As I start into the final semester of my college experience, thesis has arrived in full swing. The time to get serious and put my knowledge and skills to the test have come. However, I find that despite being in the early days of thesis, my ideas and thoughts are already evolving and changing. As a refresher, my thesis topic aims to assist self-publishing authors to connect them to needed resources and connections within the publishing industry by creating a globally distributed network.
The first step of my thesis project is to start the research phase. Here I have begun my preliminary research with primary and secondary sources. Much of my research began to try and solve the problem within the self-publishing industry. I began searching for texts and scholarly articles online that would help me to better understand what the problem was in the self-publishing industry. I had my own thoughts on what the problem was, hence how I came to my original problem question and design ideas.
As I began researching, I came across many articles about self-publishing that stated the problem was that authors were trying to take on too many roles at once. Other interviews and blog posts from authors (all who have traditionally published and self-published) stated that the biggest flaw of self-publishing was that the author would have to become a marketing export to market their books, since they were not attached to a traditional publishing house to market and advertise their book.
All the while, I was gaining valuable insight to the process of self-publishing while also understanding what roles a publisher played. This helped me to understand what self-publishers might possibly be missing due to not having a publishing firm at their disposal. My biggest friends were publishing history books and in-person interviews or blogs that came directly from authors that worked in the industry. These sources best helped me to begin to target my audience and come to conclusions.
It was during this part of my research that I conducted my first user survey to better understand my audience, as I try to scope out who it was. My first survey was targeted to understand authors who have/may want to self-publish their books and ask questions on the types of resources they used and their opinions on publishing. I did not limit my first survey to only self-publishing authors because I wanted to remain open-minded about those who may have opinions arguing against self-publishing to take into consideration for my thesis design.
However, it was thanks to the fact that I was open-minded to who my audience was that I was able to read a statement that changed the course of my thesis.
"There should be a resource for beginning authors that want to publish, as way for them to have sufficient knowledge on how to publish a book."
This line made me pause and think. Throughout my survey, there were several other opinions and responses where users admitted they didn't consider self-publishing an option because they felt that they did not have enough knowledge to do so. Others admitted to being nervous about considering to self-publish because they were unprepared. This stumped me because this was a real problem.
New authors were afraid because there are hundreds upon hundreds of articles available online about the horrors of self-publishing, and while there are plenty of books and articles online about how to self-publish, there wasn't a cohesive space for learning resources for new authors. This in turn, helped me to narrow down my audience and reconsider my thesis problem.
I am a video and graphic designer. I work in the realm of motion design. I could use my skills and my interest in the motion industry to help these new authors.
Thus began my next installment of research. During this time I began to explore types of educational videos, filled with visual information and entertainment. I'm exploring how campaigns have been built using video and motion design, to entertain the audience while still remaining informational as to not lose their audience's attention. I'm also diving into research about what types of information do new (and reoccurring) self-publishing authors need to know to feel confident in self-publishing their books. My research is looking into the industry of motion entertainment that remains educational and informative and looks into ways of keeping these video pieces into one cohesive collection of data that an author can easily access (such as a website).
My problem has changed:
I'm conducting my next round of user surveys that focuses on animation as a tool for learning and it's connection to print materials and self-publishing. This round of surveys will aim to understand what types of animations and learning my target audience best connects with and what resources a self-publisher might need. I also aim to prove the need and use for my intended thesis design.
Now, the end product of my thesis will be to create motion graphic series of informal objective videos that educate and entertain new authors on the matter of self-publishing. These videos will be collected in one location (probably a website) for easy access and could have connection to a print source (posters, a book) to spread across a variety of platforms. My new thesis question/problem is as follows:
How can motion and print design be utilized to educate new authors on the process of self-publishing a book while having quick access to needed resources?
My exploration in thesis only grows from here. Part two of the research is ready to go.