I was browsing the statistics for this site. It’s amazing what information you can find, though I’m not sure how relevant some of it is. For example, between the creation of Imagineer-ing, in March 2012, and the end of December, this site had a total of 651 hits. So far, in January 2013, we’ve had a phenomenal 444 to 29th January! This is further analysed to give an average of 2 visits per day in 2012 – but that doesn’t mean much as there’s a definite rise towards the end of the year. Even the January 2013 average of 15 visits per day is deceptive, as the number of visits continues to rise.
The question of what software is of any real use to authors is raised by such online analytical data. Personally, as an ex-statistician, I confess that I find some of it fascinating. It doesn’t, however, contribute anything to writing, other than blogging. Of more interest, perhaps, is the facilities available to authors.
I use a desktop PC more than anything else. I can, though, also use a netbook that is synchronised to the desktop. The first uses Windows XP and the second uses a cut down Linux. Apart from these, I could use my iPhone or iPod, though I find those less user friendly. You could also use a notebook, a tablet or a laptop, if they are available to you. Outside the realm of computers, there’s also the option of using a typewriter or even handwriting. Your preference is exactly that – yours! What should be noted, however, is that your manuscript (MS) must, at some time, be processed for publication. A handwritten MS will be costly to have worked up into a typed/printed form, unless you’re willing to do it yourself. Then, there’s the question of formatting. From what I’ve seen, this varies surprisingly widely. The one thing that is certain is that you will need your MS to be formatted to suit a publisher’s requirements – even if you self-publish. You can, of course, write your MS in a word processing package on computer already formatted in the most common way. That would certainly save some effort. The matter of formatting is something where software can help.
First and foremost, you’ll need some kind of word processing package. Of course, many computers come with things like MS Word already installed. If you don’t have that, then there are some excellent options that are free to download and use. Probably the biggest, and most reliable, is OpenOffice. A version of this is called Libre Office, but I confess I’ve found no differences between them. Other options exist, such as AbiWord, and there are some packages specifically designed for authors, though the latter are not free software. I, personally, would not recommend using software that produces Adobe PDF files. I’ve experienced some annoying errors in ebooks that have been converted from PDF.
I use OpenOffice, coupled with the pay-for ebook creation package, Jutoh. This allows me maximum freedom. I can write on any device, with the files being shared between all devices, and then Jutoh will help me produce ebooks in a variety of common formats. That saves me some huge headaches! Personally, I think Jutoh is worth every penny. These, together with various desktop eReader programs, mean that I can write, create an ebook in different formats, and check how they will look on eReaders like the Kindle, the Nook and the kobo.
Finally, I use Calibre to organise my collection of ebooks, including updating their metadata and converting between formats where desired.
Sound silly? Well, perhaps it is, in a way. What I mean, here, is the core of all writing activity. It’s a plain fact that none of the above have any relevance if your Brainware isn’t what it needs to be. It’s the home of creative thought, creating structures, and just plain dreaming. If you mistreat it, you can be sure that your writing will reflect that. I don’t say that it has to be perfect! Some of the great writers were somewhat disturbed, mentally. They are the “flawed geniuses” who create works of immense power and significance. As for the majority of us, we need to place ourselves in a situation in which our Brainware can function comfortably, usually where distractions are minimised and you’re physically comfortable. Whether you need a neat, tidy workspace or chaos, all that matters is that your Brainware will function for you.