detail how some of the other applications work. There will be video tutorials showing you how to get the best from the iPad and Mac applications that I will be able to test. It may be a while before some of them get looked at, because of the cost of these applications. If you are a iOS developer that makes one of these e-book publisher apps and you would like to see it reviewed on this website, then please contact me through the contact page.

Posted in iPad.

Other Mac Applications for creating Electronic Books

In this video we look at a simple ways to create e-books and I start off by looking at an application which is specifically for turning HTML files into EPUB publications. This application is very much a one trick pony and from it you will get a very simple electronic book. You can add a single HTML file or multiples, or you can even add a whole folder containing files. There are not many options within the application for customisation of your e-book and when I looked at it, it wasn’t even possible to add a front cover. I can still see a use for an application like this, for instance you might want to just have something done very very quickly. This could be when a teacher in the classroom has webpages already created that she wants to quickly get out to students as an EPUB. Perhaps you feel like you don’t want to get out iBooks Author, or other EPUB editor, perhaps because if you did you would up spending too much time messing and fiddling with it.

 

free applications

 

We need an iBooks for the Mac

At the time of viewing this EPUB file created in this simple software, all I had available for testing on the Mac was the application called Stanza. Stanza is a free open source EPUB viewer which is pretty horrible to look at. It has none of the design flair that you would expect from a Mac application. It did have enough capabilities to allow me to see into the publication, but not much more.

It is about time that Apple provided us with a version of iBooks for the Mac that will let us review our iBooks format books, even though most people that are creating these books will probably have an iPad. It would also be useful for there to be a Mac iBooks application so that readers of iBooks would be able to view our creations on their Macs as well as on the iPad. There are already a couple of applications for the Mac that will let you read the standard e-book format books.

Other apps for making e-books

EPUB Mac – It is possible to use the application from Adobe called Indesign to make a ebook. Personally, I think it is over the top in terms of price and complexity and if you don’t want to use iBooks author, then you could instead use the Pages application . When you use Pages all you have to do is to download the e-books template that you can get and bring into your Pages application. You can do this by importing the template or you can just open the document and do a Save as Template.

Scrivener002

I have tried Pages for making an e-book and to be honest I was not really impressed. You have to be very careful in the way that you add images to your e-book and I think that using iBooks Author is a much better proposition. The problem is that with iBooks Author you don’t get the option for making a standard ePub, it has to be one of the new specialised iBooks formatted style of book. This does mean that to be able to read any book out of that software, you do need to have an iPad. So maybe you will have to struggle with Pages after all. One other application that is worth looking at is Scrivener . Very good export capabilities to loads of formats including ePub.

Creating iBooks directly from the iPad

There are some reasonable applications available for making your iBook directly on the iPad, from the very simple such as Daedalus to the app called Book Creator. Why would this not be the case, the iPad is a creation device after all.  Having an EPUB creator on the iPad only makes sense.

Publishing and being everywhere

When you’re making an e-book you really want to be able to have it available in as many formats and in as many stores as possible. To this end it is good if you can have some way of exporting your book out as a PDF, because some people will want to get it that way. It is also quite reasonable to look for a way to convert the publication to the Kindle format. Obviously Amazon is going to be a good way to get your book sold too. Nevertheless, there is the possibility with certain types of content that you may just want to stick with the Apple bookstore. That is not a bad thing either with there being 100 million and growing, iPads out there.  So start creating your electronic book masterpiece with some of the EPUB software available and keep coming back to Digital Book Maestro for more tips and hints on how to use the software to publish your own books.

Posted in iBooks Author.