Saturday, 9 November 2013

Love Learning with - Part 1

I continue to become more self-sufficient as a writer and publisher.  I also am embracing more cloud-based subscription services as part of my street team.  I am now using Adobe Creative Cloud, Evernote, Dropbox, Chicago Manual of Style Online, and for quickly building my skills.

Being an author can be a lonely job.  If you sign on with a traditional publisher, they provide skills to help with editing, technical formatting, publishing and promotion.  I self-published my first book, Still Stupid at Sixty without knowing much at all.  Wrote it in Word, had a friend help edit using Track Changes and used Calibre to convert and upload in Kindle format to Amazon.  My wife and one of her friends helped solve a few technical formatting issues.

But Wine Sense, my current work-in-progress has already taken ten times the effort, will be printed in both physical and electronic format and published in Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, iTunes, Smashwords and Blurb minimally.  Still Stupid at Sixty was only published through Amazon.  Wine Sense also has about 40 photographs, charts, diagrams and other images plus 'fun facts' inserted throughout.  Still Stupid at Sixty had none.  Wine Sense references work from 20 other books and publications requiring significant footnoting, end-noting and bibliography efforts to source other work properly.

I have had a massive learning curve converting to Scrivener as an writing management system, and learning HTML and CSS to provide more control over final output when ePublishing.  I decided enough was enough and needed help with the complexities of laying out format design and typesetting.  I asked someone whose work I had seen before and in total would have charged me about $3,000 to do everything - once!  I was worried about how many changes I might have and how the cost could rise significantly before the project was complete.

During this time, I was exploring taking more control end-to-end over the writing, editing, and publishing process.  No matter how much I researched and analyzed alternatives, I kept coming back to Adobe Creative Cloud as the platform that gave me everything I needed beyond using Scrivener for writing and editing.  It also meant I did not need to spend as much time within Scrivener on structuring and defining the Compile function for final publication.  I could use Scrivener for what it was intended and used InDesign to easily lay out final formatting.

But I knew the Adobe product suite has a major learning curve.  These are very high-end apps that provide you ultimate control to do exactly what you need.  The also require a great deal of training, practice and experience for any of the apps.  I was going to learn InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop all at the same time.  Plus I was still learning HTML, CSS and Javascript, and expanding my Wordpress skills!  And to validate content for my new writing projects on writing processes and technology, I also was now working across both Windows and Mac platforms and learning Mac OS in addition to the new Windows 8 and 8.1.

I signed up for Adobe Creative Cloud and started playing around.  I watched videos from the Adobe Learning channel and YouTube.  I bought some books on using the apps.  Over three weeks, I made virtually no progress at all.  I looked to local technical schools to find some courses, but they cost around $700, where targeted to mass market appeal, and did not provide suitable times or locations for me as I work a full-time job.  I tried finding a couple of tutors, but with little result.  I needed to learn a lot and I needed to learn very quickly.

Then several people over the course of a week, suggested  I checked it out and was intrigued.  You could sign up for as long as you like, terminate when you like, and take as much training as you can possibly fit in.  They also offered a 7-day free trial to test it out.  I signed up for the trial, but after two days, knew I would be subscribing permanently as the results were far greater than I could have possibly imagined.  I could establish my own training program in a structured manner according to my needs, my level of expertise and in accordance to the time I could spend.  It proved to be the most efficient us of of my time.  Within 6 weeks, I have become proficient with InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator.  Plus I have taken several other courses to improve my overall writing and publishing processes. I was also able to learn some fundamentals for Windows 8 and converting to and using a Mac! means you learn quickly and  according to your needs, not the needs of a classroom of people, the schools needs or an instructor's needs.  I love and I can tell loves me! has become a critical part of my writing team and support group!

In Part 2 to be published later this week, I will explain the various options available, and how and why helps you love learning!

Steve Shipley
SAZ in the Cellar Facebook page
Twitter: @shipleyaust
My wine blog SAZ in the Cellar
Still Stupid at Sixty (published under my writing pseudonym Blake Stevens)
Steve Shipley Pinterest Boards

No comments:

Post a Comment