Tools for Indie Authors: Scrivener

If you have a Mac and want to write and publish a book, give Scrivener a try. Scrivener is a writing app that allows you to outline, research, write, and publish your book in a single app.

Scrivener 3 was recently released for Mac, and it allows you to publish PDF, EPUB, and MOBI (Kindle) books by choosing File > Compile in Scrivener. I tried compiling an EPUB book in Scrivener 3, and it looked good without me having to do anything. After using Scrivener 3 I lost enthusiasm for working on Tome Builder because Scrivener 3 does everything I wanted Tome Builder to do.

Scrivener also has iOS and Windows versions, but I haven’t used them. The Mac and Windows versions have 30 day trials, which you can download from the Scrivener site.

One Bug Holding Up the Release of AM Pages on iOS

I have been trying to fix one irritating bug that is keeping me from releasing the iOS version of AM Pages. The bug appears only on devices running iOS 11, but that happens to be the version most people use.

AM Pages has two main user interface elements: a table view with items for each day’s morning pages, and a text view where you type today’s morning pages or read a previous day’s pages. If you launch AM Pages, select the newly created entry for today, and type your morning pages, everything works fine.

The problem occurs when you go back to the table view and return to the text view. If your iOS device is in portrait orientation, the text view won’t scroll when you type. The lack of scrolling means that after a while you can’t see what you’re typing. The only way to get the text view to scroll is to rotate the device to landscape and back to portrait.

I have spent weeks trying to fix this bug. I asked a question about this issue on Apple’s developer forums and received no responses. What is particularly frustrating is I am using the standard text view that numerous iOS developers use in their apps. The text view scrolls on devices running iOS 9 and 10, but not on iOS 11.

If I ever find a fix for this bug, I will submit AM Pages to the App Store.

Deep Work Scheduling Philosophies for Writers

I’m reading the book Deep Work by Cal Newport (Amazon Page). Deep work involves the ability to focus on a cognitively demanding task, such as writing a book, so that you can get more done in less time. Writing a book is difficult if you check your email and Twitter feed every 10-15 minutes.

To get into a state to produce deep work, you need to schedule time for focused, uninterrupted work. Newport lists the following philosophies of deep work scheduling:

  • Monastic philosophy
  • Bimodal philosophy
  • Rhythmic philosophy
  • Journalistic philosophy

Monastic Philosophy

The monastic philosophy maximizes deep efforts by eliminating shallow obligations, such as social media and email. Eliminating shallow obligations gives you large blocks of time to work.

This philosophy is the most difficult to live by, as most of you have lives that don’t let you isolate yourselves from the world for long periods of time. But if you can live by the monastic philosophy, it’s a great way to schedule enough time to do deep work.

Bimodal Philosophy

The bimodal philosophy divides your time between deep and shallow work. During the deep time you act like you would in the monastic philosophy, seeking long periods of intense and uninterrupted concentration to do deep work. The shallow time can be spent doing things like answering emails.

The most common ways to implement the bimodal philosophy are to block out one or more complete days a week for deep work or to spend one season of the year in deep work. If you were a teacher, you might spend the summer in deep work, allowing you to concentrate on teaching during the school year.

Rhythmic Philosophy

The rhythmic philosophy says the easiest way to consistently start deep work sessions is to transform them into a regular habit. Generate a rhythm that removes the need to invest energy in deciding if and when you’re going to do deep work.

There are two common methods to implement the rhythmic philosophy. The first method is the chain method. Put a calendar up on your wall. When you do deep work on a day, put an X through that date. Use the calendar to build up a chain of consecutive days of deep work that you don’t want to break. The second method is to schedule a block of time (usually 1-2 hours) at the same time every day for deep work. A common approach for people with full-time jobs is to wake up early and do the deep work before going to their jobs.

The rhythmic philosophy is the best philosophy for most people. It’s easier to carve out 1-2 hours a day for deep work than to carve out the days or weeks of time that the monastic and bimodal philosophies require.

Journalistic Philosophy

The journalistic philosophy fits deep work wherever you can into your schedule. If you have 20 minutes free, spend that time doing deep work. The journalistic philosophy gets its name from the fact that journalists are trained to shift into writing mode at a moment’s notice to finish articles in time to meet deadlines.

On the surface the journalistic philosophy is the easiest of the philosophies because you don’t need to schedule large blocks of time for deep work. You work when you get a chance. But the journalistic philosophy is difficult to practice because of the difficulty in shifting from shallow to deep mode. It helps if you have confidence in your abilities and feel that what you’re working on is important and will succeed. If you can practice the journalistic philosophy and quickly shift from shallow to deep work, go for it.

Call for AM Pages iOS Testers

I have the iOS version of AM Pages at a point where I can show it to external testers. If you would like to test AM Pages, read this post and follow the application instructions.

System Requirements

An iOS device running iOS 9, 10, or 11.

Application Instructions

  1. Go to the AM Pages page.
  2. Click the Email Support button.
  3. In the email you send, tell me your name and the iOS devices you will use to test AM Pages.

I will assume the email address you use to send the email is your Apple ID email address. If you use a different email address to send the email, please include the Apple ID email address in your email.

Installing AM Pages

You must download and install the TestFlight app before you can install AM Pages. TestFlight allows you to run pre-release iOS software on your devices.

After installing TestFlight, launch it and accept the invitation to install AM Pages. Please keep in mind you won’t receive an invitation until I add you to the list of external testers on Apple’s iTunes Connect site.

What to Test

I want you to look for problems with AM Pages and report them to me so I can fix them before I submit AM Pages to the App Store. Some specific things to test include the following:

  • Make sure only one entry is created each day.
  • Make sure you can see what you are typing when using the onscreen keyboard.

But don’t limit yourself to this list. If you notice a problem or want to suggest a way to improve AM Pages, send feedback by going to the AM Pages page and clicking the Email Support button.

Places to Publish: Smashwords

Smashwords is a place to publish, sell, and distribute ebooks. Smashwords provides ebook distribution to many retailers, including Apple’s iBooks and Barnes and Noble.

Pricing

Smashwords charges no upfront fees. They take a percentage of each ebook you sell. For books you sell through the Smashwords bookstore, you keep 80% of the book’s list price. For books sold outside the Smashwords store, you keep 60% of the book’s list price.

Strengths

Smashwords provides an easy way to distribute your ebook to many stores.

Weaknesses

You can make more money per sale by using Paddle or Gumroad. A $10 ebook would net you at least $1 more using Paddle or Gumroad instead of Smashwords.

You can’t sell books on Amazon using Smashwords.

Smashwords does not print books.

Summary

If you want to sell ebooks at many retailers, give Smashwords a try.