Author Resource: Canva

Canva, everyone’s, DIY design tool, is an Australian online design platform. It is designed for anyone, designer or not.  The seamless design opportunity is made possible with an extensive image library, readymade templates, photo filters and a huge number of fonts. You can also share your work with your team or post it directly on social media.

There are two versions- free and paid if you opt for Canva’s Magic Resize tool.

Solutions Canva Provides

  • If you are struggling with design, you may want to consider a more easy-to-use design platform.
  • When you are stuck at various points in the design process, be it sourcing images, resizing an existing design, sourcing a variety of free fonts, Canva provides a variety of options.
  • Is the pricing of design options freaking you out? Even if you don’t hire a designer, you can use Canva on your own and instantly design posters, presentations and social media headers.

How to Use it

  • Sign up.
  • Scroll through the design templates on offer. You can also custom size the design.
  • The template box opens and you can choose the design, change the background, upload images, use existing images (free or paid) and shapes from the left-hand side. There are additional options to add music, emojis, maps and QR codes.
  • Once the design is ready, you can share or download the design in different formats.

Recommended or Not?

Highly recommended.

Author Resource: Hemingway Editor

Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel Prize-winning American writer, is famous for his writing efficiency. “To be successful in writing, use short sentences,” he said. The Hemingway app is based on this premise.


Solutions Hemingway Editor Provides

If you’ve been advised to write like Hemingway, it’s one way of telling you that your sentences are too clunky and could use some trimming.
Keeping the desirable quality of the brevity of Hemingway’s writing in mind, Adam and Ben Long developed a writing app that grades the readability of your writing from 1-15. The lower the rank, the clearer your writing.

How to Use it

The Hemingway Editor is very easy to use. You can paste or type text into it. The app uses color-coding to convey how complicated the sentence is. For instance, if there is a red highlight, the sentence is dense and it would be a good idea to work on it. A purple highlight indicates that a longer word can be replaced by a shorter one. A formatting toolbar is also provided.

In this example, the highlights focus on adverbs and the use of passive voice. Readability is also graded. You can use this app to assess your own content. A few tweaks based on the suggestions provided can clean up your copy.

Recommended or Not?

Highly recommended tool.

Author Resource: Cliché Finder

In the Author Resources series, we explore the different author tools at our disposal. Be it editing, formatting or designing your cover, there are quite a few options that you can explore online. Today we look at the Cliché Finder.

Problems the Cliché Finder Addresses

Clichés are stale and overused phrases or expressions that are best avoided in the original copy. Some examples of clichés in sentences are:

When he told her he wanted to touch base, she was walking on air.

The apple has fallen far from the tree,” he said to her disapprovingly after examining her portfolio.

She was doomed to disappointment when he compared her to her twin brother.

The phrases highlighted above are not wrong at all. For instance, the phrase ‘touch base’ seems professional and is commonly used when you want to encourage someone to contact you. But if you write a blog post, memo or email with a huge number of clichés, it could make your language sound unoriginal.

While it is impossible to avoid all clichés, being aware of the number of clichés used helps. This is where a tool like Cliche Finder is useful. It uses an algorithm to analyze the clichéd phrases, words or expressions used in the text you provide and also highlights alternate words you could use.

How to Use it

You paste the text into a box and submit.

Once you click the Find Clichés button, you get a list of clichés Now you can rephrase your copy as advised.

Recommended or Not?

Recommended. This is a useful editorial tool and throws light on (whoops! cliché that) avoidable phrases though you need not agree with all the suggestions and choose to adopt as you see fit.

Webinar on Author Branding: Masterclass with Sangram Surve

assorted-title of books piled in the shelvesThe German Book Office featured a webinar on author branding with Sangram Surve last week. Surve kickstarted his informative session with a famous quote by Jack Welch:

“Control your destiny or someone else will.”

Some Author Branding Lessons from the session

  • Understand that whether you have a traditional publisher or you are the publisher, books do not get the kind of production budget that movies and music get, so the onus of investment is on the publisher or you.
  • You can be writing a genre or for a particular target audience, but the author brand is key.
  • Make your digital presence felt.
  • Find unconventional ways to promote the book. Always look for the next big idea and it is always in the book you have written.
  • See if your marketing idea is shareable and if collaboration can further your brand.
  • Plan to market the book at least two months in advance.
  • Create a detailed content plan. If your book is a fiction, you can decide to introduce your main characters, feature illustrations if any and feature your book trailer.
  • Once the marketing is done and preorders come rolling in, decide on an impressive launch. In times like these, a digital launch is also a good idea.

So if you’ve written a book, the journey has just begun!

Interview: Chandra Shekhar Balachandran

We got talking to Chandra Shekhar Balachandran, author of Geography, Everywhere!

Dr. Chandra Shekhar Balachandran is a geographer with over 35 years of teaching experience. In 2000, he returned to India and set up TIGS. He tells his students that he ‘eats, drinks, blinks, breathes … lives geography!’

How did you get interested in geography? What kind of books and people in the field interested you?

In 1971, when I was in the 8th standard at National High School, Bangalore, the Bangladesh war broke out. Our Social Studies teacher, Sri B Narasanna, held us spell-bound for the duration of the war explaining to us the geography and history of what was unfolding daily. We didn’t touch the textbook for all those days. The seeds of my interest in geography were sown then. However, I didn’t realize it until I started teaching geography as a doctoral student at Kent State University (Ohio) in the mid-1980s where I had come under the tutelage of my next geography guru, Dr Surinder Mohan Bhardwaj.

Before that, I don’t recall any books inspiring me to become a geographer. I did rethink many books from a geographer’s perspective and found new meanings and connections in them. In graduate school, of course, we had readings of geographers such as the legendary Dr. Yi-Fu Tuan, and others.

My own guru’s writings on pilgrimages and sacred geographies continue to be a huge influence both in my life and in my geography education work. My interests today are largely shaped by the latter.

Tell us about TIGS.

I started TIGS (The Institute of Geographical Studies) as a project in 2000 when I relocated to Bangalore, after having studied and taught in the USA for twenty years. When I returned I observed how dead school-level geography education is in most of the academic endeavors. Inspired and inspiring geography education was there, but very rare. Alas, it still is.

I wanted to share what my teachers (both Sri Narasanna and Dr. Bhardwaj) had taught me with pupils and teachers alike.

Under TIGS, I began offering workshops that showed how textbook concepts connect to our lives in many interesting ways.

Over time, TIGS has been offering a variety of other activities including field trips, lectures, documentary film screenings, non-formal geography education online (a course called G.o.D. – Geography over Distance), weekly geography essays published for several years in the Deccan Herald Student Edition, online readings, quizzes, assignment ideas, and our flagship annual event: International Geography Youth Summit (IGYS). IGYS is the only formal academic geography conference for school children (standards 7 and above) in India. It has become very popular with children because they get to explore geography by conducting a project on a topic of their choosing.

Why are you on a mission to educate children about this subject?

Every discipline we engage with comes with a set of ethics and human values. When school education goes from teaching subjects to teaching disciplines, children see the value of what they are learning, and how they should use their knowledge for making a difference for the better in the world around them. Far too often, school education is about getting high marks and becoming ‘successful’, not much about how to be a good citizen of the world at all scales ranging from the family to the world.

Every discipline can offer such frameworks. I just happen to talk about geography. It is not only interesting in and of itself, it is also a naturally integrating discipline. It helps us see how things are interconnected in this world. Recognizing and engaging with these interconnections make the discipline that much more powerful. This is called PDK (Powerful Disciplinary Knowledge). Geography’s PDK empowers children to be both critical thinkers and compassionate human beings.

There are many anecdotes and tidbits in the book Geography, Everywhere! Tell us about them.

Every waking moment, I keep reflecting on what might be teachable. Thanks to my gurus, my geography lens is always helping me see how beautifully geography connects with everything. So, no matter what happens, one track in my mind is always discerning the geography aspect of life. That is a joyous experience.

I just share that with anyone who is interested.

 Tell us about your writing process.

Generally, I work better when I have deadlines! I look at the goings-on in the world and in my own life to see things that illustrate geography concepts. I use these to introduce my readers to geography concepts. Through these, definitions of the concepts are tied to real-world phenomena. Sometimes, they are not real-world! I have explored cyberplaces, fiction, dreams, mythologies, psychologies, and so on through geography.

Nothing escapes the geography treatment!

I have done a lot of slice-of-life kind of writing (mainly online). Several of these have appeared in an e-zine. Here, I have to put in a lot of effort to keep the geography discourse out! These are musings from my own life.

In all cases, it is merely observing, not much digging.

How is the approach toward geography different in the west?

‘The west’ is a very broad term. Generally, in Europe, for example, teachers have a great deal more agency to develop, design, and deliver curriculums. In the USA, there is considerable political meddling in the social sciences curriculum. The effects of this are far less on geography than the other social sciences. There is much more hands-on learning because class sizes are usually small.

 You have talked about zoonotic diseases in one of the essays in your book. In pandemic times, what role do you see geography playing in the spread of COVID-19?

One of the subfields of geography is medical geography. It shows how place matters. Specifically, in the context of COVID-19, geography appears in many different ways. Starting with the place of origin of the various species and their interactions with their ecosystems, we look at where the species end up and how humans interact with them (e.g.wet markets). What are the characteristics of a place that facilitate zoonosis? For instance, poor hygiene, dense human populations, transportation connections (modes of transport, frequency, etc.), and so on. The characteristics of places matter a lot!

Check out some essays related to this crisis at the TIGS blog.

Tell us about your experience with Pothi.com.

I can’t remember how I came across Pothi.com It may have been through searching online about 1½ years or so ago, when I was compiling some of my essays into a book and was looking for possible publishing avenues. In the event, we ended up publishing it from TIGS in July 2019 at the International Geography Youth Summit-2019.

Subsequently, mainly due to COVID-19, we wanted to get an eBook version published with some corrections and updates to the print version. I returned to Pothi.com to see if they could do it.

They did it! And did it well. The sequence of production was very methodical. I had never published an eBook, so the learning curve was rather steep. However, team Pothi.com very patiently helped me through the process. And now there is an eBook version of Geography, Everywhere!

Future projects.

I’ve begun work on a book primarily for school children (class 7 and above) on how they eat and drink geography. Literally. I am hoping to have this out by end of 2021. I can’t say more at this time.

Seven of my online students are collaborating with me on a very interesting documentary that connects geography with the life and works of Karnataka sangītam composer of 18th-19th century. COVID-19 has really slowed us down, but we hope to have this completed as soon as possible when we are able to travel and work safely.

We are working to have an International Geography Youth Summit-2021 entirely online. TIGS’ students are helping with this also.

Finally, we are in the process of revamping our website to make it offer more interactive spaces for school children to explore geography in their own lives.

Thanks so much for talking to us about this unique subject and we wish you luck in your mission to spread the love of geography everywhere!

Lockdown Safety: Home Delivery in a COVID-19 World

UN Illustration for Covid-19 Lockdown Protocols
UN Illustration for Covid-19 Lockdown Protocols

The fourth iteration of the coronavirus lockdown is in full swing in India. Lockdown 4.0 has already relaxed many of the restrictions we have been facing over the last two months. But it is clear that social distancing needs to continue for as long as this pandemic does.

Needless to say, staying away from crowded stores and ordering online is an excellent way of maintaining social distancing. And now that e-commerce for non-essential goods is allowed, you can buy a wider range of products without undue stress.

Among the little pleasures that had to be sacrificed during the COVID-19 lockdown was the feeling of holding a newly arrived print book in your hands. The lifting of the ban on e-commerce for non-essential goods is thus welcomed by avid readers all over India.  But the question remains: How can you safely handle the packages you receive from your favorite online service?

Here are a few simple steps you can follow to keep yourself and your family safe:

  • Pre-Pay Online: Avoid cash on delivery and credit/ debit cards wherever possible.
  • No-Contact Delivery: Arrange for your packages to be delivered at a designated location outside your home. This way, you can keep both yourself and the delivery executive safe.
  • Dispose of the packaging safely: Dispose of the outer packaging immediately, preferably in a separate designated location.
  • ‘Quarantine’ your Purchases: Establish a separate space for your orders. Leave them there for 24 hours in case of non-perishable items.
  • Wash your hands: After handling the package, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Avoid touching any surfaces inside your home aside from the established ‘quarantine’ zones until you’ve done this. (You can check out the WHO guidelines on correct hand washing protocol here.)
  • Sanitize: Wipe down the product with disinfectant (such as sanitizers containing at least 70% alcohol) before use.
  • Enjoy your product! 

 

Safety First! Pothi.com’s COVID-19 Lockdown Protocol

While you do your part, we are sure to do ours! As we resume delivery of print books from our Online Store, here are a few rules we follow to ensure your safety:

  • Protective Equipment: Face masks and gloves are used at all times during the handling of packages.
  • Sanitized Work Environment: The work surface used for the packing of books is sanitized regularly.
  • Quarantining Packages: All books received from our printers are quarantined for 24 hours before being packed..
  • Essential Staff Only: We are operating at the minimum required staff strength on our premises to maintain social distancing. The majority of our team continues to work from home.

So fear not! We have your back. Now you can put away any niggling fears you may have and look forward to getting back on track with your favourite quarantine activities: reading, publishing, and selling your books on Pothi.com.

New Feature 📢 on Pothi.com : Free eBooks with a Single Click

Getting a free eBook at Pothi.com used to be quite cumbersome and a multi-step process. You needed to add the eBook to your cart and go through the checkout process even though the eBook was free. This was a hindrance for potential readers and many times they did not follow through and ended up dropping out.

Keeping this in mind, the Pothi.com team has now created a hassle-free single-step process so that you can get your free eBooks at the click of a button.

When visiting a free eBook page, if you are already logged into your Pothi.com account, if you are a logged in user, you can then add any free eBook to your library by clicking the Add to Library button. If you are not logged in, you will be prompted to login or register.

 

Now you can click on the Go To Library button or your eBook library link in the success message and download the free PDF from there.

So go to the Free eBooks collection from the Shop section in the top navigation menu or click here to get access to an array of eBooks. Happy reading!

 

Brand New Service 📢: eBook Conversion @ Pothi.com

The more accessible a book is, the better its chances of selling well. That is why making your eBook available on platforms like Amazon Kindle and Apple is a must for every serious eBook publisher.

Is that as easy as it sounds? Well, it can be! Selling your eBook on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform or Apple Books requires that you have a version of the book available in EPUB format. EPUB is an eBook format optimized for reading on a screen, its most distinguishing feature being its reflowable layout. This means that rather than staying static on a screen, the text of the book adjusts itself to fit the screen size or the font that a reader selects. No need to scroll or zoom in and out – whatever the size of your screen, the EPUB is the right fit for you.

Converting your manuscript from MS Word to EPUB can be tricky without the right tools, and professional EPUB conversion needs to factor in compatibility with the specifications of different eBook selling platforms to optimize your eBook.

We at Pothi.com are happy to announce that we are now offering a cost-effective eBook conversion service which delivers to you files that are ready to be uploaded on Amazon KDP and Apple iBooks store. Our ebook creation service comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, manual Quality Checks and the longest term post-project support that can be found anywhere.

Learn More. Talk to Us Today!

Brand New Feature 📢: Linking Print Book and eBook!

The pandemic may have taken a toll on print publishing, but that’s no reason to let it affect the sales of your book. And what better way to maintain your sales than to ensure that the eBook version of your book is available for sale?

We at Pothi.com have come up with a few measures to make setting up and selling your eBook easier than ever.

Linking of Print and eBook Versions Now Enabled!

In the most recent feature update to the Pothi.com Online Store, the link to the eBook version of a title can now be seen on the print book listing, and vice versa. If you already have an eBook version set up for your print book, and the two aren’t linked yet, please write to us at info@pothi.com with the SKU numbers of the books, and we will have the listings linked for you.

Take the book Ice Creams and Time Machines: A Young Author Program Anthology– we have linked the print and eBook versions on the same page!

 

You can also write to us if you haven’t published your eBook yet and you have a print book with us. Just send us an email with the SKU of your print book, and we will help you set up the eBook.

So what are you waiting for? Write to us now to set up your eBook on Pothi.com… for free!

 

Interview: Deeksha Divya Padhmanabhan

We spoke to Deeksha Divya Padhmanabhan, author of the book Personification on Planets and Sun. She collaborated with her sister Praganya while creating the book.

 

Why did you choose to write about the solar system during this pandemic?

I am 9 years old and as schools are closed during the lockdown period, I was getting bored. I like reading and writing so I was writing something. I wrote a page on Sun using Personification and my mother liked it very much and suggested me to write more on other planets. So, I decided to write on all planets.

How long did it take you to write it?

It took me 10-12 days to write and my sister took another few days in doing illustrations.

Describe how you and your sister collaborated on this story.

My sister Praganya who is 7 years old, lives in Bangalore. I live in Goa. So, when I started writing this personification, I thought of making it as a book. All kids’ books are incomplete without illustrations. I asked my sister if she would be interested in doing illustrations as she is very good at drawing. She happily agreed. So, I use to send her my completed part and she use to draw based on my writing.

What was your experience using the Pothi.com platform like?

My mummy and my Mausi took charge once both of us completed our book. They heard about Pothi.com and based on their experience, I can say that it is super easy and effective.

Of the nine planets, which is your favorite, besides Earth?

Besides Earth, Mars is my favorite because scientists are exploring life on Mars. After seeing “Mission Mangal’ I got more interested in this planet. I have also read that Mars might have aliens.

Tell us about your next project.

I don’t know but I think if I write again a book, I would write one on Dinosaurs.

Thank you for telling us about your book adventure Deeksha. Wish you and Praganya luck in your future writing ventures!