Writing copy for to be included in an iBooks Author text is not like writing a traditional book. (Stop and re-read that first sentence again. It’s critical you understand this point before you go any further.)
In fact, we’ve been arguing already that works done in iBooks Author shouldn’t even be called “books.” They don’t meet the traditional definition of a book: “A set of written, printed or blank pages fastened along one side and encased between protective covers.” And they’re not eBooks, either. What you produce for your iPad in iBooks Author can NOT be seen on a Kindle or a Nook. You can’t even read it on your computer’s desktop.
And because of this, approaching what you’re going to write has to be different, too. In public relations, we teach our young practitioners when planning a media event to “think of the visuals. How is this going to look on TV?” With an iBook, you have to think about the words, the visuals, the audio, the interactive pieces, 3-D animations, quizzes, even glossary items, and you have to think about how they’re all going to work together to provide something new—a tool readers can use to discover on their own, not just read.
This begs a new way of thinking.
So what writing tools do we suggest one use to go through this process?
This blog post is being written in Scrivener. Want to try it out? They have the best system of anyone we’ve ever seen online. You get 30 days of use to try out the product. Not 30 days straight on the calendar where you may open it on a Tuesday and not get back to it until Friday and you’ve lost three days. No, Scrivener would count that as two days of use. But their system for helping writers think through their work, organize, and hey, if you are writing fiction, they even have a fictitious name generator. While it’s not specifically geared for writing an iBook, it still is an excellent tool to have. It also can open to wide screen so the writing space is all that’s left to your attentions.
The other good aspect to Scrivener is that when it comes time to insert text into iBooks, it’s just a copy and a paste process. Boom, you’re done.
Pages, by Apple, is another great option. Working in iBooks Author feels like working in Pages or Keynote. If you buy Pages in the App store, you can get it for $19.99, which is a far cry short of what you’d pay for the behemoth that we will recommend last. When you have finished writing in Pages, iBooks Author allows you to import the text and it will keep the formatting you’ve already done and pull it right in. Nice.
The TextEdit App that comes standard on a Mac is another option, but our recommendation really is the first two programs. TextEdit comes in handy if you’re resigned to use the last significant option out there, and that’s Microsoft Word. We take such a dim view of MS Word because of all the extra junk that Microsoft crams into just a simple Word document. Yes, iBooks Author will allow you to pull in an MS Word document, just like one can do with Pages, but we’ve found there to be some much bulky code in the files, it can become a mess. Typically, before going from MS Word to anything Apple related, it’s a good thing to drop it into TextEdit, and then immediately copy it again, and then paste it where you wanted to put it in the first place. Quite often, it’s been our experience when we take text in MS Word and attempt to paste it into Pages, Pages crashes if we haven’t done the conversion in TextEdit.
To better organize your project, we overwhelmingly recommend Scrivener.
Of course, one could simply begin writing their text in iBooks Author as well. But it’s not recommended. There are too many ways to be distracted, and you’re going to be creating chapters and sections in .iba that will make this process laborious and confusing.
Our recommendation, if you’ve never made an iBook is to toy around with some of the options and features within iBooks Author before you begin writing. You also should go to iTunes and open the iBookstore. There’s a specific section there for iBooks made with iBooks Author. We recommend downloading a few of the free ones, and pick a couple of the paid ones, too, just so you can see the differences in the quality of work and layout.
We have found iBooks Author to be an amazing product and a great tool for changing how people interact with information. If you have questions about how to use it, feel free to ask. If you’re considering an iBook project, we’d be more than happy to work with you through the process. You can call us at 972-863-8784 to set up a free consultation.
Tomorrow’s topic: Photos & Images.