October 17, 2013

In one paragraph, tell us about your new multimedia photo eBook under your pen name Steven Ross, What’s Up Bangkok.

It’s an interactive multimedia eBook with pictures, video, maps, audio, external and internal links highlighting international photographer and good friend, Daniel Herron. He’s from the Bay Area, Mountain View, but is now based in Bangkok. He takes great photos so I suggested we do an eBook showcasing his work with a focus on travel to Thailand through interactivity.

What do you think are the advantages of multimedia books and what genre do you think best suites this format?

You can do some much more through interactivity. With an iPad, enhanced features such as video and even audio can take the reader on a journey which isn’t available in print. Many magazines are now taking this path. “Entertainment Weekly” is cutting edge by offering a download of their weekly publication. Movie Trailers, additional video of movie star interviews plus direct links to Musical artists where you can buy one of their songs online are all possible through interactivity. Can’t do it in print. Best genres are Cookbooks, Children’s Books, Travel and believe it or not, Japanese Anime. Comic books are going through the roof as eBooks.

What should an author that is planning on using multi-media consider before taking the plunge?

Either Doing It Yourself (DIY) or farming it out. Some eBook building platforms aren’t that difficult to learn but like anything new, they take time. Do you want to build an eBook or an App? There’s a huge difference. If you farm your work out, make sure you have deep pockets. How much interactivity are you considering? Only pictures? Not that difficult. Adding any audio or video? Now you’re talking work. Our eBook completely taxed the platform we used. We made them better but not before a lot of frustration. I can’t tell you how the littlest things stopped me cold. Usually, I figured it out but sometimes, I had to ask for help.

What have been the biggest challenges in tackling this media and would you do it again?

Biggest challenge was having interactivity work not only on my computer but transferring it “clean” to an iPad Took two months for our eBook to playback the way I wanted it on an iPad. A lot of platforms say they’re interactive but most are vanilla. Yes, I would definitely do it again and already have two new projects in the pipeline. Here are two cool examples but trust me, this took a lot of work:

What platforms exist and do you recommend any of them for authors that want to make their novels multimedia? Would you have a different recommendation for nonfiction?

If you use an iMac, then I would recommend iAuthor. Most authors use WORD for print and that’s fine but if you’re considering multimedia or interactivity, many Platforms won’t work on a PC. Your best bet by a mile is a new iMac desktop with iMovie, iPhoto and Garageband. You’ll have to teach yourself how to use those but workshops plus One-on-One help is available at Apple. For our book, we used “Aerbook.” Located in San Francisco. Excellent customer service for code issues or help in understanding how to build something. I think they’re a great first eBook option if you want to build a children’s book or quick travel book. Other Platforms include “Inkling”, “Bookbaby” and “Vook.” Fiction or nonfiction would both work. If you really want to go all out, learn or pay someone who knows Adobe InDesign CS6. Probably the slickest option available but it’ll cost you some serious bank.

Did your background in television help you?

No, not really. I’m a visual person anyway so this was all in the same vein if you will. We did have access to our Audio Booth so we had a great option for sound quality.

What can an author expect financially if they do the work themselves before and after their book is published?

Try and do it yourself because you’ll save a ton of money. The sweat and frustration equity takes a toll but I was quoted $5000 to build our book and I did for just under $1000. Don’t expect to get rich. 10 months of work and we listed our eBook at $3.99. Most readers/viewers simply won’t pay too much online. For the amount of time and effort I put into building our eBook, it should be listed at $19.99 but I doubt we’d sell too many. Don’t forget, Apple iBooks takes 30% then your Distribution source (ours is Aerbook and we use their Retail Store) or Payment Channel, will take anywhere from an additional 5% to 12%. That doesn’t leave much left for you.

How long does adding multimedia content typically take?

Took me about 10 months. Do a rough draft on time then double it. For a basic picture book with only a little bit of interactivity, I would think two to four months.

What about copyright concerns?

This is a great question and big concern. We had to completely revamp our eBook on the day of publication due to the owner of Aerbook saying there were copyright issues. Dropped all copyrighted music and went back in and built everything using royalty free music. Royalty free music (on iTunes) or original songs are your best friend!

Can you provide some useful links?

Heavy hitters called Aptara:
Payment System you link directly into your eBook—Gumroad:
Carla King, eBook author/Self-Publishing Bootcamps:

You can contact Steve at:
Website coming soon: