Library Writers’ Group: Tools of the Trade

2 Mar

Another great meeting of my library’s writers’ group! We had some bad weather that night, but it didn’t stop a lot of dedicated people from coming out. We talked about some tools available to writers on the web and had those familiar with them do a demo. So here’s what I learned about the services. As a note, I don’t have subscriptions to any of these and don’t know any more about them than I have here. Refer to the linked websites for more information.

Our lovely moderator showed us Duotrope, a service I’ve thought about purchasing for a long time. Duotrope is a listing of literary magazines that’s really well-organized and has a ton of data. You can search for magazines, anthologies, and publishers who are calling for writing. You can narrow down a search by genre, length of the piece, and qualities of the magazine. Each entrant has a series of statistics about them; response time, number of other members with submissions in to them, other magazines users submitted to. One of our mod’s favorite features is a Theme and Deadline Calendar, which shows you anthology themes that are being requested and deadlines for anthology submissions and contests. You can pick a date a few months in the future and see what kind of writing is being requested. I’m not going to lie, I like this feature. I have trouble finding anthology calls and contests and having them all in one place in a searchable fashion is incredible. It’s $50 a year but if you plan on submitting a lot, that’s easily worth it.

The majority of the meeting we spent going over Scrivner. Many people who have participated in NaNoWriMo are familiar with Scrivner; winners get 50% off of the $40 cost ($45 for Mac). Scrivner is a writer’s word processor: it allows you to write in scenes which are easy to re-order and can have notes about them stored in a side window. People have said that this is better when starting a story from scratch or when doing a major tear-up than when going through the middle of an editing phase. It is possible to import a Word document and there are blogs that talk about how to do this, but people have had trouble with it. My favorite feature is the Outliner view. I write an outline for novels before I start them so this is perfect for me. You can create a tree outline of the book and name the scenes based on what will happen in them and then write happily out of order and re-order scenes when some are completed. I would get it for this feature alone.

There’s a 2-3 hour tutorial that some found helpful, but it’s good to know how long it will last. I was advised not to number chapters because it can lead to problems when compiling, which is a pain in the but anyway. A few of our members said they had problems with it. You have to compile your work to print the whole document or you can print sections individually. Each scene is created in its own RTF file with a random number so it’s hard to pick out one from the source files. Files can be exported as RTF, DOC, or TXT.

Because I was so in love with the Outliner feature, our tech-guru recommended Plume Creator. It’s an open sourced (AKA free!) application. I’m thinking this is one I’ll download when I’m ready to start doing more writing and less editing because it looks pretty solid for ‘free.’ There are some mixed reviews, but it should do what I’m looking for.

The end of the meeting was friend of the blog Nicole talking about her experiences with CreateSpace. She’s published three books of poetry on CreateSpace  and gave us a quick overview of the process. Go check out her publications on the ‘books’ tab of her blog! I’ve got one coming in the mail now. She utilized the code from NaNoWriMo to get two copies free and then started using the software to create other books. The creator has unlimited design control over the cover, layout, everything. She recommends using InDesign over Word because it allowed for even more freedom. The service does a print-on-demand for customers unless the volume requires a higher volume and a special contract is decided upon (this is unlikely).

So that’s what I’ve learned! Do you have anything else you’d want to add to this? What’s your experience with these applications? Leave a comment and let me know.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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2 Responses to “Library Writers’ Group: Tools of the Trade”

  1. siderealday March 3, 2015 at 9:00 PM #

    Sorry I missed the meeting, but thanks for posting some info about the tools discussed.

    Like

    • Sam March 3, 2015 at 9:00 PM #

      No problem. It was a great discussion but terrible weather!

      Like

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