Using Mac Software For Writing Books
The three books I have produced so far to put onto the Amazon bookstore I have done most of the work using Scrivener. Scrivener is the best software for writers and authors on the Mac and is also available on Windows. We are all hoping that one day it will also be available on iOS. On account of the time it’s taking for it to arrive, none of us using Scrivener are holding our breath and waiting. In the meantime the software developers responsible for the application Ulysses have put out a version on iOS to comment their Mac application. I have tried out the application Ulysses and it is a good enough application to use. I’ll not be swapping over and away from Scrivener after spending time learning how to get the best out of that application. We will just have to be patient for the people at Literature and Latte to come up with the goods. I am at present working on the fourth book in the Good and Geeky series which is about life logging, life casting and generally how to record your life using technology. Last week I read that the latest version of iBooks Author (version 2.3) will now let you save your books as an EPUB 3 file which means your books can be read on many more reading devices. It is also quite simple to convert an EPUB 3 into the Kindle format and so iBooks Author can be used for editing, formatting and exporting from start to finish. There are advantages to having just one application you are using rather than moving from one app to another. If you have versions of your book in more than one software application you could end up wondering which one you should be using. How do you know which one has the most up-to-date editing of the book. With Good and Geeky book 4 I decided to make more use of iBooks Author.
Advantages in using iBooks Author
For start off, iBooks Author has a super interface for working in and is WYSIWYG. You have templates to guide the look and feel of your next e-book bestseller. It’s really good to see the book pretty much as it’s going to look in the e-book reader within your editing software. It’s also very easy to connect up the iPad, iPhone or iBooks on the Mac and send a preview copy to whichever version of iBooks. All you have to do is to open up the application on the iPad and click on the preview button in the toolbar of iBooks Author. There is a little bit of screen dancing where the book presently open closes in the application and then it opens up the new book. On account of the fact my books are heavily Mac and iOS biased you would think it would make sense to create them first for the Apple bookstore. I’ve had more book sales on the Kindle bookstore than the Apple bookstore so far. So I do still have to consider how easy it is going to be to create my book for the Kindle format.
Styling it in iBooks Author
When you pick a template in iBooks Author you get built-in styles for various parts of your text. Everything from the titles, headers, lists and quotes all the way to the specifications for the text you have as an end notes or text that is to be a caption for pictures. Apart from the settings for the font to be used you also can set the space before and after the paragraph and if the paragraph should be always connected to the following paragraph. If the style is more or less what you’re looking for you can use it and then alter it to get it just the way you want it. You will then see that the disclosure triangle for the style is coloured red instead of the usual black which means that you can select and update the style to the changes you have made. The beauty of this is, every piece of text where you have assigned that style adopts the new settings. This makes it really easy to ensure the formatting of the book stays consistent throughout.
Another useful tool with the styles which you can see in a styles drawer, is the ability to set a shortcut key for a style. When you bring text in it will most likely come in as free-form text without any styles attached. It is simplicity itself to put the cursor into a specific piece of text, press the shortcut key to assign styles quickly. Another neat little trick is to select text based upon its style, so that could be text spread throughout the document and not next to each other. Once the text is selected you can then change all of it in one go and that is a super little time saver. You can do that in the advanced section of the find and replace dialogue box.
Disadvantages Using iBooks Author Rather Than Scrivener
One of the best features of Scrivener is the outlining you can do within the application. You can move sections of text around really easily in the binder section to the left of the application. In the cork board part of the application you can move things around as you see fit also using drag and drop. To achieve the same sort of thing in iBooks Author you have to resort to doing copy and paste. Compared to the way it works in Scrivener I find the method in iBooks Author to be time-consuming and more confusing. The answer to this problem is to do the organising and outlining within Scrivener and moving everything over into iBooks author after that. Where this could become confusing is if you decide you need to do more organising and moving around of parts of your book. Depending on how much has to be moved its going to be better to keep working in iBooks Author with the copying and pasting or maybe to move everything back to Scrivener. If you do decide to move it back to Scrivener it will be necessary to make sure you have a bullet-proof workflow to be sure things don’t get messed up moving from one to another.
Tempting Templates in iBooks Author
I thought it would be possible to change from one template to another at any time during the process of working on the book in iBooks Author. That is unfortunately not the case and so once again it might be necessary to have more than one version of your book. Certainly, there are good reasons for having the book available in portrait mode and also in landscape mode. If you publish into portrait mode and you want to read the book on your iPad in landscape, the book stays in portrait mode within the screen. This is the case with the EPUB 3 compatible templates and I have yet to find out how that works out for a book published in the advanced iBooks format.
Which Is Best iBooks Author or Scrivener
I still have to finish editing the Good and Geeky – How To Record Your Life Using Technology book using iBooks Author. I am going to experiment moving everything back from iBooks author into Scrivener and back again. It’s going to be interesting to see how that works out, backups will have to be made beforehand. I also still need to test the EPUB output with regards converting to Kindle format. I’m wondering how that’s going to work out in terms of features added to the book as well as the general look of the book using the styles formatting.
How Many Copies Do I Need Of My Manuscript?
If this experiment does work out successfully it will be handy to have the definitive copy of the book already within iBooks Author ready to publish to the Apple iBooks Store. There is a menu item which will convert the book that is being worked on as an EPUB 3 back to the enhanced format of iBooks. This might not be possible to toggle from one book style to another. If that’s the case I will still end up with numerous copies of the book. It is useful to have only one copy to go back to as it is often necessary to go back into the book when changes need to be made. There are always typos to be found and often there are extra sections of text needed to be added.
I will add more to this post after I have finished my experiments