In early March I took the decision to make SmartEdit Writer (then called Atomic Scribbler) a 100% free app. At the time, the core functionality was free but the editing component of SmartEdit was sold as an optional Add-In for $57.
SmartEdit Writer was already a ground breaking app in that it combined the planning and preparation, scene-by-scene writing, and editing stages of novel writing into a single app. Most apps used by creative writers contain one or two of these — none contain all three. Making SmartEdit Writer a completely free app puts it in a league of its own amongst tools for creative writers — accessible to everyone at zero cost.
SmartEdit Writer is very much a passion project of mine. I use it for my own work every day. Its core feature set is everything I ever wanted in creative writing software, with no excess, no clutter and no unwanted complexity. The first version was built and released in late 2017 with little expectation of high sales. Over the following year it grew as more and more features were added, the largest of which was SmartEdit.
Though sales have been solid over the past 18 months, first of the core application and then of the SmartEdit component after the main app became free, my feeling is that it’s not the kind of app that will easily lend itself to strong sales growth. Consumer apps in this space tend to be slow sellers no matter how good they are, in a market where users are extremely price conscious.
SmartEdit for Word on the other hand has always been a strong performing app, something that I expect will continue as I work to improve it.
Will SmartEdit Writer being free lead to fewer writers buying SmartEdit for Word? I doubt it.
Writers are extremely protective of their writing tools. Convincing a writer who has used Word for years to move to something else is a herculean task. George R.R. Martin still writes in Wordstar, Nora Roberts in Word Perfect. Not Scrivener, not Google Docs, not even Micorosft Word — both use word processors running on DOS from the early 90s.
It’s far easier to convince a writer to add something extra on top of their current writing software than it is to convince them to replace that software with something new. So no, I don’t see a free SmartEdit Writer negatively affecting sales of SmartEdit for Word.