Wednesday, April 29, 2015

3 Ways Kindle Can Help Write a Sequel or a Series

Even though I'm currently an Indie (independent--i.e., self-published) author, and I'm finding it very hard to get attention for my newest book, I love Kindle. For Indie authors, especially those of us who write sequels and/or series, Kindle offers unexpected but tangible help with all parts of the writing process.

As a writer who depends on pixels rather than pencils, I have come to enjoy reading on the screen at least as much as and sometimes more than reading a physical book. Although I don't have a physical Kindle, I have the app on my computer, my tablet, and my phone. The beauty of the app is that it allows you to save the farthest reading point across all devices, so you can start Chapter 12, say, on your computer, and finish it on your iPhone while waiting online at the post office. "I can't read on a screen!" I hear you protest. "Give it a chance!" I reply. You may be amazed at how easy it is, how natural it comes to feel. If you can't sleep, rather than turning on the light and disturbing your partner, simply turn on your tablet and slip into the world of another author's book. Because there are so many free books for Kindle, it's a simple matter to find other works in your own genre, giving you a good idea of what the competition is.
Even if you don't use the Kindle for reading other people's work, you may find as I do that it is an extremely useful tool for crafting your own writing. For example:

Did you know you can highlight passages in books while you read them in Kindle? I found that out while writing Pandora's Promise, the third book in what turned out to be a trilogy. The first two books were published originally in paperback, then migrated to the web a few years ago. Since the first books came out in the 1980's, not all the details were fresh in my mind. How could I make sure that the new book would correctly follow from the first two, and that someone who has, say, green eyes in the first book does not end up with brown eyes in the third?

Instead of taking notes with a notepad and pencil, which was my original plan, I highlighted while re-reading the books in the Kindle versions. After a little experimentation, I highlighted everything that I thought I might possibly need for the third book. After I’d highlighted most of the first book, I found a post on Indiesunlimited that explained how to find a list of all the highlights for a given book and PRINT THEM OUT.

The printout saved me measurable time. For example, while editing the manuscript for the new book I found I needed to refer to the number of brothers Evvy had. Rather than go back and re-read or skim the first chapters in Pandora's Genes, the first book, I simply went to my list of highlights and found this fragment, referring to Evvy’s mother: “from the looks of the woman a seventh was on the way.” (Five boy children, plus Evvy and an unborn sibling.) Five brothers!

In addition to highlighting, use the search function to find specific names and phrases. Highlighting and search can be done on all Kindle apps, including the desktop, and of course the Kindle device itself.

A number of free software programs allow you to turn your manuscript draft into a mobi (Kindle) file and then to put that work-in-progress into your Kindle library. The program I used is called Calibre, and though there's a bit of a learning curve, if you can write a novel you can convert it to a mobi file. Once your work-in-progress is actually on your Kindle or Kindle app, you can easily read it through, seeing it as it will appear in readers' devices, and highlighting or making notes in the places where you want to change things. If questions arise in the process of reading, the search function will usually answer them instantly.

In future posts I intend to write about other software that I've used in specific ways to help write. If you have a favorite program or app, please feel free to share it in the comments.


  1. Oooh, that's a great tip re. the ability to print out highlights, Kathryn. I wonder if there's a way to take that to reading highlights in one's own mss in Word, say. (I always found Word's outlining tool cumbersome at best. It drove me away, let's say that.) Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Sue. I appreciate your comment and glad you found that tip helpful. I don't have any idea how to do anything in Word. I got tired of it constantly changing my formatting so I got rid of it years ago and haven't missed it.