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Why you SHOULD reinvent the wheel! A look at designing for a mobile audience.

Why you SHOULD reinvent the wheel blog post image

Following a seminar event I attended yesterday, I did some blogging on the fly with Adobe Slate .

Why you SHOULD reinvent the wheel blog post image
Why you SHOULD reinvent the wheel blog post image

When technology advances the temptation is to make it imitate that which went before. With advances in mobile technology, an example for our industry is eBooks that “flip” pages and essentially imitate its traditional equivalent. However, by seeking to emulate the traditional equivalents, we are missing opportunities to create new immersive experiences that make the most of the platforms we are viewing the content upon. Those who have read my blog posts will recognise my synergy with this view as well as seeing how our approach to projects differ to those who seek to create digital literature simply by turning it into a PDF (either with or without page flip) rather than making the most of its capabilities.

I found the event stimulating and challenging, and following having attended we will now make our site responsive but not focus as strongly on mobile content and instead focus on creating an app that will blend the best bits of this blog along with some unique content such as covering the events we attend and industry news. To view the original post click on the image to the left to find out why an app really is the way to go for your mobile audience.

I hope you find this blog post as interesting as I found the event, while challenging your preconceptions about tablet and smartphone use.

Coincidentally, the blog post was written on the move using my mobile device. I could have logged in to WordPress to do this, but I found using the Adobe Slate app more convenient and easier to use with the intermittent signal you get while out and about travelling. This proving many of the points we discussed at the event, and I can’t wait to discuss the available options with both existing and new clients soon!

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Book Writing for Non-fiction – How To Complete Your Manuscript – Part 3

Concept stage

Part 3 – Complete your manuscript

If you have already read Part 2, you will want to complete your draft manuscript. Having developed a skeleton manuscript in Part 1 including detailed writing of the first 4 sections, and prepping your manuscript to a more readable format you now need to finish it off ready for our editing service, or move onto our Base module.

Padding

Now you have a skeleton manuscript, your next step is to flesh out your content to complete your book ready for the next stage. The important thing here is to NOT waffle, but to use your padding to deepen the understanding of your concept, utilise your expert knowledge to its fullest while maintaining readability. Readers will quickly lose interest if the book becomes stalled by waffle. Add content where it enhances or eases the readers understanding of your message. There are a few ways we can do this…

Ways of drawing attention to key content

If you have an interesting side point to make, consider using a breakout box. This is a small box that stands out due to its graphical treatment – great for links, videos, further reading and side points for further consideration. They can also be used to refer to other sections and phrases within your book.

Even WordPress has a way of doing this by using block quotes, and here on Kissed Off we use these either for key reviews, authors comments and more.

A picture speaks a hundred words. This is especially true with training titles, as they can often communicate How To content more effectively than paragraphs of text. Consider a step-by-step series of images on how to do your instructions. Images are also a much more engaging way to express data, as well as letting the reader draw their own conclusions to the data you provide through charts, graphs and infographics. Images could be an inherent part of your entire book, or just used in a key section to underline part of your content. They can also be used as background imagery to signify changes in content between chapters – like visual chapter headings.

If a picture speaks a hundred words, video can speak thousands! Especially true with tutorials with particularly detailed, complex or critical instructions, videos can often be a quicker and easier way to express educational content. They can feature either recorded or animated content and will be hosted online and/or embedded into your book (depending on format/platform). These can either be placed in a breakout box (for more information watch… ) or as a key part of your content within your main text stream (this is as important as the rest of the book…).

Over the next few years, we will also see an increasing use of audio within eBook titles – either to add engagement with content, aid accessibility to key sections as well as being used for audio centred content.

With the use of interactivity increasing with eBooks, it is important to consider this fully as part of your complete manuscript.

Other ways of adding padding to your content

One of the first ways to add more to your content is to use quantifiable data from third parties to strengthen your content. You can do this either by external linking, or by using their content with permission (as the Author, you must seek this and prove you have done this to Kissed Off prior to publication). If using their content, we can restyle their data to suit your book’s design, or we can use their styling if you prefer and either use the original interpretation of data, or adapt it to your own interpretation. You could either use the data in its complete or abbreviated form.

Another way of adding weight to your content is to utilise expert opinion. Again, you will need to ensure you have the relevant permission and accredit them correctly within your content (this may include any external link they request). By using expert opinion to back up your content, the reader understands the point is credible and will look more seriously at how to implement it.

Likewise, you could use a third-party opinion which is opposite to your content to add a method of debate to your book and to show why your opinion is the more correct, or best practice, interpretation.

You could also utilise your internet based research as a method of providing further reading, as well as backing your viewpoint.

If your content is particularly complex or uses specialised terminology consider adding a Glossary to aid your reader. Likewise, instead of using complex terminology, consider how you can write in simpler terms. This can often, by its inherent nature, pad your content through more in-depth explanation of individual concepts. What seems simple to you, may not seem so simple to your reader.

Consider including your personal opinion as well as your professional opinion. This may not be appropriate for all titles, but it does allow your reader to connect with you as an Author and as an individual.

Re-read your content

Once you’ve completed the first draft of your content, go back through and read it from start to finish with fresh eyes. This will highlight to you any content you may have missed that you need to include. Make sure you have covered all the points in How To Do sections, any references are listed and that your content flows in a natural manner. Next, you will need to check your fundamental basics – spelling (don’t rely on spellcheck-especially for advanced terminology) and grammar, styling hierarchy and links (make sure any external links are still current and are linking to the correct content).

Once you are happy with your manuscript, ask a friend, family member or respected colleague to read your book. This will highlight readability, missing content, understanding and potentially errors you may have missed due to the familiarity with your content. If possible, get 2-3 people to view your manuscript from different backgrounds as we all read books differently and have varying degrees of knowledge.

Contact Kissed Off

At this stage we would look at drawing up (or amending) your Advanced Information Sheet. We would also be able to give you an idea on page counts, print run costs and more. You may also want to consider our Edit module, where we will also run through your manuscript for you and suggest any areas for improvement, additional content you may wish to consider or fundamental areas for improvement. Our edit module can affordably cut down any additional time that would be required in later stages of the book due to major amends and so forth, and we would strongly recommend this module for first time writers. For those that choose to advance directly to our Base module, we will carry out a basic spell check and grammar check only.

Publishing doesn't have to be difficult with Kissed Off Creations Ltd

If you want help with getting to this stage, consider either our write module or our curate module.

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Why an eBook isn’t just a PDF!

Female Fat Free Club eBook series (iPDF only)

Recently, there has been a proliferation of “digital publishers” that will convert your brochure to a page flipping PDF. These are great for those who want a literal translation of their documents for reading on several platforms. However, this approach fails to make the most of what the technology has to offer.

What can’t a PDF do – and why would I want to create something new?

A PDF in its traditional format was designed as a way to transport static documentation that could be guaranteed to look the same on all platforms it is viewed on. This was a great leap forward when it was invented back in the late 1990’s when it meant that you didn’t all have to be running the same software to preview files or send hard copies to clients – and I even remember creating animations of flipping pages in the early 2000’s. However, a traditional PDF such as those utilised by many page flipping companies, software and plugins rulers out what is best about the eBook platform.

Media Support

In 2015, we can now add videos, audio and animations to our eBook formats (i.e. ePub 3.0 which is utilised by iBooks and many other readers). These are true eBooks that take full advantage of the media available to further explore, express and convey the content of your book. These are great for “How To” topics as well as taking the reader on a tour behind the scenes, for additional content on a subject that they want to explore further. Imagine how much books have changed in last 20 years – especially for the education and manual arena. Now most books that teach us about or how to do something have lots of visual imagery to support the text. eBooks enable us to take this to the next stage – especially for complex subject matter.

Interactivity

Now reading a book doesn’t have to be a passive experience. We can now add interactive features such as puzzles, workbook sections and more that can enhance a book’s content and help the reader engage with the content more. Think of the fun you had as a child with a pop up book – now this is the adult equivalent where learning can be fun for adults too!

iPDF

Now an iPDF allows you to do some but not all of these things… however support for interactivity across all PDF readers is not yet stable. Even simple interactive features such as buttons are not supported within the iPDF framework. This is why as ePub 3.0 support widens, we encourage our authors to go down this route instead. iPDF is great for all platform coverage currently, but ePub 3.0 will only continue to grow and it will change how electronic publishing functions.

How can I utilise interactive features within my eBook?

This is the easiest bit for the author – simply give us an idea of how you want the interactivity to work and we will do the tricky bit. So if you want a diagram that the reader can label, we can do that and more using interactive fields the reader can fill in, and then “reveal” the correct answer.

Also, by having a video or animation, you can start to grow a following on YouTube, use the video in your social media and more. Book trailers are now seen as a key way to draw in new readers.

But you haven’t mentioned Kindles!

The Kindle (as in the older paperweight versions NOT the Fire tablets) can’t handle interactivity or moving imagery. But what it lacks in tech, it more than makes up for in accessibility! A large population of readers can ONLY read on Kindles due to visual impairment. It is a common misconception that blind people use Braille books to read, yet with the non-glare surface of the Kindle it is ideal for those suffering problems with their eyesight. Someone in this situation would be unable to read the PDF flip books (and would find the animation more of a hindrance than a benefit), and would therefore be unable to engage with your content.

This is why Kissed Off create more than just PDF formats of books, and as a registered publisher we have knowledge that stretches across all print and digital platforms.