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 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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229 responses to “Building a website that creates and promotes your writing in ONE step”

  1. Angelique Avatar

    would absolutely be interested! can’t add much to what has already been written by others, but cost would be a restraint for me, and I would care very much for it being usable across platforms and seamless syncing across devices and so on. Having all in one place so I can keep myself from getting distracted and playing with all the bells and whistles of each separate piece of software would be huge for me!

  2. Helene Pulacu Avatar

    I’m not actively searching for a software solution — although it may be great in the long run, considering the projects I have in mind (writing, blogging, multiple platforms with overlapping categories, teaching online, etc). But I still find pen, paper, folders, and bookshelves attractive, and I work with tangible tools (stuff like notebooks, or ring binders, or spare pieces of paper, napkins, the back of envelopes, …) a good 40-50% per cent of my time. I know this looses me time, but I still find that working exclusively on a PC drains me.

    All these mean that I would be willing to try a new software, if the results would fit my writing/organizing styles somehow –and, well, I could love it enough to even recommend it– but I wouldn’t seek one out like crazy. In other words, it’s a ‘gift’ that I would be prone to welcome with all due honors, but it’s not a necessity …at least, not yet.

  3. Kate Avatar

    I’ve never tried Scrivener or anything like it, but your idea, Holly, sounds really interesting. I appreciate everyone’s comments. I’m learning. Am wondering if people think I would benefit by trying Scrivener first, so I have some sense what you’re all talking about…? Thanks.

  4. Robert Avatar

    This seems good, but as people have found with Scrivener, what works for some people probably won’t work for everyone. And that’s fine. However, before I would sign up for a “sorta” cloud based package I would want to be able to able to take my toys home. All of my writing, all my blog posts, all of my contact/customer lists, all of the replies/discussion, etc.

    As for cost, it would have to be low or I would not even try it. A free trial with a value oriented price would be a good idea.

  5. Jeanne Thelwell Avatar
    Jeanne Thelwell

    I would love to try this!

  6. Lynn Crain Avatar

    This software sounds wonderful…when can I get it…LOL! Right now, I have to go to three or four different places to get most of these things. I have a program to do my social media sharing, I have a program to put together my manuscript and I have a program to keep all my notes, outlines, snippets and more in. Once I do my manuscript, I have to either send it out for formatting or put it in yet another program to kinda make it look like what I need it to for the final product if I’m self-publishing. If all of this could be in one package, I would be forever grateful.

    And just as a side note, I used to beta test everything from Wordstar to Word to WordPerfect. They loved me doing it because I was really good at finding all the bugs. LOL! Yes, that’s my plug to get in on the ground floor.

    So, absolutely, I’d buy this software in a hot minute!

  7. Tee Ayer Avatar
    Tee Ayer

    I’d be happy! I use Scrivener and the one function I can’t do without is the Comipile into ebooks options. So I’d jump to your platform if it can do that. Cloud storage is a must plus backups. And a Evernote type notetaking app – I find OneNote not as portable across devices as Evernote. And a mindmapping facility – I havent read the comments so I don’t know if that has come up.
    These would make me a happy girl 😉

  8. Irina Avatar

    Yes, for a one-time (or limited monthly installment) fee, I’d be interested 🙂

  9. Brian Avatar

    I would love to use something like this. I like all of the options you list for the software, and some of what has been presented by others who have commented, but it would be nice to be able to turn off some of those options within the software so that I wasn’t always viewing them.

  10. Lisa Wilclox Avatar
    Lisa Wilclox

    I am very interested in finding out more about this tool. It sounds extremely useful.

  11. Sherri Avatar

    Yes, I think this is a brilliant idea. Having everything in one place and only having to input the information once would be such a relief.

  12. Morven Avatar

    I’d love to have everything in one place, but I know that’s an exceptionally high goal. Still, to have most things in one place would be great. I write in Word, Scrivener, or Libre Office, depending on where I am. I’m able to do that because I can use the RTF format to go between different software packages.

    I’ve used TweetDeck sometimes for blogs and social media, but often just go directly to the individual places (Facebook, Blogger, WordPress sites). I haven’t been blogging much lately, but maybe having a good single-source feature would change that.

    Regarding fees: I like it when I can try out software in a free mode, then later upgrade to premium. 30 day trials don’t work well because sometimes I’m really busy with the day job and may lose 2-3 weeks because I just don’t have time to write. A free/premium model gets around that. Also, sometimes I find that I never use the premium features of a software offering, but because I can see that they’re available, I can tell friends about them. (“Oh, yeah, I use AcmeWriteBest and love it. I use the free version, so I can’t upload, edit, and stream videos, but I’m not working with videos right now, so it’s okay.”)

    Looking forward to hearing more about this!

  13. Maria Jones Avatar

    This sounds exciting!

    A program like this would be great for organizing ideas as they come up.

  14. Kate Avatar

    It sounds good, especially the promotion and book launch parts as that is what I do worst of all things. I am in the process of getting a website.

  15. Stephanie Avatar

    I still use ordinary word files and use my memory to connect the pièces. Il would be most interested in discovering the type of sofware you describe.

  16. Vicki Stiefel Avatar
    Vicki Stiefel

    Sounds terrific to me, Holly. I’m interested. Vicki

  17. Rose-Ann Marchitto Avatar
    Rose-Ann Marchitto

    Sounds wonderful. Love to see it when it comes in.

  18. Patricia Avatar

    Giggling here reading some of the comments. I thought my lengthy learning curve with scrivener was just me! lol! If this app idea is simple then yes! P

  19. T Black Avatar

    You’ve had many comments, but you asked, and my answer: I am intrigued by ALL of it:)

  20. Elmi Avatar

    Yes, definitely interested! I used to work at a successful IT company as their in-house designer and software tester (QA) and must admit that I’m a bit… skeptical about such a mythical creature, one that can do everything and make you coffee to boot (at least I *hope* it can make coffee, caffeine is crucial to many authors’ writing process ;P). I’d like to be on the beta testing team, I have experience in QA and software documentation, as well as all the different aspects the software will cover (writing-, organizing-, blogging-, WordPress-, and social media-wise) if you ever needed any testers.

  21. Lani Avatar

    Yes, Holly and Dan, this sounds wonderful like a dream come true. Hopefully it will not take long for you to have the software ready.

    I like having everything in one place where it is easy to find and work with. Tips and steps to take for Book Pre-Launch and Launch Pages will be great.

    The pop-up page – having another box to click – I have your freebie or I’m on your list.

  22. ailyn Avatar

    if you could consider doing an app with software purchase it will be good too, considering our Aha moment isn’t always in front of a computer.

  23. Jacquie New Avatar

    It certainly sounds incredibly interesting, and time saving, and anything that will help prevent constant duplication of work is a plus in my book. It would need to be easy to use as I’m not overly tech-savvy, and price would be a determining factor. I’m looking forward to seeing how it would all work. Thanks Holly and Dan!

  24. Amelia Avatar

    I am going to be the lone dissenter here, but bear in mind that I don’t like Scrivener, either. For me, brainstorming and plotting occupy a very different mental space from social media and promotions, and I wouldn’t want to have both those tabs open at once in my brain — I switch back and forth often, but it’s important to me to keep them separate.

    A program which only coordinated blog and social media posts would be much more interesting to me.

    1. Holly Avatar

      You’re not alone. I don’t want to write posts or tweets at all when I’m working.

      What I want, and what I’m getting, is software that turns sections of my work that I select after I’m done working and counting the words INTO posts and tweets and whatever.

      I’ll also create posts from time to time, because I like to talk about things other than my writing, my characters, and the trouble I’m getting them into (occasionally). But mostly…?

      My favorite thing (that’s suitable for prime time) is writing fiction, or writing about writing fiction in courses and lessons and workshops and stuff. So that’s what I want to do, and that’s what Dan is building for me so I can do more of what I love.

  25. rebecca Avatar

    Hi Holly
    I think it sounds very good. I already have a website but I find it hard to get in there and make it how I want it. I certainly can’t use it for all the things you’re suggesting. I love the simplicity of it – if you can really do it!
    And while I’m here, a big thank you for all your fantastic work. I don’t know how you do it.

  26. Katharina Gerlach Avatar

    I’m extremely interested in this kind of software if it isn’t too expensive. I know Dan does a great job (I’ve seen his work) and the software will surely be top notch. This kind of programming is costly, so it’d only be fair if he gets recompensated by EVERYONE using his software. So, depending on the price and the flexibility of the tools it will allow me to use, I’d get it.

  27. Kathy Brodland Avatar
    Kathy Brodland

    This is something that would definitely interest me

  28. Alice Yu Avatar

    Hi Holly – yes I’d be interested in this – esp having planning and development prompts and reminders. I work with Scrivener for writing but would love something more integrated with my blog for planning and brainstorming and tracking my progress.

  29. Eileen Avatar

    I have several questions, but haven’t waded through all the comments, so not sure if they’re already covered.

    1) I don’t want to duplicate anything… and currently work in Scrivener. How would these interface?
    2) Would this plug in to WordPress?
    3) Can I use feed this into twitter, Facebook and Pinterest or other social media?
    4) What do you mean by Launch pages?
    5) Will the user interface be REALLY easy?
    6) Pricing will be crucial. Anything too costly would prohibit many writers from buying.
    7) Support? Video tutorials, forum….etc

    Go, Dan and Holly, Sounds great!

  30. Margaret Avatar

    It definitely sounds interesting. The 100% Web aspect is a downside for me because I often work offline, so some form of sync even to a local version accessed through the browser but not requiring online status would be necessary.

    The other biggie for me, and the reason I went with Scrivener, is not storing the information in a locked, proprietary format. If Dan decides to retire before I’m done writing and the next OS update changes something critical, I need to be able to access my files. This is what Scrivener gives because everything is a layer on top of text, pdf, and rtf files.

    However, the concept of having everything work together instead of scatter in 50 different places would be lovely.

    Oh, and one other thought that blends well with the concept is a timeline. Especially for series, one where I could turn most to private but do the key ones public so people trying to figure out where X book falls in the world timeline could see where the books sit.

    Good luck with this. I think there’s definitely still room in the writing application market.

    1. Holly Avatar

      On the work, we’re looking at outputting in .doc or .docx and .rtf formats (both Mac-compatible).

      On the code end, I told Dan when we teamed up that if we went in separate directions, I had to be able to be able to take care of all my sites on my own.

      That means no locked code. And the thing he’s building for me is the thing he’s building.

      I learned a lot from all those years working with you, and it carried over into everything I’m doing now. 😀

      BTW, this is website software with benefits, not a writing app. Dan’s going to offer a non-writer version without all my weird twitches in it—because it is making some beautiful websites.

  31. Bonnie Avatar

    Yes, I would be interested. This concept sounds wonderful. My concerns have already been listed.

  32. Beany394 Avatar

    Wow. Yes, this sounds good. A few issues, though.
    “desktop app for this that I can write in so that my work is backed up on my computer” – would this be accessible without internet connection? Because it is good to be able to write anywhere, anytime. Would it be kind of like OneDrive – syncs when you have internet?
    And I would wonder about the security of such a system. If it’s online, someone can probably hack into it.
    Otherwise, sounds pretty good to me. Would it have a similar interface to MS Word? or would it be completely different? I’m not the most tech-savvy person either..

  33. TCC Edwards Avatar

    Yes, I would very much like this, especially if it works like a simplified version of Scrivener. Promotion and selling are the most headache-inducing parts for me, so anything that makes those processes easier would be awesome.

  34. Christine Avatar

    Sounds awesome! I’ve tried a lot of different writing software but none seem to work 100% for me. This sounds ideal!

  35. Marie-Claire Allington Avatar
    Marie-Claire Allington

    I think it sounds very interesting and I am keen to see how it works out. I can see the advantages from your POV but thinking about it anything that helps us with the minefield of marketing and collating posts and advertising in one place will be a winner for me. MC

  36. Garrett W Avatar

    I’m automatically a little wary of any software that promises to be a one-stop shop for my writing needs, even one promoted by you, Holly. Having said that, I’d definitely be interested in a trial of the software you’ve described above if it were offered.

  37. Ed Hamell Avatar
    Ed Hamell

    Sounds like a very interesting and viable tool. I would be very interested if the price is right

  38. Lisa Avatar

    Yes, I’m intersted as well. I’m for anything that makes things easier and more promotable.

  39. Peter Avatar

    Definitely interested. I live and die by my Scrivener, so if there was something better, that would provide a more complete solution, I would be very interested.

    I got the impression, from your description, that there would be a desktop component so the Writer could work off-line? This would be necessary.

    Also, with the trend moving toward Tablets that also function as your desktop, I talked to Scrivener and they are working on an Android version. I would think there would need to be an Android version that matches (or close to) the Desktop component.

  40. Andy Rose Avatar
    Andy Rose

    I would definitely be interested. I love the idea of having everything in one place. I am very organized but when I am on the go it’s impossible to keep everything under one website or document. If this were mobile-friendly, it would be very beneficial. If not, it would still be helpful.

  41. Tom Vetter Avatar

    I’m not too set in old ways not to pay attention to a new idea with potential. Didn’t find Scribner did much for me that Microsoft Office wouldn’t. This could well help me do a LOT better. So count me in as interested, and thank you for the opportunity!

  42. crystal Avatar

    Sounds very interesting. Definitely a useful tool, especially the private part staying private until…

    Yes, interested to know more.

  43. Heather Avatar

    I think this is something that would be very useful to writers. I personally would love the organizational aspect as well as the all in one aspect of it.

  44. Pat Brown Avatar

    I’d be very interested as long as it was a standalone product and didn’t require WordPress, which I don’t use. I’m especially intrigued by the character creation side of it.

  45. DS Kane Avatar

    I am definitely am interested.

    I currently use Mariner’s Contour and Persona. Contour gives me an robust plot outline and Persona shows how characters interact given their personalities, traits and talents.

    I start with a text outline and a theme. Then onto the software packages. Then I write. So far, this has yielded me three Amazon BESTSELLERS in my Spies Lie series (Bloodridge, DeathByte and Swiftshadow). But, it takes so much time because the two pieces of software and my paper outline don’t interface.

    If you have software where the interfaces are internal, I want it.

  46. Phoenix Avatar

    This sounds like a truly excellent vision, Holly. I’d especially love to see development of a desktop app, since that would make switching between Writer Central Command and Scrivener much easier.

    Actually, would it be possible for Dan to add an “export to Scrivener” function somewhere in all of the above? I like the idea of being able to just copy the outline into Scrivener (for easy reference) and then bang away at the story. I’m pretty firmly in “plot first, write second” territory with my process, even if said plot consists of just “A meets B and they have C through F adventures before resolving incident E that started it all,” with the finer details getting slotted in later.

    And the notion of having ALL the writing/promoting/publishing related bits and pieces in the one place – ah! What a dream come true that would be! I’m currently in a blogging slump with my primary (not fiction related) blog, and the thought of cranking out more posts for other work is just, ugh. I’m barely getting my one post a week out at Crunchy Squirrel, and part of that is the disorganisation of having to check 10,286 different places to be sure I’ve got all the bits I wanted to include in an article.

  47. Ken Dickson-Self Avatar
    Ken Dickson-Self

    Sounds pretty cool to me. I’m a current Scrivener user, but I have a hard time tracking everything using just that tool (have tried Microsoft OneNote, too, and had the same sort of problem).

  48. Zoe Avatar

    I would definitely be interested in something like this.

  49. Eryn Avatar

    Very interested. Marketing/Promotion is my biggest weakness and this would make a huge difference.

  50. Alex Avatar

    I’d be interested in it, especially for the all in one factor. I’ve closed one app only to wonder what I was planning on doing so many times, so this seems like it could help with that.

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