A couple of days ago, I posted about the minor issue of passing a completed manuscript to my amazing First Reader in a format she can use both on her computer and on her tablet, where she does leisure reading. Turns out, it’s probably not even a minor issue. Worst case scenario, she simply reads it on the computer when she feels she can.
But I really wanted to have the feedback from her as a reader. So I set out to try and make sure she could read the way she wants to read, and not just at her computer.
Scrivener (for Windows, anyway) is now capable of importing Word documents with any comments on them. And it will export to a Word document with the comments, AS comments rather than inline notes. Another win for Scrivener!
To do that, I had to find a pretty limited subset of software. It has to work with her devices, it has to be able to track changes, and it has to be able to allow commenting, preferably outside the document’s text. Word fits the bill, and only Word. But…how to get her a Word document so she can read on her tablet and computer?
Turns out all I had to do was look up to find the answer…in the cloud.
So, to solve our problem, we ran a test. I converted the text document from WriteMonkey into a Scrivener project (I want it there ultimately to do the export to ePub and Kindle eBook files anyway). It was a snap, but that’s another post. Sorry. Anyway, once I had it in Scrivener, I did a few simple things to clean it up a bit, then I exported it to Word. Believe it or not, that’s easier than importing directly to Word from WriteMonkey.
Now it’s in Word format, and she can use Word’s comment feature, and maybe Track Changes too, depending on her device. For her tablet, Track Changes doesn’t seem to be available – the version of Word she uses is the online version, which is a more bare-bones edition.
So, to get her the document so she can access it wherever she is, she decided to use a shared folder on her OneDrive cloud storage. She created the folder, shared it with me, and sent me the link via email. I opened the folder and uploaded the Word document, and voila! She can download it on any device capable of using Word, either online or desktop edition.
So she’s happily reading in bed and making comments in the document as she has reading time. This should make the review process simpler and more enjoyable for her, while still offering the full editing benefits Word brings to the table.
All I’ll have to do when she’s finished is make the changes she suggests, but I have my choice of ways to do that. I can make them in Word, then convert the text back into a WriteMonkey file for a nice, clean import into Scrivener, so I can export to ePub and Kindle (whew! – that’s a lotta shuffling!), or I can make the changes in Word and just import that into Kindle and maybe Smashwords.
Or, I can import the Word document into Scrivener for export as ebook formats, because Scrivener is a lot better at that than pretty much anything else I’ve ever used or seen, and it’s much simpler to do than trying to format the doggone ebook on my own with HTML docs. UGH.
In the end, the final transition from Word to final document is my choice, but the method of getting the document to my First Reader is a done deal, at least for us. And the good news is, anyone could do this using any cloud storage service. As long as the reader has a device capable of working with the software used for editing and commenting, using the cloud to pass it to them is certainly faster and easier than slapping it around different media (thumb drives and Sneakernet, anyone?).
This was probably an obvious choice for anyone else, but it seemed a big deal to us. Yes, we could have used Google Docs for this too, but getting the manuscript into Google Docs was a PITA for me. So this was a happy compromise for everyone.
Hope it helps any other writer-folk looking for ways to do this.