Imagine Publishing is a successful digital and print publishing group based on the south coast of England. I regularly write and create features for their Porsche magazine, Total 911. But the Porsche title is just one their entire array of successful publications and in fact, the only automotive title that have. Their range of technology and lifestyle megabits is far greater and they are experts at the creation of ‘Mag Books’.
Earlier this year, Imagine contacted me create a series of articles for a drone magbook . Exactly the kind of publication you often see in large booksellers such as WH Smith or Barnes and Noble on such subjects as ‘The Ultimate Guide to the iPad” etc. Imagine have a catalog of over seventy titles across the world. Of course, the beauty of them is their extended shelf life. They have a stronger appeal, lasting far longer than a monthly magazine and with a lifetime and relevance probably measured by the pace of new technology.
This publication was quite urgent and they didn’t wish to spend very long at all in producing it. Drone technology is evolving incredibly quickly, so if the title was to have a useful half life, we needed to create the useful and relevant content fast.
My long career in the motoring and motorsports sectors mean that I am perhaps best known for writing about cars and motorsport. However, I often write about other subjects. Sometimes these things are totally unrelated, but are regularly tangential to that core activity. Through Octane Factory, we create holiday property and motoring related websites that require some compelling content to help owners sell space in their holiday lets and other services. And of course, I have a love of flying and military history. So I always welcome the opportunity to stretch my writing into new areas.
I was commissioned as part of a team to create no less than six of the features for the Drone guide book, which was actually no mean task. Dividing up a subject like UAV’s into six distinctly separate subjects, without too much cross contamination required a strict discipline. Here’s how I went about it and how I used Evernote to manage the whole thing.
Evernote is my friend. I created a new Evernote notebook just for these topics and used them to collect material using the Evernote web clipper and the quick entry swipe down on my iphone to capture thoughts as they happened. Reasearch is key. And again, disciplined research. It’s very easy indeed when researching a subject to find you’ve wasted hours on going off at a tangent on an issue that isn’t the core subject. But research also gives you inspiration for areas of the subject you hadn’t previously considered, which is all grist to the mill when it comes to the point of putting together an article that flows.
Paying attention to my ‘creative time’ was important and not fighting it when I hit the block. First thing in the morning is my creative time. Happily, I don’t subscribe to the Hemmingway philosophy of ‘write drunk, edit sober’ at that time of day, otherwise afternoons would be even less productive. I know when my creativity is starting to wane. I find myself clicking the word count in Evernote far more than I should be. Then I stop and do something utterly unrelated.
It’s good to stretch yourself when writing – it makes you far more diverse and less likely to become a one-trick pony. This was a great exercise in disciplined writing. For me, Porsche writing is easy, it’s second nature and almost instinctive. I rarely stray far off topic and if the car was recently driven, I already have copious notes, screen grabs and iphone shots for my inspiration, plus an Evernote full of scribble.
Drone writing required me to transfer my experiences of aerial filming and photography and describe the process to the mind of a complete beginner, perhaps not only to drone flying but also to photography. The other subjects also flowed because I was able to relate them to other areas of my life and place them in a context that a reader would identify with.
The final result is quite a thick publication. The thing that’s impressed me most of all is how a talented design team can take my raw words and images and turn them into a publication that flows and holds your attention throughout. Working together with Imagine we managed to create the entire publication in weeks rather than months, ensuring the publication will be relevant for a significant time and benefit from long term sales. It will be on sale for a few months to come, watch out for it next time you’re browsing the bookstands, or order The Drones Book online at their online shop here.