It’s been a fun 6 weeks.
The release on iBooks came and went last week, with reviews all being positive. Now, I thought I’d speak of how it came to be, what happened along the way, and how I found the whole experience.
I’ve always wanted to have something I created on one of the Stores. I’d seen Tappy Toyts made by a good friend which saw a great release on the App Store, alongside great improvements based on feedback he was given. But due to my terrible programming skills, I knew the App Store was a no-go.
As I was finishing up Final Fantasy VIII in June, I wanted a break from the feature. But I didn’t want to just end it, simply because I really enjoyed playing through each game then writing about it every fortnight.
Suddenly, the lightbulb moment occurred. I was going to design a free book out of it, but with added extras.
More like a ‘directors cut’, and I liked the idea of someone just reading it on a plane for example.
I created a new ‘Notes’ sheet and started drafting up some ideas as to how it could look, and an aim for release in early August.
I had ‘iBooks Author‘ on the Mac before to see what it was like, but now it was the best way, that I had found anyway, to make a book for the store.
Using the app had its ups and downs.
On the one hand, it’s as good as Keynote to use. Great formatting options, while inserting images and videos were handled well with no slowdown. But in others, it’s massively frustrating. Something as simple as hiding the page numbers is something you can’t do, alongside changing the style and colour of a hyperlink. It will always be red and underlined. Unless you copy it from ‘Pages’.
I had to compromise with these, otherwise I’d be spending more time with this than necessary.
The widgets were very smart. These were how the purple stars came to be. Small bits of info that I wanted treat like small trivia. Using those were a start, but I can see myself using more of these widgets in the future.
The videos were all done from OpenEmu and recorded using QuickTime, but I didn’t just want a super sharp filter on these and the images. It made the games look too clean, while showing sprites horribly rendered. I wanted something as close to my old TV image as possible to maximise the nostalgia in every way.
This is where the images you see in the Mega Drive and Game Boy games look how they do. I love how the image of Shao Kahn posing, or of Wario facing the genie looks. It’s as if I held up a camera to the TV screen and took a shot.
Once the book was readable and nothing stuck out, I decided to give out the fourth draft to a few, to see their thoughts.
Even before this, you can press ‘Preview’, and the app exports the book, puts it into iBooks on your Mac. Straight after through iCloud, it shows on your iOS device, ready to review and see how it looks. This was incredibly useful to me, as it let me discover images that were out of place, which I couldn’t tell in iBooks Author.
When it came to publish the book, it was much less of a headache than I was expecting.
But when I tried to publish it through iBooks, I would get:
‘This AppleID is not associated with iTunes Connect’
Bizarre issue, but after looking at the support pages and downloading ‘iTunes Publisher‘, it recognised the ID fine.
It then wanted me to create a ‘sample’ version, similar to a demo on a demo disk from long ago.
Here, I did the first two chapters, so it would be easier for someone to download on their mobile data, and give them an idea of what the full book is like.
It also didn’t accept the front cover, as it was too small a resolution I had found. I decided to redesign it anyway, so it had more of the games with the right filter in the images this time.
It did get refused at first. I received an email and I was worried that it may have been for one of the videos or the Ridge Racer audio track. Fortunately, it was only because I had put down only my first name in the author section, not my full name.
After a day, I received the notification that it had been approved. I pressed on the link, and it was there, ready to be downloaded.
Such a bizarre feeling to see it in the store, but a great one.
There’s been a lot of downloads since last Thursday. I’m surprised but also humbled. Lots of mentions on social media as well.
Overall, I really enjoyed the process. It’s given me ideas of how to go about it for next time.
I’ve mentioned in the book that its the first, and I am scribbling down ideas for number two.
There were many cut ideas, from box art covers, to an extra final boss piece, which I put into this collection of notes, ready for when I sit down and write the first boss in a few months. I’ve scheduled the first publish date, so I’ve got a date to now work towards for the first game.
For book number two, there will be some slight differences, such as more widgets, less videos perhaps, but I’d rather it be varied, than more of the same every year.
The next plan is to get the word of the book out there as much as possible. It’s been great so far, but I want to keep it going, at least until September.
Right now it’s figuring out the releases for Amazon and Google Play. Some have asked for it to be on Android so I’m seeing how best to go about that. If anyone has any experiences of this or advice, I’d appreciate a tweet or an e-mail.
But for now, it’s an enjoyable time, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading volume one.