Yesterday I threw down the gauntlet to any gHacks reader who might want to write a Windows 8 book, perhaps with the long term goal of signing your own book deal with a big name tech publisher. You can read my article here. Lee Whittington made a very interesting comment...
I have been turning the idea in my head on writing a Windows 8 Book and aside from writing the book I have no idea where to go from there. You would think with all the information you can find on the internet, you would find everything you need. Lately though, the overabundance of information has actually become an issue, leaving me with alot of information but nothing that really helps.
This is a very good point, that many people who would want to write a Windows 8 book might not have a clue where to start. I thought then that I'd follow up yesterday's article with a guide to doing exactly that and getting started writing.
The first and most important decision to make, as it will influence everything else, is who your intended audience will be. Who it is you're writing the book for will determine what type of language you use, the types of images and annotations you use, and how many, and how long and detailed the book might turn out to be.
For example, if you want to write for complete beginners, perhaps something for family and friends and people you provide tech support for, then the tone would be warm and friendly, with an absence of jargon and with every technical word you must use clearly explained at the time. You will probably want to use a lot of colourful screenshots, with many annotations so that it is very clear to readers what they're looking at. You would also want to use a fair few numbered and step by step guides that will help people perform tasks. Lastly the content for this audience will largely fall around using the new Metro interface, downloading and installing apps and keeping things ticking over easily and quickly. After all, people in this category simply don't want to hear anything about installing Windows or the Control Panel, it's just too complex for many of them.
We move on from there with more business-centric users, perhaps people in your workplace more interested in how to keep working on the desktop and what new productivity and power-saving features are available for them. Enthusiasts will want to know how to install Windows 8 in different ways and how to configure it, with little in-depth hints and tips to help them get the best from it, and so on.
Now that you've determined who your audience will be you need to decide how big the book will be and what the content will be. A book for newbies would be relatively short, perhaps between 50 and 100 pages, while one for business users might not be much longer and one for enthusiasts might run to 200 or even 400 pages. It's important when writing for the first time, especially when you have all your formatting, page layout and editing to do as well not to set yourself a goal that's too high. I found 170 pages when writing the Windows 7 Power Users Guide gruelling while also holding down a full time job. By the time I wrote the 500 page Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out I was down to working only two days a week and writing the rest of the time. There simply was no other way to do it.
With your page count in mind you should set about writing a draft table of contents, making sure that the page count is foremost in your mind all the time. Think about how many paragraphs or pages it will take to decribe or walk people through specific subjects and use this as a basis for getting the content to fit your book.
It's common to write a book in Microsoft Word, after all it's a writing tool, but Word and other word processors can be limiting in the page formatting they allow you to do. I used Microsoft Publisher to write the Windows 7 Power Users Guide after quickly realising that I couldn't do something "visually appealing" enough in Word. Using a desktop publishing package does present its own challenges with text run on from one page to another difficult among other problems. Using DTP software though can make for a much more engaging book. All that said there's nothing wrong with using Word and some of the advanced layout and imaging tools available can make for very eye-catching designs. The layout and design can be a slow process to get right however and on the Windows 7 Power Users Guide probably one-third of the three months it took me to write was spent getting the formatting correct.
One very important part though will be the option to either export of print your file as a PDF. There are many free PDF writers out there, some of which will also export as other eBook formats, but having written your book you'll want people to be able to read it in a non-editable format.
This is a short and probably simplistic way to look at how you can start writing your book. It all comes from the planning, and that is why this article has focused so much on that. Spend time getting your table of contents, page layout, design and voice correct and the rest will fall into place reasonably naturally afterwards. So good luck and let us know here at gHacks if you release a Windows 8 book on the Internet.
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