About a month ago I came across the software Storyist for the first time. I was taken by Storyist’s idiosyncratic interface and knew right away that it had to be the work of a single individual. You don’t often get quirky hybrid software from a committee.
- Word processor
- Page layout
- Manuscript and Screenplay formatting
- Style sheets, style editor, project wide searching, links, etc.
Storyist isn’t only a word processor, it has the ability to track your plot, your characters, even the settings in your book or screenplay. Storyist handles screenplay formatting and straight narrative formatting, producing what it calls “submission-ready” files for output.
However, none of that, even though it’s interesting, is what made me stop and take a second look.
You’ll have to be the judge of whether it makes sense for you to try to do your own ePub conversions. Depending on how complex your books are, and how good you are at techie stuff, learning how to do this properly is going to take time and energy. Should you work on your writing or marketing instead? Maybe. Having said that, the promise of an ePub export that’s as easy as creating a PDF is pretty enticing. That’s the origin of this story.
- I dropped the text file into Storyist and applied some basic formatting with the Styles dialog. It was easy to edit these styles for a better appearance. Every paragraph has to be styled for best results, so the easiest way is to assign everything the “Body Text” format, then just change the headings as needed.
- Then I dropped the cover file into Storyist.
- After choosing “File/Export” from the menu, I was presented with a series of dialogs which are explained briefly in the demo video and more fully in the Storyist documentation, but there was nothing difficult. You choose your files, make sure they’re in the right order, complete publication information, and add metadata to your file.
I was struck with the complete list of choices you have for assigning metadata. (Checking the documentation, it turns out the metadata fields correspond to the fields specified by the Dublin Core Metadata initiative. Controlling this metadata is critical to self-publishers in the digital space, and bears more discussion than I have room for here.)
- Storyist wrote the book files in ePub format to my drive.
- I dropped the ePub file into iTunes and plugged in my iPad. iTunes, recognizing the ePub format as that used by iBookstore, automatically loaded my brand new eBook into the iBooks Library, ready for reading, as you can see in the screenshot at the top of this article.
Not including the time it took me to work out the Storyist interface, stumble over technical obstacles I simply didn’t understand, email back and forth with Steve Shepard to get help for my newbie questions, create the cover file in Photoshop, this whole process was incredibly fast, well under an hour.
Of course, with all those things, I’ve been working on this about three weeks.