Author Archives: Klaava

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10 items writers should include in a nonfiction book proposal

2017-10-21

Authors who are planning a nonfiction book can submit a proposal to publishers (or agents) once the book concept is crystal clear in the author’s mind. The manuscript doesn’t have to be ready. The potential of the book is evaluated from the information delivered in the proposal. This applies to nonfiction books only, and here are ten items that publishers and agents typically expect to find in a proposal.

eyeglasses on computer keyboard
These ten items for a nonfiction book proposal were originally outlined by Marisa Corvisiero

1. Title and Word Count

The title doesn’t have to be the final one, since it is often changed by the author or the publisher during the publishing process. Nonfiction books can have a title – subtitle structure which allows explaining quite a lot about the book.

In the era of ebooks, the traditional wisdom for the length of a nonfiction book (85,000 words, or about 300 printed pages) doesn’t apply anymore. For instance, we have published nonfiction ebooks that are about 50 pages, and also books that are about 500 pages.

Assuming that the author is still planning the book, the tentative word count indicates the scope of the manuscript and the amount of work required.

Many publishers also want to get a tentative idea for how many pictures, photos, schemas, tables and other elements besides text the author is planning to include in the book.

2. Tagline

A short, one or two line description about the concept of the book. The purpose is to make the product interesting and attractive.

3. Blurb

A short summary of what the book is about. What the reader will learn and the key points that will be made in the pages.

4. Structure of the Book

How the book will be organized and why. Often, however, it is better to include a comprehensive Table of Contents that shows the structure.

5. Target Market

A description of who should buy the book, who it is written for, and why they need it.

A list of competitive products belongs in this section, with analysis how this book will be different and/or better than books already in the market.

6. Author Bio

Readers will want to know if they can trust the author’s expertise. This is all about credentials.

7. Marketing Plan

Publishers want to know how large audience the author can reach. They will then add their activities to the mix. Any ideas for delivering the message to the world are welcomed by publishers. Authors must be ready to do book marketing as well.

8. Endorsements or Media Coverage

If an author can get endorsements from renowned people for the book, here is the section to mention it. Also possible media contacts, or earlier appearances in media should be listed here.

9. Table of Contents

The more detailed the Table of Contents is, the better picture the publisher gets from the book concept. This is the key element for many publishers when they consider what the book really is about and ponder its positioning in the market. For more information on the details publishers may expect to find in the TOC, read this article.

10. Sample Chapters

A chapter or two of the book should be included in the proposal. Many agents want three to five chapters, but it varies, as well as publishers’ requirements. Submission guidelines should be followed. A sample is important for publishers and agents in order to evaluate the author’s style, voice, and way of presenting the information.

New application for E ink displays used in ereaders: art and architecture

2017-10-18

We are so used to the grayscale E ink displays in our ereaders that we rarely think about how peculiar the technology really is. The information displayed on E ink screens are not composed of light, but physical microcapsules that rotate to create patterns on the screen. The patterns, or information, on the screen remain there until an electric pulse changes the patterns. This is why E ink screens are energy efficient and easily viewable even in direct sunlight.

You probably have seen small E ink displays in stores where product prices or other information is updated in real time. Displays can be tiny price tags or large boards.
San Diego car park with E ink walls
In any case, commercial applications are not the only ones where E ink can be used. In San Diego, California, these displays are used for decorating a concrete car park building.

View the video below that shows how it looks like.

Very thin e-paper tiles have been attached to the outer walls of the car park building. These screens are wirelessly connected to a host computer that tells the screens what to do. Uebercall, the company behind concept, has designed 15 programs used to animate the tiles. The screens are powered by solar cells.

All this means that the animations can be seen during the daytime only when the screens have power and there is daylight for viewing the screens.

I wonder if it would be possible to create an effect that looks like the building was moving as you drive by? It would, of course, freak out the drivers on the highway next to the building, which wouldn’t be safe.

Via VentureBeat.

Mongolia connects to the Asia Super Grid – read the book what it means to nomads

2017-10-16

Mongolia is a large, sparsely inhabited central Asian country where nomads still live in a traditional way on vast plains and foothills of mountains. The mineral rich country has large coal mines for its energy needs. Now, Mongolia has joined the Asia Super Grid electricity network in order to produce clean energy. Will ordinary Mongolians and nomads benefit from it?

Camel herder, ebook on Mongolia travel

Camel herders in Mongolia

The book Herder’s Boots – Traveling and Working with Nomads for the Future of Mongolia gives an indirect answer to the question. The author, Stephen Parliament, lived and worked in Mongolia for many years both in the capital Ulaanbaatar and in the desolate lands where nomads live. He experienced the bitter coldness of winters and heat of summers with nomads.

Some nomads have moved to cities, some tend to stay in one place with their cattle, some move with seasons. In any case, they live outside the grid and if they want electricity, they have to produce it themselves – which they do, because they also want to watch television and charge their mobile phones.

Mongolia travel book, photo gallery

All possessions of a herder family. Mongolia, Stephen Parliament.

Reuters reports that Mongolia has joined a large power transmission network established six years ago by China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. Mongolia’s plan is to build wind power plants and connect them to this Asia Super Grid and export the generated energy.

While this is a great initiative for clean energy and balancing Mongolia’s state budget, it doesn’t bring much to the nomads. Small moveable solar power stations would support nomad lifestyle, but their prices tend to be high.

Read more about Mongolia in the book The Herder’s Boots.

Amazon Kindle Oasis ereader has grown only an inch, but it makes a difference when reading ebooks

2017-10-14

In the very early days of the Kindle ereaders, Amazon marketed a product with a tablet-size screen. It didn’t live for long, although second-hand units are still readily available. Then, Amazon simply decided that six inches is the only proper size for ereaders. Now, the company has changed its mind. The Kindle Oasis with its seven-inch E ink display enters Amazon into competition with ereaders that come with 7.8 and 8–inch screens. As we recently wrote, this screen size has quickly become a new attractive product category in ereaders.
Amazon KIndle Oasis 7-inch is waterproof
In addition to the 7-inch display, other key features of the large-screen Kindle Oasis are:

– The unit is waterproof: read on a beach, in the bath, and it is also more durable for travel.
– Audible audiobooks are compatible with the device.
– VoiceView screen reader can read aloud text on the screen.
– Front light illuminates the screen for reading even in dark.
– Free cloud storage space for all content downloaded from Amazon.
– Wi-fi and/or mobile network connectivity depending on the model.

A couple of things to notice in the Kindle Oasis 7 are that there is no headphone jack, but you have to have Bluetooth headphones, the ereader still doesn’t open EPUB-formatted ebooks, and models with lowest price tags come with ads.

The prices start from 250 USD for the seven-inch Kindle Oasis. The cover must be purchased separately (if you need one). The kindle Oasis 7 base price point is at the same level as competitors’ 7.8 and 8-inch models.
Amazon KIndle Oasis 7-inch model is waterproof
Why 7.8 and 8-inch are becoming so popular that even Amazon decided to make a product that has display larger than six inches? Reading is more comfortable on a larger screen. This is, of course, very personal. For instance, I like to read from a 10-inch screen. More texts fits into a page, pictures look better, and if I enlarge the font, it can still display a fair amount of text. For a balanced view on the pros and cons on the different screen sizes (from 6 to 13 inches) of ereaders, read this article.

Hands-on video of the 7-inch Kindle Oasis by Cnet shows how significant the size difference is to the 6-inch model.

Amazon Oasis 7 key features and specifications

Amazon Kindle Oasis 7-inch ereader
7-inch display technology with E Ink Carta.
300 ppi pixel density, 16-level gray scale.
Built-in light for reading even in dark.
Waterproof (IPX8), tested to withstand immersion in 2 meters of fresh water for 60 minutes.
Audible audiobooks can played on the ereader.
8 GB built-in storage. Holds thousands of books or over 35 Audible audiobooks; 32 GB holds thousands of books or over 160 Audible audiobooks.
Free cloud storage for all Amazon content.
Wi-Fi Connectivity.
Bluetooth. Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) support for audio streaming from Kindle Oasis to your Bluetooth speakers or headphones. Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP_ support to remotely control playback of Audible audiobooks on Kindle Oasis from compatible Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth speakers requiring PIN codes are not supported.
The VoiceView screen reader, available over Bluetooth audio, enables access to the vast majority of Kindle Oasis features.
Ability to Invert Black and White, adjust font size, font face, line spacing and margins.
Ebook formats: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprocted MOBI, PRC natively; HTML DOC, DOCX, JPEN, GIF, PNG, PMP through conversion; Audible audio format (AAX).
Dimensions 6.3″x 5.6” x 0.13-.33” (159 mm x 141 mm x 3.4-8.3 mm).
Weight 6.8 oz (194g).
Battery life up to six weeks, based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless and Bluetooth off and the light setting at 10.

Tolino makes Epos, an 7.8-inch ereader available to ebook patrons in Europe

2017-10-12

Recently, we wrote about a new ereader product category – devices with 8-inch display size – that was turning into a mainstream thing. As it happens, Tolino, a major ereader brand in central European markets has introduced a product that comes with a 7.8 inch E ink display. The highlights of the Tolino Epos ereader are large and sharp screen, waterproof unit, front light (for reading in dark), possibility to categorize ebooks into collections and a built-in translator for a few languages.
Tolino Epos ereader in hand
Tolino Epos has all the features that one may expect from a high-end large screen ereader: high-resolution touch screen, wireless ebook shopping, front light for reading in poor light, and many features that allow readers to adjust the actual reading experience.

The product’s list price is 230 Euros which is competitive when compared to similar, other brand products, such as the 7-inch Amazon Kindle Oasis, or the 7.8 inch Kobo Aura One.

Tolino products are available in central European countries, but you can find out the availability of the product in your country at Tolino’s web page.

News about the product via Heise Online.

Tolino Epos key features and specifications

Tolino Epos ebook collections

7.8 inch E Ink Carta display. Capacitive touch screen.
Display resolution 1872 × 1404 pixels (300 ppi). 19.81 centimeters screen diagonal.
Integrated front light with automatic and manual adjustment of color temperature of the display light.
Processor: 1000 MHz Freescale i.MX6
RAM 512 MB
Storage (internal) 8 GB where 6 GB is available for ebooks. Additional storage space included at Tolino Cloud 5 GB.
Wi-Fi: WLAN (802.11 b/g/n).
Micro-USB port.
Ebook formats: EPUB, PDF, TXT, Adobe DRM and ebooks from public libraries (e. g. Onleihe Germany).
Waterproof (by HZO).
Dimensions 140 × 209 × 8.2 mm
Weight 260 g
Li-polymer battery, 1200 mAh.
Battery capacity up to 4 weeks.

Tolino Epos ebook shopping
Reading features:

Adjustable font size
Create own fonts
Create and manage highlights
Add annotations and create notes
Categorize ebooks in collections
Built-in dictionary
Language translation function
Reading in portrait or landscape format
Table of contents
Bookmarks
Full-text search inside ebooks
PDF to text function

Oolipo brings interactive ebooks to smartphones

2017-10-04

Oolipo is an ebook reading application for mobile devices that comes with a dedicated content creation tool. Authors can embed interactive elements into their ebooks, as well as audio and video. Once the new Oolipo ebook is ready to be published, it is delivered via Oolipo bookstore to readers who can view the book on their smartphones and tablets. This is not the first time when interactive ebooks get a dedicated system. What does Oolipo mean for ebooks?

oolipo interactive ebook reading app
Oolipo describes its mission as follows:

“We believe that reading today means watching images, gifs, and videos, listening to audio, sharing and chatting with friends, interacting with characters. That’s why we created an interactive multimedia format for mobile and tools that enable you to create new stories with them.”

Let’s study Oolipo’s proposal for rich multimedia ebooks from two perspectives: A) fiction and B) nonfiction.

A) Fiction. At the moment, all sample ebooks at Oolipo web site are fiction. The general description of Oolipo also focuses on storytelling as the primary focus for the application. If you download a sample ebook to your phone, you will find pages with text, pages with sound effects, pages with animation, and perhaps with a question which direction you want the story to take.

Oolipo is in sensitive zone here. When someone is reading a fictional book, he or she sees the book’s world her own way. Another reader may see it differently. Audio and video elements that are intended to complement the reading experience actually change the world the reader sees in her mind.

B) Nonfiction The natural application for multimedia ebooks is nonfiction and textbooks. They benefit greatly from elements like animation, audio and video. Also interactive elements like questions and answers can be very helpful to readers who are trying to learn and understand something that is new to them.

An obvious example of a remarkable tool for creating and reading rich multimedia ebooks are works created in Apple iBooks Author. It shows how interactive and multimedia elements really have a role in the future of books. Travel guidebooks, for instance, can show more about a destination with rich media elements.

oolipo bookshelf, interactive ebook library on a smartphone

Creating interactive fiction books inevitably brings the role of book closer to games and movies. It is not a bad thing – on the contrary, something new may be invented. The author has many tough choices to make if he or she wants to create a fictional book in Oolipo.

If you want to create an Oolipo ebook, you can apply principles of visual storytelling familiar from movies or illustrated narratives, use audio and voice for atmosphere, and interactive elements. The elements can be images, gifs, videos, sounds and audio files, text, animations, links to websites (or other episodes), and chat messages.

Here is a video that shows how to create stories for Oolipo:

Some day, someone will get this right – maybe it is Oolipo, maybe someone else. It is fascinating to see if we still call it a book or something else.

Learning from rejections – book cover designers share their stories

2017-09-28

Designing good book covers is difficult. It is creative work that requires that the designer is able to capture the essence of a book in an image that pleases everyone, especially the publisher’s marketing department, and is attractive from a reader’s point of view. 12 book cover designers have shared their stories on their works that were killed before they were published.

If you examine covers of different genres of books, you instantly notice how the genre defines many factors for the cover. Romance covers tend to have a man and a woman in, crime novels often have dark covers, text books show an item from the contents of the book, and nonfiction books have something about the overall theme of the book.

The most difficult book covers to design are for a genre that is so broad that it is hard to define: literary books.

3 book covers, same book3 cover designs for the same book. Left: the original book cover in France. Center: rejected cover. Right: published cover design.

Creative Review has managed to get stories from 12 cover designers on their works that were rejected. Many stories have a lesson that the designer learnt from the setback.

One of the stories and the key takeaway of the project is told by Thy Bui who was the first designer to try and create the cover for a book: “This cover was scrapped, as were a few more attempts. The final cover was designed by Sophie Burdess. So the lessons learnt? That there is almost always a hiccup somewhere along the process – accept this. And, there is no right or wrong design for a book cover. Our role as designers is to explore the options.”

Designing a cover for an ebook is the same thing as for a print book. A collection of ebook cover designs from multiple designers can be viewed, for instance, at the book cover design awards page. Each cover has a brief review. These books are very genre-specific, making judging their covers easier than, for instance, literary book covers.

Here is the largest bookstore in the world: Tehran Book Garden

2017-09-22

Amazon may claim the title of the largest bookstore in the world, but the largest bricks-and-mortar store where you can walk in and touch the actual products is called the Book Garden. It is located in Tehran, Iran, and was opened in July 2017.
Tehran Book Garden bookstore
The vast bookstore is only one of the sections of the spacious 65,000 square meter (about 700,000 square feet) building. All and all, it is more like a cultural center than a bookstore alone. The center features movie theaters, science halls, classrooms, a restaurant, and a prayer room. A park on the roof is reserved for reading outdoors.

The building has enough floor space indoors for fourteen football fields, and over 10,000 square meter rooftop park.
World's largest bookstore in Tehran, Iran: Book Garden
Iran has been in the news for its efforts to censor the written word, but the bookstore has a large selection of English titles as well. More than 30,000 titles are available for children alone.

View a film by Iran PressTV that shows the different sections of the large building. The architect tells about the spacious design.

The Guinness World Records regards the Barnes & Noble along Fifth Avenue in New York City the biggest bookstore on earth (before the Book Garden was opened). Barnes & Noble Fifth Avenue has more than 19 km /12 miles of shelves.

Book Garden’s architecture:
Tehran Book Garden building, Iran

Tehran Book Garden architecture from air

Let your iPhone or Android phone or tablet read that ebook aloud to you

2017-09-20

Listening to a book while doing something else is a fun and useful way to enjoy a good story or learn from a nonfiction book. Audible and other stores let you purchase audiobooks that have been narrated by professionals, often actors. Most book lovers already have a selection of ebooks, and it is not very tempting to re-purchase them as audiobooks. Here is how you can make your mobile device (iPhone or Android) read an ebook to you for free.

Android smartphone or tablet

Voice aloud reader, text to speech from ebook to audio

For Samsung, LG, Nokia, and all other smartphones and tablets that are powered by the Android software, there are many voice reader apps available at the Google Play Store. At the store, you may search, for instance, “voice reader” or “text to speech” for applications to download.

I have been using @Voice Aloud Reader on my Android tablet and phone. The way it works is that you specify the folders where you have your ebooks or any other texts stored. The app can also automatically scan the folders for ebooks.

Open the app, browse the ebooks and documents that are available for reading aloud. Choose anyone, and the app will read it to you. Play controls are available at the bottom of the screen.
Voice aloud reader, text to speech from ebook to audio
For EPUB ebooks, Voice Aloud Reader works really well. You can view the table of contents, jump to a chapter you want and the app will read it to you.

The app doesn’t come with its own voices, but it relies on voices that come with Android. It is possible to download additional voices from the Play Store as well.

The free version displays ads that can be removed by paying for an upgrade.

Apple iPhone and iPad

The app that can read text aloud to you is already on your iPhone and iPad. You just have to find it – it is well hidden into the iOS operating system’s menu system.

1. Open Settings.
Select General > Accessibility > Speech. Toggle on Speak Screen.

2. Open the ebook you want your iPhone or iPad read to you.

3. Swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers.
It will take a moment before the audio starts, and a pop up window with buttons to control playback appears.

4. Change the reader’s voice.
Go back to Settings – Accessibility – Speech section, and open Voice. You will get choices for voices that read to you.

The feature works best with the iBooks application, but it works on any screen where you have texts. Just swipe down with two fingers. So, you can use it in the Kindle app and in the web browser, but it may read some irrelevant text, too.

Are you a slow writer? 15 tips for learning how to write faster

2017-09-11

There is nothing wrong with you if you are a slow writer, but if you intend to make money or earn a living as a writer, learning to write a bit faster can be an important asset. The essence of learning to write is practice. It takes time to learn the craft, and with time, you will become faster.

Nonetheless, it is possible to speed up the process of learning how to write faster. Custom Writing has created an infographic that lists 15 ways to learn faster writing. Here are the 15 tips. View the infographic after the list for additional advice on each item.

Silence you inner editor.
Structure is everything.
Defeat distractions.
Track your words-per-hour.
Format at the end.
Write what you know.
Keep all notes in one book.
Use 30-minute timer.
Do a 5-minute workout.
Build connections between your tasks.
Get comfortable while writing.
Think about your reward.
Choose the most productive time of day.
Play typing games.
Practice.

Here is the infographic 15 ways to write faster (by Custom Writing).
Infographic 15 Ways to Write Faster by Custom Writing

The best parties during Finland’s 100th independence year 2017

2017-09-08

The Nordic country Finland became an independent nation in 1917, on December 6th. It had been the westernmost, autonomous province of Russia, and before that, the easternmost province of Sweden. The early years were tough for the new nation, and only after the Second World War, the country began its rapid development to one of the most advanced societies in the world.

Aleksanterinkatu, Helsinki
Finland is celebrating its 100th Independence Day throughout the year 2017. A dedicated web site published by the Prime Minister’s Office shares up-to-date information on events associated with the celebrations. Which event or party is the one to attend?

Here are some guidelines to help you plan:

– The actual day 6th December tends to be dark and murky in southern Finland where the biggest cities are located. In Lapland, there is snow on the ground and the Northern Lights in the sky.
– In September, Helsinki is cooling towards winter, but weather is often fine. In Lapland, hikers and trekkers have the highlight of the year as the autumn colors light up the landscape.
– In October, the annual Herring Market is a traditional big event at the Helsinki market square in the city center.

How Finns themselves celebrate their 100th Independence year?

The traditional way to celebrate the Independence Day in Finland is to watch television. That’s right. The highest viewer numbers each year are for a program that lasts several hours in the evening of the Independence Day. The majority of Finns are glued to their TV screens, watching as important politicians, celebrities, artists, successful sportsmen and ambassadors of countries who have representatives in Helsinki shake hands with the President of Finland and his wife (or husband, as happened with the previous president who was a woman).

During recent years, Finns have adopted other alternatives – in addition to watching television – for celebrating their Independence Day. Since the day happens to be during the darkest time of the year and often, during the murkiest weather, staying indoors is the preferred option. Having dinner and lighting candles at home, or attending a concert are a few alternatives to television.

Tips and advice for the best destinations in Helsinki and for understanding the Finnish culture and customs

A Concise History of Finland – an easy-to-digest history of Finland.
The Best of Helsinki – a travel guide to the capital Helsinki, features also local favorites.
The Lighter Side of Finland – an American author living in Finland has captured the essence of Finns in an entertaining way.
Lapland – a travel guide to Europe’s last large wilderness.
8 Arctic Seasons – an award-winning book on the delicacies and adventures of Lapland.
Spaghetti and Sauna – insight into Finnish culture and customs through Italian eyes.
Finnish Cookbook with Modern Flavors – a brief introduction to some traditional meals, and modern variations of them.

A cookbook for nerds and geeks, written by an engineer

2017-09-04

Yes, engineers can cook delicious meals. They just do it in their own way. Who is the best guide for cooking lessons for young nerds and geeks who may start college or university studies soon? Another person who sees the world in a similar way. The Engineer’s Cookbook has been authored by an engineer, and intended to a fellow engineer.

The book gives a systematic presentation of the principles behind the engineer’s cooking skills. It helps the engineer to see what is essential in food, to recognise his own strengths, and to adapt his skills to make good food.
Cooking for geeks :Engineer's Cookbook

There is no such thing as add a little salt or pour some red wine into the kettle. Measurements are precise for the engineer, also when cooking a dinner or lunch.

For those not technically educated, the book offers an exhilarating insight into the inner life of the engineer – and dozens of practical and clearly-illustrated recipes that allow the rest of us – ordinary people – to prepare delicious food easily.

The recipes in the book are typical tried-and-tested engineer foods, such as cabbage rolls, meat loaf, prawn salad, stuffed peppers and strawberry cake. In addition to the recipes some useful dining skills are described, for instance, setting the table, seating the guests, toasting, and behaving at a restaurant.

The Engineer's Cookbook, book cover image

A brief sample from a chapter that describes the inner world of a geek:

”The engineer is above all a rational being, whether it is stake, poultry, fish or vegetables that he prefers.

At the same time, the engineer is forever a child at heart. For him, preparing food is a mental game where you seek out matching ingredients, optimise their quantities, schedule their preparation times, and serve precisely the needed amounts of the correct types of food at exactly the right time. When all this falls in place, the engineer enjoys himself.”

If you have wondered why an engineer approaches cooking differently, a chapter in the book describes it as follows:

”It may seem that the engineer’s thought world is in this way somewhat strait-laced or neurotic. This is nonetheless not true. Deep down, the engineer is really quite relaxed. He has inner peace. He has thought things through and knows what is right. For that reason, he also knows to anticipate the outcome of each solution. This can of course annoy less confident individuals and the engineer does well not to always reveal the extent of his wisdom.

Due to his inner peace, the engineer can also be a humble cook. He appreciates and knows how to use ingenious ingredients, whether they are nature’s own or developed by other engineers. Onion or minced meat, for instance, are in their unassuming simplicity and versatility outstanding inventions, before which the engineer is humbled. If only he were capable of such simplicity, focusing only on the essential!”

Download free sample chapters, and get the best price for the book here.

The Engineer's Cookbook, content page image