Category: Self Publishing

It’s / its, there / their / they’re, your / you’re

I’m not going to insult your intelligence by suggesting that you don’t know when to use each of the above words. Of course you do. But your spell checker doesn’t know the difference between them. Regardless of which one appears on the page as you type your 120 words a minute, your word processor will not raise a red flag.

When you’re in the zone, when your creative side is buzzing away at speeds faster than your fingers can type, that’s when the most embarrassing typos put in an appearance. You’re not even looking at what you type, which is why you often end up with three lines in ALL CAPS before you realise you hit the caps lock key. Your fingers know the words, but they occasionally type the wrong one.

Maybe it’s a muscle memory thing, or maybe it’s because your fingers don’t have a brain. The reason doesn’t matter.

It’s the worst amateur mistake a writer can make. Scorn will be heaped upon you. Your fans will desert you. They’ll demand you return the Pulitzer, and the film rights will be back up for sale — with no takers. Yet we’ve all done it, and cringed and wept afterwards.

These words used to form part of the Possibly Misused Words list, but the blowback from writers was so severe that I removed them. (Who, me? Make a childish mistake like that? Never!) Yet you still need to watch out for them. Typos like these, it hardly bears thinking about.

Which is why they were added to the monitored words list by default. This particular check — available in both the free and licensed versions of SmartEdit — allows you to keep track of any word or phrase you wish, and to see each instance alongside the sentence it sits in. The sample below is from a blog post I wrote a few months back.

Misused Words List

There were no errors or typos in the post, but running it through SmartEdit allowed me to quickly check for just those high-school type mistakes (which you never make). Reading the sentence fragments only took a minute, and I could post my post reassured that whatever other grammatical or spelling mistakes I might have made, at least I hadn’t made one of those.

I’ll be running this post through the same check in a couple of minutes, so don’t bother trying to catch me out. Seriously though, you might never tell your friends, fans or writing partners that you check for this sort of thing in your work, but you’d be a fool not to.

If you’re running an earlier version of SmartEdit, these words may not appear in the Monitored Words List, but you can add them yourself in a few seconds, along with any other word of phrase you want to keep an eye on.

08 Apr 2014

Misused or Mistakenly Used Words in Your Novel

One of SmartEdit’s checks has been singled out by users as the cause of much frustration and hair pulling. Not because there’s anything wrong with the check itself, or the manner in which it presents its results. More because it makes the writer question their own understanding of the English language, and that can be painful for any writer.

The trouble maker is the List of Possibly Misused Words. The purpose of this check is to pull out every instance of a particular set of words — words that are often misused in place of similar sounding or similarly spelled words by a small portion of writers. That misuse may be unintentional misuse due to a lack of understanding of which of the two words should be used. Or it may be unintentional due to a misspelling or typo that will not be caught be a spell checker.

Here’s an extract from the result set for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz — a terrible choice of book for a demo, as it can hardly be called unedited. You should see what happens when you run a 200,000 word fan-fiction novel through SmartEdit.

Misused Words List

The grid presents the writer with a list of words used next to the sentence fragment where they were found, along with a possible alternate word that the writer might have meant to use instead. In 98% of cases, the word will have been used correctly, but in a small number of cases — or a large number, depending on how good your knowledge of the English language — the wrong word will have been used.

And here is where the frustration often sets in. In some cases, the decision is easy to make: a canon shoots balls, a cannon wears black and looks solemn. In others, many of us have to stop and think for a few seconds: should you bare with me or bear with me?

That’s the trouble with software. It can pluck a word or phrase that it’s been told to pluck out of a novel, but it can’t know with any degree of certainty whether there’s an actual problem. That’s for the writer to decide, and if the writer has been neglecting his or her reading over the past few years, that decision can sometimes be difficult to make.

But not for you, of course. I’m sure your knowledge of English is sufficient that 99.9% of your word usage is spot on. But do you really want to run the risk of letting that fraction of one percent loose on an unsuspecting readership? Is your vanity today worth risking your reputation tomorrow?

Because make no mistake, if you write Literature with a capital L, and are publicly proud of doing so, a sew/sow kind of slip up will be even harder to live down.

Below, you’ll find the Misused Words results list for this blog post.

Misused Words List

05 Apr 2014

Editing Software for Writers — How is SmartEdit Different?

It doesn’t tell you what to do. That’s the biggest difference between SmartEdit and so many of its competitors.

SmartEdit is the tool, you’re the writer. It’s the machine, powered by ones and zeros. You’re the human being, full of thoughts and ideas, and fueled by bursts of creativity.

Would a brush rise up and instruct a painter on his choice of colour? Would a guitar question a musician’s chords? Of course not. Then why do so many software products designed for writers feel the need to instruct the writer and tell him what he’s doing wrong?

You’ve used the word ginormous twelve times. Consider removing four of them.

This paragraph has three adverbs. Remove two.

Every instance of the word gowpen has been highlighted in red, so you can see how close together they are and do something about it.

Endeavour is a poor word choice for your YA novel. Replace it with try. It’s easier for teenagers to understand.

SmartEdit does not instruct the writer in any way. It provides you with sets of information and then steps back while you decide what, if anything, you’re going to do about it. There are no green lines under adverbs, no suggestions to help the faint-hearted writer unable to trim his beloved sentences.

It’s a glorified spell checker, only it comes without a squiggly red underline, making it easier to ignore. It shows you what you’ve written, presents your own work to you in different ways. There’s something about seeing your novel broken down into a less comfortable format that makes spotting areas that might need changing a little easier.

The not-quite-right sentence in the middle of an almost perfect chapter stands out when seen in isolation, removed from the cover of the well crafted paragraphs and dialog that surround it.

Have you used the word beautiful eighteen times? So what? Take a look at all of those sentences, sitting side by side, and maybe you will decide to go with a different word in one or two cases. Or maybe you’ll decide that it’s such a perfect word choice that your short story would benefit from a few more beautiful’s.

But don’t take my word for it. Try out SmartEdit for yourself, and see if it suits your writing and editing style. It’s not for everyone, not even for most writers. I was describing SmartEdit to an Irish poet a few weeks ago in Galway and she did everything but turn up her nose. The upward nasal tilt did arrive towards the end of our conversation, but by that time I’d reached the subject of self-publishing and Hugh Howey, so it wasn’t really SmartEdit’s fault.

The trial version runs for ten working days, so you have plenty of time to take it for a test run before deciding it’s not for you.

02 Apr 2014

Excessive and misused punctuation

I’ve got a cousin who doesn’t understand punctuation. She writes blog posts on marketing and business related stuff and fills her sentences with misused semicolons, ellipsis that are not ellipsis at all, and question marks after exclamation marks as if to say: “This; is a question……. no it’s not, yes it is?!!?

I’ve got a sister who doesn’t understand what a full stop is for. She’ll use a comma instead of a period, joining two unconnected thoughts together in ways that make me scratch my head. Sometimes she leaves out the end-of-sentence punctuation entirely, leaving a paragraph hanging off a cliff without any kind of protective barrier to keep it from falling.

Overuse and misuse of punctuation is a problem that plagues a certain type of writer. If reading Twilight fan-fiction is your guilty pleasure, you’ll have encountered it on many occasions. Usually, this sort of carelessness is caught and tidied up by an editor, but in the self-publishing world we now live in, where many see editor as an ugly word, it’s creeping into published fiction.

Which brings me to the Suspect Punctuation checker in SmartEdit. This neat little piece of functionality is still in its infancy, and will probably be expanded upon over the coming year. As it stands, it draws your attention to crazy punctuation such as ?!!??. It highlights all use of exclamation marks, and as usual, gives you a quick sentence fragment to eyeball so you can check if you really do need to shout out loud at every turn.

I’m considering expanding the Suspect Punctuation checker to highlight all usage of a host of commonly misused punctuation marks — even the semicolon. If you know how to use a semicolon, it won’t be much use to you. Unless you’re John Irving, in which case seeing all those semicolons in one place might make you reconsider when it comes to penning that next novel. There was a reason I had such difficulty getting through those early chapters of A Widow For One Year.

How often you do things is a question that SmartEdit likes to answer for a host of writing related questions. It’s not easy to spot the forest for the trees when you’re editing your own work, which is why it can be useful to see a detailed analysis of just what you’ve been getting up to on those dark evenings in front of your monitor, tapping away into Word or Scrivener.

31 Mar 2014

Phrase and Word Repetition in your Novel

The earliest version of SmartEdit, way back in 2011, contained a small set of tools that counted words and phrases in a manuscript. Word repetition counters were not new — they had appeared in one form or another in various tools and utilities, the most common incarnation being the ever popular word cloud that showed up on the sidebars of blogs a few years ago.

The phrase counter was new — or if not completely new, it had not been incorporated into other software packages that I was aware of. Hardly surprising, as unlike the word counter, coming up with a list of unique phrases and the number of times they are used is not an easy task — not if you want it to work on a 150,000 word novel as well as a 500 word blog post.

Writing code to extract useful information from a snippet of prose is easy, which is why web based utilities pop up every few weeks doing just that. Extending that functionality to handle novel length works is not easy. Which is why these same web based offerings fall over at the first hint of an 80,000 word novel.

The word and phrase counters formed the core of SmartEdit, as it first appeared within PageFour and later as standalone, free software. They still exist in SmartEdit Lite, the free version of SmartEdit available to download from this website.

Instead of selling the benefits of the phrase counter to you, I’m gong to show you. As part of the early (and ongoing) testing of SmartEdit, a large number of published novels were run through the various checks, as were a number of fan-fiction novels.

My reasoning behind running the fan-fiction works through SmartEdit was that they were likely to be of less quality than published novels by established authors, and as such, would throw up a lot more issues for SmartEdit to catch. Basically, they would be a better representation of a first-draft of a novel than a work that had already suffered through an editor’s pen and many months of editing by the writer.

This proved to not always be the case. In some instances, published works were delivering shocking results, the kind of results that might mean the book should never have been published. I have little doubt that if the authors of some of these works had been no-name writers submitting a first novel, that that novel would have been rejected.

I won’t name the writer whose work was used when writing this blog post — I wouldn’t like to embarrass them — but will say that they are a New York Times best selling author, with double digit blockbusters under their belt.

The novel runs to about 150,000 words, not untypical for the genre, and the results are a fair representation of this writer’s most recent work. Here are some samples from the phrase counter list in SmartEdit:

Phrase #
for that matter 90
on the other hand 60
at the moment 43
shook his head 62
shook her head 39
in the first place 37
whether or not 37
after a moment 32

There’s a lot of head shaking going on in this novel, and probably amongst readers of the novel as well.

Phrase repetition is a tool often used deliberately by writers — Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech being one of the most famous examples. But in the case of the sample data shown above, there is nothing deliberate going on. It’s simple laziness and lack of editing. The handful of phrases I pulled out represent only the tip of the iceberg for this writer — once the number of occurrences get lower, the number of repeated phrases rises dramatically.

The nine phrases shown above would have been problematic if they had occurred even ten times each. The actual figures demonstrate the lack of editing that can happen when a writer becomes so popular that they feel editing is no longer necessary.

If you think your writing is so polished and your editing abilities so strong that you wouldn’t benefit from seeing a list just like this, then I challenge you to send me a copy of that draft. Many writers are afraid of lists like this, feeling it detracts from the creative process, but how creative does that list above look to you? Is a novel full of these sorts of repeated phrases something you would be proud to put your name to?

You don’t need to buy the professional version of SmartEdit to avail of this particular feature. It’s available in the free, Lite version as well, though the user interface is not as powerful.

SmartEdit Lite — Free

SmartEdit — Licensed Version

22 Mar 2014

Catching Inconsistencies in your Novel

There’s more to editing than polishing your prose and fine tuning your story. Let’s assume that you’ve got the basic spelling and grammar checking nailed. Let’s also assume that you’re pulling your hair out at every editing session trying to impress the Man Booker [1] judges in two year’s time. The story is the story, love it or hate it, you’re not changing that.

What does that leave?

The boring stuff. All that dull, grunt work that doesn’t have a creative side, that doesn’t require a spark of anything to complete. The price checking of your novel, the manual lifting that anyone with a pair of shoulders can do, the toilet cleaning that has to get done or someone will lose their job.

Spotting inconsistencies in your novel is one of the hardest things for a writer to do. Every one of those 80,000 words was written by you. You re-read paragraph after paragraph, page after page. Only you don’t, not really. You wrote it, you sweated over it, it sang to you. You remember, on some level, every one of those sentences. You start to read, but more often than not you’re reading from your memory, not from the page.

Did you rename a secondary character half way though? Is there a lingering mention of that first name on page 57 and page 321? If there is, chances are you won’t see it. In your mind’s eye Bill and Jethro are the same person.

What about those minor characters? Rafael the Spanish doorman in chapter one, who resurfaces as Dimitri, holding the door open in chapter eighteen.

Or the Deluded Pyromaniacs Organisation (DPO), who were responsible for a particularly nasty letter way back when your protagonist was getting out of bed for the first time, only to become the Deluded Pyromaniacs Association (DPA) when he notices a placard wielding chain smoker on a street corner as the plot comes to a close.

Spotting these sorts of minor inconsistencies is hard work for a writer. But your editor, and reader, will notice them every time. It’s the sort of carelessness that gets you one star reviews on Amazon, and a head smacking over on Goodreads.

Here’s the sales pitch: SmartEdit helps with this. The dull, boring, shelf stacking side of editing that nobody wants to do but that still has to get done.

There are two checks in SmartEdit that draw attention to just these sorts of inconsistencies — the Proper Nouns List and the Acronyms List. Both work in the same way, pulling out lists of every proper noun and every acronym in your novel, and displaying them alongside a sentence fragment for context.

Running this check will throw up a list that includes DPO and DPA, probably right next to each other, and also D.P.O., if that’s the direction your inconsistency runs. Deluded Pyromaniacs Organisation will be there, as will the Deluded Pyromaniacs Association, sitting side by side.

Bill, Jethro, Rafael and Dimitri will all put in a cameo. A quick eyeball, outside the cushion of your beloved prose really does help to identify phantom character names that were consigned to the trash months ago.

There’s nothing creative about ironing out these sorts of issues, but it has to be done. If you’re a professional writer, you need to produce professional work, and that includes getting rid of the inconsistencies that plague amateur and poorly edited work.

[1] If you’re American, Man Booker = English Pulitzer.

20 Mar 2014

Why there is no Free Editing Software for Writers

Most dedicated software for creative writers is aimed at early stage writing. The market for this software is huge. Poll ten people in a room and at least two of them are writing something—that’s assuming they’ll admit to it, as many writers are a bit shy about their work-in-progress.

The sheer number of people who occupy this early-stage writing sphere is so large that writing software cannot be termed niche software. A host of products, both free and paid, have sprung up to feed this market. The common thread that runs through all of this software is that it is aimed at first-draft writing.

When it comes time to edit that finished first draft, and time to share it with another person, none of this early-stage software can be used. Even powerful and widely used and recommended products such as Scrivener fail when it comes time to share and edit.

Why is this?

Two reasons. Firstly, because that’s when things get complicated—from a programming perspective that is. Features such as Microsoft Word’s Track Changes—used by professional editors all the time—are very difficult and time consuming to design and build. Which leads into the second reason that most writing software fails to properly handle the post-first-draft stage.

Most ‘writers’ never finish a first draft.

This is rarely talked about, but it is THE key reason so much writing software stops at the first-draft stage. If 95% of the users of your software never finish a first draft of a novel, that means only 5% will ever have use for the complicated post-first-draft feature set. Track Changes and whatever alternatives might have popped up are never incorporated into the software because it would only benefit 1 in 20 users.

Building polished, commercial software takes time and effort. A business decision has to be made for each feature that is added, and for low priced writing software (under $100), the business case for hard-core editing functionality cannot be made.

What does this mean for editing software in general?

It means that while early-stage writing software is NOT niche software, actual editing software IS. Its target market is the 5%—those writers who have completed a first draft of their 80,000 word novel. A real achievement, not to be sneezed at, but so rare that any software product aimed at this market cannot be called anything but niche.

The downside here: because the market is so small compared to the market for more general writing software, the number of players in this field is also small. Free software for editing does not exist. Small apps can be found at no cost—such as SmartEdit Lite, or the various word cloud utilities that take all of 5 minutes to build—but heavy duty software for editing is invariably going to cost real money and take real months or years of development time, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

If you’re waiting for the arrival of free editing software, don’t hold your breath.

[The prompt for this post: the number of search queries hitting this site with a variation of Free Editing Software for Writers. (that’d be the 5%)]

30 Sep 2013

Software’s Place in the Editing Process

One of the common criticisms levied against self-published books in recent months has been the lack of professional editing that even a cursory glance at a few Kindle published novels reveals. While this criticism is not always warranted, in many cases it is.

The level of editing required after completion of a first draft varies from writer to writer. Some writers are able to deliver two or three polished novels a year, while less productive writers take years to finish a single book–grinding through years of continuous editing until they are happy with the finished product. Every five years or so Kazuo Ishiguro produces a new work. It’s invariably short-listed for one literary prize or another, and it’s always well worth the wait.

Why do so many self-published authors fail when it comes to properly editing their work? Don’t they want their novel to be as good as it could be?

I see three reasons.

Firstly, the new self-publishing industry has impacted the writing and publishing worlds like a live grenade tossed through the window of an antiques shop. Stories abound of writers publishing their own material as soon as it’s finished, selling thousands of copies a month, and leveraging those sales to land traditional publishing contracts and movie deals.

Eager young writers want to emulate this success, and they want to do so today. Why wait a few years until they become more accomplished when they can learn on the job? This approach is championed by gurus such as Dean Wesley Smith and others, who advocate publishing fast and furiously, all the time training yourself to write better and better. Not surprisingly, editing is often a casualty of this rapid fire approach to self-publishing.

Secondly, many writers who have never been published by traditional, dead-tree publishing houses have no knowledge of what’s expected before they can call a novel finished. They produce a first draft in a couple of months, follow Stephen King’s advice and set the book aside for a few weeks, then come back to it for what amounts to little more than a spelling and grammar check.

It’s not really their fault. Nobody told them that this was not how it was supposed to be. Nobody told them that they really did need to get a professional editor to work with them to produce a good, solid novel. The results are a published catalogue of half a dozen novels that read like middle of the road fan-fiction.

This is a style of writing I’m familiar with myself, having once had a passion for reading Stargate / Buffy crossover fiction. It’s a genre of writing that many writers excel at in their early writing careers, appreciating the immediate feedback from users, and the chapter by chapter publishing methods that are so common. Unfortunately, they often take this amateur approach with them as they venture into the more real world and self-publish their original works.

Finally, there’s cost. Professional editors are expensive. Good professional editors are more expensive still. In the world of old school publishing, this cost was and is borne by the publishing houses. In the new world of self-publishing, the cost belongs to the writer.

Many unpublished authors are not in a position to afford the costs of an editor, or convince themselves that they do not need to afford the cost. After all, they’re still learning. Three books down the road they’ll have improved, they’ll be selling more copies, and they’ll be able to afford that editor. Why not wait until then?

If a new writer can’t afford to pay to have their work professionally edited, if they feel that their only option is to learn on the job, then that is what they will continue to do. Wishing it were not so will not change things.

This is the backdrop to the development of SmartEdit.

SmartEdit was not designed to replace a human editor, it was created to offer the writer a first step when it comes to editing. With SmartEdit, they can make a start on the editing process themselves, improving their work as much as possible before deciding on a next step.

Should they also hire a professional editor? Of course.

But the better the writing, the less costly the editor. Most editors charge varying rates depending on the amount of work they will be required to do, and this depends on the quality of the writing offered to them.

SmartEdit can reduce this cost by helping the writer address many mistakes early. The software works best when it’s given a first draft of a novel to work with. The greater the material to draw upon, the more deductions it can make.

So how does it work?

SmartEdit applies up to twenty five individual checks to the writer’s work. It flags overused phrases, crutch words, clichés and redundancies. It builds list of adverbs and dialog tags in a novel, as well as an invaluable list of proper nouns. It monitors the beginnings of sentences, and allows the writer to identify an over reliance on a particular phrase or word. It separates dialog from the prose that surrounds it, allowing checks to be run on one or the other–an invaluable tool for monitoring over use of words and phrases in character dialog.

SmartEdit also identifies more mundane issues such as excessive punctuation, double spaces, conflicting straight and smart quotes, and en and em dash issues–the sort of thing that can easily slip past a human eye and goes unremarked upon by word processors such as Microsoft Word and Open Office.

But it’s still a tool. Calling SmartEdit a glorified spell checker would not be doing it an injustice. It’s just as true that a technically oriented writer could produce scripts to perform many of these tasks themselves, and chances are many do.

But for the vast majority of writers, seeing all this information in one place, sitting side by side with their work-in-progress, offers a real opportunity to make a solid start on the editing process, a process that is often foreign to a great number of self-published writers.

Many will balk at the suggestion that software has a place in the editing process. To which I would counter that it already does. Spell checkers, features such as Track Changes in modern word processors, not to mention the much derided grammar checker are already heavily used by writers.

How many writers perform a search in their word processor for words ending in ‘ly‘? This is a simple effort to seek out an over-reliance on adverbs, utilising the technology already built into their word processor. SmartEdit does it better, taking on the techie tasks and letting the writer focus on the writing.

So long as the software does not automate any changes or even casually suggest changes, then it has a productive use in an open minded writer’s toolbox. After all, it’s the result that counts–the polished, finely honed manuscript that a writer can truly be proud of.

The world of writing and publishing is changing. Those changes are well under way and visible to all. The world of editing will have to change to keep up. That’s where SmartEdit comes in.

02 Aug 2013

Self-Publishing & SmartEdit

The new respectability that is becoming attached to self-publishing on platforms such as Amazon’s KDP and Createspace is forever changing the publishing and writing industries. How it all ends up in five or ten years is still anybody’s guess.

My feeling is that we are at the very early stages of something new; that publishing and writing are about to be taken out of the hands of large corporations and gatekeepers, and placed firmly in the hands of individual writers and their readers. But this comes with a cost. While the sheer volume of good published writing is sure to increase enormously, so too will the amount of poorly written and poorly edited books.

This is already happening, especially in lucrative genres such as Romance and Erotica, where trying out a new author who has self-published a first or second book can lead to disappointment. You are often left feeling that the editing process has been skipped entirely, and that what you find yourself paying money for is little more than a first draft. Grammatical mistakes and poor sentence structure in the first chapter (sometimes even in the free sample), plot holes and clumsy prose on every second page, characters who change name halfway through a novel. None of this is uncommon in self-published work.

Where does SmartEdit come into all this?

It helps writers make a start on the editing process. For many writers, especially new writers who have just finished a first draft of their first novel, editing is a daunting task. Is it necessary? How much do I need to edit? Do I need a professional editor? How much do editors cost? Where do I start? All these questions are racing around in their minds.

SmartEdit answers the Where do I start? question. It runs a series of checks on a novel, looking for common mistakes and for areas that might need to be looked at in detail by the writer. The full results of SmartEdit’s checks can provide a writer with hundreds or thousands of possible areas for improvement in their novel. The writer can then spend days or weeks going through the results and making whatever changes they deem necessary.

The result: a tighter, leaner work, with fewer obvious mistakes and cringe worthy moments from readers.

But the process does not end there. The writer is not ready to publish just yet. SmartEdit is a first-pass editing tool. The novel still needs to be sent to a professional editor for fine tuning and to catch mistakes that automated software cannot catch.

So why use SmartEdit at all?

Editors cost money. And where once, that cost was borne by the publisher, for self-published writers the cost is theirs alone. Good editors charge varying rates based on a sample of the writer’s work. If there’s a lot of work to be done on a poorly edited manuscript, the cost goes up. If the work involves few obvious errors (the kind that SmartEdit helps identify), the cost often comes down.

SmartEdit should pay for itself when used on a single short story.

But cost is not the only reason to use SmartEdit. It helps writers improve their skills, helps them to identify mistakes that they make over and over: an embarrassing fondness for a particular adverb or dialog tag, a propensity to begin too many sentences in the same way, an over use of excessive punctuation when things get exciting.

The shift towards a respectable form of self-publishing and the sheer volume of writers who are embracing it has helped SmartEdit gain fast acceptance into the tool boxes of many writers. It can help you too.

24 May 2013

The History of SmartEdit

SmartEdit began as a small collection of features in PageFour about five years ago. At the time, PageFour was undergoing an identity crisis, and I was searching for a new direction to take the product.

Enter Smart Edit – a first stab at introducing editing capabilities into PageFour. Two features were added as part of the Smart Edit package: a word frequency counter and a phrase frequency counter. The first was a common feature in various software packages at the time, the second was unique – and incredibly cool and useful.

It failed to grab the interest of PageFour’s users. There was some interest, but not enough to warrant a shift in direction from writing into editing. This was back in 2008, well before self-publishing began to be seen as bordering on the respectable.

Its time hadn’t come.

In 2011 I was testing a new development environment, and decided to build a standalone SmartEdit product as part of the testing process, decoupled from PageFour and available as a free download.

The result was a simple word processor that used the word and phrase frequency counter of PageFour. For a year or so, it had moderate interest, with a few downloads a week, but little exposure. There were dedicated followers who wanted more features and were prepared to pay for them, but the number was small.

Then something happened. In mid 2012, the free version of SmartEdit was picked up by various social media sites and online writing magazines and forums. Bloggers started blogging about it and tweeters started tweeting. It helped that it was free. People love the free stuff.

Kindle sales were booming. eBooks had arrived. Self-publishing was the new thing. The timing was right for a product like SmartEdit.

It was Summer of last year that I started work on a feature heavy version of SmartEdit. The first version was ready in December 2012, and sales were immediate. The initial version wasn’t perfect, and it still isn’t. There are missing features and things that need improvement, but the feedback so far has been great. It’s almost four months later, and sales continue to improve month by month.

SmartEdit is filling a need amongst writers.

20 Apr 2013