Getting the Hang of It
Unfortunately, my predecessor didn't use any of these tools, except for taking pictures that should have become a gallery and made them into something else. When I was given the project, I spent a week between Atomic Learning and Lynda.com, learning the majority of what I would need to know to create the content for the rest of this 24 chapter interactive book.
In that time, I made a 'book' with Lynda.com's tutorial (they provided the elements and walked me through how create content with them), so that I had something tangible to show my boss that we can do with iBooks Author. Her comment was 'I learned more about this application in ten minutes than I did in the whole time your predecessor had that project. My question was what did she use to teach herself how to use it, and the answer was that she kind of muddled along.
My employer provides a bunch of tools to learn, such as the Lynda.com membership. Atomic Learning is something I have by virtue of being a student-it's kind of dry, but effective. If I have a choice, I'm going for Lynda.com. In addition to those tutorials, I did a ton of Google research, finding reviews of the product and learning what doesn't work in the software.
So, I've been playing with it ever since. It took me two weeks to do the first chapter I was given (I have four). It was the smallest of the four-I learned how to use the internal widget creator and a great online one (if you're an iBook Author developer, Bookry is pretty darn awesome for free). I would look at the base information given to me, then go locate content, page by page. I was figuring out how to present the content, you know, actually do some design.
The second chapter, I got smarter. I did the majority of the work sourcing content ahead of time. Only, this was a much bigger chapter. It had less information provided by the coordinator, more 'locate xray of xyz', 'find video of abc'. This was the chapter where I got reaaaaaaally good at sending emails to request permission to use images. This was the chapter where, when I didn't get a response, or worse, got a response that kicked back my request as spam. This was the chapter where I resorted to twitter when I had issues with the above. This is the chapter that had twice as many pages.
It took almost half the time. Ed commented during the last chapter that my design style is starting to emerge. I think that with the second chapter, I got more comfortable with the aesthetic I had in mind and played with layout more, within the personal guidelines I had.
I start the third chapter tomorrow and expect that when we meet with the professor next week, I'll have three chapters complete-when she's only expecting one. What is even better is that I have ideas on how to completely redo the chapters my predecessor did and I might be able to show her a rough plan for those when we meet.
Last time, she had three chapters in four months. Who knows how many of the 24 I can have done by the time September rolls around?