Posts tagged technique
Sorry folks, but Thursday and Friday turned out to be busier than I could handle. So this article just ended up being a wee might late. :sad: Sorry about that!
So far we’ve been kind of working up to one third of the decision matrix for identifying which information product you should create … Specifically the cost.
To a large extent I can’t tell you what the cost will be.
You see as I hinted at in the last posts, you need to answer the question for yourself.
Generally speaking the relationship between writing, video, live/slideshow, and audio are:
- Text book (300+ pgs) = 1 week live seminar = 6 hrs finished Video = 12 hrs finished audio
- Executive book (100-200 pgs) = 1 day live seminar = 1.5 hrs finished Video = 3 hrs finished audio
- Article = 1-1/2 hour live seminar/webinar = 1/4 hr finished Video = 1/2 hr finished audio
HOWEVER, your own comparison will vary. First because you may be more or less comfortable speaking or writing. Writing is a very private task and as a result doesn’t take a great deal of practice to become comfortable. (It does take a lot of practice to become capable but that can’t happen until you are comfortable). Speaking – public or otherwise – does require a great deal of practice before you become comfortable.
To make matters worse speaking to a crowd is much easier than speaking to a camera. A crowd gives you feedback and energy. A camera gives you nothing. So practice for one doesn’t help you with practice for the other. In fact, practice for the crowd is more a matter of becoming confident and comfortable. Practice for the camera is a matter of becoming able to generate your own energy.
Then comes the matter of repurposing and other techniques such as interviews. It might seem that there is little extra cost involved in repurposing (e.g. video to audio to transcription), but as we’ll see in the next post, the costs are much higher than one will be told.
So all I can tell you is that you need to determine how much it will cost YOU to create the product in the various forms. Just remember to include all the costs including preparation, production and post production.
So over the last two weeks I’ve talked about the four types of books and why the Content Mapping System works for them – or doesn’t.
While the system isn’t a panacea and it doesn’t work for all books, it does work in most cases for how to books and why to books. In short, most non-fiction.
This is true because most non-fiction books are fact based regardless of their organization. Even if they are a simple collection, they still need to be organized. If they are a how to, they still need to be organized. So it doesn’t matter if they are sequential, fact-based or collections, they are still a set of facts that need to be organized. And the best system to do that is the Content Mapping System you can find here in video form (for free) or here in book form (not free).
A minor exception to the above rule is sequential based books. With sequential or process based books you need to add pretty pictures. In other words, flow or process diagrams. But the basic Content Map system works quite well and does allow for adding this type of information. (Yes, believe it or not it is a function of the tool. We don’t talk about it very much but it is part of the proper use of the tool.)
The major exception to the above are time based books. These are histories, (auto-)biographies and fiction. Because they are time based they need a tool which is time based … in other words a time chart based system. Sorry but the Content Mapping system just isn’t the right system for those books.
A couple of final comments.
First, an historical analysis is not a time based book. It is primarily a fact based book. Having said that you may want to use a time chart to help document the occurence of the actions which you are analysing. This leads to the second comment.
The system allows you to use pictures and diagrams when they communicate the information better than words. Don’t be afraid to use them! After all a picture is worth a thousand words. This also applies within your book. Sometimes words are not the best tools to communicate with. Sometimes pictures are. Never be afraid of diagrams. And don’t forget to use boxes … those little quick fact summary boxes you see in some books or at the side of articles. They help to seperate the book and to emphasize key facts.
So enjoy the Content Mapping System and learn to write books in less than 24 hours. Just remember that the system doesn’t work for all books, just non-fiction. It works great for how to books!
Enjoy, learn & get earning.
& the LearningCreators team
**** Warning this blog entry was written after far too much Halloween candy over the weekend. ****
**** Read at your own risk ****
I was asked, not too long ago, to explain how I was able to write so well. Meaning clearly and easily read. I’m sure the individual was expecting a long answer. They were shocked when the answer was only two words: Flesch-Kincaid.
You see, I know how the Flesch-Kincaid readability test calculates grade level. And I know when to ignore it.
There, now you know how to create easily read, clear, precise text for your how to book. And I can go back to writing my next hunk of web copy! Bye for this week!
Okay, I’m being facetious. I am going to give you the details. But it really is that easy. Know the rules. Know when to break the rules. Do what you know. Simple. Easy. (That’s a hint, folks!)
So let’s start. What is the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test Grade Level formula? Yup, it’s a mathematical formula. (Hey, you in the back, stop screaming. The rest of you stop looking so scared. And you, there, yes, you. That’s disgusting. You clean that up. Now! ) Don’t worry, it’s a simple formula and we don’t really care what it is anyway.
What it’s about is readability. Basically, what it does is evaluate text and return the U.S. school grade which theoretically is able to read it easily. The lower the grade, the easier it is to read. It’s just the reverse of school – the lower your grade the better!
Now the whole calculation looks something like this ….
0.39 x (total words/total sentences) + 11.8 x (total syllables/total words) – 15.59
Who cares? Certainly not me. I’m not going to calculate that. That’s what MS Word’s word count is for. The important thing is that calculation is based on average words per sentence and average syllables per word. As a writer that’s all I care about. Get the words per sentence down. Use simple words whenever possible. Result? Good writing. Easily read how to book. Happy reader. Happy writer. Maybe, happy agent? Yay!!!! Everyone happy!
See Dick read. Read Dick read. See Dick run. Run Dick run. See Dick threaten Author. See Author run. Run Author run. Author runs fast. Dick runs faster. Oops, poor Author. Big mess. See constable take Dick away.
Yes, it’s not that easy. You need to break the rules every once in a while just to keep Dick from losing his cool and threatening you with a great big knife. (Is that why so many authors I know like big sharp pointies?) Knowing when to obey the rules and when to disobey is that grey area that creates good writing.
Over the next few blogs entries, I’m going to share with you 5 easy ways to improve your writing. And the three exceptions that turn your writing professional.
So … Wednesday, I’ll start with techniques for shortening your sentences.
Keep Learning, Keep Earning
& the LearningCreators team.
Okay. It’s no secret that I’ve long decried the quality of tools available to the P/C programmer.
But after this last bit of nonsense I’m not sure who is to blame. The tool manufacturers, the people who work for them or their customers!
Now I’m not the world’s best art director. My wife, the artist, would probably argue that I can’t match socks let alone colour schemes. Successfully I might add. I’ve been married for 18 years — she always wins arguments like that :D
But what I am is reasonably capable as a web developer (aka programmer).
So when we converted to WordPress I made the (wise ????) decision that I wasn’t going to design my own theme. I would go looking for a theme that looked good and then tweak it to have the sidebars & widgets that I needed & wanted. Should only take an hour or so right? WRONG!
What I found when I went looking is that there are a lot of really skilled web designers out there. Some real artists.
And not a blasted one of them can program!
Virtually every theme I liked had at least one major flaw. I can’t tell you how many theme’s I checked where the menu didn’t work. And that’s not counting the number where they didn’t even try to get it to work! (Yo … Note to artists … the reason WordPress allows a structure with pages is that multiple levels are a pretty common technique for organizing what you’re doing).
Of course, every once in a while I ran into a theme that worked well. It was obvious that another developer had put it together. Very obvious. But it was well structured. The only problem is that spending three days trying to understand “pea, pea, where’s the pea?” style coding just doesn’t turn me on anymore. Some day I”ll figure out how to change the framework to display the way I want … but don’t hold your breath.
I could go on with other examples but I won’t.
So what does all this come down to?
Lesson Learned #1:
Find a theme you like and then just live within it’s limitations.
At least initially. Just get the site up with the basic theme as given. Trying to tweak a theme is a study in frustration. Don’t worry about being unique. Don’t worry about it having all the elements you need. Just get it up as written. Do the best you can. Then AFTER you’ve got it up, if you’ve got the time. You can always try to improve/tweak/fix it later.
The second major reason to write how to books is because you want to sell them. There’s two major ways you can sell how to books.
The first is the traditional method. You can sell your book to a traditional publishing house (Random, McGraw Hill etc). I don’t have the space in a blog to discuss that technique in depth. However, the basic process is to:
- Build a list of agents who are currently looking for authors
- Create a package (letter, outline & 2 chapters) to sell the agent
- Mail out the package to the agents
- Follow up as appropriate
- Repeat 1-4 until successful (or you get feedback saying you’re wasting your time)
- Create a detailed package to sell the publisher
- Send the package to the agent
- Let the agent do their job
Once the agent is successful, then you need to think about promoting your book.
The second way to sell is to self-publish. Now there are several ways to do this (including imitating traditional publishing) but the best method is as part of a information products business. Effectively, your book becomes one in a set of products which teach the customer or client a particular skill.
You’ll find as you try this that a real book is a big credibility boost. Yeah, sure you can get little PLR eBooks for $7. But a real book (100-200 pages) or ebook (60 pages) will get you both recognition and a good return. The problem, of course, is that video is both easier and more effective. However, it doesn’t carry the same cache. So when you design your product funnel you’ll want to fit a book in there somewhere if only to boost your credibility.
Now here’s the good news. All that work you put into learning our system is transferable. It works for any media you choose to put your course into. Of course, there are differences — which is why we recommend starting with a new content map for every media. It’s also why we teach the whole system in media based chunks. But the basic technique and process is the same no matter the media.
So get out there … get learning and get earning!
While using a secretary is a luxury most of us can’t afford, and using a computer to do transcription sounds rather sci-fi, there is a technique that is affordable and practical.
If you are one of those people who are unable or unwilling to type, then recording your book is a practical possibility.
This technique involves recording your voice using a digital recorder (or a tool like Audacity). The recording is then copied to the computer and emailed to a service like Inteliants or Production Transcripts or a number of other services.
There are three big problems with these types of services. The first is the cost. Generally these services charge from $1.00-$2.00/min.. For a normal ebook, that means they will be charging in the area of $1,000 to $2,000 or more. Less than a secretary but still quite expensive.
The second issue is the turnaround time. Most services run 2-3 day turnaround. One day turnaround is sometimes available but usually at a higher cost.
The third issue is that these services often use foreign transcribers and/or computer transcription to reduce their costs. The transcriptions are therefore often filled with errors and mistakes — not all the result of poor recordings.
This last issue means that it is mandatory that you review all transcriptions very closely and carefully. The errors that are made will quickly brand you as an amateur.
Despite these issues, this technique can be quite successful and can represent a major improvement in efficiency.
Now I’ve got to admit that this was a bit of silliness on my part. After all, I only know one author who was able to use a secretary to write her books. Now admitedly she used four (one at a time thank goodness) and I’m sure that there are more. But I only know of one. The rest of us are just too blasted poor (and/or cheap but that tends to follow).
But if you’ve got the money … or a spouse or child with aspirations to an obsolete skill, using a secretary is certainly a viable method.
The advantage is that you get to blurt out your book using the fastest transmission method possible. Plus, because it is a live person, any problems with understanding should be questioned immediately. And although you won’t have the words in front of you immediately, you will have them back very quickly. (The lady mentioned earlier used four secretaries so she could have the result back the next day). And because your secretary is retyping it, they can perform an edit before you even see the written material. Imagine, having no typos and all the right it’s/its/its’ in the right place! At least in theory.
There is only one real disadvantage to this technique … $$$$$$$$ Unless you are born to money (The lady in question was a Lady, as in English Nobility), or are the CEO of a major corporation (and stealing secretarial time isn’t frowned on), the sad truth is that most of us can’t afford to use a secretary. Or at least, can’t afford to waste their time on transcribing our books.
Now if you can afford it on the other hand …..
I’m back … sorry, getting the course up and running kind of got in the way.
Okay so last article was on handwriting … good & bad, today’s on typing your books and articles. Today’s article is on typing … or more correctly today keyboarding.
Now, some of you may remember when people really typed on typewriters. But today most people type on computers.
There are a couple of advantages to using the computer.
First off, it won’t take long before you can type much faster than you can write. Second, it’s always legible. An big advantage over most peoples’ handwriting — unless you’re into Caligraphy — and maybe even then! Third, it’s easy to correct what you’ve written. And fourth, it is automatically in a format suitable for sending to the publisher. No need to reenter it, although you might need to reformat it. Finally, you are doing it all. No delays sending it out for transcription, no need to worry about misheard, misinterpreted words. What goes on paper is what you put on paper.
On the other hand there are some big disadvantages. It’s slower than speaking (sort of middle of the road), and of course, slower than thinking so you may find your fingers slowing down your thought process — or just plain getting out of step alltogether! On the other hand, it’s too easy to change. So you’re going to have to really fight the urge to edit while you write. (Editing while you write is the most popular method of guaranteeing that you’ll never finish your book!) Finally, typing quickly is a learned skill and takes practice! Lots of practice!
Ultimately you’ll have to chose which technique you like best. Next time we’ll get into the voice based techniques.
Last time I told you not to believe people when they suggest you should use a transcription to create your entry product — your ebook. And I gave you a whole bunch of reasons for not doing.
Now, I want to be very clear we are talking about transcribing a seminar here. Next week we’ll explore some of the alternative methods of writing ebooks. And transcription will raise its ugly head once again … but nicely!
But when should you use a transcription of a Seminar?
In a single sentence — when you want to add value without adding content.
Huh??? Okay, let me illustrate. Say you have a 2 hour seminar you’ve recorded. And you want to release it as a stand alone product. Cool. Copy it to DVD and then use someone like www.kunaki.com to package and distribute it. Fine you’ve now got a medium priced backend product. Worth say between $47and $97.
But you need to make the DVD more valuable. Either to make the price easier to swallow or to increase the price. Now you could add a whole bunch of bonuses. Which is the usual technique. But what if you don’t have any bonuses related to the product? And for whatever reason you don’t want to add content. (Trust me, there are lots of reasons to avoid it). How can you add without adding. Quick way is to transcribe the DVD. A little bit of editing and formatiing and you have a bonus.
Now, you’ve got 3 products from a single source. What’s the third? Record only the audio, re-edit it to remove the dead air and put it into an mp3. There you are 1 product and 2 bonuses. All from the same source.
Of course, you could go one step further …. (gotta get you back on Friday somehow!!).
Have Fun! Keep Learning! And Get Earning!
One of the techniques to create ebooks that seems to be widely suggested is to put on a seminar, record it and then transcribe the result as an ebook.
The biggest problem with this technique is that it is high risk. You see when you put on a seminar you typically change and leave things off. After all a seminar is a living thing. No one is perfect and you simply can’t remember everything you have to say. Even with notes, you can guarantee that you’ll lose items, put them out of order and generally make mistakes.
In addition, the structure of a seminar is slightly (very slightly) different from that of a book. Once the transcription is created you’ll need to make sometimes very major modifications to force fit the result into a book form. That is why most of the suggestions include the recommendtion when writing ebooks this way to use the transcription as a base (effectively a first draft).
Now ask yourself one final question …. have you ever given a 1/2 day seminar? Do you realize how much work is involved? That’s what you’ll have to do to fill up a 20,000 word ebook. Even professionals add filler to half day sessions (called practice sessions). It’s just to hard to keep your audience alert otherwise. And of course, practice sessions don’t count to your word count.
I’m not saying that transcriptions aren’t a great idea for creating product. But when someone says that you can build your ebook business based on transcribing seminars you need to realize that they are simplifying.
Leave your transcriptions for filling in your product line. You need to build your ebook business by writing ebooks not by transcribing. At least for one attempt at ebook writing. Your main product.