I don’t think the writing ever gets easier. Each story presents its own set of challenges and intricacies to work through. After completing what seems like a Herculean task of writing a novel, it can be disheartening at times to realize that this is only the beginning.
There’s still the publishing and marketing (and more marketing) of your work. If you’re working with a budget, you can just outsource certain tasks and start on the next book. But if you’re like many indies, you try to do as much as you can yourself and save the money for things you can’t do. So while the writing may feel as though every book is the first book, you can create a workflow for self-publishing that makes the process easier.
I’ve been using three apps that have made a huge difference. They don’t write the book, but at least it shortens the time to prep the manuscript for publication.
To write everything from novels to blog posts, I’ve been using Scrivener 2 for Mac for a few years (they also have a PC version). It’s a word processing program (and yet so much more!) made for writers. I used to be the Queen of Microsoft but found that I had so many files scattered around in a myriad of folders on my hard drive. In Scrivener, you create projects in binders and in the binders, you can set up all of your research, import web pages among, create character templates, etc. Going into all the features is another article like this or this or books or courses. Now that they’ve released their iOS app I work on my projects in the car, on the train or in the middle of the night when I grab my phone to capture a thought.
Pro Writing Aid
Once I finish writing, there’s the task of sending it off to be proofed. I’ve been trying out different online editing programs and decided to download Pro Writing Aid. They have a free version with a text limit of proofing up to 3,000 words at a time. I went for the desktop version (its $45 for the year) because it works with Scrivener (and MS Word), which is a time saver! Before, I would cut and paste the text in the web browser for the Pro Writing Aid site. Go through their edits and then cut and paste the corrected version back into Scrivener.
Now I can open Pro Writing Aid, go to my Scrivener file and go through the corrections which will automatically be saved in my Scrivener file. It will check not only for Grammar, but also cliche’s, style, repeated use of words, pacing and more. I try to get the document as clean as possible before sending it out to be proofed. I don’t always agree or use all of their recommendations, but it’s a great tool to have because it helps me see the patterns in my work, i.e. Word usage, sentence structure, etc.
After Pro Writing Aid, it’s time to send it to Vellum, an app for Macs only, that makes formatting ebooks painless. PAINLESS I tell you! It’s a game changer for me.
I recently discovered that my novel, Bumped had been removed from the Kindle store because of formatting issues. I’m not sure what happened… it had been in their store for quite some time so I don’t know if an update to their previewer was incompatible with the program I used to format it or what. So I’ll be using Vellum to format Bumped and put it back on Amazon.
For Vellum, you can cut and paste your text into the app or import it from a Word doc. Scrivener exports to Word, so it’s super easy. You have the option of formatting your book for Kindle, iPad, Generic (for aggregators like Smashwords) and a few others.
I used the Smashwords style guide to format one of my books for their store and it took forever; it kept kicking the manuscript back for errors. With Vellum, it was too easy. The books look professional, no crazy paragraphs or weird breaks.
There’s a variety of styles to choose from for your paragraph breaks, chapter headings, you can add in links, it also creates an “Also By” page where you can drop in store links for your other books. This takes the hassle out of formatting and gives your book a clean product.
The only thing I haven’t been able to figure is how to get the paragraph style feature to work. I selected an initial cap but for some reason it wouldn’t show up in the preview. You can download the app for free and pay to generate the files. It’s a little a pricey at $30 a book. If you know you’re going to publish quite a few books, the next level is 10 books for $99 and makes more sense. They also have an unlimited option for $199.
A small investment which pays off in the long run because I don’t have to pay someone else to do it. All in, I’ve spent $45 on Scrivener, another $19.99 for the iOS version, $40 for Pro Writing Aid for a year license and $99 for Vellum. All tax deductible and invaluable tools for my writing business. Because it is a business, thanks to technology, authors have the have the ability to create a body of work and get it out to the masses. Whether they read it or not, that’s a different story.