Monday, 31 May 2021

Three New Tools for Writers

There’s always something new happening in the writing world. Some new tool or service that everybody is excited about. It can be overwhelming trying to jump on every bandwagon that drives past, but if we ignore them entirely, we can miss out on some great opportunities. Here are three things that have recently come onto my radar.


One of the common questions writers ask each other (after checking whether you an outliner or a pantser) is “What software do you use to write?” The answer to this question tends to position you in a particular social circle (like the jocks and nerds in teen movies). There are the traditionalists who write in Word because it gets the job done. There’s the Scrivener evangelists who love the integrated environment, outlining, and research options, or just think the cork board is pretty. There are the collaborative writers who type in real-time with their mates in Google Documents. There’s even the old-school types who prefer a typewriter or pen and paper.

I’ve been in the Scrivener camp for a long time, and while the very long-awaited Windows release of Scrivener 3 has finally arrived, I’m being tempted by the arrival of a new suiter. It’s called Atticus.

Atticus is not only a writing program, it’s also a formatting tool (one of Scrivener’s weaker areas). Being web-based it can be used on any operating system with a web browser, including Windows, MacOS and Linux, making it a much-needed competitor to the Mac-only Vellum. I haven’t tried it myself yet (gotta get those bills paid before I get my copy) but from a quick look at some youTube tutorials, the formatting seems both simple and powerful. I’ve found most formatting tools very restrictive, making it difficult to do the most basic things. So I think Atticus is going to be a winner for that alone.

Of course, it’s still early days, and Atticus does not yet have many of the feature that people are wanting, but the developers are hard at work adding new things, so I suspect it will continue to grow and improve over time.

Kindle Vella

Amazon are getting ready to release their new serialisation platform – Kindle Vella. This will be based around ongoing stories that are released one chapter at a time. Just like the old magazines that first published Charles Dickens. Customers will pay for tokens, which can then be used to purchase episodes of a story. The author gets a cut of that money.

In many ways, this is Amazon’s latest attempt to take on Wattpad.

Many authors are flocking to Vella, hoping to make big money on this new toy. Some important questions to ask yourself if you’re considering jumping on this one are:

  1. Have you tried writing for other serialised platforms in the past, such as Wattpad? Did you enjoy that experience?
  2. Are you good at coming up high-quality content quickly on a regular basis (or do you have something suitable pre-written that you could drip feed out?) Amazon have said you aren’t allowed to use a story that is already published.
  3. Do you have a strategy for marketing your Vella story, so you can get readers to sample your first episode?

KDP Print in Australia

This is one we’ve all been waiting for. Amazon have announced that their KDP Print service will now operate in Australia. This means books can be printed locally (well, as local as can be for a country as wide and vast as ours). This will make it easier for Aussie writers to get author copies of their books and maybe even a small amount of inventory for hand-selling if they’re into that kind of thing. The prices will still reflect the reality that paper books are super expensive in Australia, but even Amazon can’t fix everything.

What about you?

Do any of these three new resources interest you? Will you be making use of them? Has anything else come up recently that has excited you that I didn’t mention in this article? Let us know in the comments.

Adam David Collings is a speculative fiction author from Tasmania, Australia. He draws inspiration for his stories from his over-active imagination, his life experiences and his faith. Adam is the host of the Nerd heaven Podcast where he discusses works of sci-fi and fantasy on the big and little screen. You can find him at


  1. Hi Adam. Thanks for your noteworthy introduction to the new kids on the writing block. I just googled Atticus ... seems like it's a work-in-promise with significant promise, especially if it is truly an all-in-one from go to whoa. I look forward to hearing more when its all up and running.

    I found Scrivener useful (which I used on PC) though ultimately used Word to format for sending to my editor. Bought a pre-loved Mac intending to buy Vellum before I discovered its limitations re font choices in the body text. Instead, I took the plunge into the vast, deep, hard-slog swimming environment of InDesign for formatting plus Illustrator/Photoshop for cover design, and, though it takes considerable effort to develop enough skill to stay afloat rather than drown in the depths, it's been a wild and interesting adventure. (Love my Mac btw) For layout and typesetting, InDesign has allowed me to do what other options on offer at the time could not.

    I've also contemplated trying Affinity's software options now that they're available and they certainly better Adobe on price, but the very thought of learning yet another program is daunting.

    It will be interesting to see how KDP Australia compares with Ingram Spark on price point, quality and convenience.

    Thanks again for prompting thought through your research.

  2. Huh, how about all that. Thanks Adam.
    I'm a Word girl myself - the kids call me old school. Paper pad by the bed to scribble (hopefully legible) notes in the night when my characters start acting up and I don't trust myself to remember what they've been up to.
    Lots to think about though. Could be time to start sniffing around at other options ...
    Happy writing! :o)