A Day with Scrivener and iBooks Author

Good-and-Geeky-iPad-Art.jpgThe latest book I put out onto the iTunes bookstore “The iPad Artist” I neglected to put into the Amazon bookstore. Yesterday I began the process of getting it ready rectify this. To do this I needed to open up the book in iBooks Author and start putting it piece by piece into Scrivener. It would be nice if I could just have a simple export out of iBooks Author, but that’s not going to work. The reason is because you have fancy little widgets in iBooks if you’re using the iBooks author format. If you are publishing from iBooks author to EPUB then it is possible to put that directly into Amazon. It might be necessary to do some checks to make sure everything has come across okay, but will probably work out just right. I needed to do the job manually.

Working with images in books

It’s necessary to get the images smaller, at least as reasonably possible, to put into Amazon books. This is because of the ways it works out with the cost of data being downloaded by customers from Amazon. Within certain price brackets on Amazon the author has to pay for the megabytes downloaded. Obviously this is going to affect the price of the book. You don’t want to have it so that you’re losing money on each book downloaded, by having to pay more for the cost of the data than the income from the book.

So what I’ve been doing is to take the images from the iBooks Author and to resize them. This has worked out well enough that it’s not been necessary for me to use other applications to further reduce the size of the images. I have an application called ImageOptim which will take an image and reduce the size of it while still keeping a reasonable amount of quality. Depending upon the image being worked with, the reduction of size can be substantial. The file size can be anything from 80% to 5% smaller. I’ve been using an application called Resize Sense which allows me to resize images by various specifications. I could tell it to reduce the file to 600 pixels on the longest side. It’s also possible to specify the size you want by a number of other options. If you want to do a load of files all at the same time it’s also possible to do these file size changes in batches. You just have to specify the changes you want and where you want the files to go to when done. Resize Sense will also rename files as they are processed. You could for example have the file rename to – Filename + Height + Width + (whatever other text you wish to add, such as RS which is what I use to denote files having been worked on in Resize Sense). This helps you to see which files have been worked on in this way and are ready for you to add to your books.


Rearranging and making changes

When you go back to a book you previously worked on it’s inevitable you’re going to make a few changes. I changed the order of a couple of chapters because I thought it made a bit more sense with them moved around. I’ve also seen a few chapters where I need to add more information. So I’ll be furiously writing new sections to add to the book. I’ll have to keep a good track on these sections as I’ll need to also add these to the book as it stands now in iBooks Author. Much of the writing process comes down to organisational practices to get the ideas and concepts across in the best way possible. I sometimes wish I was much better organised than I am. At least knowing that means I’m going to be able to make improvements and get better at the job.

dragondictate-in-useWriting more words

DragonDictate version 6 is what I use to do my writing. I’m finding that my best set up for using the dictation software is to set up TextEdit on the left side of my iMac screen and have the application Marked 2 on the right. Nuance, the makers of Dragon dictate say it is possible to dictate directly into Scrivener but usually it just works better by using TextEdit. I’m writing using markdown and I have the application Marked to show me the markdown converted into how it will look in HTML. Another good reason for using this set up, is getting a word count at the bottom of the Marked application. I can easily see how many words are written in a session as it gets updated in nearly real time.


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Using Scrivener instead of Ulysses

Ulysses is an excellent application, especially for blogging. It’s much better at markdown than Scrivener and it will allow me to export out to the EPUB format. I could send an EPUB file into Amazon, but I prefer to send in a .mobi file. I can get this .mobi directly out of Scrivener. Scrivener has a huge number of other tools making it great for organising the words and chapters for a book. It will also show the pictures you’re working with in the text. Whereas with Ulysses you need to do an export or compile of your work to see how it is going to look. The compiler options in Scrivener are complicated. It’s taken me quite some time and a lot of fiddling around to get something which seems to work. At least now I’ve got it set up so I don’t have to keep messing with it. What I might try to do is to take the complete book from Scrivener, put it into Ulysses and export it. I’ll be able to compare the two versions and see which looks the best.

iBooks Author is fantastic

I absolutely love the iBooks author format and getting a WYSIWYG view of my book as I’m making it. I combine this with using iBooks Author themes to get some spectacular looking books. Working this way is easy and creative. I can position text and images on the page wherever I want them. I can have images which are rotated with fancy borders and shadows. There is so much more you can do to make a book wickedly interesting. Interactive images and slideshows of images are just the start of it. It’s also possible to use applications like Hype which is a HTML 5 editor to create animations. It’s easy to add audio and video media into iBooks. You can have video which plays when the book is opened as well as video on pages which will either play in a small window or play across the whole screen. If Apple iBooks was the dominant digital bookstore I’d be happy to concentrate solely on making iBooks. Or at least the iBook would be my Premier version of the book and other versions secondary. The e-book reading experience for readers of iBooks on iPhones and iPads is so much richer than on a Kindle.

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