Tag - Publishing
This week, Pointers tackles a topic that has been sitting right in front of our faces since the beginning, but we've written surprisingly little about: writing. It's one of the principle things we do on computers, and yet while we've talked here and here, in previous Pointers and in various Hands On or Living With columns about various bits of writing software, we haven't talked much about the actual act of writing (beyond explaining how you can create and publish your own books, that is). So for you non-book writers, this Pointers is for practical, every day, productive writing -- both software and workflow tips.
Last year, it was really the release of Vellum that prompted us to do a two-month series on e-publishing, and naturally we did a Hands On review of it then. Almost everything we said then was praising, but we did have criticisms, and since then we've been continuing to test it, continuing to find new ways to explore it, and the makers have continued to develop it. The very latest release, Vellum 1.3.5 is a minor update, but it's the sixth since we covered the app back in July last year.
Just to thoroughly and entirely ruin all the drama we've been building up to, just to wreck every scintilla of tension, let us tell you right at the start that we do now have a new book out. We were not kidding all week, when we said we didn't know if it were possible to produce a book alongside this series of articles about producing books. We were entirely serious, every time we angrily regretted our stupidity in telling you that we were even going to try. Yet for this last article about physically producing an e-book and then getting it through Apple and Amazon's approvals process, we wrote an e-book and we got it through Apple and Amazon's approvals process.
There's a fair chance that e-books have stopped their attempt to mass-assassinate paperbacks, because it looks to us as if each have found their niche. There are advantages to each, and we'd find it a dull world if the sole way to read books was via an e-reader. We do say that fully aware that we're writers and publishers, but now so are you. There is nothing that beats the feeling of that paperback book in your hands. We might not do too many copies in paperback, we might sell far more so on the iBooks and Kindle Stores, but as well as the rewarding sense of achievement you get from that bound paper, there are practical benefits to making a paperback. They're practical benefits that will help you get the e-book right, to make the e-book better.
So we were in a conversation once when a friend said she'd finished her novel, and as we congratulated her we asked what to she and we is the obvious next question: "When do you think you'll finish it?" Call us all nutters but if you write, you know that there's finishing, and there's finishing. There's also ultimately just abandoning, but we call that finishing in case anyone is listening. Getting to the end of a manuscript is a big deal in every way, perhaps chiefly psychologically, but it is really the time when you get to crack your knuckles and get down to the real writing.
We wanted to talk to you all this week about e-books, because we'd finally come through the other side after Apple's approvals process, but there were two other things that made us want to cover the topic at all. One was software: we tried out an app called Vellum which we liked then, like more now, and which you're going to hear about soon. The other was that every time we've ever heard anyone talk about writing ebooks, they've skipped over the best part.
Last week, we said we'd take you through the whole process of writing and producing both e-books and paperbacks. We made a big thing about how we were doing this for real, that we'd show you the truth of what you need, and where it gets tricky. However, we also said the one thing this week-long series wouldn't have is "us writing another book." It was true, but we don't think it was very useful of us so instead, yes, we're writing another book. If we type just slightly faster than you read, then by this Friday we will have another e-book on sale, on both the Apple iBooks and the Kindle stores.
We've been wanting to take you through writing e-books for a long, long time. We wanted it so much that actually, we did it: our 2015 Summer Project detailed every step right up to the one key thing we could not cover –– and now we can. We weren't messing around with this, we wrote actual new books to publish; we didn't regurgitate Apple's instructions, or use sample text. Yet it was only with the much later production of the MacNN guides for new Mac and iPad users that we finally got to really experience the tricky last stage: we hit problems with Apple's iBooks approval process.
The first six months after I bought Scrivener were rather quiet: it was on sale and I got a copy for my wife who didn't need it and to this day, some years later, hasn't used it once. We both recognised that it's a good application, we both know people who use it and evangelise about it, we just both didn't get around to spending time with it. I cracked first. I can't remember the project now but I was working on something that seemed to lend itself to what I knew about Scrivener so I worked on it on her Mac.
There's reviewing and there's reviewing. You know that the tiniest single-function utility gets examined, turned upside down, poked about with and possibly even shaken a bit. You also know that doesn't take long. There are things like Microsoft Word which take a month or more of serious use with betas and previews before more serious use with the final release. Then there's Vellum 1.2.5. We've had this software for about six months, maybe seven. You can't say we're quick with the news on this one, but complete, we are.