Tag Archives: Publishing

iBooks Author

After reading the recent article about iBooks Author in The Bookseller, I decided I would blog about my user experiences.

I downloaded iBooks Author soon after its launch with a view to launching a range of iBooks. I thought it would have more features than it does and so, for a month or so, I was struggling to get it to do what I wanted.

I still haven’t managed to recreate the image of the interactive books that I expected it to be able to produce but along the way I have learned how iBooks is best utilised!

In my opinion iBooks Author is an extremely useful and essential free tool for creating digital books for iBookstore and I think it is best suited for specific educational/ information tools and simply reading.

I was hoping it would have more features to create more personally interactive children’s books.

I would like to see Apple create updates or add-ons which can provide some super-duper interactivity for use in children’s books, perhaps simplifying animation software somehow. I would definitely be at the front of the queue for more widgets… Apple might also want to consider charging for extras (with free trials).

If anyone from Apple is reading this – I would love to test anything you are working on to improve the iBooks Author with a view to making it even more useful!!

The Pros to the iBooks Author are:

It is very user friendly.

Apple do not own the rights to the content of your iBook. (As I understand it…) but they do own the format in iBooks – which means you can create in iBooks Author and sell on iBookstore, but if you want to take the content to other digital platforms you have to reformat it.

The interactive widgets are user friendly, albeit very basic.

The Cons:

The lack of ability to save to different digital formats (again Apple – something I am sure people would be prepared to pay for the option, as it saves time and effort!).

Limited templates (though I think you can download others online now).

Limited Interactive widgets.

Conclusion:

All-in-all if you haven’t already downloaded iBooks Author, I would advise you give it a go!

If you don’t fancy trying it yourself, VixenUK offers iBooksAuthor conversion services (initial consultation is free)!

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Filed under Apple, Author, books, digital, ePub, General publishing, iBooks, Uncategorized, Writing

London Book Fair 2012

By Vix Southgate

This is my 4th visit to the London Book Fair and (with the exception of the year of the ash cloud, which worked in my favour as it meant the heads of companies were free because their clients were unable to fly in) this year has been the best in terms of meetings, networking and general uplifting conversation.
Everyone has been so positive. The shift into digital seems to be a less painful process for a lot of publishers and agents, and the emerging companies, as a result of the embrace of digital formats, has made this a very innovative and encouraging experience.

Now is an exciting time to be in the publishing industry and the next year will be crucial to deciding the most successful directions for the industry as a whole.

It has been an epic 4 days at London’s Earl’s Court exhibition centre.
My Book Fair began with the Introduction to Rights Workshop on Sunday 15th. I was torn between this and the digital conference at the QEII conference centre but I think I made the right choice for superb value for money and with twitterers tweeting from the digi conference, I was able to follow the sessions there too!
The rights workshop was a very informative session and one that I would highly recommend for anyone going to the London Book Fair to attend. I found that it gave me a better understanding of how to better use my time, as I had in insight into the purpose of the fair.

The next 3 days were full on with meetings, general ambling and stopping by and talking to as many people that I could, as well as reconnecting with everyone I have met over the past 4 years.

The highlights of my show were the unexpected invites to various events, which were through contacts and networking over the previous 3 years. I found that 2 hours with a drink in my hand, one evening, was probably more productive than many of the meetings at the fair itself! BUT I would not have had that opportunity if I hadn’t been talking and networking at the fair!

I cannot emphasise more, how important networking is!

The VixenUK business model has been confirmed as an asset to the industry and now I just need you to join me in my quest to develop a community for the publishing industry.

For more information on how you can do this:

Follow me on twitter @VixenBooksUK (business account) or @Victrix75.

Flickr group: VixenUK

Facebook page: VixenUK

And of course, you can subscribe to this blog, which will be updated more often as the excitement builds!

I look forward to connecting with you.

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Filed under children, General publishing, Uncategorized

The Fun of the Fairs…

…Book fairs that is! 🙂 It’s that time of the year again, every publisher is gearing up for two major book fairs. Bologna and London.

I recall going to my first book fair. I was so very green. A new writer and illustrator, fresh faced, confident and hungry to get published. I had been preparing for this day for months. Trawling through the Writers and Artists Yearbook to familiarise myself with the companies and potential contact names. Fighting with the online booking system to try to make appointments (and failing). I had left it all a bit too late. So many companies had booked their time with their clients months in advance. There was no hope for me to get even a few minutes of their time, but I had registered and paid my entrance fee, I was going anyway!

I prepared all my work for presenting to potential publishers, packed my bags, traveled to the fair, logged in, a very nice gent scanned me into the building, I checked my surplus into the cloakroom and then stopped.

I was there! A joy, an anticipation filled me… Then I thought… What now?

I found myself becoming overwhelmed by the sheer size of the place. The endless aisles, crammed with stand after stand.It doesn’t matter how much preparation you do, it never seems enough! I had no idea what to do next. So I stood and watched what everyone else was doing. Everyone seemed to have a purpose, they seemed to know where they were going and I realised that very few people were alone, as I was.  I must have looked daft as I stood there motionless. My mind reeling with advice for myself. ‘take a deep breath’ ‘let’s find the children’s publishers’ ‘don’t panic!’

That last one was the one that brought me out of my stupor, then I took a deep breath and went to find a map and an adviser to help me understand how to best use my time and where would be good to go first. The map was doable, but the adviser was not. So I took my first step…The hall was immense, so many aisles with stands of differing sizes, each one full of people. Some in meetings, some browsing the bookshelves, but all of them busy and with purpose.

I wandered around for the first hour, I found the stands of the companies I had researched. I even managed to talk to a receptionist on one and got a contact name. This is it, I thought, this is what I am here to do. Get names, meet people, talk talk talk!

And that is exactly what I did. My first fair didn’t get me the big publishing deal I was hoping for, instead it started me on an even more exciting  journey -not that I realised it at the time- I started my journey of discovery, discovering the highs and lows of publishing and the imminent changes that faced the industry as a whole. I started to learn the inner workings of the industry machine and I realised I could provide support for the huge machine and help to maintain its efficiency in the future.

My advice if you are attending a book fair for the first time:

Prepare prepare prepare, but be flexible once there!

Know why you are going and set yourself goals for each day you attend. Start small and build up but most of all – talk to as many people as you possibly can.

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I want to help Freelancers

I have had many people ask me why I want to build a business with freelancers instead of employing a team of workers.

Both have their merits and I agree that a dedicated team would be a more stable (but costly) option – knowing that I have someone on hand to do the job when it lands.

However, I have spent my life as a freelance worker and I know the benefits.  I also know it can be a very lonely place. Never-more-so than a freelance starting out in the publishing world.

When I started out, the one thing I was wanting was FEEDBACK.  I spent 8 months submitting manuscripts to various Publishers and Literary Agents – it was a thankless task and after the 6th rejection letter, I started to wonder if it was ever going to go anywhere. I was prepared for this however; I had read all the books that tell you how to send successful submissions, how to write a successful covering letter and synopsis, as far as I was aware, I had done everything to the best of my ability but I was still getting rejections. Was the work not good enough? Would they prefer it if I send it without illustrations? These are questions you never get answered when submitting work, so I decided to network, go and talk to people face to face… where to start?

‘Start close to home’ I thought. The London Book Fair was imminent. I registered (not fully understanding what it meant when it said it was a rights and licensing fair – I soon learned). But there were still publishers there, I could finally get someone to look at my book and be able to see for myself, their reaction! Body language! Never underestimate how powerful it is.

The London Book Fair, regardless of the fact that it was not the ideal venue for an unpublished author and illustrator, was the greatest experience of my publishing career. Within 2 hours I knew I had potentially successful product, but I had packaged it wrongly!

It was from this point on, that I decided that I want to help other freelancers stride more confidently into their future. I wanted to provide a support network that gives feedback, not just me, but from other freelancers in the network.

When I set up VixenUK I decided I would dedicate a sector of my business to developing the VixenUK Freelance Community (website coming soon).

I understand, first hand, how difficult it is to get into creative businesses (having worked in 2 of the most difficult to break into) and I also understand that many creative people don’t know how to network and sell their work. Some simply don’t want to, they’d rather focus on their creativity.

Selling your work and selling yourselves as the worker is an essential part of getting jobs but… you are the creators not the sales people! Which is where I can help. You simply have to ‘sell yourself to me’ – get me to buy into your work, skills, desire and prove your work ethic is something I can sell on and I will!

I am blessed (some may say cursed) with the knowledge and ability to be both creative and business-minded, however, even though I posses these skills, I find it is impossible to do them at the same time which means I spend my time flitting between the two… selling myself, my business and products, and then having to develop them (sometimes the other way round). I need a team of people I can rely on to be creative when I am out selling and bringing in the contracts. I am finding that the more contracts I attract the more I am having to multitask business and creativity and it is becoming more difficult to find the right balance.  I realise I cannot do this alone I need to delegate some work!

If you are a freelance (in any field of work) wanting to find out more about the work and support VixenUK can offer please send me your CV via the email link on this website: http://vixenuk.co.uk

I look forward to hearing from you.

by Victoria Southgate

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The importance of Physical books for children

By Victoria Southgate

 

There is currently a huge shift in publishing towards digital formats and ePublishing, I am a great advocate for technological advances in publishing as it is a major aspect of the VixenUK business model.
The future of publishing must include ePublishing and appBooks but a digital future doesn’t have to be exclusive of physical books.

VixenUK is striding into the future, embracing the digital revolution but at the same time, not losing sight of the importance of physical books especially for children.

Why are physical books important for children?
Children’s development is ruled by discovering the physical world. They do this a number of ways but one that I believe to be of extreme importance is through the means of a physical book

The experience of textures and sounds from the early books, the colours and the voyage of discovery that takes place with each page that is turned, and the sense of achievement at such a simple task is something that has to be enhanced by a physical experience like lifting a flap to find something underneath, turning a page, and the joy of a parent reading the words that guide the child. An experience which I cannot see being matched by technology and a screen.

Children develop their fine motor skills through turning pages and being taught to be careful and gentle, otherwise the page gets ripped. They begin to understand the world around them can be fragile and tactile. They learn by feel.

Have you ever seen a child not touch something? They are programmed to experience through their senses, they pick something up, they feel it and in the early years they taste it, it’s only as we get older that the need to feel something to understand it reduces (though for some it never fully goes away. – for example – I cannot walk through a clothes shop without touching the fabric. That is the way I like to clothes shop.)

So a child without physical books could potentially miss out in other areas of development. (Though I am sure that many would learn the lesson through different means but perhaps much later in life.)
When I was a child, I learned that everybody treats books differently and I learned that you have to respect them. To some people, books are precious items, to be looked after and treasured, to other they are a throw away item, but to all they deliver an experience. For my family, books are precious, they hold memories for the reader and every blemish or worn page tells its own story.
The experience of reading a book that I knew my mother held and read when she was my age, seeing and feeling the difference in the feel of the paper was exciting and mesmerising and were experiences I will always cherish.

I can’t imagine that sense of being trusted enough to be given such a cherished item would be as intense with a digital format book, something that can be re-downloaded into the state it was before. Plus, technology will move on so fast, handsets will change,and the experience and feel of a digital book could not be passed down the generations.

Physical books will always have their place and are extremely important for children’s development and that’s even before we get to the content!

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Filed under children, General publishing, Uncategorized

Finalist in the Local Business Accelerator Scheme

By Victoria Southgate

NEWS FLASH!!!

VixenUK is a finalist in the Local Business Accelerator scheme!

One morning in October 2011 I was reading my twitter feed and @DeborahMeaden had tweeted about a business scheme and that any new start-ups should apply. It took me a minute to decide to click through to the link she had provided and then another 20 minutes to complete and send the application form.

It occurred to me that thousands of people and businesses would apply, why would I get noticed? I didn’t know, but my belief that I have created a superb business spurred me on to fill in the application form anyway.

Over the next few weeks I saw the tweets become fewer as the deadline for applications passed. Christmas was on its way, I had a lot of meetings and discussions to fit in before the Christmas break (which, I had decided, would be a proper break this year! A reward for a year of hard work – I managed it for a week) Christmas was lovely and relaxing and by the time New Year came, I had forgotten about the competition.

I started the new work year with follow-up emails, and conversations and then a new mail popped up in my inbox: Subject: Finalist selection for Local Business Accelerator

“Wow!” I thought, opening it with trepidation… when a brief thought crossed my mind – ‘had I been shortlisted I should have found out before Christmas’. The trepidation had turned to curiosity and then I read the content of the email.

I should have been informed! It didn’t matter, in fact, it was probably a blessing because by not knowing I was able to have a relaxing Christmas and New Year, which means I am well rested and probably better prepared to deliver a presentation to a panel next week.

2012 is looking to be a fantastic year, whatever the outcome!

For more information on the scheme and its supporters go to: http://www.newspapersoc.org.uk/accelerate-me

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Social Networking – 21st Century Communication

Can you remember a time before social networking? Before the Internet was in practically every home? Can you remember the last time you went into a shop which had an old fashioned till? I can…and it wasn’t that long ago!

People used to meet up face-to-face and talked, made telephone calls and went out to social events and clubs to meet new people. We had few friends and many acquaintances, so how has the internet changed the way we communicate?
I believe, it hasn’t changed the amount of true friends we have, but it has made it so much easier to make new friends and to get to know people a lot more quickly. This means that we are more able to weed out the acquaintances from friends in a much shorter time. The quantity of people that we communicate with throughout our lifetime has increased considerably and is far more diverse than could have been imagined a few decades ago. This communication however is diluted. If you meet and chat with someone on the Internet, it’s probable that you have only been typing your conversation. The words we type, only account for 7% of what we are actually saying. The rest of the meaning is given via body language, tone of voice, and facial expression. So how do you get to really know someone when you can only read their words?

I believe… You can’t! At some point you have to meet.

However, this post is about communication. Social networking has changed the way we get to know each other. It has also changed the emphasis of how we write.
As a writer, I find that I am more comfortable in the social media arena. I write because I like to consider what I’m saying, I like to create beauty in words and I like the luxury of editing. If I’m having a text-based conversation, I like having the ability to write and if I deem it to be badly phrased or not eloquently descriptive I can change or delete it.
For me, this comes from my childhood, I was ridiculed for verbalising the wrong word in the wrong context and feeling a fool. I was enthralled by words from an early age and I used to experiment with them until I learned the correct context, most of the time to the sound of derision from my peers. There was many a time I felt ridiculous because I ‘put my foot in it’. So now, I tend to consider the words I use more carefully, so as to ensure the right meaning is perceived by the reader. Is this a deceit? I don’t think so, it merely portrays me as an online persona that my true friends spent years getting to know via old methods in the olden days and today can take only a few months (depending on how often you are socially online).

Therefore, I believe that social networking shows a more truthful persona. People have to consider what they write, which means the standard of writing will be increased in time and stupidity outs very quickly through text.

The Internet can hide a baddy who seeks to deceive, and for this reason, we all must use it with caution and heed safety and security advice, but it also unmasks the rest of us, which in my opinion can only be for the better!

Comments welcomed!

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