Ebook Authoring

Tips for Ebook Authors and Coaches

This page details tips and techniques for creating successful ebooks in the Bookup format.

First you’ll need Chess Openings Wizard Express or Professional. Everything can be updated by the Express version ($67) but for serious publishing and editing (especially overnight computer analysis) you’ll want the Professional version.

Note that everything in an ebook can be displayed by the free Chess Openings Wizard Lite. This is especially useful for coaches who want to distribute study material for students.

It’s important to decide the purpose of your ebook. Is it to survey an opening for both sides? Or show how White can always get an advantage in a certain opening? Teach tactics? Test a student on the material from a particular lesson? Is it aimed at beginners or masters? Once you are certain of the exact purpose of your ebook, it will be easy to decide what must be included – and what must be left out.

How big should your ebook be? Our more successful ebooks on openings range from 7,000 to 12,000 positions. Ebooks on tactics and endgames can be as small as 100 unique studies, with an average of 1,000 to 2,000 total positions.

While it would be easy to find 500 outstanding games and import the complete PGN file into Bookup yielding 40,000 positions, this approach is often just a start. You’ll want to edit the lines down to just those that serve your ebook’s purpose which may be just to teach the opening. (There is nothing wrong with including the complete PGN file with your ebook though. Serious students will appreciate the game collection.)

Think of the super successful Encyclopedia of Chess Openings or Batsford Chess Openings or Modern Chess Openings. These tomes often never cite complete game lines, and yet their edited trees are incredibly useful. Model their successful formula of including only what is important to the opening itself and referencing the game for the reader who wants to research it further.

Comment on the position at hand. Chess games are often annotated in arrears. For example, a common note to a game might be “Better was Nxf6” but in Chess Openings Wizard this comment really belongs in the position actually reached after Nxf6 was played. Do your readers a favor and actually put the move in the ebook and comment on the position after the move was actually played.

This also means resisting the temptation to comment on candidate moves. Rather than annotate what will happen after each of five different moves are played, play the moves and comment on that position. If the candidate move itself is good or bad, use the standard diacritics (! or !? or ? or ??) to annotate the move itself. Then after the move is made mention that it was forced or the best move or a blunder, or was specially prepared for the match, etc.

Always annotate the final position! Nothing is more annoying than arriving at the end node in a thick tree of analysis and not seeing an assessment by the author. Even if the result is obvious, beginners will adore you if you add even the simplest comment such as “White is lost” or “Black soon mates.” If you intend to backsolve the ebook (or allow your reader to backsolve), be sure that every leaf node of the your ebook’s tree has an Informant symbol set, even if it is unclear.

Tactics Ebooks

Creating entertaining ebooks of tactical puzzles is a breeze in Chess Openings Wizard.

1) Make sure each tactical puzzle has a name. When setting up the beginning position for a tactics puzzle (Commands|Setup Position…) be sure to fill in the name of that position. Keep in mind that position names are listed in alphabetical order. If you number the positions be sure to make sure all the numbers are the same length for sorting purposes. For example use “Puzzle 001” rather than “Puzzle 1”.

2) Delete the moves that the user must make to solve the puzzle. This is what makes it a puzzle. With the candidate moves missing, the user must make a move to see if it transposes to the solution.

3) Make sure each position has a comment. With the candidate moves missing, all the reader has to go on is whether your comment appears when they make the right move (or at least a move you anticipated).

4) Consider documenting alternative moves. Your readers will love you if you anticipate the incorrect moves they might try. It can be frustrating for a beginner who searches for the key move in vain, only to constantly see a blank comment after playing what looks like a good move.

Endgame Ebooks

Make sure each endgame study has a name. When setting up the beginning position for an endgame (Commands|Setup Position…) be sure to fill in the name of that position. Keep in mind that position names are listed in alphabetical order. If you number the positions be sure to make sure all the numbers are the same length for sorting purposes. For example use “Endgame 001” rather than “Endgame 1”.