22 June 2012

Presentation Tips for Kindle

I’ve had a free PDF called Presentation Tips available for a while now (available on my homepage). I recently got my hands on a proper ebook reader (a first generation Nook), and decided to see how it looked there.

I was underwhelmed. I hadn’t realized how ebook readers handled PDF files. It was okay. It was certainly readable, but I thought, “This could be better.”

As I tried to figure out ebook formats, one thing lead to another and, well... Today, I’m pleased to announce that you can buy Presentation Tips on Amazon.

My main goal was to do this for people who wanted a proper ebook version, but I decided to go the extra step to publish this on Amazon for a couple of reasons.

One was curiosity about how much of an audience I could reach by being on Amazon. I know full well that not everyone reads this blog. The positive feedback I received, largely from people on Twitter (thanks, guys!) convinced me that there was enough useful information here that maybe it was worth trying to present it on a bigger stage.

Second, I want to see how university administration will react when I put this in my merit folder. I think I can make a good case that this book is a peer-reviewed (they’re tweets, but from people with solid academic credentials) and published by an international publisher (Amazon will make this available around the world). According to our guidelines for achievement, a peer-reviewed book from an international publisher is worth a lot of merit points. But our guidelines are at least ten years old, and people have been reluctant to tinker with them.

I make no bones that publishing Presentation Tips as I have is clearly a different process than what was possible (and intended) when the guidelines were written. I’d like to press a little to see to how people will interpret our existing guidelines.

Third, this is sort of a dry run for some other, bigger projects I have percolating in the back of my head.

It’s a weird time to try this. On the one hand, the low bar for self-publishing keeps dropping lower. I hope Presentation Tips has more value than bots scraping YouTube comments and self-publishing them as books.

On the other hand, there’s this wonderful post about a self-publishing success story from Jessica Park. I was already sure I was going to put Presentation Tips on Amazon, but that article pushed me a little more. Park talks about the frustration of waiting to be chosen. I mentioned this the start of the last round of #SciFund.

It struck me that so many scientists are still in the place artists were. We’re waiting to be chosen. Waiting to be given permission. Working and working and working in the hope of being given a shot at the big time by someone else with more money, power, and influence.

Self-publishing Presentation Tips is another little “What will happen if...?” to see if I can carve out an independent path. Indeed, a little revenue coming in from this might allow me to self-fund some of my research projects, complementing endeavors like my #SciFund crowdfunding.

The price is modest: $2.99. Why didn’t I make the ebook version free, like I had with the PDF? Well, I did do quite a bit of work to make this a proper ebook, for one. It’s not just a straight dump of blog posts or the already available PDF. The ideas within are, and will always be, free. You can read the Zen of Presentations blog posts here, and I’ll keep the PDF available too. I’m only asking you to pay if you want the convenience of the ebook version, or if you want to support your local Crab Clan Scholar.

If you read this in any version, please rate it on Amazon!


bug_girl said...

I would love to hear more about the experience of creating the book. And congrats!

Zen Faulkes said...

BG: Not a lot to tell on the creating end. I'd had the PDF already. I did some digging, and learned that the EPUB format is basically derived from HTML, so I copied the text into an HTML editor.

I reworked some of the text so I could remove any pictures entirely, so the book would have maximum portability to different ebook readers.

I used Calibre to convert the HTML file into EPUB format, and uploaded that to Amazon.

Suggestions for improvements welcomed.

Zen Faulkes said...

Oh! The other thing I created for the Kindle Edition was a new cover. That was simple enough.

I had an old 35mm slide carousel kicking around. I wondered if it was too retro. I thought the shape was abstract enough, though, that some people might think it was visually interesting, even if they didn't recognize what it was.

It was as simple as setting it down on a cabinet top and photographing with a macro lens. A few minutes in PhotoPaint to crop, add text, covert to grayscale (so it would look nice in e-ink readers), and done.

Self-Publisher said...
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