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. Fiona Tarr Avatar

    Sounds great Holly. I am a business owner as well as part time writer and I get breaks in my writing schedule, often, too often.
    This software sounds like it would significantly improve organisation of my writing by making my work trackable, reviewable and easily marketable.

  2. Irene Avatar

    I don’t recall whether or not I responded to this topic yet. I’ve been toying with the idea of my own website for awhile. Each time I’d seriously consider making one I’d be reminded of how overwhelmed I already feel with the various social media sites I use today. This sounds like a fantastic solution! Can’t wait to check it out!


  3. Margaret Avatar

    This is exciting, so many good points already shared.
    I love Scrivener for writing fiction and want to use it for blogging as well but can’t quite make a streamlined system work for myself. If the new CMS handles blogging I’ll buy it. It needs to be available for Windows and Android (I think that’s been mentioned). Offline writing as well.
    It’s time to take the Scrivener research tools up a notch – while they’re great because they are there I’m sure there could be better models in some of the citation management programs used in universities. Possibly more applicable for non fiction writers but whenever I research anything I feel very uncomfortable if I can’t cite it properly and trace it back to the source and make notes. Scrivener does this but not nicely.
    Yes I would buy this, thanks for asking.

  4. Edie Houston Avatar

    I’m currently a Scrivener user. I would definitely be inerested.

  5. Jenn Avatar

    Yes! Definitely interested!

  6. J.A.Partridge Avatar

    Is this something that will be supported? New exploits are discovered all the time. I’ve already been hacked once because of a security problem with a WP plugin that was abandoned by its developers.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Hi, J.A.

      So have I, which is one of many reasons I’m ditching WordPress.

      The answer to your question is Yes. This will be supported long-term. Dan is starting to acquire additional team members to develop this software with him and to provide support. There was, I’ll note with some bemusement, a tiny bit more interest in this than either he or I had anticipated.

      This software is a full website app. It isn’t a plugin, though Dan is building it with the possibility that third-party plugins will be licenseable and developable through a Twitter-style API. (Twitter is built using the Twitter API, this software will be build using its API).

      He and his team will offer support forums, personal assistance, and will build plugins based on what I want, what folks here suggest and what his eventual customers request.

      1. J.A.Partridge Avatar

        Awesome. Count me in then. Assuming I can swing the cost of course. πŸ™‚ But this sounds like it would save me a ton and a half of headaches.

  7. Julianna Avatar

    I most certainly do want! I like the writing classes and methods, but I have very little computer savvy. I have been reluctant to buy any writing software for fear of the learning curve. At least with something made by Holly and Dan, I know I would get something designed for the writing and promotion methods I am learning and loving, and there would be support and accountability. Trust is everything.
    It would be nice if the thing came with tutorials that assume very, very low computer experience. I think video tutorials can be useful but I prefer written instructions.
    Price point and payment is secondary but still very important. I like how the big classes are priced – you can get a good deal for paying for the whole thing up front, or pay more on an installment plan. I like flexibility like that.

  8. Storm Avatar

    I would LOVE this!!! It sounds perfect!

  9. silverwolf Avatar

    Sounds wonderful!. Definitely interested.

  10. Sarah_Avery Avatar

    Yes, I would absolutely buy this, price permitting. At the risk of stating the obvious, I would need it to run on Mac OS, and I would need to be able to import my old Microsoft Word 2004 .doc files into it. For manuscript submission purposes, I’d want to be able to save files as .doc, .docx, and .rtf files.

    The feature I probably wouldn’t use is turning the finished product into an ebook and selling it directly from the site. My inclination, even for planned self-publishing, would be to hire out for book design, so unless my book design people were working in the same application, I’d probably be sending it to them in a more conventional file format and getting it back from them as a finished ebook. Or at least, given my current understanding of self-publishing, that’s what I think I’d be doing. I’m gearing up for my first attempt this summer.

    Thank you so much for undertaking this project. If you and Dan decide to pursue it, I hope you’ll write about the creative and business process. It looks like a perfect example of Jeff Walker’s seed launch. I’m sure many of us who have followed your advice and studied his methods would love to read about your experience doing a more complex type of seed launch than most writers are ever likely to attempt.

    Good luck!

  11. Elise M. Stone Avatar

    I’m going to be one of the few naysayers. I’m very comfortable with using Scrivener for all my writing and publishing tasks, including blog posts, and use Things for the minimal project management I do. I didn’t see anything in your feature list about creating mobi, epub, and PDF files in this software, which would be a major loss for me.

    I keep a spreadsheet to track when and to which Facebook groups I’ve made promotional posts.

    However simple new software might be, there’s still a learning curve.

    Secondly, as I’ve learned through taking HTTS and HTRYN, you and I think very differently about some things, Holly. What would work perfectly for you would probably have stumbling blocks for me.

  12. Kate M. Avatar
    Kate M.

    For me the private/public split you mention would be critical. It’s nice to be able to publish material easily, but just as nice to be sure nothing sneaks out when it’s not intended to. And I’m also a big fan of having things on my own hard drive as well as elsewhere. Backups make life sustainable.

  13. Tracy Avatar

    I love the idea of going essentially from first to last with this software — first word written to last promotion of the final project. It’s intriguing to think that I could see every step in between. For me, I’m not sure that I’m ready for it yet, but I can see a future where I might be. I currently use Scrivener to write, and I know I don’t use all of its functions yet. Sometimes it feels like a steep learning curve. I definitely like the comments here that suggest ease of use between platforms, cut and paste to blog for example, as well as between computers. I love to work between my phone, my laptop and any other electronic device I have handy, and often find work-arounds (like dropbox) when it’s not easily possible. Any program that would make that process easier is something that would interest me. Generally, it sounds like a winner, even though I’m not yet at the point where I would fully utilise this kind of software.

  14. Michael Polk Avatar
    Michael Polk

    Yeah, this sounds like it could be really useful. I use Scrivener, too, but mostly I just use it so I can keep all of my documents in one place and switch between them without waiting for my 5 year old Mac to do its thing and open my other stuff. Most of the time, I’m happy using TextEdit. It’s easy, and the best substitute for Microsoft Word. Sometimes it feels like I could do more on Word than I’ve been able to on my Mac. Like tables. Tables are really important for me, especially when I write my languages. Will this program be able to do tables, and do you think they’ll be relatively easy to find? It took me forever to find them on Scrivener, and TextEdit just fights me every step of the way.

    Yeah, this could be handy. Would have to see to be sure, though. Looking forward to it.

  15. Caroline Avatar

    Yes, I would love to not have to deal with WordPress. I have started and stopped setting up a site so many times with it, I just don’t get it and I don’t have time to sit and study it. I would rather be writing. So I am on board.

  16. pennylightfoot Avatar

    I’m definitely interested. I know I’m not using Scrivener to its fullest potential, but still would like to see a good alternative. And this sounds great!

  17. Dan Allen Avatar

    I have read every comment. The best thing I can do at this point to get helpful software to you is to concentrate on completing some of the work Holly and I have laid out for her use. At that point, it will be a lot easier to be very specific about what features can be provided, in what order, and on what timeline.

    Everything in this thread can be supported. My plan is support all of it. I will be able to translate that into specific features delivered on a timeline much better when more of the work I am doing with Holly has come online.

    I can tell you now, this software will be easy to use and modestly priced. It will not do everything for everyone and will not make coffee.

    It will do what I will be coming to understand writers need it to do, based on this thread and others like it that are to come. I will not be making up what I think writers need. I am counting on you to tell me. Thank you for the solid start you have put into this.

    1. Elise M. Stone Avatar

      Okay, not making coffee is a definite deal-breaker. πŸ˜‰

  18. Minna LaShae Avatar
    Minna LaShae

    Truthfully as a writer, I’m so new that I haven’t yet done any of this

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

    So to have it all in one place seems ideal.

    Tying it all into the promotional/launch/connection aspect sounds sublime.

  19. L R Davis Avatar

    I am on the end of being clueless about software. I get it and then can’t figure it out.
    I need things for the idiots.
    I was looking at an excel spreadsheet for plotting that JK Rowling used by hand and someone copied it to excel and I was wishing I could do something like that. But I failed at trying to create it.
    I would like to be able to print things out so I can see them spread on the desk and not just my computer. But I also like using my tablet and laptop for work. So like the others have said–need it to work on Android.
    It all sounds terrific…if it were something I could figure out how to use.

  20. Amy Avatar

    I love (LOVE!) the idea of this. And would definitely try it out when it becomes ready. My hope would be that it would have the same level of functionality as Scrivener with the ability to build and alter projects, autosave, track changes with the ability to revert if necessary, format and export… all that good stuff. But to ADD the functionality to work from my ipad in addition to the other things you’ve mentioned.

    Really cool idea (and I’m not the only one who thinks so based on the number of comments). I wish you and Dan amazing creativity, skill, and luck in pulling it together and getting it to function effectively. πŸ˜€

  21. Kris Avatar

    Honestly, when I first read the e-mail, I did not think this would be something I’d use. But now that I’ve read the post itself, it does sound cool. I would at least give it a shot.

    My two biggest concerns are whether this is something that would run on Linux systems (I’m a Mint user, and I haven’t had a 100% success rate getting Windows programs to run through WINE), and what the files would be saved as.

    In the past, I’ve used writing software with esoteric file formats that can only be opened by that software. This is one of the reasons I switched to yWriter, and then Scrivener. Both save my writing in a .rtf format, so I can still read it even if something goes wrong with the software.

    I think it would be cool if this functioned a bit like Adobe Bridge, aggregating all relevant files into a single spot.

    The only feature you listed that I doubt I’d use is the daily writing progress diary. I’m strict about keeping timecards of every minute I spend writing, but that’s the extent of it.

  22. Jorinda Avatar

    I’m not sure whether or not my replies to previous comments will get lost in the crowd or not, so let me summarize briefly. I would definitely be interested in this provided some key features are available:

    -Integration with Scrivener and Aeon Timeline, since I currently use both programs and find them excellent for many things. (Also, my current writing project is a series that will take me several years to complete, so I would prefer not to have to transfer tons of already-created content into another program.)

    -The ability to work offline/save to my hard drive instead of the cloud. This is very important to me since I live in a rural area and my internet connection can be spotty.

    I have also seen some really great ideas about managing multiple pen names and keeping a database of agents and editors, as well as tracking your queries and interactions with them. Those are less important to me, but I still think they would be valuable to a lot of writers. I also like the idea of having content from the Holly Lisle classes we own be loaded into the program.

  23. Louis Wilberger Avatar
    Louis Wilberger

    Build on Mac Duff.

  24. Irene Avatar

    This sounds like a wonderful opportunity…. Looking forward to reading/learning more about it.

  25. Terry O'Carroll Avatar
    Terry O’Carroll

    This does sound VERY interesting indeed. Especially the part about replacing WordPress.

  26. Linda Simser Avatar
    Linda Simser

    Think it sounds fabulous, like all the other products you offer! I love them, and I can’t wait to see this one.

  27. Maaja Avatar

    This sounds interesting, although I wouldn’t like to use the editor to write unless it has all the functions of Word.

    The plus side would be streamlining social media. That would be great.

    I’m very interested in your product launch for fiction authors. There is, as you say, lots of info out there for non-fiction books which doesn’t apply to us, especially to those who didn’t start with a traditional publisher. I have no mailing list, and I don’t want to spend all my creative writing time on the business side of something that may never pay off… The writing has to come first. This new interface has to be able to let writers concentrate on the ‘art’ part too, and not become too distracting.

  28. Jess Avatar

    100% interested. While Scrivener has it’s many wonderful features, I find it still falls short. I love to write on my tablet as much as my laptop, and I can’t do it with Scrivener. I would love to have something more adept to this and making other writerly tasks simpler. Crossing fingers.

  29. Elizabeth Winfield Avatar
    Elizabeth Winfield

    Yes please! My only challenge is that I would need it to work ‘offline’ as well as online because the internet is not always my friend.

    Thank you for all you both do.

  30. zette Avatar

    This sounds great, Holly. I created something like this about 20 years ago in Access, but never had the ability to really tie things together properly or the time to play with it for very long. Like others in the list, I now use Scrivener for most of my writing, but I have also found that sometimes using something different makes the experience more exciting again. So you never know what might help!

  31. gabby Avatar

    oh, almost forgot. I also would want something that I could buy. I don’t do monthly fees unless there is no other solution and I think the writing solutions I have already do what I need to do. It would just be really nice to have one piece of software that did everything.
    (Oh, another idea, some kind of timer for writing sprints…)

    1. Carl Plumer Avatar

      I don’t mind monthly fees, as long as the value is good. Thought I’d add that here, Gabby, if you don’t mind! πŸ™‚

    2. Jess Avatar

      I LOVE the timer for sprint idea. It’s amazing how much more I can get done under a timer. πŸ™‚

    3. Michael Polk Avatar
      Michael Polk

      Yeah, a full-buy thing would be useful. That way I don’t have to wonder, “Ooh, do I have to do that thing with the writing thing?”
      (And that timer would be handy. That’s the reason I tend not to do writing sprints-lack of a timer.)

  32. gabby Avatar

    This part would be big “β€’Planning and deadline setting and tracking” especially if it had an easy way to track word count, percentage complete and days to completion (or just how many words you have to write each day to get to 100%). This probably is already part of the above but just had to mention to make sure.

  33. Carl Plumer Avatar

    Absolutely 100% interested. Please keep things like Ajax and Web 2.0 in mind when designing the UI is all I would say. The prettier the better! The easier to use the even better better! πŸ˜‰ THANKS HOLLY!!

  34. Walter Daniels Avatar
    Walter Daniels


  35. Cheryl Avatar

    This idea is really exciting me Holly! I’ve tried a lot of story building software (free and paid) and found only two that I liked enough to keep. After getting to grips with it, I now use scrivener and your workshops together to work out and build my stories, but it can be very distracting & frustrating opening/closing tabs and having folders & notes sprawled out in front of me all the time. I only have a little desk, lol. So yes, combining the story building process with your methods seems like it might be the perfect solution and I would definitely give the software a try if it became available πŸ™‚ xxx

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