What is An Authoring Tool?
An eBook authoring tool is a software application that lets you create your own eBook and enrich it with digital enhancements. The software allows publishers to create eBooks or online courses with just a few simple steps. You can not only create, but also publish and distribute your eBooks through this platform.
Why Do Publishers Need an eBook Authoring Tool?
You might be aware of the traditional publishing model where authors had to connect with multiple people to create one book. Everyone is assigned a different task such as the cover page illustration, printing, proofreading, text alignment, etc. Now, with the help of authoring tools, the process of book publishing has become much simpler. Everything can be done in one place by one person. You can manage the layout of the eBook, font styles, enhancements, illustrations etc., on one single platform.
With so many eBook authoring tools available today, publishers spend a good amount of time searching and comparing different authoring tools. We are here to reduce some of your work by listing out the features that you need to look for in an eBook authoring tool.
Here’s a Simple guide to help you select the best eBook authoring tool:
1. Find and Understand Your Audience's Needs:
Before looking for an eBook authoring tool, list down all the requirements of your audience. Say for example, if you’re publishing for K-12 students, what would they require in order to have a great learning experience? Are you going to include an explanatory video? If yes, then would you require animation in it? Or would a simple eBook with some images and basic zoom/pan/scroll interactivity suffice? Think over what your audience would expect from your eBook and what would you like to provide them, and accordingly you can select a software package that suits the requirements.
2. Look for Ease of Use:
The basic requirement of any tool you purchase is that you and your team must be able to use it without any difficulty. A tool with too many complexities will prove time-consuming and tedious to use. Hence, look for software which has an easy-to-use and intuitive interface. Something that most people will be able to use without much technical know-how. Most ebook authoring tools offer simple features like drag and drop, making it easy to create an eBook.
3. Responsive Design:
A responsive design will eliminate the need to create multiple versions of courses for different devices. People have a lot of choices in mobile devices today. You want to ensure that your content is accessible to everyone irrespective of the type of device they use. Using adaptive technology, you can ensure that users can view your content on any device of any size and orientation. Responsive content fits perfectly according to the user’s screen size.
Previously, all content used to be made on a Flash-based platform. But now as Flash has become obsolete, all companies are trying to shift their content from Flash-based platform to HTML5. This ensures greater compatibility with different devices. Ensure the eBook authoring tool supports HTML5 elements so that you can build interactive and responsive content for your audience. Here’s more on how to convert your content from flash to hTML5.
4. Interactive Elements:
There are multiple interactivities that can be included in an eBook. Check if multimedia elements like video, audio, images can be added. Check the file types that are supported by the tool. Annotation, text highlight, search feature etc., are all used to create an interactive eBook. You first have to determine whether your audience really require so many elements or just a simple eBook with few interactivities would be enough.
If you are designing an eBook for students, then enquire about the different types of assessment techniques that the tool can provide. A variety of assessment techniques will help you test the knowledge of your learners and also keep the users engaged with the content.
Analytics will help you ascertain the performance of your content and engagement metrics. With the help of analytics, publishers can measure the number of visits, the duration of the visit, bounce rate etc. Tracking these numbers help you understand the user behavior. You can view the stories that are performing well, and the topics which the audiences seem to engage more with. These reports give you an idea about future market trends, so that you can accordingly create content and design your sales strategies. Having an analytics feature will thus help you receive valuable and actionable inputs about your content.
6. Cloud-based eBook Authoring:
Working on a cloud-based platform gives you the ability to work from anywhere and anytime. You do not have to be around your workstation to create content. Sit anywhere, be it a cafe or a park, and create your eBook with ease. This feature comes really handy when you have to update your content on an immediate basis. Rather than waiting to access your system to make changes, you can directly do it from your mobile phones or tablets.
7. Content Security:
Some educational institutes have their own content that is generally not available with other institutes. Such kind of content needs digital protection. Keeping them away from unauthenticated use and piracy is vital in such a scenario. Even otherwise, you wouldn’t want your content to be plagiarized. So, ensure that the authoring platform offers DRM protection. With DRM, you can be assured that only authorized users with an access code can access your content. There are multiple types of licensing provided by various tools- individual licensing, group licensing etc. You can choose one based on your requirements.
8. Try the Product by creating an eBook Before Buying:
A company would never tell you upfront if the product has some drawback or lacks some integral element that’s available in other software packages. They’ll always project their product as the best. It’s your duty to check if the tool really does what it says. Most eBook authoring tool companies offer a free trial period or a demo of their product. Request a demo before making a purchase and see if it meets your requirements.
9. Read Public Reviews About eBook creation Tool:
Also read reviews written about the software package on the web. People who have used the product write detailed reviews of its flaws and strengths. There are many online forums where experts come together to discuss and share the pros and cons of each tool. After going through the reviews and trying out some tools, you can make an informed decision about which eBook authoring platform you would want to buy.
10. Check the Level of After Sales Support:
Once you purchase the software and start using it to create your new eBook, what if a few months down the line you face some technical glitch? What if the tool is throwing up some error? Will the company provide any technical support? You need to enquire if there’s a post sales service that the company would provide and the time period until which the said service could be availed. Also enquire about the medium of contact with their customer support executives- call, chat or email.
Before selecting a content authoring tool for yourself, you need to have a clear picture of your end goal or the output that you wish to achieve. These tools will significantly save your production time and cost, allowing you to focus more on creating good quality content. So, begin the authoring tool selection process by finding out your end requirements and then look for a software that has all the necessary features which will help you achieve your final output.