Posted tagged ‘images’

Tips & tricks for self publishers – Part 3

27 February 2012

In Tips & tricks for self publishers – Part 2 I explained how to self publish an e‑book.

If you’re like me, you’ll now want to create a hard copy – a “real” book. While I am certainly a fan of e-books, I am also a lover of old fashioned page turners. And so are many of your potential customers!

So please find below Part 3 of my series which explains how to self publish a paperback…

Ryan the Lion and E-Learning Provocateur: Volume 1 in paperback form

I was considering using CreateSpace to create my paperback version of Ryan the Lion because it’s the sister service of Kindle Direct Publishing (the service I used to create the e-book version). I was also thinking about publishing a selection of my blog musings under the title E‑Learning Provocateur: Volume 1.

I was dilly dallying about both when Steven Lewis showed me his newly produced paperback, How to Format Perfect Kindle Books – ironic, eh? I had imagined that books created via CreateSpace would be a bit dinky. In other words, you could just tell that they were home-made. But Steven’s book was nothing like that. It was glossy and colourful and wonderful. I was hooked!

I found CreateSpace really easy to use. All the stages in the process are outlined sequentially, with What’s this? links, how-to guidelines and downloadable templates.

At one stage you will need to choose the size of your book. For Ryan the Lion I picked 6″ x 9″ to mimic my copy of Dr Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go!. For E‑Learning Provocateur I picked 5.5″ x 8.5″ to mimic my copy of Seth Godin’s Tribes.

You will also need to make decisions about your interior. Since Ryan the Lion is an illustrated children’s story, I chose full colour on white paper and a 12-point Bookman Old Style typeface. Since E-Learning Provocateur is a text-heavy business book, I chose black & white on cream paper and a 12.5-point Garamond typeface.

Ryan the Lion in full color

I highly recommend using one of the Word templates that CreateSpace provides for the interior (but check the sizes of the pages are actually what they should be).

You will want to make sure that any illustrations you have are hi-res: at least 300 dpi, but higher if possible. I had problems with PNG files (they outputted fuzzy) so you might consider TIF or JPG instead.

Ryan the Lion in Word

When converting to PDF – which CreateSpace requires – check the page size again in the printer settings. I used BullZip’s free PDF Printer; if you do too, I recommend picking “Flate” for your image compression and “Prepress” for the output quality.

When the PDF is produced, check yet again the size of the pages. It’s important to appreciate that PDF is a WYSIWYG technology: What You See Is What You Get. So check the page breaks, page numbering, illustrations, blank pages, everything. What You See Is What You Get.

For the cover, Steven Lewis recommends engaging a professional designer. That’s a good idea, but because I’m familiar with graphic design, I created my own cover with Corel’s astonishingly cheap PaintShop Pro. CreateSpace has pre-designed templates, but I think they’re a bit naff.

Before submitting your work, always use CreateSpace’s preview facility to check again that all is well. You’re probably over it by now, but this last step is well worth it. You’ll be amazed at what you have missed.

Similarly, always order a proof to check the actual product in real life. Ryan the Lion costed me a bit more to produce because it’s full colour, but it was still crazy cheap. If you don’t believe me, read Lifehacker’s piece about a local competitor’s self-publishing service. And you can get your proof shipped to the other side of the world in less than a week.

So like KDP, CreateSpace is effectively free apart from proofing and shipping (and perhaps designing a cover). Again, Amazon sells your book and provides you with a slice of the pie. Because it’s a physical product, the book is printed on demand.

Ryan the Lion paperback on Amazon

So now you know how to self publish a paperback, you are ready for Tips & tricks for self publishers – Part 4, in which I’ll provide advice on how to promote your product…

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The power of pictures

21 June 2009

Pictures…

piggy bank, courtesy of RAWKU5, stock.xchng

Diagrams…

User acces permission : diagram, courtesy of activeside under Creative Commons, Flickr

Charts…

advanced pie 3, courtesy of svilen001, stock.xchng

They don’t just look pretty. They can also be a useful means of delivering extensive information to your audience in a concise format.

For example, how would you explain the GFC to your colleagues? Via a thousand words of text, or via one of these infographics:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

On the space of one page, these graphics do a good job of explaining the key concepts of a complex and convoluted situation.

Multimedia summaries

The power of pictures has been recognised in educational psychology for a long time.

For example, back in 1996, Richard Mayer and several of his colleagues from the University of California, Santa Barbara studied the effects of a multimedia summary (a sequence of annotated illustrations depicting the steps in a process) on learning how lightning is formed. [Ref]

Through a series of experiments, the researchers found that the students who read a multimedia summary on its own recalled the key explanative information and solved transfer problems as well as or better than the students who read the multimedia summary accompanied by a 600-word passage. Both groups of students performed as well as or better than the students who read the text passage on its own.

I consider these results important because, not only do they support the idea of pictures enhancing learning, but they also suggest that an infographic can achieve similar learning outcomes whether or not it is accompanied by a relatively large amount of text.

The researchers interpreted their results in terms of their “cognitive theory of multimedia learning”, which draws heavily from cognitive load theory. They proposed that lengthy verbal explanations may in fact distract the learner with unnecessary information, which adversely affects their cognitive processing and thus their learning.

In contrast, a concise infographic provides only the important information. This reduces the cognitive load, making it easier to process and to “learn”.

 Text ain’t half bad

Courtesy of raffit, stock.xchngI’ve professed my support of text in a previous blog article, so before we all abandon tedious words in favour of flashy infographics, I caution that text will always have its place – especially to explain the details.

For example, the multimedia summary studied by Mayer may have been sufficient for first-year science students, but probably not for meteorology majors. Those guys need the detail, and text is usually the most efficient way of providing it.

However, I still feel that pictures can be a useful pedagogical device for students who aspire to be experts. In particular, by using an infographic as an advance organizer or pre-reading, the instructional designer can promote a mental model of the domain.

This approach enables the student to devote their cognitive efforts to processing the initial conceptual framework, prior to following it up with more substance once a broad understanding of the main concepts is achieved.

My two cents’ worth

So, in summary, here is my reflection on the power of pictures:

• Pictures look pretty. Use them to increase engagement.

• A picture paints a thousand words. Use one to replace wads of text.

• An infographic is a concise means of delivering the key concepts to novice students.

• An infographic can provide experts-to-be with an initial conceptual framework, which can subsequently be “filled in” with further detail.

Putting it into practice

I decided to put my ideas into practice and create an infographic for my workplace.

So, using nothing more than Microsoft PowerPoint and some clipart, I created a customer-centric explanation of what we do:

Click to enlarge

I feel this picture would be a useful addition to our inductions, to explain to new recruits up-front the overall purpose of our company.

The graphic may also act as an introductory piece for our product training, placing it into context for the learner.

The graphic might even act as an attractive desk poster to reinforce the key messages on a day-to-day basis.

I’m sold, give me more!

For more smokin’ hot graphics about a whole range of topics more interesting than finance, visit 40 Useful and Creative Infographics.

If you can’t find any relevant pictures, create your own!