A lot of people ask me what software or type of computer I use when drafting my manuscript. I personally use Pressbooks. It is a WordPress open source platform that was coded and designed by an actual writer. Since I am a webmaster I spend 90% of my working day in WordPress in one fashion or another.
Many people wonder if I use Microsoft Word to compose. The answer is no. I compose online on the fly in Pressbooks, and then I copy each chapter and paste it into Microsoft Word and then save it to my Dropbox.com cloud folder. I personally do not like Microsoft’s little helpers telling me that my sentence or dialogue is incorrect. When I create there are no distractions.
My editor is also a writer and she is using Scrivener, which is a computer based software for a Windows or Mac for about $40. It is really nice, has a lot of great features, but does require the software and the one computer it was installed. She wrote a review on Scrivener where you can find here. It has the ability to export your file as an ePub, Mobi or pdf, which are the 3 standards you need to publish. If you are handing it over to an editor they may want it in Microsoft Word. If you are self publishing you can create in whichever method you choose. Costwise it is more to use Pressbooks as your final product has a one time fee of $99 per manuscript to remove the watermarks. Of course if you don’t care if people know how you created it, you can leave it on there. I would not recommend it as it quickly identifies you as a new author.
For myself I don’t use just one computer. In fact, I have a Mac Mini and half a dozen laptop computers and netbooks, and tablets that I can use. They are spread out throughout my house and home office. All I need is to connect to wifi or internet on any type of computer on any browser. So if I am at a friend’s house, a hotel, or a car I can always write and not have to carry my laptop with me. So it really is a matter of personal preference.
I also am working on several manuscripts at once. Yes really. When I open up Google Chrome about a dozen tabs open to the various websites I administer and update daily. One of those is Pressbooks.com. The cool thing is Chrome remembers these settings, regardless what computer I am using. It makes things handy for me to remember what I am focused on and not to forget anything. Just like WordPress for website presentation, Pressbooks incorporates several themes to give your book whatever look and feel you choose. Fonts, page numbering, things like that.
One cool thing with Pressbooks is each chapter is actually a page/post that can be exported and imported into another website. Angel.Academy also holds every page of the original manuscript in electronic form, locked and backed up nightly by my server. There was an instance I went to go work on the manuscript for Angel Academy and the website was GONE. All I had was the hardcopy, which was thousands of words. So it is always a good idea to back up your work. I also was then able to use those chapters for parts of my marketing and released chapters in advance to readers who signed up on my website for notifications.
While I was writing Angel Academy I formed a beta group of 50 readers of all different ages and demographics as young as 6 and as old as 91. After I identified my target audience, I narrowed down the group and gave them access to the chapters through Pressbooks. It is as simple as clicking a button from public to private. I am not sure if Scrivener can do that. Many authors do not want their work “out there” before it is published. Not many authors use a beta group. I did it because of marketing background and hundreds of focus groups I have participated.
One of the biggest fears in the publishing industry is a new author is not going to sell any books. I totally get that. That is a huge reason that publisher and agents now require new authors to have their own platform. Angel Academy and my public figure page on Facebook did an excellent job at demonstrating I have a platform of fans/readers/friends. I feel that probably one of the biggest reasons books do not do well is the lack of marketing, distribution and identifying the correct audience to market your book/product. You may think you have a great product, your mom certainly does and your best friend has nothing but accolades to say about you; but what about the rest of the world?
Did you know that “most” authors write books for people that are just like themselves? So I am a 40ish aged author and typically I am writing for people who are of the same age range who will relate to me. I read a book that the author felt was for every single or divorced woman out there. Well, turns out the book wasn’t for all those people. It was written for divorced women baby boomers who were left by their husband. Are there a lot of those people out there? Sure. Is it smart to market just to that audience so you maximize your sales? Of course. Will other people buy it? Of course they will, but anticipate some not so glowing reviews.
When I took my book to bookstores the first question is, “What age range is this book?” You really need to know this or you will not be taken seriously. Use your data to back up your claims. In reality my book is for 9 years old – 24, primarily girls 70%. That is a pretty specific age range. If you say “Oh my book is for everyone.” Good luck. I do say, “My book is for anyone who believes in angels or needs to believe in angels.” Fortunately for me I do have private sales figures I can share that give me credibility.
Many people rely on internet statistics of what publishers choose to release and it appears that print is still very much alive. I have data figures for eBooks that most are unwilling to share, and I totally get it. My point is, is you are contemplating publishing a book, you should seriously consider your eBook options and your different channels of distribution.