Building a website that creates and promotes your writing in ONE step

Cartoon idea conceptNo big secret that Dan and I are building new software for my sites.

He’s developing classroom software for me for the Holly Lisle
Online Writing School
, and connectivity software for me for Readers Meet Writers.

BUT, using the same framework he’s developed, he’s also building replacement writing site software for me for HollyLisle.com with a single software with which I’ll do:

  • Writing project brainstorming (with prompts and reminders)
  • Planning and deadline setting and tracking
  • Outlining
  • Character development
  • Conflict development
  • Setting development
  • Twist development
  • Daily writing progress diary

And where I’ll have:

  • Snippets Saver
  • Comments from readers
  • Surveys
  • Book Pre-Launch and Launch Pages
  • And here’s the thing that makes me so excited about using it…
     
    Every single thing above will be addable to the blog if I check “add to blog,” or will remain private if I want to keep it hidden—but it will still show up in my How This Project Was Written pages.
     
    I’ll also be able to check boxes for Send To Twitter, Send to Newsletter, and Mark as Possible Book Launch Content.
     
    Private stuff will stay private, or I can take it public once the book is done.
     
  • Every book will get its own Project, projects can be linked by Series, everything will stay in order.

And I will only do the work once

…build my story, do my blog, promote my work, track my progress, and have all my development where I can find it, and where readers in the future will have a complete “How This Book Was Written” story if they choose to read it. It’ll be up to me to keep that story interesting.

Cliffhangers, hints, snippets, teasers, the occasional report of a character’s shocking death… Well, you know me. My characters don’t always get out of the trouble into which they get themselves.

If it can be done, I’ll have a desktop app for this that I can write in so that my work is backed up on my computer, and I’ll be able to do everything, including answering comments, from my desk…(But this is something Dan and I still have to work out.)

I was just having him build this for me, because it’s the way I want to work.

But he asked me, “Do you think this is something other writers would like?

I said, “Probably my students, because I teach the method I use—this would work for them. I don’t know about anybody else.”

So I’m asking you two questions, because I don’t want to send him off on a wild goose chase.

Does this sound like something you’d be interested in?

If it is, what about it do you think is most interesting, and what do you think you wouldn’t use?

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

228 comments… add one
  • Alex Bowling Mar 23, 2015 @ 19:10

    I’d be very interested in something like this, mostly because of the all in one place factor. Reading through the comments it seems like everyone’s said pretty much everything I’ve thought of (including some questions I didn’t) so I won’t repeat it. Thanks for thinking of sharing this!

    • Alex Mar 23, 2015 @ 19:14

      Oops, I accidently commented twice. My computer messed up, and I thought the first one didn’t send so I wrote another. Sorry about that.

  • Riley Mar 23, 2015 @ 19:07

    I would definitely be interested in this! I’ve found it very hard to do much social media-wise in between work and actual writing, so it would be nice to streamline everything. I love Scrivener for planning and writing, but I am very interested in something that would also help with brainstorming and reaching out to readers. I would also love something that works in iOS and Chrome so I could take advantage of these features when on the go with my iPad or Chromebook. One major limitation of Scrivener is that I can only use it on my computer, not my iPad or Chromebook. At the same time, I would like something that is able to be backed up offline, as I’d be wary of relying on cyberspace completely. Looking forward to seeing how this plays out!

  • Joy Mar 23, 2015 @ 19:02

    I think it is an amazingly awesome idea like having scrivener on your website. However, I use wix on my website I don’t know how it would work unless it were an app or plug in.

  • Emali shah Mar 23, 2015 @ 18:48

    Very interested. Sounds like a great product to use along with scrivener.

  • Sarah Mar 23, 2015 @ 18:43

    I have not used many of the writing programs but would also like to be able to collapse all the files or be able to access them from a third party software (ie Word).

  • Deanne Mar 23, 2015 @ 18:30

    This software program sounds ultra useful. It combines the most useful tasks of about three programs I use at this point. The two things that stand out to me are: the separation between private and public, and the fact that the public option doesn’t require having to copy and paste into a new program. That’s pure genius.

    One thing that Liquid Story Binder does, and it sounds like you’ve got this covered too, is it saves all files that are related to one project into a library or work-space folder. Every time you open that work-space, all the files you were most recently working on open up and are ready to go. It’s like having a separate desktop for each project. That’s also super useful. No need to go hunting around for bits and files and scribbles. It sounds like your software has a similar function or platform.

  • Cecily Mar 23, 2015 @ 18:30

    See previous comment

  • Cecily Mar 23, 2015 @ 18:29

    I’d love to be able to write and understand what I’m doing. As good as Scrivener seems to be, I can’t wrap my head around how it works. I’d need a teacher just for that. This sounds much more “user-friendly”. Let me know what he decides. Thank you, Holly.

  • Raven Oak Mar 23, 2015 @ 18:13

    That sounds awesome!
    I currently write in Scrivener, but the rest of that sounds freaking amazing. I’d probably keep writing in Scrivener, but I really like the “send this to newsletter,” “send this to twitter,” etc. options.

    • Jorinda Mar 26, 2015 @ 13:52

      I also use Scrivener and am very happy with it for brainstorming, my series bible, and writing drafts. However, the marketing and social media functions of this program are invaluable in and of themselves. Personally, I would love to see it work both as a standalone program and in integration with Scrivener so that those of use who use Scrivener now don’t have to transfer all our content to a new program and continue to work with what we are comfortable.

  • Alistair Babbage Mar 23, 2015 @ 18:10

    Yes I’m interested.

  • Klynn Mar 23, 2015 @ 18:07

    I’m interested, but–with diplomacy–probably only at a low buy-in.
    I’m fairly happy with the software I’m using (YWriter) and I feel like there are just one or two things on the list that I don’t already have.
    From the first list, Brainstorming prompts and reminders are the only things I feel like I’m missing. (And honestly, I didn’t miss them, until you brought them up.)
    I’m not completely clear whether we’re talking about a program that interacts with the blog through email or an API, or if it replaces the blog. If it replaces the blog, I’d be concerned about giving up the publicity opportunities that come from a large community like Wordpress. (Particularly as a beginning blogger.)
    It might be worth doing a survey on the kind of hardware people are using, as well. Some of us are talking about shutting down one app to move to another, and others (me, at least) are able to run (all of the above) simultaneously with their current software. It would be worth knowing, in terms of who can run your software, and how much you can charge for it.

  • 25Blueyes Mar 23, 2015 @ 18:02

    It’s definately something if be interested in looking at. It sounds awesome, but I’d like to see it in action to get a better feel for it.

  • Brian Sommers Mar 23, 2015 @ 18:00

    No for me.

  • Gene Lempp Mar 23, 2015 @ 18:00

    This is an interesting package, and much of what is listed has the potential to be quite useful. The list also raises some (what I hope will be seen as) intelligent questions. Because, “just for Holly” and “just for Any Writer X” can be very different things.

    The first question that comes to mind is will this be a plug-in for a website, available offline, or both? A web-only version of this would have limitations, especially for those of us to prefer to work unplugged. That said, a cloud-version could be advantageous, but would still need an “unplugged” aspect, a toggle capability.

    My current set-up for writing is Scrivener, which allows outlining, character development, setting development, world-building, research storage, drafting, ebook conversion, and pretty much anything one would want for any serious writing project. When combined with Scapple (a mind map that imports easily with Scrivener), brainstorming. Add the final piece, Evernote, and I have an endless research library that imports in a couple clicks with the rest, in either direction (and is cloud-based so it works on my PC, iPad, and Android–multi-platform functional).

    From this, I think you can gather why I ask the first question.

    That said, the Windows version of Scrivener is under-powered compared to the Mac version (although they are the same price, but that is another story). What the Windows version lacks is a solid project tracker (your daily diary, deadline, and project tracking) and a decent spreadsheet generator (also needed for good tracking of pretty much everything). So how will your tool set work and match up?

    The second segment of what you mention are “development tools.” I suppose the worthiness (and need) for those items would depend on what you mean by development: a blank Word Doc to type ideas on vs. a developmental worksheet/guide of some sort. The additional question here is would these tools be flexible and adjustable to each authors personal system (and you know we all have them, and must).

    On the social media end, I use Hootsuite, which tracks pretty much everything. What exactly is your social media tool designed to do? Will it be an advantage over existing multi-platform tools or really just a way to get it all crammed into a one-page one-stop tool?

    Please do not take any of this as harsh, I’m a fan of yours and own several classes — but my business and marketing side (and especially my writer side) think all of these are valid points to be considered when approaching whether to develop your platform as a potential product.

    Written in peace,
    Gene Lempp

  • Deborah Hart Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:50

    Sounds brilliant, Holly and Dan.

    I would use all of the features.

    I’d also want it to look attractive as I’m very visual and love things that are aesthetically pleasing. So clean, streamlined, and attractive icons if there are any, etc.

    If it does all those things then price isn’t such an issue. If I really want something, I save up for it. Not an over-the-top price, but if it’s doing the same as something such as Scrivener, then I’d pay for it. Or if it’s priced to match whatever it can be compared with. What I mean, is that I’d want it to be a fair price so that Dan is compensated for his work and creativity.

  • Tammy Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:49

    I think this sounds like the best of all worlds! I currently use Scrivener but agree with other comments that it can make you crazy and you tend to have to duplicate work. Cost would also definitely be a factor as well. Sounds great. Good luck with the programming.

  • Rebecca Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:44

    Where do I sign up?

    This sounds like an amazing piece of work. Love the fact that it’s all in one place.

    I’m sorry if any of these questions are repeats, there were a lot of comments when I started writing this.

    Would this be compatible with PC, Mac, and Linux?
    Would there be a mobile friendly version for those that use tablet or phones?
    Can it be used offline?
    Can you import documents that you’ve already got, such as MS Word documents? or would that be a manual task?

    I’m guessing this a project that would be waiting until after your classroom software, so would there be a subscription list for email updates for the progress of this (for when it enters beta and when it’s ready to sell)?

  • Donna Johnson Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:31

    Definitely!

  • Kim Lambert Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:30

    hi Holly, yes, definitely interested. But, please don’t make new and unique file formats! The worst thing about products like Scrivener, and various others, is that they do not export content cleanly to a Word file ( which is essential when you need to send to others, share with others, and do certain types of formatting for different publishing outlets) . Also, please make really really sure that it is equally cooperative on PC and Mac. I write, edit, teach others about publishing, and publish books for others, and it is a continual nightmare sorting out the horrid things that exporting from one platform to another does to perfectly good content. I really like the integrated project management aspect of this idea, as dealing with everything thatI have on the go at once is really a challenge – I would love to be a guinea pig / beta tester for this!

  • Therese Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:30

    I too would love to give this a try. The “all-in-one” aspect of it is extremely appealing to me.

  • Nick Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:29

    It sounds a very exciting prospect, and I like the idea of an all in one writing environment, but without more information it’s difficult to be certain. Is it software you purchase outright – PC, MAC, Linux, ios, Android? Or is it a webportal you pay yearly for?

    I’m just getting to grips with Scrivener which, as you know, creates eBooks. Will yours do that too?

  • Rachel Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:28

    This sounds almost too good to be true. My ME hates duplicating work, so being able to do everything once in one place sounds ideal!

  • Kristina Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:22

    Oh, yes, definitely interested.

    I’m not quite able to imagine all the things you can do with the platform, as I’m new to everything. I don’t know about promotion, blogging, or even brainstorming – at least not in any systemised way. But I’m determined to learn all those things, and I’m sure it would be a tremendous advantage to have them all together in one place. I’d use everything in the software, I think. With the exception of Twitter.

    One thing I’d like to be able to do with my writing software would be to eliminate the need for printing out worksheets. Every once in a while, it’s great to work with actual pen and paper, but I’m the kind of writer who likes to have a digital copy of everything – actually several digital copies. And much of the time, I prefer having only digital copies.

    So it would be really helpful to me if I had software that would facilitate filling in worksheets directly, so I don’t kill quite so many innocent trees, nor have quite so much paper taking up space in in my tiny flat.

    Obviously, it won’t be possible to write anything into the pdf files that the worksheets are now. But I was thinking that it might be possible for me to make editable copies of the worksheets and then be able to work with those in the software. Would that even be allowed, Holly? I mean, making an editable copy and putting it up online (although of course privately, for no one else to see) is not exactly the same as printing numerous copies in one’s home…

    I’m not entirely sure that my concerns here are relevant to anyone else. I’m mostly just wondering what will be technically possible now, and not just in some parallel universe in the distant future.

  • Elaine Milner (esmil) Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:21

    I am definitely interested. It sounds fantastic. I currently write in Scrivener, which gives me a place to keep notes, writing, snippets, etc., in one place but it certainly doesn’t do all of that. Last I heard, you were using Scrivener also. Would this be something that would coordinate with Scrivener?

    I could especially use something that would help me with tracking, deadlines, and all of the marketing things. I haven’t started marketing anything yet, and there is an awful lot to conquer and coordinate. The daily planning kind of things available just don’t do it, and they are one more thing that must be accessed. I plan things on them sometimes and end up ignoring them because I’m too busy to look at them.

    Yes, I am definitely interested. I can use all the simplifying and coordination I can get! Price is of course something I would have to consider. I hope to be able to afford it. I know that what you have planned for yourself would be very practical.

  • Cara Ginter Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:18

    I’d definitely give it a try. It sounds like a great idea!

  • Kathy Dexter Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:15

    Here’s something else I’ve found invaluable as I put a story together (yes, the outline is needed too). A calendar. It’s important to know what characters are doing each day so you don’t mess up and have something happen on an improbable day.

    Also, I need to keep a plot list for quick reference as well.

  • Kim Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:05

    Hi Holly,
    Thanks for all the effort you’re putting into this. Sounds like a fab idea for the software! The most interesting bit for me would be having character, plot and twist development in there using your system, and having the facility to save potential book launch material somewhere safe. I’m loving the idea of a ‘how this book was written’ blog, too, though the other two features are bigger draws for me.
    All the best with it all,
    Kim

  • Theresa Mar 23, 2015 @ 17:01

    Something to keep me organized AND simplify updating social media and launching projects? YES, I would use it.

  • Raven Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:54

    This looks fantastic! Of course, it depends somewhat on how it turns out and how expensive it would be, but based on just the idea: yes! I would probably use all of it.

  • s. A. Victory Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:50

    I would certainly use it, for everything listed. Being able to do all the work in one application would ease the production process a lot.

    Go for it Dan. I’m even willing to be a tester, I have a background in computer support.

  • April Brookshire Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:45

    I’d probably use all of it!

  • Erin Z. Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:35

    Very interested. I’d probably use all of it. 😉

  • Donna Mann Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:25

    This sounds very interesting – anything to keep me on track and writing fresh with repetition.

  • Janye Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:24

    Yes, I would be interested.

  • Rachel Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:21

    I’m definitely interested. Having a way to organize everything and that works with the system you teach would be great.

  • Helen Parker-Drabble Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:13

    I am such a newbie I don’t know how useful it would be for me yet. But it would be the “And I will only do the work once” that I think would be the biggest plus, alongside everything being under ‘one roof.’
    I don’t think I would use surveys, but as I said I am such a newbie that I might be wrong : /

  • Annie Grantham Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:12

    I’m interested if it works on Chromebook. I can’t use Scrivener so I have been using Evernote right now. Once I get my website up and running using Wordpress, I might move my work there.

    • Holly Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:53

      It would work on Chrome. It’s all browser-based.

  • Ken Barclay Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:04

    Yes, Holly. Tell Dan to go for it!

  • Adaram Ontario Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:03

    I’d be interested for sure. I am coming to a place where I use Scrivener for most everything I do, so whatever you do, I would love to see it work alongside Scrivener or if it’s a replacement, I’d like to be involved in some early specification brainstorming to make sure that the main features would still be available on your software. Or if I can output scrivener into something that imports it into your software, and then your software does all the distribution to all the different places, that would also be awesome.

    I’ll have to think about it some more, and much of my thinking comes from a place of not knowing what I am doing … yet 🙂

  • Kimiko Alexandre Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:03

    I would love this. Of course price is a big factor for me. Being indie I don’t have a ton of money.

    I am excited to hear more.

    Kimi

  • Janet Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:02

    Very interested. I’m looking for software to organize my papers and notebooks once.

  • Wendy Strain Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:00

    Would definitely be interested. I’ve been looking for something like that and trying to figure out if I would be able to develop something similar. Dan is so much more qualified I’m sure! Someone above asked if it would be something like Scrivener with web tools, which would exactly fit what I’d like even if it didn’t have all of Scrivener’s details. The ability to work across platforms and already have things available online to easily ship off to different locations would be such a task-saver.

  • Anastasia Mar 23, 2015 @ 15:54

    This sounds like Scrivener with web tools? Is that the gist of it? I think folks would certainly be interested in it, so long as the price was feasible.

    • Deb Mar 23, 2015 @ 16:08

      I’ll second the pricing concern. But I would be willing to look at the program.

  • Tom Saine Mar 23, 2015 @ 15:53

    Yes. Definitely interested, but at a reasonable cost.

  • Ken Alger Mar 23, 2015 @ 15:48

    I’m new at this writing business and have Scrivener installed. Definitely be interested to see what you come up with.

    Ken

  • Herb Mar 23, 2015 @ 15:46

    Sounds like a great idea as long as it’s not a long complicated software package like many of them are today.

  • Shani Mar 23, 2015 @ 15:43

    This is something I am definitely interested in…

  • Sandra Mar 23, 2015 @ 15:37

    That’s a Content Management System (CMS) just for writers? While he’s doing this for the way you work, I think many people could use this. However it would have to be really simple. I have tried to use a few CMS for one-stop whole-site updates. I find them overly complicated for the most part. It’s a new language with a huge learning curve. I’d use it if it did what it said and I could customize it AND I didn’t have to take thirty five video tutorials and read user guides or a Dummies book to implement the system.

  • Sarah Mar 23, 2015 @ 15:35

    Yes. Definitely interested.

  • Gabbie Mar 23, 2015 @ 15:35

    I like the idea Holly/Dan – having ‘one size fits all’ is good. Actually I’m not a blogger anymore but trying to write a novel that I might even like to read :o) Currently I am trialing PageFour software; it is pretty simple and straightforward but I can’t import images. I am legally blind and so I need software that allows font&
    sizing defaults to be changed. So many software programs allow a change in text font etc but the default stuff is fixed. Impossible for people like me and a great many visually impaired people are turning to technology and blogging/writing. If Dan can sort that one he will definitely have a winner.

    As an example – writing this comment is very difficult – the font style is far too light.

    None-the-less you do a great job of helping and encouraging people Holly – you are appreciated.

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