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.