The invention of new shit. Writing edition.

Pen and paper might work best.

In the world of indie publishing, I’m an extreme do-it-yourselfer. I need a cover designer? Me! (I have a graduate degree in fine arts, so okay.) I need an editor? Me, me! (I’m well-read and fairly educated, so sure.) I need a publicist? Me, oh pick me! (I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but fine.) The trouble is that as I publish, people, well-meaning, creative people, keep inventing new things that I have to learn how to do.

It makes this whole process kind of exasperating. Like a poopstorm in a stiff breeze.

This is my process thus far: write; edit; format; spend a month finding all the new shit that’s been invented, sign up for it, learn how to use it, find myself in-over-my-head, become depressed, spend a few days scrolling through Facebook, then read a few blogs that remind me to just publish already, faster than you’re doing; and publish.

Here’s three things that I found with a scale: 1–not exasperating to 5-total poopstorm.

  1. If you haven’t used Vellum yet, get on it already. It’s epic. You paste your document into their application, push a couple of buttons to make it beautiful, crank the handle, and (magic?) e-books come out the other side. This is not exasperating at all. I learned how to do it quickly and it was worth every moment. 1 on the exasperation scale.
  2. Scrivener. I’ve been using Pages ’09 on my Mac. And Pages IOS on my iPad. And now I own Scrivener. I might like the .03% I’ve figured out how to use. Maybe? My current book has 45 chapters inside folders that all say “Untitled Document” which makes me think that I might be an idiot. I’d say my exasperation level is very high. I will probably keep using it though—peer pressure. 5-poop galore.
  3. ProWritingAid. This is an excellent tool. I’ve used the webeditor (exasperation level-5 because it would only work with Firefox instead of Safari.) I reported the issues to the helpful tech-support folks and they were so kind and considerate that the 5 calmed to a 1. Now I use the ProWritingAid desktop app with my scrivener projects and it seems to be working with very little tech support or confusion on my part. I’d say this is a 2 on the exasperation scale, mostly issues that are behind me, thanks customer support!

Since I just finished writing, editing, formatting my latest book, I’m diving into the newest shit invented for marketing self-published books. I’ll report back in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck!

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H.D. Knightley is the writer of The Estelle Series, the Leveling Series, Violet’s Mountain, Fly: The Light Princess Retold, and Sid and Teddy. She can be found writing in parks and on beaches throughout Los Angeles watching her terrific husband and four kids surf, or online at one of these cool and interesting sites:, Twitter as @HDKnightley, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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