"Field Guide Books" Update

"Field Guide Books" Update

Slowing moving forward

With my Windows Phone 8 Field Guide off to Amazon and other e-book publishers, it's time to turn my attention to the other books I've got in the pipeline. There's Windows 8.1 Field Guide, of course, which will be published soon, but also Xbox Music Field Guide and the coming Windows Phone 8.1 Field Guide.

Windows Phone 8 Field Guide

I finished this book late last summer and have updated it sporadically since then, though of course Windows 8.1 Field Guide took up much of my book-related time in late 2013 and early 2014. Because it is both complete and will not be updated again (at least in any major way), I decided to use this title for my first experiment publishing to Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and other e-book services. I used Book Baby to do so.

On that note, you can buy Windows Phone 8 Field Guide for Amazon Kindle now.

Here's what I learned using Book Baby:

Book Baby may not be the right way to go. Book Baby is nice because it will push your book out to multiple services simultaneously (or nearly so). But even though I paid $250 for Book Baby's Premium Package, I can't really update the book easily or at all, and certainly not without paying a fee, and that goes against the prime directive of these books, that they always be up to date. With this book, that's OK, because as I noted, it's pretty much done. But that will not work for the next books. Back to the drawing board.

There's nothing special about Kindle/Nook e-book formats. Those books you buy from your favorite e-book seller are just MOBI or EPUB files, with or without added DRM. (Apple's iBooks is an exception in that you can also create more feature-rich interactive books, but I'm obviously not super-interested in that.) In other words they are no different from the files that I'm giving away from the Windows Phone 8 Field Guide web site. So it's unclear what the point is, beyond the presumption that providing them via Kindle, Nook and the other services would help get more copies out in the world. We'll see if that pans out.

$2.99. Well, there is one thing that's "special" about Kindle/Nook/etc.: I have to charge at least $2.99 to sell this book from Kindle because the book is so large. So I did set the price at $2.99 because that's as low as I could go. But again, the version on the web site is free and is exactly the same. And when I find the inevitable spelling mistake or other small error, I can change it instantly. Just saying.

That said, seriously, buy Windows Phone 8 Field Guide for Amazon Kindle now.

Windows 8.1 Field Guide

The "big" Windows book, Windows 8.1 Field Guide, is also "complete," but unlike Windows Phone 8 Field Guide, it's an ongoing concern and will be updated regularly. On that note, I actually updated it this past, when I rewrote the Store chapter and replaced all of the relevant screenshots to reflect the major Store app update that Microsoft delivered this week. How's that for a turnaround? Microsoft updated the Store app on Tuesday and my book was updated to reflect that major change the next day.  Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

That said, I want to be able to make this kind of update whenever I want. And as noted in the Windows Phone 8.1 Field Guide mention above, that's not going to work with Book Baby.

If you paid for Windows 8.1 Field Guide—it's just $2 in PDF, MOBI and ePUB formats—you can download the new update (version 0.91) from the Windows 8.1 Field Guide web site.

Since Book Baby may not be ideal for this book—I do intend to update this one regularly going forward—I'm looking at other options, including publishing directly to at least Amazon Kindle. But if you have any other suggestions, please let me know.

Xbox Music Field Guide

This mini-book (~100 to 150 pages or so, compared to 500+ for the big books) has proven to be difficult to finish off, in part because of the structure. A few weekends back I had a sudden change of heart and started plotting it out differently just to see how it would look with a different structure. But in the end, I realized that the way I've structured this book makes the most sense. Two steps forward, one step back.

What I mean by this is that while the Windows and Phone books are straightforward structurally, Xbox Music is more complex because I'm not covering Xbox Music for just one platform (Windows, or whatever) but rather covering it across multiple platforms, in this case web, Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1, iOS, Android and Xbox One. That's up to six different sub-sections for each task. So instead of just writing about how to, say, make a playlist, I have to cover how you make a playlist in each of the platforms that supports that functionality. It makes things a bit tedious.

The only thing more tedious would be the way I did the first edition of the Xbox Music book: Break out the top level sections by platform and then cover all the tasks, repeatedly, in each of those sections. That's not just tedious, it's also longer.

But while neither approach is ideal, separating this out further into separate books—Xbox Music for Windows, Xbox Music for Windows Phone, etc.—is even less interesting. So I will keep plowing forward.

You can download the current (incomplete) version of Xbox Music Field Guide—still at version 0.6—here. I'll be updating this one soon.

Windows Phone 8.1 Field Guide

The next big book will be Windows Phone 8.1 Field Guide, which will of course be an update to (and thus mostly a superset of) the Windows Phone 8 book. Looking at what's new in Windows Phone 8.1 and thinking about how I can fold that into the existing book, I have a probably unrealistic expectation that I can put this one together pretty quickly. How unrealistic?

We know that Microsoft is targeting late June, about a month from now, for the start of mainstream support for Windows Phone 8.1, and that existing handsets will get the update over the course of the summer. So I'm targeting mid-summer—or the end of July, right before we head off on vacation—for the 1.0 version of this book. We'll see how that goes.

I'll work on Xbox Music Field Guide a bit this weekend and continue investigating publication choices for Windows 8.1 Field Guide as I know many are waiting on that. Looking a bit further ahead, I'm wondering about future books. Outlook.com is a big possibility. Maybe the new Office Touch? We'll see.

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