This is more apt info
Jose Santa Clara, Autohagiographer
by Joseph T. Sinclair
What is an authoring program? Well, think of Microsoft Word as a text authoring program. Word is now also a multimedia authoring program. You can embed an image file (e.g., photo) in a page, and the image will show. In Word go Insert > Picture >, find the image file, and click on it.
You can embed Flash too. Go Insert > Embed Flash >, find the flash file, and click on it. Flash can be a sound bite, video clip, or animation.
What about interactivity? You can put hyperlinks in Word too. That’s one type of interactivity. And when you get done with your Word multimedia interactive document, who can use it? Well, only those who have Word on their computers. That’s a lot of people but certainly not everyone.
All in all, Word doesn’t make a very good multimedia interactive authoring program. It’s awkward, and the final product is not something everyone can use.
But real, full-horsepower multimedia interactive authoring programs work much the same as Word. They’re typically more complex, can create more features, but work on the same principle. You type. You embed a file. And you put in a link. You can do it all quite easily.
For instance, PowerPoint is a multimedia authoring program designed to make slide presentations. As an authoring program, it’s easy enough to use, although it’s limited to slide shows made up of primarily text and images.
Multimedia is apparently an obsolete term. A better term that seems to be in vogue now is rich media. To be more specific, a rich media authoring program includes the capability for interactivity as well as the capability to include multimedia. Thus, the rich media authoring program becomes the new typewriter.
Another definition is in order too. This article discusses making a digital book. But the book could be any information product from a pamphlet or booklet to a book-like training presentation.
A leading rich media authoring program is Adobe’s InDesign. Arguably the best typesetting-publishing authoring program available for print, Adobe has transformed InDesign into a capable rich media authoring program for digital books. Consequently, you can use InDesign for print, ebooks, and book apps (both iOS and Android).
Let’s call InDesign an app authoring program, even though it’s also an ebook authoring program and a print publishing program as well. Adobe has all the bases covered.
InDesign has no shortage of competitors. There are dozens available. In choosing one, you have to determine:
- Can I use the software, or is it strictly for programmers?
- How much flexibility does it have?
- What will it cost to use the authoring software in order publish a book and receive payment after a sale? In other words, what’s the total overall cost?
- Will the software be around in three years, or will it disappear with dozens of other start-up or obsolete programs?
One of the promising new app book authoring programs that may make the grade is Monaca (http://monaca.mobi/en). It’s inexpensive and capable. It also does ebooks. Check it out.
Some authoring software is easier to use than others. Regardless, they ‘re almost all designed to be used by non-programmers. Over the last 130 years authors at first had to learn how to use a typewriter, then a word processor/desktop publisher, and now a rich media authoring program. What you seek is a rich-media app-ebook authoring program that covers all the bases: ebook, book app (both iOS and Android), and print.
If you consider yourself digitally adept, that’s good news, because the ability to use such software will give you an advantage. If you consider yourself digitally inept, then that’s bad news. For the digitally inept, however, there is an answer that’s good news: use a template.
Why reinvent the wheel? Find a template you can use with your rich media authoring software that someone else has taken the time and effort to create. All that’s left for you to do is create a coherent book by adding text and other media. This will save you a lot of time and headache.
As you use the template, you learn to use the authoring program better. The next step is to tweak the template according to your own notions of how a book should work. By learning and tweaking, eventually you’ll be able to create your own templates if need be.
Sometimes the authoring software will automatically insert a script for you, as you work in the interface. Other times you will need to copy and paste the script from an existing library of script.
Third-parties may offer scripts for you to insert into a page. For instance, if you’re going to use Google AdSense in your page, Google will provide an HTML snippet for you to copy and paste into the page. Then the Google ads will then automatically appear (so long as the user is connected to the Internet).
Templates and scripts are not the end of the help you can get. If you create a book that has a lot of rough edges, you can take it to somebody who knows the authoring software well to smooth over and polish those rough edges leaving you an attractive book that’s user-friendly. There are plenty of freelancers around who can do that for you. If they create the entire book for you, it’s going to cost you a bundle. But tweaking a book you’ve already created is usually less expensive.
Along the same lines, if you can’t find a template that you think will work for your book, hire freelancer to create a template for you.
Likewise have freelancers create your scripts. When you have the scripts programmed, however, make sure they’re not programmed in a way that works only for one book. Rather, make sure that every script that you have a programmer create for you will work in multiple books in the future.
It doesn’t make sense to do your writing in Word any longer. Do your writing in a rich media authoring software using a template. (I wrote 13 books in FrameMaker—an authoring program for publishing—that went straight to the printer without any additional typesetting work, and my publisher paid me extra money over an above my advances to do so.) Better yet, read my article Writing by Voice and forego typing altogether. That leaves you only to insert your transcribed text into the authoring program template.
If you find that you don’t like the interface of the authoring software and would rather use Word, make sure you have picked authoring software that will import Word documents easily and without a lot of adjustments. I don’t recommend using Word, however, as it creates an unnecessary step in your work flow.
Create a sensible workflow. Most authors will start with text; that is, they write first. (I leave short notes to myself in curly brackets as to where rich media will be inserted.) After you finish writing, come back and go through to insert the media. Finally, insert the interactive elements, such as hyperlinks.
In its simplest configuration you can simply insert the media, and that’s the end of it. For some media use, though, you will need to set perimeters. For instance, you may want to set the parameter on a sound bite to play as soon as the page is open, at the push of a button, or at the push of a control inside a little audio interface. There are numerous media and plenty of ways to set up the use of each.
Interactivity may require you to link several pages together, insert scripts into a page, or learn the more complex functions of the authoring program.
It’s as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. The more you work with a rich media authoring program, the more you will be able to use it to provide an attractive book for your readers.
The author of this article, Joseph T. Sinclair, is the author of twenty How To books published by national publishers.
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©2014 Joseph T. Sinclair. All rights reserved.