field guides

The Presentations Field Guide is Now Shipping

I'm pleased to announce the Presentations Field Guide on is now shipping. The initial response has been fantastic and the book is currently at the top of the charts in the iBooks Store.

I spent a lot of time on the design and this book looks fantastic. Readers already are reporting they love the new design and layout. The content also came out great walking you through planning and giving a presentation in addition to all the parts you'll be doing on your Mac and iPad.

The book is available in the iBooks and PDF formats. If you've been waiting, now is the time to go get it. I've got screenshots, the promo video, and a full description right here. 

New MacSparky Field Guide: Presentations

I'm pleased to announce the newest MacSparky Field Guide, Presentations.

Most presentations are terrible. That, however, does not need to be the case for your presentations. This book explains how to create your own exceptional presentation. This Presentations Field Guide explains how to plan a presentation that will connect with your audience, the technical wizardry to create a stunning presentation, and walks you through presentation day to make sure it goes off without a hitch. The book was built entirely in iBooks Author. There are more than 30 screencasts, audio interviews, and other rich media assets to help you make your next presentation riveting. The material is accessible to beginners and power users alike with a thoughtful, fun, and systematic approach to planning, creating, and delivering a stellar presentation.

This is the first book to reflect the new MacSparky Field Guide design and it's gorgeous. Here are a few screenshots. 

The book is now available for Pre-Order and shipping on July 21, 2014. Also, here's the first ever video trailer for one of my books.

Email Version 1.1 Ships

Back when I was doing traditional print books, it made me nuts that something would change a week after my book shipped and there was nothing I could do about it. One of the things I love about publishing my books through the iBookstore is the ability to update them. This lets me fix mistakes and add new content.

Email version 1.1 is now available for download. If you bought it in the iBookstore, you should see the update icon in your iBooks app. It’s a big download so make sure you’re on WiFi and have some time on your hands.

I’m still finishing up the custom PDF version of Email 1.1. That will be going up this weekend.

A partial list of the updates include the following:

  • Better controls on the audio interviews
  • Fixed misguided confusion between carbon paper and mimeograph
  • Fixed Screencast 4.20
  • Changed the recommended write order
  • Converted Email Port list into a Table
  • Added Apple Mail archive keyboard combination
  • Rewrote the description of MailMate based on recent developments
  • Added additional screenshots to the Outlook Gallery
  • Added explanation of yearly archives

Speaking of udpates, version 1.4 of Paperless and version 1.2 of Markdown are both nearly done and will ship in January. These updates will include new screencasts, content, and other bits of love and affection.

Apple and Indie Publishers

Today the Wall Street Journal did a piece about how the government has been screwing with Apple over the iBooks store. Even though I'm a lawyer, I've never practiced anti-trust law and I'm baffled by what is going on. However, I do have some observations from my vantage point as a publisher.

Apple Made it Possible for Me to Make Awesome Books

When I first started writing Paperless, the iBooks store did not exist. There were no snazzy tools for me to incorporate rich-media with text and I was facing up to the fact that I was going to have to Frankenstein ePub and PDF to get what a wanted, a book that not only told you how but also showed you how. I spent weeks researching and testing and still didn't have it nailed down. Then Apple announced iBooks Author and the iBooks store and I immediately abandoned all prior efforts and jumped to the new platform. iBooks Author gives me exactly what I need to publish the books I want to make. 

Apple Treats Indie Authors With Respect

Apple didn't only give me the authoring tools, they also provided me the ability to distribute the books. Getting hooked into the iBooks store system was not an insurmountable task, even for a small indie publisher like me. I've sold a lot more books through the iBooks store than I ever would have going it on my own. Moreover, Apple supports indie authors. Don't believe me? Here is a screenshot from the iBooks Store home page taken earlier today.

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Amazon's initial author royalty was just 35%. To make $7, I'd need to sell my books for $20. It wasn't until Apple's looming arrival that Amazon upped that to 70%, matching the App Store. Amazon's 70% royalty, however, comes with a catch. Amazon also charges authors a "download fee". The fee is currently $ 0.15 per MB. With my 1GB sized media-rich books, my download fee would be $150 per book.

That's right. $150.

So to earn my $7, I would need to sell the book for $160 with $150 in delivery costs payable to Amazon and an additional $3 to Amazon for its cut of the royalty. Looking at this page, it looks as if Amazon has an option where they will waive the delivery cost if I agree to give them 65% of the sale. Both of these options are a raw deal for us authors.

Apple serves up my 1GB book and takes 30% of my sale. There is no wonky accounting and I get my $7 for every $10 book. Moreover, Apple earns that $3 by developing my publishing tool, keeping the lights on at the iBooks Store, and covering the cost of serving 1GB sized books to every customer.

How the United States Government can figure this is anti-competitive is still lost on me. Without Apple entering the market, I simply would not be able to publish the MacSparky Field Guides.

MacCast and MacVoices Appearances

Two of my favorite podcasts are Adam Christianson's MacCast and Chuck Joiner's MacVoices.

The MacCast was the first legitimate Mac podcast. Adam has been producing his show with his pleasant mix of news and tips for years. I joined Adam to talk about the Email Field Guide and my experiences with iBooks and self publishing.

Chuck Joiner is the James Lipton of the Mac community with his regular interviews of Mac and Apple luminaries. Chuck lowered his standards to let me on the show this week to also talk about Email. I feel privileged to be on both of these shows. 

More on the Email Field Guide

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The initial reception for the new Email Field Guide has been fantastic. I’ve already received some great emails from readers explaining how the book has changed their game and feedback like that pushes every single one of my buttons.

There is an error in the book with respect to Screencast 4.20. I’ve posted the missing screencast on Vimeo and I’ve got it at the bottom of this post. I’ll fix this problem with the 1.1 update that will ship in December. If you haven’t bought the book, watch the screencast anyway so you can get an idea of its content. There are 36 separate screencasts in the book showing how to use different email technologies.

Over the weekend, the Mac Power Users published a new episode about email. I promise it’s not a one hour commercial for the book but instead some real practical tips for making email easier.

I honestly believe the MacSparky Field Guides are some of the best work I’ve done in my life. Thank you again everyone for supporting me in this.

The Email Field Guide

I just published the fourth MacSparky Field Guide. This one is all about email. I've spent most of the past year looking very closely at email and how it works. This new book explains the best methods, technologies, services, apps, and workflows to make email work for you.

There are over 300 pages and nearly 1.5 hours of video screencasts and 200 screenshots as I walk you through. I've also included several audio interviews with friends including Serenity Caldwell, Rob Corddry, Merlin Mann, Fraser Speirs, Jeff Taekman, Aisha Tyler, David Wain, and Gabe Weatherhead, that provide even more perspective on the best ways to tackle email.

The book features a new craftsman-style design and is illustrated by Mike Rohde. In a lot of ways, this book feels like the culmination of everything I've learned along the way. I'm really proud of this book and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it. It is available in the iBooks Store and PDF for $9.99.

 

Buy the iBooks Store Version of the Email Field Guide

 

Buy the PDF Version of the Email Field Guide

 

Visit the Website

Wow

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Yesterday was a great day for the MacSparky Field Guides. Markdown launched with a lot of success. I really enjoyed the twitter stream and feedback about the book. I particularly liked the tweets and email from people who always wanted to try Markdown and found this book the way to get them over the hump.

When Eddie and I first decided to do a book on Markdown, several nerd-friends told us we were nuts and that Markdown was such a niche topic that nobody would care. I think just the opposite. I think Markdown is a technology that needs to find its way to non-geeks and that's why we wrote the book.

At a deeper level, I enjoy writing and distributing these books so very much. In a lot of ways, it feels like the best work I've done of my lifetime. Thank you everyone for supporting me in this.

What's up next?

I am going to issue an update to Paperless. Several technologies and workflows have changed since the last update last September. You can expect that pretty soon.

As for the next big Field Guide, I've already got a big pile of words towards it and I'm looking forward to really digging in. The subject is another one of my personal crusades and I can't wait to share it with you. You'll probably see it sometime in the summer (hopefully early summer).

Thanks again everyone for supporting me on the MacSparky Field Guides.

New Field Guide: Markdown

Hey everybody, I just pushed the button on my newest MacSparky Field Guide.

Markdown

I co-wrote this book with Eddie Smith and I'm really proud of it.

Markdown started as a clever way to write for the web but has become so much more. This book demystifies Markdown, making it easy for anybody to learn. This book includes 130 pages and 27 screencasts totaling more than one and a half hours of video. There is also an additional hour of audio interviews. This book will take you from zero knowledge of Markdown to being a Markdown pro and change the way you write for the better.

I've learned a great deal writing these Field Guides and I'm really happy with this book. Chapters include an explanation of why Markdown is important and why you should learn to write with it; full text and screencast walkthroughs of all the major components of Markdown (including cheat sheets), app and workflow recommendations for the Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, and the web; advanced markdown techniques and tricks (including automation); and audio interviews with some of my favorite Markdown writers including Merlin Mann, Fletcher Penney, Brett Terpstra, Federico Viticci, and Gabe Weatherhead.

The book is built with iBooks Author and has all of the rich media you've come to expect from the MacSparky Field Guides. The book costs $10 and is available now in 51 countries and PDF. Get it while it's hot.

Learn more at the Markdown webpage.

Japan? Check.

Starting today Paperless and 60 Mountain Lion Tips are on sale in 51 countries, including Japan. I love that a little guy like me can publish in 51 countries.

New MacSparky Field Guide Markets

Yesterday I was able to publish Paperless and 60 Mountain Lion Tips in 18 additional countries including Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Panama, Peru, and Venuzuela. The book is now available in 50 countries. I love that a nerdy guy like me can do this. Thanks everyone.