A Writer's Ramblings
Writing | Books | General Shenanigans
Emails Full of Writerly Fun
If you’ve read my last blog post, you know I’ve had a mess of a few months. What do I do when I feel useless or helpless or—anything, really? I start a project!
I’d been tossing around the idea of an eBook for a while. When I first created my site and began blogging, it was an absolute mess. I had no idea what I was doing. I researched, but I felt like I was spinning my wheels. Even though we can find the answers to pretty much anything on the internet, we don’t always know what questions we need to ask. That was the thought behind my eBook. I wanted to break everything down as simply as possible, to take a new blogger step-by-step through the startup process.
Like everything, creating the guide was a learning experience.
And like all my learning experiences, I want to share it so that if you decide to do something similar, you can benefit from my mistakes.
From the top, I had an idea. I knew what I wanted to say, and I knew I wanted the execution to be as simple as possible. No fluff. So I started writing. I researched where necessary and got down the basic outline, the bare bones of the thing. Then I filled in some details, cut some stuff (you know the drill) until I was happy with it.
But an attention-holding guide needs more than words.
For layout, I went straight to the tried-and-true Photoshop. After all, it’s never let me down.
Photoshop, I still love you. I do. I didn’t want to break up. I just needed a break.
Photoshop gave me images. And let me pop some words over those images. But it was boring. It was 75 flip-through-and-never-learn-a-thing pages. That was not the plan.
I did keep it in the Adobe family. Do I get points for that? Or is that like dating an ex’s brother? Either way, this baby is what I needed! Granted, I did have to start from scratch, after putting in all that time in Photoshop. But like I said, it’s a learning experience.
Not only is InDesign friendlier to eBooks (that’s what it’s for, after all), it lets you create eBooks that are interactive.
Interactive. As in, click and things happen. Hyperlinks, rollover action, a functional table of contents, text forms. This is exactly what I was looking for. Now, instead of flipping through the guide, yawning, and never applying the information to his or her blog, the reader was able to communicate with the guide itself.
For example, in the beginning of the guide, I ask the reader why he or she wants to start a blog—and I give a checklist of answers.
Plus, throughout the thing, there are clickable text boxes in the margins. So the reader can take notes while reading.
My biggest issue with InDesign is that I didn’t check compatibility for its features before creating the guide. There are two main file types to export an interactive file: EPUB and Interactive PDF. Most of my fun, interactive features don’t work in EPUB. There are no text forms and no checkboxes. Basically, the only thing that works is hyperlinks.
But my favorite, nifty feature in the guide is in the platforms section.
The doors dissolve on click to reveal the platform and breakdown underneath! How cool is that? Cool as a cucumber in an icebox? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
But this nifty feature doesn’t work in Interactive PDF.
I could have saved myself some heartache if I had checked that out earlier. As is, the EPUB file completely sacrifices functionality, but I’m still offering it as a download (every purchase gets download links to both file types) because that one feature is so fun.
I suppose my other shortcoming with this guide is not having much of a plan for marketing it. I knew I wanted to use it to help supplement my income (gotta pay those site fees, right?) and to offer a free sample to members of my email list. Maybe I should have had a better strategy, but I’ve been making it up as I go for a while now so it’s par for the course.
So if you’re thinking about writing your own eBook, 1. I definitely recommend making it interactive, 2. Make sure your features are compatible with the file type you’d like to export in before creating the eBook, and 3. You might try having a plan for the thing—but I’ve got nothing against winging it! Oh, and have fun. New experiences are valuable. Make the most of them.
Tell me in the comments, would you want to write an eBook?