Monday, 30 September 2013

The Adventures of Alex!

I recently finished a project working with Rich Twilley from Roughy Toys to illustrate a beautiful book for a great cause. The project deserved more than just a passing mention, so this blog post is to tell you a little bit about Roughy Toys, and what they do! I think you'll be impressed.

Roughy Toys is a company who believe the building blocks of learning start very early and begin with play. Their unique stuffed chimp, Alex, is not your average toy! For every one purchased, one gets sent to a child in need somewhere in the world - bring the joy of play to children who need it most.

You can visit the official website at and find out all about them.

For me, Alex's journey started out in sketches - it took a few tries to get him looking perfect but once we did his adventures truly started!

The story of Alex is an ebook available now - it's a fantastic story about an adventure in a magical hot air balloon - and about how Alex comes to visit children around the world. 

The book is FREE to download on the iPad and only $0.99 on the Amazon Kindle! 

But here's the best bit! You can help Alex reach those children who need him so much, and get your very own Alex!

There's an Indiegogo campaign - for those who aren't sure what that is, the Roughy Toys team are taking contributions towards a goal, in order to put Alex into production! They've already teamed with Toy Industry Foundation to donate amongst a network of over 1,000+ charities worldwide.

Starting at just $5, there's a whole range of donation packages including the toy, shirts and more. Head on over and take a look, read their story and watch their video - and donate!

You can also like them on Facebook!

I am proud to have been part of Alex and the Roughy Toys campaign - now you can too!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Sifting through the jargon; Ebook and digital publishing words and what they mean

Sifting through the jargon; 

Ebook and digital publishing words and what they mean

Weather you're a writer looking to venture into the digital ebook world, or an illustrator who has been asked to illustrate an ebook for someone else - the jargon can sometimes be confusing.

In my years of illustrating I have learned a lot about ebooks, how they are made and what terms to use. I now find myself using these words without much thought - but for those who are new to this language I have compiled a list of commonly used words, and decided to share them here with a short and simple explanation for each one - some of these may be pretty obvious, but you might just learn something new!

Author - the person who has written the book

Indie author - an author whose work is published either by themselves (self publishing) or a small, independent publisher rather than one of the 'big' companies

Illustrator - the artist who has provided pictures for the book if needed

Editor - an editor usually reviews the book or script and corrects any errors such as text, spelling, grammar, flow and so on

Ebook - an electronic version of a book that can be read on a computer or handheld device (e-reader)

Enhanced ebook - ebooks that are accompanied by music, audio files, animation and other added effects

Ebook reader - an e-book reader, also called an e-book device or e-reader, is an electronic device that is designed for the purpose of reading digital books - such as a kindle, iPad, Nook, etc

Script - the written text, sometimes refferred to as the 'manuscript'

Self publishing - publishing independently at your own expense

epub - short for 'electronic publication' - it is an open standard format for ebooks. It has reflowable content and the files have the extension .epub

mobi - a 'mobipocket' ebook file that is used by popular ebook readers such as the Amazon Kindle

Reflowable content - content that can 'adapt' to which ever device it is being read on. So, for example, text may flow into allocated space or wrap around an image to look and read better when the device has different screen dimensions

Fixed format - the opposite to reflowable - the content does not change from how it was originally intended. PDF files are fixed format

Calibre - calibre is a free computer software application that organizes, saves and manages e-books, supporting a variety of formats

PDF - a portable document file, it is a very popular way of sending documents and displaying ebooks

Android - google's operating system designed for smartphones and tablet computers

Hyperlink - a link from a file or document to another location or file, typically activated by clicking on a highlighted word, web address or image on the screen - taking you to a website. An example of a hyperlink is shown below;

I'm a hyperlink! Click me!

ibooks author - iBooks Author (iBA) is an e-book authoring application by Apple. Documents created with iBooks Author may be published to the Apple iBooks Bookstore. iBooks Author is available free of charge and a popular choice for many ebook authors.

iBookstore - an ebook application by apple where ebooks can be purchased and sold

iOS - iOS is Apple's mobile operating system. It is currently used on iPhones, iPods and iPads

Kindle - the Amazon Kindle is a series of popular e-book readers designed and marketed by

kindle direct publishing - also known as KDP - Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing allows you to self-publish your books and make them available on Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Mac, and PC

kf8 - Amazons new format used on the Kindle Fire e-reader

Nook - a brand of e-reader developed by large book retailer Barnes & Noble, based on the Android platform

ISBN - the 'International Standard Book Number' is a unique numeric commercial book identifier code made from a number of digits. All books for commercial sale need an ISBN number which can be bought, or in some cases provided by the company publishing / distributing the ebook

RTF - a text file format used primarily by Microsoft products, such as Word and Office

URL - a Uniform Resource Locator used to specify addresses on the web, a URL for this blog would be;

Cloud - a relatively new but popular invention, cloud computing, or 'The Cloud,' means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer's hard drive

download / upload - downloading is transferring a file or files from one computer or the internet to your computer. Uploading is to send a file from your computer to the internet, or another computer

Adobe DRM - a 'digital rights management' format that allows publishers to restrict sharing and specify permission settings on eBook files they provide for sale

HTML - Hypertext Markup Language is a system for tagging and coding text files to achieve font, color, graphic, and hyperlink effects when published on the internet

I am aware there are plenty more terms associated with ebooks and digital publishing, but hopefully this little blog explained some of the most common for you. 

If there's anything you think I've missed that should really be on the list - please let me know and I can add it!

If you're interested or currently making an ebook - check out my handy guide;
 'Making an Illustrated ebook.'