eBook production doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There’s always the context that surrounds it:

  • Personal professional history | learning at school or on the job resulting in your skill set developed on or off billable time
  • Toolbox budget | budgeting for production tools and ereaders for QA
  • Deadlines | balancing your team’s ultimate goals and promised deliverables against personal and workflow pressures
  • Content | leveraging your skills most applicable to the content you’re working on (flowable, fixed, one-epub-for-all, targeted-epub-for-one-platform … and especially looking at you, ePUB3)

Add in walking the dog, petting the cat, spending time with your partner and/or kids, and keeping the house clean and it’s a wonder we keep up at all some days.

This is where a personal project can fit in. Is your to-do list filled with flowable epubs but you’re curious about fixed layout? Do you develop highly-designed ebooks for iBooks but wonder what graceful degradation looks like across platforms? Do you work on straight-text but wonder about art-heavy ebooks? Or do you work on art-heavy ebooks but wonder about pushing the typography limits of digital text?

Is your soul satisfied at the end of the workday or do you have an idea that won’t leave you alone?

A personal project can remind you of why you started down the ebook path to begin with. All it takes is some time, the glimmer of an idea, and wanting to s-t-r-e-t-c-h that little extra more and see what’s on the other side of deadlines and daily work tasks.

Of course, a personal project needs parameters just as a live work project does because we don’t have all the time in the world. If you have an idea for content that you’d like to use to expand your ebook development skills, ask yourself:

  • Where is the content being generated from? my camera, my writing, public domain material, a friend’s manuscript
  • What format(s) would best display the content? flowable, fixed, enhanced, ePUB2, ePUB3
  • What development tools and ereading devices or apps will you use for your toolkit? so many possibilities
  • Is there a deadline? even if the project doesn’t go live it’s good to set one to keep yourself motivated
  • Will you distribute the ebook? among friends, sell through your website or through a vendor
  • How does this project make me feel? happy, frustrated, curious, free, motivated

This has been on my mind lately and I finally came up with an idea to put my own photographs and writings into an ebook format in time for the new year. It will be fun to experiment without a hard-and-fast deadline and learn as I’m having fun. As long as the cat gets petted and the house stays clean, all will be well.

If you’ve worked on personal ebook projects, what are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?