Sunday, February 5, 2012

Electronic uploads and organization

I don't know enough about the electronic self-publishing market.  Why? Because all my books come out in print and e and Harlequin is now adding my backlist to all the e-sites.  It's a little weird to have a book you wrote 15-20 years ago come back to life.  It's kinda like seeing all your old haircuts over the years.

Having said that, I have several friends who upload original material and I hear constantly how technically difficult it is to get the file in shape.  But I found a solution for that.  One of the programs I use for organization (I'm big on organizational software for writers) has a new function.  You can cut and paste your manuscript into the program and it automatically does all the formatting and whatever else.

The program is WriteWayPro and it costs around $50.00.  My friends who've gotten the rights back to their earlier works are spending some serious cash on paying people to reformat for upload.  Seems to me WriteWayPro would be a great tool.

And while I'm on the topic of organizational software, let me share a couple of my other favorites.  The ultimate is Power Structure.  No, it does not plot the book for you, it just keeps all your plot points straight and helps you keep track of threads, etc..  I've customized my copy for novel format and added things like a timeline and descriptions.  That really helps me a lot.  The timeline is so important when writing a cohesive story.  You have to give your character some type of internal clock for food and rest and all the other mundane things that make them seem real.  The descriptions are simply a time saver.  In the Finley Tanner mysteries, I write a continuing character so it is important that I describe the locations the same way in every book.  You can download a demo and play with it for 30 days.  If memory serves, it costs around $100.00.

My last but not least favorite tool is yWriter.  First, it's free, though you are asked to make a donation.  Again, this program helps you organize the elements in your book and the character development.  It's probably the easiest to use and a nice, compact little program.

You're probably wondering why I'm such a writer-software junkie.  The truth is, I don't want to write drafts.  I want to get it right the first time so I can move on to the next project.  But as any multi-pubbed author can tell you, you're working on your new project when your old project comes back for revisions/edits.  It's so much easier to do those revisions when I have my manuscript all mapped out.  If my editor wants me to take something out, I can check Power Structure to see if that change affects anything else in the book.  It also helps me focus.  Deadlines require focus.  If you've only got 4 months to write 100,000 words, then you need all the writing time you can eek out.  Well, if the idea is organized, the writing goes much faster.

I don't start writing until I've done my Power Structure and my WriteWayPro.  By the time I finish working in both those programs I have a completely clear vision of how the manuscript will progress.  I know how my characters will grow and change; I know the pacing; I know basically everything except what they're wearing and most of the dialogue (though I do have a pull-down with lines I know I want to use in the book).  I've buried all my clues and red herrings (or change that to fit your genre - in romance it would be conflicts, in Sci-Fi it would be working toward creating peace in your alternate reality, etc.).

There's another bonus, too.  I can print out my chapter by chapter plot points and when needed adjust - maybe I tried to squeeze too much into chapter three - I just move those plot points forward and keep going.

At the end of the day, you can do all of the above in a Word document.  I just happen to like all the cute bells and whistles.

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