New project and new programs.

It would be so easy to do another Hugogate post this morning but I won’t. However, here is fair warning to all those out there trying to do their best to paint some people I respect a great deal with the brush of evil: Stop. You really don’t want to keep going after Larry Corriea and Brad Torgersen with misquotes, out of context comments and flat out lies. Your tactics will come back to bite you in the butt. Not that I expect any of those doing it to understand. Yes, something happened this morning to bring me to the boiling point. No, I won’t give the person the benefit of any publicity by naming who or linking to the comment. Let’s just say that someone who found themselves on the other side of the GHH crowd after signing the petition a few months ago now has the audacity to talk about how inclusive science fiction — and by implication because of what this person was commenting about — SFWA are.

Anyway, I am not going to let my blood pressure go off the charts and put up another rant today. Instead, I’m going to give a bit of a review on how my experience with Draft2Digital has gone so far as well as my serious attempt to use Scrivener for the sequel to Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty) .

Let’s start with Draft2Digital. For those not familiar with it, D2D is an aggregator that you can use to put your book into Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Yes, all three outlets allow you to post your work yourself. All three have their own challenges. Apple requires you to upload with a Mac of a certain OS flavor. B&N has frankly gone odd in how they convert your files, even if you upload ePUB files. Kobo, well, Kobo can put you into review hell and never tell you why. So, when I decided to bring out Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty)  on my own, I knew I needed to find a way to get into those three stores without wanting to slit my wrists in the process (and, if you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you know I came to that decision a little late).

Long story short, D2D was simple and quick to set up. It took less than 24 hours for Vengeance from Ashes (Honor and Duty)  to appear at BN. Better yet, I received an e-mail from D2D telling me when the book went live. A couple of days later, I received notification that it had gone live at Kobo and, less than a week after upload, it was live at Apple. So, check off the very satisfied with speed of going live in the third party stores. Better yet, it didn’t take as long as it has with Smashwords and D2D provided links to the product pages for each vendor.

Something else I like with D2D is being able to see my sales in what is pretty close to real time. While it would be nice to see them broken down by store, I will go with what they have so far. I have a feeling when I get my monthly accounting, my guess on breakdown will come pretty close.

Now, I haven’t given up on Smashwords completely. However, I have severely limited my use of it. I’ve limited it so much that the only thing I did was upload an ePUB version of Vengeance and it is for sale only on Smashwords. Now, to give Smashwords its due, uploading the ePUB version did take away a lot of the pain of the meatgrinder and, because I’m not using the expanded catalog, I didn’t have to put together a completely different file with the Smashwords legal language and odd formatting requirements. Smashwords also notifies me each time there is a sale or review posted. Both are things I appreciate. I just don’t have the time nor the inclination to deal with the meatgrinder and its additional requirements.

So, pending my first payout from D2D, I am giving it a cautious thumbs up.

Now on to Scrivener.

If you gather half a dozen writers in a room and ask them what program they use to write with, you very likely will get six different answers. I’ve always written in Word. Yes, there are issues with it but it still has the best review function and, frankly, it is industry norm if you are trying to publish traditionally. Besides, since I work on both Mac and PC, I needed a program I could use for both. However, as I’ve written my last couple of books, I’ve had an ongoing problem. I write series. I never meant to. I certainly didn’t mean to suddenly have three series going on at the same time. To say it gets confusing is an understatement.

So, as I started figuring out the basic plot for Duty from Ashes, the sequel to Vengeance from Ashes, I thought I’d finally put Scrivener to the test.

Confession time. I’ve had Scrivener for some time. Like several years. But every time I opened it, my eyes glazed and it just didn’t compute. There were too many bells and whistles. Then there was the fact that the tutorial we too detailed. There was simply too much information.

But Scrivener had one thing I liked. It had a corkboard feature that I knew could be helpful — if I could just get past that initial glazed eye reaction to the program.

So, when I decided to put it to the test with Duty from Ashes, I took to the internet and googled the program. There really are times when Youtube is my friend and this was one of them. I found a fifteen minute video that gave me all the information I needed to use Scrivener and not feel like someone had just tossed me into the deep water before first teaching me how to swim. So, off to the program I went.

So far, it’s been pretty easy and, once the early hurdles cleared, pretty intuitive. The corkboard is fantastic as a plotting tool. You can be as minimalistic or as detailed as you want — and you don’t have to use the corkboard. But to have a basic outline of the novel, initial chapter and scene breakdown is great. I can also note where I want to make sure certain threads are played back into the storyline. Making it all the more helpful, the screen can be set to display the appropriate notecard and comments to the right of the working window.

But what I really like is that there is a character sketch section to each project that you can utilize and, when you are working with a series, that is invaluable. Or at least it is to me. When I was doing my edits for Vengeance, I made notes on every character that might reappear or be referred to in the later books. When I finished, I couldn’t believe how many characters that turned out to be. Having a list of them, with a breakdown of information about each of them, just a click away and not having to open another file, is great. So is the way I can organize them.

Better yet, even though Scrivener includes a template for character sketches, you don’t have to use it. You can make your own. Or, like me, you can simply have basic information, just enough to jog your memory.

And that is the joy of Scrivener. It is highly customizable. Or it has been so far.

So, as with D2D, I’m giving Scrivener a cautious thumbs up. We’ll see how it goes as I finish writing the book. But, for now, I see only positives ahead, including the fact Scrivener will convert to ePUB for me.

Fingers crossed on both.

34 comments

  1. Based on your experience, I went ahead and used D2D for Trickster Noir. I put in the files Sunday evening, and now, on Tuesday, I have been notified that it is available at both B&N and Kobo. I expect Apple to follow soon. It was a relatively painless process, too. I’m not seeing reporting quite yet, but that’s not surprising. I haven’t decided if I will do anything with Smashwords and this book. Thanks a million!

    1. Cedar, that is about how long it took for the first two with me. Apple did take longer. So don’t worry for a few days yet.

      I will admit, I debated about Smashwords. However, now I’m glad I did go ahead and post to their store. I’ve gotten sales there and, well, I like all sales 😉

    1. Peter, let me see if I can find it again. Give me a couple of hours. I have a few things I need to deal with this morning. But I will go look.

    2. Here are two of the videos I watched, Peter. The first is the one that got me started. It’s about 18 minutes. The second, I watched about half of it and then moved on.

        1. Absolutely, although most of the videos are still for Mac and there is a slight difference between commands. But between them, what’s on Youtube and the forums, most answers can be found quickly.

          (BTW, I am going over the final comments on book three for my approval and will send them tomorrow morning. I have a follow up with the oral surgeon this afternoon and I know that will put me down for the count tonight.)

        1. I haven’t used Screenwriter, so I can’t say for sure. But the index cards let you basically map out your plot in as much, or as little, detail as you like.

  2. A worthwhile post.
    I do much of what Scrivener offers through short TextEdit pages, convenient enough for my purposes. So I’m staying with Word, so far; too much time required to learn all the ins and outs of a new program. I’d rather write.
    As for D2D, I’m going to try them, probably today. Darwin’s World is almost finished, one last read-through and decide which version of the cover photo to use, then on to Amazon. Since I have an account and I’m familiar with the process (Combat Wizard and Wizard at Word are already there), I’ll just go with my own account rather than D2D. But not Amazon Prime; I suspect giving Amazon 3 months of exclusive listing made me less than a dollar. So I’ll publish on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, and Nook this time.
    Thanks.

    1. The time issue is much of the reason why I didn’t really try Scivener before now. But then, writing Nocturnal Interlude, Hunter’s Home and getting ready to write Duty from Ashes, I realized how much time I was losing trying to look up information. So, I figured the time spent learning Scrivener didn’t cost as much as constantly having to refer back to other files. We’ll see if I still feel that way in a month 😉

  3. Before I used notepad, I used edit. Recently, I’ve been a lot more successful with WordPad for fiction.

  4. I want to write a series so I think you are right about Scrivener. I am having problems remembering all the names, etc. I will have to try it — this time. D2D sounds interesting. When my Perchance to Dream gets out from under KDP select, I’ll try it there instead of Smashwords. I won’t leave out Smashwords either. They have been pretty good. I am beginning to see the KDP select program is not as good a promotion tool as it used to be. Not sure what is happening with that one.

    1. Cyn, what is really nice is how you can import from one project to another with Scrivener. So, once you set up your character sheets/sketches, you can simply import them into your next project from that series. Same with your notes or location sketches, etc.

        1. Also, now that the program has been out for awhile for both Windows and Mac, it is getting easier and easier to find the help you need depending on which OS you’re using. This is important since most of the help you get from the makers of the program is for Mac.

  5. I’m a minimalist, and prefer to just have several open windows with the notes and bits I need. No special programs 😉

    However one tip I do recommend–however you choose to do it, keep a running style sheet. Useful for invented words and character names (and sometimes I make notes about who they are) and things like whether or not I italicize “blorpermeister”. Then I tidy it up and hand it off with the manuscript to my editor.

    OK, I lied–I do use one program feature. OpenOffice allows you to have custom dictionaries for spellcheck side by side with the more conventional ones. So I can add “blorpermeister” to my WIP dictionary and if I try to spell it “blerpermeister”, that gets caught. If I’m writing in a different world, I just uncheck that special dictionary and start a new one. Plus, when I return to write book 3 in the series I can just load up the series special dictionary and I’m off to the races. (I also go through the dictionary to make sure all the terms in it are included in the style sheet.)

    1. I’m even more of a minimalist and hate having more than one window open. Which is why I’m finding Scrivener helpful right now. It can hold all my notes, style sheet info, character notes, etc., in one “binder” and will show me what I want when I want it. Now, if I still feel that way at the end of the book may be something totally different 😉

  6. FWIW, (though it does mean a separate file), Scrivener offers the tools to keep a series bible (which I do). it’s even conceivable that the program offers — now or in the future — the capacity to have live hyperlinks between project files (as it does within a project file now), which could simplify that process. The ability to embed or link to Web pages is also handy. In combination with Evernote, it approaches Nirvana for the scattered OCD writer (to which description, I will cop).

    M

    1. Actually, if you set it up right, you can do your bible in the same binder as your current wip. That’s something I’m figuring out now. Haven’t worried about the hyperlinks yet.

      1. Yes, you’re right. I haven’t figured out how to set it up right — which, to my mind must include the ability to decouple from the current WiP and transfer to the next one. My simple-minded approach is to embrace modularity and keep the bible in a separate project file.

        M

        1. That’s been my way of thinking but it really is easy — you simply import the file into its own folder in the binder.

  7. I’ve been using Scrivener for Windows for a while now, and it’s working out great – the “compile to Kindle” and other options will sure come in handy.

    There is one bug I which they’d fix, though – when I import from Word docs, I get doubled-up quotes. As in “”hello.”” It might be worth your time to make a search-and-replace run for “” or ” before publishing.

  8. Is there a side-bar link for these nuts-and-bolts self-publishing articles? (Since I’m not on the front page I can’t just look.) I’m hoping to finally get to sorting through the short stories I wrote so long ago once spring semester is over (ignoring the horrible deja vu of winter break in which I also had “plans”).

    I need to learn how to index/link to individual stories (same as chapter headings, I suppose) and hopefully to insert illustrations.

  9. I haven’t used Scrivener, but Scapple (from the same developer) is fantastic. A very simple idea, executed well. Great for brainstorming and plotting.

  10. I’ve used Scrivener, although only for documentation so far, rather than stories, and I like it. Another interesting tool is Aeon Timeline (http://www.scribblecode.com/), which can help avoid such errors as having a character in two places at once. Their main example (at least, at the time I bought my copy) was a deconstruction of Murder on the Orient Express.

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