Jutoh VS. Scrivener: Best Writing Program

I’ve been a fan of Scrivener since I started indie publishing. I even posted a piece on formatting (compiling) your book with Scrivener a few years ago (it still works with Scrivener 2).

But when I got a new laptop, I downloaded Scrivener 3…and man, was I disappointed. Much of what I loved about Scrivener for the drafting process is still there, but the compile. What a mess. Seriously.

I’d been hearing indie authors swear by a new (to me) program for a while, and decided to give it a shot:

To a great extent, Jutoh is really similar to Scrivener, especially if you don’t find yourself using all of Scrivener’s fancy cork boards and icons and drafting options. For example, Jutoh includes an area on the left side of the screen with a list of all your chapters (similar to Scrivener’s binder). In this area, it’s possible to drag and drop chapters into a different order (though I’ll confess I find moving chapters in Scrivener to be more fluid / easier). You can use multiple screens in Jutoh during editing (I frequently make use of the split-screen feature in Scrivener). It’s also affordable: $45 for a one-time download (no subscription).

And, maybe most importantly: Jutoh’s compile feature is a breeze (especially compared to Scrivener’s). So easy, in fact, that there’s really not much instruction I can give. Put your chapters together as you’d like them to look in a finished product, then choose your output format, and click “Compile.” Seriously. That’s it.

I absolutely recommend Jutoh for compiling your ebooks (it’s even easier than Scrivener 2). But there’s just something about the drafting process that I find more compatible to Scrivener (though drafting is absolutely possible in Jutoh).

Here’s my current workflow:

Draft in Scrivener – Compile into Word – Import into Jutoh – Complete Global Edits – Compile into OpenDocument – Save as .docx – Import into InDesign – Do Final Edits in Jutoh (for ebooks) and InDesign (for print).

I will say, I’m so, so, so, so, so glad to have found Jutoh. It’s an utter lifesaver in terms of compiling ebooks. Though I’m using both Scrivener and Jutoh right now, if I had to choose only one program, I’d go with Jutoh. I’ll definitely be using nothing else to compile for the foreseeable future!

Write Every Day – Good Advice or Bad?

I used to give this advice pretty frequently. Lately, I’ve been backing away from it. Many authors I know think it’s detrimental. Who can write every single day? Someone too young to have any responsibilities? The independently wealthy?

To be completely honest, I don’t spend as many hours as I used to writing. That is, I rarely spend eight to ten hours in a single day doing nothing but writing. I don’t have children, but I have a full household, with parents, an epileptic dog, etc. Dinners to cook, lawns to mow, home repairs to finalize, bills to pay, groceries to buy, budgets to manage…

So, in short, my days are like anyone other adult’s: packed with a daily to-do list that has nothing to do with putting words on a page.

Which brings me back to my initial question: Is “write every day” good advice?

I’m torn.

Here’s why:

It’s important to make writing a habit, or at least learn to prioritize it.

If you don’t, it’s incredibly easy to suddenly realize that weeks (or months) have passed, and you haven’t written a single word.

You need to stop expecting your world to be perfect in order to write.

It never will be. The lawn mower will be busted, somebody in your house will be sick, the garbage disposal will be malfunctioning, and the laundry will still need to be done. In the midst of all that, you can still write. Trust me.

That being said, there are definitely times when what’s happening in your house will take all of your attention, or all of your heart. Those times in which a family member is seriously injured or gravely ill, for example. We all go through life-altering events in which writing is the last thing that should be on your mind.

But for the usual, daily type of chaos? You need to learn to figure out how to carve some time for writing. It’s a little like carving out time for exercise. I do a ton of writing at night, usually somewhere between about seven and eleven. My house is the quietest during this time. I stretch out on the couch with my laptop and pound the keyboard. You wouldn’t believe the amount of writing I can get done during this time. Often, I can get as much done as I used to writing all day long!

Don’t think that writing every day means it has to be all day.

Again, I write in the evening hours. You might do better getting up early. Or carving out time during your lunch hour. You can write on your phone. You can dictate chapters while cooking or walking on your treadmill or folding that unending laundry. You’d be surprised how the pages add up half an hour at a time.

But with that being said,

If you miss a day, it doesn’t mean you failed.

It’s not all or nothing. You are not less of an author if you can’t write every single day. Maybe your household or schedule is such that you can write for eight hours one day a week. Or three hours two days a week. It all totally works. But I do think we often discount the small snatches of time. You don’t have to clear your desk for several hours straight in order to write well.

So where does that leave this particular piece of advice? Write every day, but with caveats? Maybe.

Really, though, like all pieces of advice, I think it’s important to see why the advice is being given. It’s about figuring out what the goal of the advice is supposed to be. And then learning to tailor it to fit your own life.

Buy My Books Direct

Did you know you can buy several of my ebooks direct? I use Payhip to facilitate delivery of the files, but each purchase goes directly to me. I’ve placed the entirety of my Lake of the Woods Love Stories and The Funny Thing Is… series on Payhip.

You can find my Payhip store here: https://payhip.com/HollySchindler

Some Fun Features of Payhip:

I was able to link my Payhip and Bookfunnel accounts. This means that when you purchase, you’ll be given the opportunity to download from either Payhip or Bookfunnel (a feature I thought many readers would appreciate, since I’m already distributing ARCs via Bookfunnel, and it’s a familiar site).

The first books are free…plus. You’ll notice the first book in each series (Playing Hurt and Funny Meeting You Here) are listed as $0.00+. That means the books are free, but you can offer a “tip” if you would prefer.

Subsequent books are discounted. At the end of the first book, you’ll find a coupon code for 25% off the next book in the series. I’ll be adding new books to each series here (and hopefully additional series as well), so each subsequent book purchased at Payhip will always be discounted!

You can download your file type of choice. Either .mobi for Kindles or .epubs for other devices.

Got a question about purchasing direct? Shoot me a message here at the blog or at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

New Humor Release: Funny You Should Mention That

This one was just a blast to put together: short, and fun. I chuckled through writing it, and I hope you chuckle through reading it.

The book is live at all the usual channels:

Kindle

B&N

Kobo

Apple

To celebrate, I’ve set my first collection of funny shorts to free.

Kindle

B&N

Kobo

Apple

I hope you love reading these as much as I loved writing them!

Announcing the Re-Release of The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky (+ New Activity Book!)

I’m delighted to announce that my first middle grade book, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, is available once again in both e-book and paperback form. (Hardback to come.) This time around, I’m also releasing an activity book! More in the video below:

Both books are still in the process of going live across all platforms. For now, you can snag copies at these locations:

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky (novel) –

Amazon (ebook and paperback)

B&N (ebook)

Apple

Kobo

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky (activity book) –

Amazon (paperback)

Calling All YA Authors (A Promo Opportunity)

My YA authors’ blog is looking for fresh blood!

YA Outside the Lines has been a godsend for me–a place to interact with fellow authors, as well as the librarians and teachers and reviewers who frequent the blog.

We’re currently looking for some new regular bloggers. We’d love to bring in a few authors who got hit by the pandemic–maybe a pub date got pushed back, etc. But you certainly don’t have to meet that criteria to join. Whether you’re releasing your first book or your fifteenth, we’d love to hear from you.

What’s Required?

For each blogger, it’s fairly low-maintenance. One post a month, on an agreed-upon topic. (We usually toss some ideas out mid-month). Each author has their own take on the topic–which is why it’s so great to have authors from all stages of the writing life. Everyone has a slightly different perspective. We blog about writing and marketing, about reading, about how we find inspiration, etc., etc. In the past, we’ve hosted large giveaways (of our work or virtual visits, etc.) We’ve also hosted book tours.

If you’re a YA author who would be interested (or would simply like to know more), please don’t hesitate to give me a shout: yaoutsidethelines (at) yahoo (dot) com, or hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

You can view the blog here: yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com

Thanks so much–I look forward to hearing from you!

Why You Should Learn to Juggle Multiple Projects (Novel Writing)

I know it can sound horrible, especially at the beginning of your writing journey. Write multiple books? you’re thinking. I’m trying to get the first one out!

Even if you’re still relatively new to the writing life, it’s not too soon to think about multiple projects. Here’s why:

  1. Sometimes, you just need to let an idea gel. It’s not all the way there. If you find yourself really struggling with one project, there’s absolutely no shame in putting it aside for a time to work on something else. Readers will know if you’re forcing a plot to come together. *BUT: If you’re a new writer, you do run the risk of constantly getting to the middle and chucking that project to start something new, never finishing anything. I’ll post a few tips for getting unstuck soon.
  2. Often, I find my brain needs to take a breather from doing the same kind of writing activity. (Usually, when I’m in the midst of endless amounts of copyediting.) Cutting a working day short a couple of hours (or even taking a day a week) in order to do a few drafting sprints energizes me, lets me come back to copyediting refreshed and more alert and able to catch tiny mistakes.
  3. There’s a ton of downtime in any writing project. When working with a traditional publisher, months can elapse between editorial letters. Even when indie publishing, you’ll find yourself waiting on print proofs or waiting to hear from the editor you’ve hired. In the midst of proofing the re-release of my first MG, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, I found that the margins were pretty tight. So I got back into the InDesign file and widened them. Redid the cover. Uploaded the files and ordered another proof. As I wait for it to be delivered, I’ll be drafting a new humor piece.

Once I got in the habit of juggling multiple projects, I also found myself more easily transitioning between different writing tasks (drafting, editing, marketing, etc.) And it mixes the days up, keeps the writing life feeling new and exciting.

Schedule a Play Date (Tip for Book Drafting)

I do not like writing the first draft. Of anything. At all.

Luckily for me, it seems the first draft is really the smallest writing task. Especially when compared to the hours required for global rewrites, line edits, copyedits, cover creation, formatting, and marketing.

BUT: Over the past few months, I did discover a first-draft technique that’s helped. A lot.

I’ve been working on my current WIP during the day (for the past several months, this has involved a lot of copyediting and revising). And at night, I give myself play time.

That’s right–I curl up with my dog and a cup of tea and the laptop, and put on some sort of banal TV I won’t pay too much attention to. And then I play with some idea that’s intrigued me. I write sample chapters or an outline. Random passages. I just tease out the idea.

By the time I get done copyediting one book, I can then take my playtime draft and begin to revise and reorganize and tidy it up…do the revision work I prefer. And when night rolls around, I can play with yet another idea.

The thing is, the playtime at night doesn’t really feel like work–I don’t have any kind of deadline or need to get any number of words down. I’m just messing with this thing at this point. It’s all idea generation. (I LOVE brainstorming, by the way. Just don’t like the initial draft.)

I’m finding the feeling of play really helps the writing–adds a new kind of life to the pages.

Try it out–schedule your own play date. Could be at night, maybe during lunch. Or schedule one day a week as a play date. Just to mess with some idea you’ve had in your head a while. Maybe a poem. Or a picture book. A short story. Just go for it. See what happens. Maybe nothing. Maybe something that you never would have had otherwise.

I mean, we got into this because writing was fun, right? It should always be fun…

Alternate Sites for Indie (Self) Published Books

Self-published authors can get so wrapped up in the usual players (Amazon) that we often overlook some other opportunities. I recently updated my listings at a couple of alternate sites:

Etsy

Several of my paperback indie-pubbed books are listed over at Etsy, and they’re all personalized. You can tell me at checkout how you’d like it inscribed / who to make the book out to. I’ve sold a handful of picture books at Etsy, and have loved the direct interaction with readers.

Payhip

I’ve also listed a few titles over at Payhip, where you can buy e-books directly from me (Payhip is really just the delivery service). Playing Hurt and Play It Again are both at Payhip; at the back of Playing Hurt, you’ll receive a code for 25% off Play It Again. You can choose which type of file you need for your ereader. My Bookfunnel account is also linked to my Payhip store, so you have the option of downloading from either Payhip or Bookfunnel (I use Bookfunnel for distributing ARCs, so I thought many of my readers would be more comfortable downloading from a familiar site.)

Again, there’s just something about being able to sell directly to readers. And buy directly from writers! Now that I’m at Payhip as a writer, I must admit, I enjoy being able to purchase ebooks this way.

Hope to see you at my stores. And if you try using either service as a writer yourself, I’d love to hear about it! You can get in touch here in the comments or (as always) hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.

Illustration Tips for Non-Illustrators (Kids’ Books, etc.)

I’m eyeball-deep in a project that’s requiring far more illustrative work than any book I’ve ever put out. As an indie author, though, art has become a big part of my work. Cover design, interior book formatting, even social media banners–it’s all a daily part of the working life.

For those who are trying to be more hands-on about their own book packaging, or even thinking about illustrating their own kids’ books, etc., a few tips:

A Convertible Laptop is Your Friend

I have a Wacom drawing tablet, which I’ve used for years, but can’t say enough about how much being able to draw on the screen helps. It’s not just about the pen on the screen, either. Being able to use my fingers on the screen to enlarge or shrink the image, being able to twist the image about to draw more easily, makes a big difference, too. I can also use my left hand to flick between pens and erasers and layers in my drawing software, while drawing with my right. It’s just been a godsend for workflow.

Clip Studio Paint Is the Best

I’ve written about Clip Studio Paint in the past, but every time I come back to it, I remember how much I love it. It’s affordable ($50 for a one-time download), and it has a ton of great tools–including 3D character maps as well as vector pens and erasers and line stabilizers that all make inking a far easier task.

But Don’t Expect One Program to Do It All

In order to finish my current project, I’ve been bouncing between Clip Studio, Photoshop, and InDesign. I use InDesign for all print book formatting. It’s especially important for this illustrated work. It makes easy work of formatting the final page-by-page design.

Find Joy in the Discovery

Remember how much fun it was to get a new box of crayons when you were little? Tap into that. Of course your first line isn’t going to be fantastic. If this is your first step into digital art, it will feel awkward and disorienting. But there’s also a great deal of fun to be had in learning about it. Get stuck? Watch a few YouTube videos. Go to a webinar or two. Join some digital art forums. Talk, ask, reach out. And enjoy the journey.

Got additional questions you’d like me to address? Comment here or reach out directly: hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.