A team of three educators contacted me to help them publish their curriculum, a project management book for middle-school students. This was their first foray into publishing. Their requirements: editing, ebook publishing, an attractive cover design, and file formats.
I replied, “I’m a book designer, not an editor, but I’m happy to recommend editors I’ve used in the past. I can help you with an attractive cover design and interior formatting. I would like to see your manuscript and determine the scope of the project.”
The team sent me an InDesign file, designed by someone else and unedited. It was easy to save a pdf and quickly convert it into a Word document for an editor. I contacted Katherine Pickett, POP Editing for help. She had edited previous educational projects. She spoke directly with the team and was hired.
The team’s current title was, Plan for Success, but Katherine and I didn’t think it had much meaning and was unlikely to entice readers. The team was open to changing the title to something more inviting. During the editing process, Katherine thought up two great title ideas before I spoke with her: 1) Spotlight on Project Management; and 2) Lights, Camera, Project Management.The subtitle was “WOW! Your middle school students with a video-based curriculum.” I wanted to know if WOW! was an abbreviation for something. It was not, although the term was used throughout the book to describe the student video projects. This word needed to be emphasized on the cover.
I searched for competitive titles and shared them with the team. The target audience is middle school teachers. How do you turn project management into a subject that middle schoolers can get excited about? A sentence from the book description read: Follow this innovative project-management curriculum to guide them as they make a video! The team agreed that the cover should show video and a middle school student. My second search was for stock images with middle school students and video. I looked for photographs and vector (clip) art.
Idea #1: Spotlight on Project Management. This design showed a student in front of a green screen with his mobile phone. I added color in the background and three large circles to imply spotlights.
Idea #2: Lights, Camera, Project Management. A photo from Shutterstock.com was perfect! The model was a middle school student recording in front of her phone. She looked realistic. I presented both ideas to the team, and to two teachers I knew to solicit their feedback. They fit the target audience demographic. Both teachers preferred the photo (idea #2) to the vector (idea #1). The team agreed, and the cover was approved.
This manuscript had many tables, which are not great for a reflowable ePub. We decided to do a fixed-layout ePub to be sold on Amazon. (A fixed-layout eBook is an ePub that has been set up in such a way that it looks like a print version of the book. Authors and publishers use fixed layout ePub format for eBooks that need to have a precise layout and consistent pagination.) However, I needed to know more about fixed-layout ePubs. This was not my area of expertise. I used an outside resource to help convert the file to an ePub. One final glitch—the hyperlinks in a fixed layout ePub will not work. I had to retype each link, then have the file converted again.
We scored a trifecta of wins: Successful project. On budget. Satisfied authors.