Rose Sneeringer, The Book Nurturer, invited me to join her panel of experts in the publishing portion of her summit, “Creating Your Dream Business: How to Follow Your Calling, Fulfill Your Purpose, and Succeed at the Work You Love!” The publishing telesummit is part of a broad selection of entrepreneurial discussions designed to promote creative entrepreneurship. The online event begins on February 15, 2016.
Publishing offers great opportunities for writers who pursue it as a business, but those who pursue writing as an art are often frustrated with their business results. In the publishing summit, we discuss some of the important challenges that face indie writers, how indie publishing is different from traditional publishing, common publishing pitfalls and mistakes, and how to adjust your expectations (or your writing and strategy) to achieve success.
The publishing telesummit covers such topics as:
Book and Cover design
Find the right editor
Take control of your publishing business
Should you hire a book publicist?
EBooks in the web browser
Making your own eBooks with WordPress
Sign up to attend the free publishing telesummit to hear my conversation with Rose and expert book publicist, Penny Sansevieri, along with publishing, marketing, and business advice from the rest of the panel of business and publishing professionals at http://yourdreambiz.net.
The ability to make eBooks with WordPress solves a number of publishing problems. I offeried a free Webinar with Toni Ressaire of pub.ink that walks you through the process of creating eBooks with WordPress and publishing them. That webinar is archived in this post along with my previous webinar about eBooks in the web browser.
One challenge facing authors and publishers is the limited set of tools available for creating eBooks. It’s easy enough to export an eBook from Adobe InDesign or other software, but if you want to edit an eBook, the process is too technical for most writers. The PubML WordPress plugin tools make eBook editing easy, visual, and intuitive.
And the state of eBooks is such that every reader renders them with a not-so-slightly different appearance. Though eBooks are based on HTML and CSS (the standard coding conventions used to render content on the web) eReader devices and software interpret these “standards” with wide variations.
This article discusses the merits and drawbacks of HTML5 Web-Based Ebooks. It’s really a blog post in eBook form, but why talk about it when you can do it? EBooks on the web are not a proposal or a theory; they’re here. Web-based eBooks are beautiful, functional, easy-to-create, and available now to anyone with an up-to-date web browser.
Are web-based eBooks of value? Or is this another new channel that fragments the market and makes more work for publishers? Every eBook format has advantages and disadvantages. Determining which eBook format(s) are right for you depend(s) on your content, publishing goals, and standards. Leverage popular (ePub) formats to take advantage of the widest possible distribution and easy, third-party e-commerce technology. Use HTML5 eBooks for better presentation, consistent support of enhanced functionality, and building relationships directly with your readers.
The PubML™ eBook platform combines a web-based eBook format with book design guidance and publishing expertise. EBook publishing is no longer a chore or an insurmountable technical challenge. PubML’s™ holistic approach educates, empowers, and inspires writers and publishers.
PubML™ EBooks – Balancing Tradition with Innovation
EBooks and popular eBookstores have been around for a while; these rely on either the ePub eBook format or some variant like Amazon’s .mobi. Publishers made a huge investment in converting their catalogs to ePub2 format for consumption on dedicated eReader devices. But after the ePub3 standard was released to enhance the capabilities of eBooks, eReader device manufacturers were slow to embrace the new standard. Without ePub3 support, publishers will naturally hesitate to deliver enhanced eBooks that won’t appear or function consistently for all readers.
The PubML™ eBook format (PubML stands for Publishing with HTML) was created to display reflowable, paginated text in the web browser, along with elegant typography, web fonts, rich media, photo footnotes, and other features. The web browser is now officially the most powerful and flexible platform for eBook display. Publishing on the free Internet offers a distribution channel that bypasses proprietary bookstore and app store commissions. PubML™ eBooks can be read online or offline. They can be viewed as hosted websites or distributed as digital downloads for local viewing.
The PubML™ Publishing tools export to both traditional ePub2 format and to PubML™ web-book format. Publishers can choose either or both.
Introducing PubML – HTML5 eBooks in Your Web Browser
The Blue Monk is an IPPY Award-winning memoir about my adventures sailing solo during the 1980s and 90s. As I worked on my manuscript, I thought about ways I could honor the places and people I’d encountered on my voyages. My research contained hundreds of maps, photos, video clips, and footnotes; I wanted to find a way to share these resources without bloating the file size or cluttering the text. As a book designer, I wanted to produce an electronic book that respected classic principles of layout and typography.
The PubML™ eBook format (Publishing with HTML) enables beautiful, rich media eBooks to be delivered where they should be—through your web browser. PubML™ eBooks combine elegant typography with reflowable, paginated text, and they offer a “third stream” alternative to proprietary bookstores and proprietary eReader devices.
The Blue Monk is much more than a demo PubML™ eBook. It’s a vivid account of setting sail in a small boat (named The Blue Monk after the Thelonious Monk composition) to find big adventure, and documentation of the untold history of Miami’s Biscayne Bay. 80 interactive maps allow readers to follow my routes and fly over remote places. 100 Photo Footnotes clarify nautical terms without adding clutter to the pages. 200 photographs and 350 video clips allow the reader to build a personal connection with people who were part of the story. The Blue Monk is a fusion of rich media and literature where hundreds of images, maps, and video are kept subordinate to the written word.
EPub3 eBooks offer a cornucopia of technological promises, but a recent study shows that eReader device manufacturers have been slow to embrace the possibilities. Granted, the statistics are not weighted to emphasize one feature over another. You may find support for “fixed layout” to be more important than support for “font embedding.” But the ePub3 eBook format was launched in October of 2012; publishers and device manufacturers are missing the ePub3 boat. This article suggests possible reasons for the format’s lack of support and suggests alternatives.
The Readium extension for Chrome (Google’s web browser) supports 72.5% of ePub3’s features—and it runs in a web browser, not in an eReader device. Popular dedicated eReader hardware scored lower with Kobo supporting only 46% of ePub3’s features, the Kindle Fire supporting 32.3%, and Barnes and Noble’s Nook supporting only 16.7%.
Notable is that the eReaders offering the best support for ePub3 are those that leverage the capabilities of a web browser. Over 50% of eBooks are consumed on devices other than dedicated eReaders—and most of these devices already include on-board web browsers. I proposed in an earlier post that the browser may well become the preferred eBook delivery channel. That was almost a year ago and only a few major publishers have even shown up at the ePub3 dock. Continue reading →
Book design has changed since publishing became a gigantic industry. Typesetting was once performed by trained craftsmen who apprenticed to masters before inking their own plates. Phototypesetting arrived in the 1960s and by the late 1980s, digital publishing transferred the job to a new generation of young, digital artists. Much of the old wisdom got left behind—paved over by the pixel. This article looks at a piece of design history—page layout—and places that history in a practical contemporary context.
Book Design: The Role of History
I bought my first Macintosh in 1987. I remember learning Pagemaker and stumbling over concepts like “leading.” Why not just call it line spacing? I learned about publishing technology and worked in the field, but it wasn’t until I started teaching college design classes (jobs I got because I knew the software) that I encountered the history of design and its value. My students were talking about Constructivism and the Bauhaus School and Pushpin Studios. I was all about Beziér curves, vector graphics, and the clone tool. The Graphic Design department chair looked me in the eye one day. “Get ready,” she said. “You’re teaching History of Graphic Design next quarter—and you’d better know your shit.”
With the arrival of the Internet, the common man got the power to publish—anything—for free—for the first time in history. Then PDF brought replicas of printed documents to the screen with clarity, accuracy and security. Flash brought the power of animated vector graphics and a powerful programming tool to the web browser. Then the eBook brought reflowable, resizable text and inspired new reading devices—perfect for displaying long, paginated documents. But somewhere along the way, an important promise was broken. All of these technologies empowered the Internet’s unprecedented freedom to publish—except for the eBook.
Ebooks and the Promise of the Internet
EBooks violate the fundamental promise of the Internet. Anyone can publish a website. Anyone can offer content for free or sell whatever they want from a website. Small commissions to payment processors and web hosting costs notwithstanding, the Internet empowers a seller to engage directly with a buyer. Ebooks break this promise; the writer should be able to engage directly with the reader. The writer should be able to sell directly to the reader. Imagine if you had to pay your web hosting company 30% of your gross every time you sold an item on your website—that’s exactly what eBookstores do. By separating the eBook from its proper home—the web browser—big media companies grow fat. This article explores the relationships between the web browser, PDF, Flash and eBooks—and how those relationships affect you.
Differences between eBook media formats are blurring. Due to a convergence of technologies around HTML5, books can be published through eReader devices, as mobile applications, or on the web. This article examines the pros and cons of each eBook format.
EBooks are based on HTML, the same technological foundation that powers the worldwide web. As the web has grown, so have eBook technologies—at least in potential. The ePub3 standard, released in October 2011 and continuing to develop under the auspices of the International Digital Publishing Foundation (IDPF), describes an eBook as a “website in a book.” Growing concurrently with the Internet are mobile operating systems and app stores (like Apple’s iPhone OS and Google’s Android), and eReader devices (like Barnes and Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle). If popular mobile devices can render eBook content, web content or mobile applications, which of these media is best suited to the needs of publishers?
“Traditional” EBooks and EReaders
For years, eBooks (in mostly ePub2 format) stood apart from the web and mobile apps in a closed universe; the reader found a book in an online bookstore and downloaded it to an eReader device. Dedicated eReader devices were once exclusively designed to facilitate finding, purchasing and reading books, but the differences between eReaders and tablet computers are rapidly disappearing. Recent offerings come with color screens, wireless web browsers, and mobile operating systems. These eReader devices are no longer walled off from alternate eBook distribution formats like apps and the web. Continue reading →
The new ePub3 format is talked about a great deal on the Internet, but aside from a short list of new features and capabilities, frustratingly little information is actually given about it. eReader manufacturers have barely begun to implement fragments of the new spec and they aren’t making promises about when upgrades will arrive, presumably because they don’t want to encourage consumers to hold out for new models.
Though this video is almost a year old, it does provide useful insight into the vision of the International Digital Publishing Forum (the organization that created and continues to work on the ePub specification). In the video, Bill McCoy, Executive Director of the IDPF, presents an only-slightly-technical perspective on ePub3 with demonstrations of a few of its capabilities.
In response to this older video, Bill McCoy suggested I share the following which was posted much more recently.