OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
A fantastic, eclectic interview including the use of novel writing software, becoming an author-entrepreneur as well as publishing from the mid-list and writing novels to sell.
Harriet Smart is the author of 4 historical novels and 1 contemporary novel. She is also the creative director of Anthemion Software which produces the Writer's Cafe toolkit. Harriet holds an MA in TV screen-writing and lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.
In this podcast, you will learn:
- About Harriet's career as a mid-list author, and how the changes in publishing affected her (wait until the end of the podcast to see what she is up to now with her fiction). You need to know how to write a book into the market and how to sell your books. Knowing this at the beginning is a real bonus! It is important to know that selling your 5th book can be harder than selling your first.
- Knowing how to use the internet is so important these days for selling and promoting books. Example of Lee Jackson, who sold a lot of books but still “laid off” by his publisher, and then built his career back up with the internet. (Incidentally, he is giving away his latest novel for free, if you are into Victorian mysteries).
- How Harriet and her husband designed Writer's Cafe software, based on her own experiences as a novelist. It was made to organise multiple strands of a plot as well as multiple characters. The core of the program is ‘Storylines' which is like putting index cards into the various streams of the story.
- Writing a novel involves a lot of planning, and the program also borrows from screen-writing ideas of story development. Plotting is necessary for writing a novel more quickly.
- Other things in the software: Character questionnaires, collage and notebook areas for brainstorming and collecting random thoughts, ebook with fiction writing information, mind-mapping tool, writing practice etc. It is available on the PC, while Scrivener is only for the Mac at the moment.
- Using software is great for personalities who like to organise and use tools that can help their writing. Designing your novel is important in this market. If you want a book to sell, it needs to be planned and market driven, but you can still keep the creativity. If you have a good plan, you will probably have a good pitch, which is important if you want to sell your novel.
- How screen-writing adds to writing a novel in terms of structure and planning. Thinking in terms of a visual audience is important with popular novels that sell these days. People expect visual and fast paced stories in terms of popular fiction (not necessarily literary fiction).
- On being an author-entrepreneur and multiple streams of income. How portfolio careers are important for everyone these days. You do have to balance creativity with a business-head if you want to make any money. Harriet sells software as well as self-publishing her novels and backlist because there is more money in it this way. Ebooks represent a huge opportunity if people can find you. (yes, we mention JA Konrath's Kindle sales!). Publishing just recognises what can sell these days. It is a business, so you can't get published with just a “good book”. It is liberating to pursue your own writing goals. Harriet also mentioned new software Jutoh which helps people e-publish.
- Being entrepreneurial is also creative, it's all about self-belief.
You can find Harriet at her website HarrietSmart.com or at her blog FictionWitch. You can also download a demo version of Writer's Cafe here if you fancy trying it out. (Note: This is not an affiliate link. I approached Harriet for an interview after using the software and finding it useful!) You can also buy Harriet's historical romance book on the Kindle here, the back-list is coming soon.
You can download the transcript in PDF format here => Transcription Harriet Smart