TAP038, Dave Chesson Discusses His New All-In-One Writing Software, Atticus

by | Authorpreneur Podcast, Outlining Your Novel, Productivity, Season 3: How to Outline a Story, Self-Publishing, Tech for Writers, tools, Writing

TAP038, Dave Chesson Discusses His New All-In-One Writing Software, Atticus

by Amelia D Hay | The Authorpreneur Podcast - Writing and Self Publishing Advice

Hello, Writers!

 

I hope you are all well and are staying safe.

 

In previous podcast episodes, I’ve mentioned that I want this podcast to be free of interviews unless they are about how an author writes, outlines or writers without an outline. Today, I’m making an exception with this bonus interview because I believe the discussion will benefit you even if you’re in the planning stages of writing your first novel.

 

As you can guess from the title of this show, I chat with Dave Chesson from Kindlepreneur on writing, editing, formatting, and collaborating with Atticus. For those who don’t know, Atticus is a brand new all-in-one writing software for writers launched at the end of 2021. That’s when the reviews of the software first launched. One of the many things I like about Atticus is that the developers are making updates all the time, and these updates are free after the initial purchase of the programme. And they have a calendar available where you can see when certain features are due to be rolled out.

 

Before we get into the interview, here’s a bit about Dave Chesson.

 

Image sourced from Dave Chesson’s website, kindlepreneur.com

About Dave Chesson

Dave Chesson is a military veteran, husband, and father of three. But, when he’s not doing dad things, he’s an avid book marketer. Dave works in publishing and book marketing and has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, ALLi*, Huffington Post, and Market Watch. And he’s been blessed to have worked with many New York Times bestselling authors in multiple genres and topics like Ted Dekker, Orson Scott Card, Kevin J. Anderson and more. He has also been a paid consultant to major publishing companies helping with digital sales, advertisement methods and sales page optimisations.

 

On his website, kindlepreneur.com, you can find some fantastic apps, including the Amazon Book Sales Calculator, Book Description Generator, and QR Code Generator. But he’s best known as the creator of Publisher Rocket and, now, Atticus.

 

What to Expect From this Episode

 

In this episode, I chat with Dave Chesson about the following topics:

  • The initial idea that led to the creation of Atticus.
  • What a writer needs from a good book writing software
  • Benefits of all-in-one writing software like Atticus
  • Creating a book formatting software that’s accessible for everyone, not just Mac
  • Valuing the user’s experience over the beautification of a programme
  • Collaborating with your editor using Atticus
  • The engineering behind Atticus and Dave’s other products
  • Why Atticus is a Progressive Web App instead of a downloadable programme
  • The backup systems that save your work incase something goes wrong
  • The four ways you can collaborate in Atticus (formatting, writing, editing, and beta readers)
  • Integrations with Atticus: Pro Writing Aid, World Anvil (coming soon), Book Brush, Plottr (coming soon), 4 The Words (coming soon),
  • Using Book Brush and Atticus to format a book
  • New features coming to Atticus
  • How the various forms of collaboration work
  • You can create your own custom book format template

 

Transcript of the Interview with Dave Chesson

 

Amelia:

So I’ve got Dave on the entrepreneur podcast to talk about his new program. Atticus, I believe I started seeing reviews for the product in 2021

 

Dave:

Yeah that is about…Yep, about the time.

 

Amelia:

It took me a while to purchase the program and download. But when I, when I did, I sort of got what the fuss was all about, because it’s almost like it’s, it’s like you’ve taken Scrivener, Vellum and Google docs and put them into this one thing. For me, it’s a bit mind blowing because I think what Google do with Google docs is quite complicated to have two people like sitting in the same program using it at the same time in real time. I just, I know how complicated something like that can be, because my husband works for Google Android, so I do hear a bit of the, the chat and he does talk about Google docs quite a bit cause they use their own pro products obviously.

 

Dave:

Yeah, yeah. You know, the, so the idea of Atticus kind of came about when I was really looking at the phrase book writing software, you know, people talk about book writing software and you know, I started asking myself, what exactly is it? Book writing software. Isn’t just the ability to write. I wouldn’t consider word document a book writing software. I think it’s a writing software, but it’s not books because when we write a book, we have to plan, we have to outline, we have to write, we then have to collaborate with our editors or with our art team and get feedback on the book and then we have to format it so that it turns into either ebook or a PDF paperback. Right? So the true nature of the phrase book writing software is one that goes through all those steps. And as an author, there wasn’t anything that does that.

 

Dave:

What I wanted was to have one place. So instead of having to pay for a plotting software, a writing software, and then a crazy amount of back and forth with editors and then pay for a formatting software, wouldn’t it be nice if there was just one where I could do everything from within it and what this would help me out as an author was a, it would cut cost cuz then I don’t have to pay for all those software B I don’t have to learn four different sets of software and C the most important thing to me is version control. Okay. And what I mean by that is that when I would write, I would, I used to write in Scrivener and then I’d export it into word and then I’d email it back and forth, back and forth with my editor. And the funny thing is I always found that on, I never got rid like, or deleted an old copy.

 

Dave:

And so by the time that when I was done with the editor, emailing the latest version and saving it and you know, and that forth, I would have like seven or eight different, word documents on my desktop or a file that said final copy, like final copy, final, final copy. This is the final copy, all caps, final copy. And then, you know, hopefully I said something that was like the coup de grâce you know, the, the top of it, that was final edited, copy, use this one, you know? And so I used to run into that. And one time in my entire writing process, I actually formatted the wrong one. I misread whatever naming system I had and I thought this other one was it. And I had it, I paid, hadn’t had it formatted. And then I uploaded Amazon. And then I found out, oh my goodness, the final couple of chapters had not been edited.

 

Dave:

And there were some problems. And I then realis ed what the problem was, which was I used the wrong one. Another problem that I’ve had too is that I’ve gone back to update a book. Okay. So I published a book. It was time, it was like four or five years later. I wanted to update it with new information, you know, spruce it up, you know, give it a better cover. And I first off struggled to figure out which one was the final copy, cuz for some reason I never got rid of all the old ones. And on top of that too, because I had paid somebody to format it, I had to pay somebody to reformat it again, after I made the changes. And that’s kind of the thing is that, you know, whether you’re using velum to format or whatever, you’re still gonna have to, re-upload the, the word document you’re gonna have to do all that formatting changes.

 

Dave:

And so I hated that. I wish that it was all just there. I wish I could just go to the book inside the software, click on it, make the subtle changes, add a chapter, you know, or, you know, do some deletion, correct. Some spelling errors that the, that the reviews left and then just hit export and it’s good to go because everything is preset in that. So all of those pain points were the things that drove me to say, man, wouldn’t it be nice if there was actually software that did all that. So we started by focusing on just the formatting and I’d like to break this down into three areas, there’s writing collaboration and formatting. Okay. And so we started by focusing on formatting. And the reason for that is at the time there was really only one effective and efficient formatting software.

 

Dave:

And that was velum. Okay. There are other options out there, but there are a lot more complicated or they don’t give you a preview. You know, you can’t see it before. They were limited in their capabilities. Many of them won’t allow you to do like full bleed images or, you know, stylized themes and things like that. Right. But Vellum, to an extent does the problem about velum is they’re really expensive. And on top of that, they only work for Macintosh. They do not work for PCs. So half of the writer community can’t even use it. And they love that software so much that people were paying a service called Macincloud, just to be able to use Vellum on their PC. Or as some people say, they go and buy a a Mac, an old Macintosh just to run the program. So we said, you know what? I think we can fix that. So we made it that Atticus works on all computers, not just not just Mac. And we also made it over a hundred dollars cheaper than velum as well. And that gives people lifetime.

 

Amelia:

I like the fact that this works on Google Chromebook. Because there’s not anything that works on that.

 

Dave:

Right. And that’s the, that’s a big thing too, because Chromebook is so great for writing on. And it’s a major part of a lot of authors system. People don’t wanna buy one

 

Amelia:

And it’s also cheap too.

Dave:

And so I, you know, it’s light, it’s cheap. It it’s streamlined. It’s great for going out and writing. And you know, before this, a lot of the Chromebook users were completely, you know, outta luck. So, so we started with that and there is a lot more that I want to do in formatting because I think there’s a lot of incredible capabilities that Vellum never touched. No other, you know, the only way you could make these really cool things was to become like an InDesign pro. Well, we’ve got ideas on how to improve that, but while we are, we continue to work and add on the formatting. We also added the writing component too. So you can write your book in Atticus and you can do a lot of the same things that you’re used to doing in the writing component. And then when you’re ready, you just click the formatting button and you start formatting it. So think of it like you know like word, but a little bit better and more focus for authors where you can move chapters around, like we’re used to in Scrivener. And then tacked on with like Vellum. I wouldn’t say we’re at Scrivener level and I’m gonna get it there though. Because there’s a lot of features in the writing area that I want to add before. I’d say we’re like Scrivener, we’re getting there and we will beat them. In capabilities though,

 

Amelia:

Scrivener has so many features. I probably only use 10%,

 

Dave:

You know, and that

 

Amelia:

I’ve used the snapshots a lot.

 

Dave:

So that is actually one of the key things that we’re focusing on when it comes to Scrivener. And by the way, I’ve used Scrivener since 2007 about when they first came out, I used them to write my master’s thesis. I worked for apple at the time and that’s when they’d give us free software. And I was like, oh cool, I’m working on my thesis. So I’ll use this writing software. And here’s the funny thing out of those, what is that 15 years of using them? It was like seven years ago that I’m like, you know, maybe I should actually start to learn how to use all of the parts. It’s not exactly intuitive. And so then I paid some for like $200 for a Scrivener course. And for those who don’t know, scrivener’s like 50 bucks, I paid $200 just to learn how to use the program.

 

Dave:

And what I realised is I still, like, you probably only use 10 to 20% of the features. And the reason for that is that most of features I don’t think are as necessary, but I also have to memorise how to find things. And I think that’s their biggest problem. They hide so many things under icons that I can’t remember what it is or under like three or four levels, you know, of menu bars. And, and I just forget. And so I believe that Scrivener is complicated. It’s so complicated that I would be willing to pay $200 to learn how to use the software that I paid 50 bucks to get. And if that isn’t testament, you know, I don’t know what is,

 

Amelia:

I think we’ve purchased the same course. It’s quite a good course too. I haven’t watched it from beginning to end, but I use it as reference material. So I’ll go, how do I do this? And 90% of the time I’ll end up at the course and because Google won’t have the, the right answer.

 

Dave:

Right. And that’s, that’s the thing I think that they’ve designed. Like I think Scrivener is was designed in a way where I just don’t think it’s intuitive. When I design software, I actually have two phrases that I love to use with my programmers. And it’s called click click, and it’s called brain calories. Okay. What click click means, and I maybe I, I could be more serious one day and I’ll come up with a really cool name, but I’m gonna stick with my fun one click click. And they all know this click click means if there is something that is a feature that we think people will actually use, do not make them have to click more than twice to get it.

 

Amelia:

Yeah, I do agree with that.

 

Dave:

If they have to click more than twice, then people have to start memorising how to do it or where it is. And that’s not cool. Then people just won’t use it. Or they have to pay hundreds of dollars to get a course to learn where everything is and how to use it. The second one, which is called brain calories also goes along with this. If I have to spend just a little bit more thinking about something to figure it out, then I just wasted brain calories. So for example, my programmers once sent me a whole bunch of these icons. They were like, oh, we’re gonna use icons cuz they’re beautiful. And I’m like, cool. And then I started looking at the icon. I’m like okay, there’s a picture. It looks like a person. I see the head in its shoulders. Right. I guess that’s the profile.

 

Dave:

Well, yeah, that’s the profile I’m like, okay. So what icon are you gonna use when you do character cards? They’re like, well, I was like okay. And then I started looking at some of the other icons and it’s like, when they told me what it is, I was like, okay. Yeah, I get it. But I didn’t naturally think that. Which means that if I wanna remember where things like, I’m gonna have to remember where things are. I’m gonna have to waste brain calories trying to figure this out. So I then said, I was like, Nope, get rid of the icons on this section. But there was a section where it was perfect to use the icons. And I said, but I want you to make it that if I hover over the icons, then a pop-up box shows up to say the names. So then I don’t have to think about it.

 

Amelia:

I think these mistakes are made when people value beautification of a software over functionality. And you can tell when they do that, tried to pack all these features together and then they’ve gone. How do we make this pretty? Yeah. And then the designer has taken over and the designer doesn’t use the software.

 

Dave:

No. And they don’t think about that. They’re looking for beauty and I’m trying to look for functionality and, and ease of use. So like when I’m working with my team, I’m constantly saying click, click and, and brain calories, mainly brain calories. Cuz I, I think they know better than hiding it behind two clicks, but brain calories. I’m constantly like I had to think about that for a bit. So that, that’s a big part of what we do. And that’s why I think that we can surpass Scrivener because that’s one area that they really haven’t done well on. Okay. So like I said, we’ve done the formatting and we’ve done the writing component. One of the areas that we’re gonna be using very or creating very soon is that collaboration component. Okay. And in collaboration, so you can write your book and then you can send a link to your editor who can then have editing rights that you can approve.

 

Dave:

And we’re gonna design the editing ability to look exactly like word editing. And the reason why I’m doing that is because editors like word, most of them like that’s their thing. And trying to teach an editor a new trick is a hard thing, especially in the trad pub area and some of the major professional editors. Like they do not want to learn a new software. So if we can make it look and feel just like word, there’s a couple of things that I want to change that will make it better. But we’re also working with a whole bunch of editors, get their input to make it better. They can do their editing. Okay. And you as the author, without having to leave the software can see them work on it and accept their changes or decline their changes or communicate with them right there about things.

 

Dave:

Okay. And I, and then when you’re done, and this is my favourite part, when they are done editing, you can remove their access with a click of a button. And now you don’t have to worry about copies floating out there. You don’t have to worry about, you know, whether you you’re using the right version or the wrong version, you know? And then at that point you can just start formatting and you never had to lead the software. And so that is gonna be coming about. And the biggest thing that I will say is that when we’re complete with this project, an author can do everything inside of it would never have to leave it and can create a book. And I honestly think that that will truly make us the only book writing software out there. If you really think about,

 

Amelia:

I think you’re creating something different to Scrivener because Scrivener is everything from writing a book to blogging

 

Dave:

Manuscript.

 

Amelia:

So writing a screenplay, short stories, plays, and what you’re doing is obviously very different now that I’ve had a chance to listen to you talk, I’m just curious, mainly for my own curiosity, do you have a background in computer science? Because I know you’ve created, you’ve got a lot of things on your website and I know some of them are HTML based and all these other things, like I have Publisher Rocket. I’ve used your HTML Amazon description thing that works amazingly well. And I know you’ve got something else yeah. On your website as well. Like you’ve got a lot of things and I’m just, I guess curious

 

Dave:

Actually, no, I don’t have a background in programming. Yeah. It it’s crazy. I, so a long time ago when I was start, when I created KDP Rocket, which is now called Publisher Rocket, but back then we called it KDP. I knew that this was something that authors needed. And so I luckily had some connections to programmers and we were able to work together to create that. However, though, I learned this valuable lesson that one advanced programmers like worth 50 average programmers. And I think actually Bill Gates once said that, so I can’t take credit for that. And he’s right. One advanced programmer truly is worth 50 average ones because, and I got lucky. My first programmer was amazing. He was incredible. It’s the reason why rocket can do what it does. And it’s also a reason why you don’t see many imitators out there because it was like an insane feat of, of just absolutely intelligence what this guy did.

 

Dave:

But then after that, he moved on to a different project. And I had a couple of average ones and we just had a lot of problems. We had, it was like constantly, it felt like whackamole, we would add this feature and something would break and then we’d fix that. And then something we fixed earlier will break. And so it was this problem. So I was like, man, this sucks. I gotta figure this out. So what I did was I kind of jumped in the deep end and I bought a one third stake in a software development company. And I said, this way, I will have absolute like understanding of all the inner workings of the business of software. And so I devoted years of studying and reading and kind of shadowing and asking questions of others that are in the business of software. And actually I ended up taking over a CEO of the software development company and implemented all these systems and structures. And that just like all of a sudden that software company just exploded. And then about eight months ago or so I don’t think I’ve ever made this public, but my software company got bought out from under me and it was because a much bigger company was, was wanting to add software development, saw our systems, loved our people. And they came in with evaluation that was like stupid, stupid high. And my other two partners were like done and I lost the vote.

 

Amelia:

Oh no. [Laughs]

 

Dave:

But luckily that soft that company they wanted to make, they wanted to keep me happy is another way. And they really wanted me to work with them. And so what I did was I didn’t take a I didn’t become a member of the board cuz they didn’t want to, but I have kind of a consultation component. So I am, and also my CTO, my chief technical officer is now the CTO of that company. And so him and I I’ve worked with them and I’m a part owner of them. I, I took stock options. And they it’s actually been a phenomenal thing because they found an incredible amount of talent. And it was because of that, that I was able to really build out the kind of team that I wanted for Atticus and that were able to do things that, you know, I know the owner of Scrivener once said that if he could do it all over again, he wish he could do collaboration, but he can’t.

 

Dave:

You know, there’s a reason why there’s only, or there was only Vellum. It’s an incredible feat for programming and luckily we’ve got an amazing team and they’re just knocking out of the park and it came down because of the combination of my old company and this new company. And yeah. So I would say, I don’t know anything how, I don’t know any programming language at all, but I know a lot about the business of software and I’ve got some incredible people that work for me. That, that pick up on the parts, I don’t know.

 

Amelia:

Okay. So when you created Atticus, did you have an ideal user in mind or did you simply focus on solving, I guess, common writer problems that you were seeing?

 

Dave:

Well, I’m not gonna lie a lot of times when I make software, I make it for myself. I mean I’m an author and a writer and you know, I start with I always tell people that the, the phrase that usually kick starts a project is when I say something like, wouldn’t it be nice if and so for me it was, wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to learn four different programs or pay for four different programs? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one software where I could absolutely write, collaborate and format my books. And so we really got that going. Now. One of the things that I, I am, you know, like I said, the whole brain calorie thing, I mean it, because I want my software to be as intuitive and easy to use. My grandmother, her name is Muzzy and at least that’s what I call her.

 

Dave:

My Muzz I always call it and I tell my team this like, Hey, it’s gotta be a muzzy-factor. Like I, we need to make sure that, that my Muzzy could literally pick it up, you know, and could probably start using it just by clicking around or, you know, could really use it after watching our tutorials. And so Muzzy, Muzzy doesn’t Atticus anymore. She, she did Publisher Rocket back in the day, but she’s she’s, she’s, she’s up there in age, so, but I still use her name as, as my, my team rally cry. All right. We need this Muzzy-able.

 

Amelia:

That’s quite funny. One of the things I did notice when I went to purchase the, when I went to purchase Atticus, is that it’s cloud-based. It’s not something that you download directly to a computer is what prompted you to go down the alley of cloud-based over a program downloadable program.

 

Dave:

Actually, it’s both it’s, it’s a progressive web app, which is the best of both worlds. So what a progressive web app is, which I honestly think is gonna be the future of software. And I’ll tell you why it’s sort of like a web browser on steroids. It’s its own kind of browser, if you will. And so what it does is that for Atticus, you can either go to app.atticus.io and then log in and then do all the things you see, or you can click to download the PWA onto your computer, and it has an icon. It goes into your apps and you can click there and open it up and start working as well. What’s awesome about the PWA is so you get the, you get the things like it’s a downloadable software, but you have also the access to the cloud as well.

 

Dave:

It also allows us to work on all computers. I mean, if there’s any computer, any crazy operating system that has a web browser on it, which just about every computer does it will absolutely work. And right now you can also put it on your iPad because a PWA will download as an icon as an I, as an iPad app. And same with your smartphone. That being said, though, I have not directed my team yet to reorganising for a small phone. But in time it will be. And so what that will allow anybody to do is you could literally be in the car, think of something, right? Oh man. You know, and then I I’m, we’re gonna be doing a lot of voice to text capabilities in the future, but I envision that a person can click the button record what they just thought of and will pop it right into their book.

 

Dave:

And then they shut down their phone. And when they get home to their computer, it’s showing up right there. Right. And I think that that would be an absolute, phenomenal capability for authors, cuz there’s a lot of authors that just have, you know, creativity strike at the oddest of moments and I’d love for them to be able to just pop it in there. Or maybe they’re sitting in line, you know, waiting for the doctor’s office and they just keep writing if they want to on their phone or their iPad. And then when they get home, it’s it’s on their computer, on the downloaded or the, or on the browser if they pop it up. What’s really cool too, is that because the PWA you don’t need internet for it and that’s why it’s, like I said, it’s, it’s like a browser on steroids. So if, say you’re, for example, you’re gonna go off into the woods and you wanna use Atticus.

 

Dave:

What you have to do is just make sure that you’ve been logged in okay. That the app that you have on your computer that you’re logged into it it doesn’t log you out. So unless you’ve logged out, you’re good to go. So just, but I would just say open it and just check that you’re there. And then at that point, go off into the woods, write as much as you want. Okay. And you can also back it up what you did onto your computer if you want to. Okay. So you can back up one of your books right there. So you have a backup copy in case something crazy happens. The only time that you will need internet is two situations. One is if you’re gonna drag a new word document into Atticus, then in order for our system to crunch it, we just need to connect because a lot of like the hard power of formatting and crunching is, is on a server somewhere.

 

Dave:

That way, you know, you can run it on a small phone, you can run it on a, you know, an old computer, no problem. It’s not heavy because the heavy stuff is on a server. So if you drag and drop a word document into it, you’ll need internet for that. Okay. But if you’re, if you’ve already done that while you had internet, you can always access that book right on Atticus the second time where you’re gonna need internet is when you click the format export button, right? So when you go to export your ebook or book, you’re gonna need internet connection for that. Cause again, the hard stuff is on the server. Now that shouldn’t be too much of a problem because if you really need to export, you probably need internet anyways, cuz you’re probably gonna have to upload it to KDP and you need internet for that. So I don’t think that’s gonna cause any problems there. And the final one is when we have collaboration in order to collaborate with somebody you’ll need internet for that. I mean they could still work on it. You just won’t be able to see what they’re doing. Cause you don’t have the internet access, but that’s it.

 

Amelia:

Wow. I have to admit when I first started using it. I didn’t look at any of the tutorials. I did have a minor problem. But I blamed my internet connection for that. But I think it, I think it’s just one of those things that does happen. I think it, I think I lost a bit of work at some stage and I, I think it might have been, I think it was saving

 

Dave:

Okay.

 

Amelia:

Was during save and I, I have a funny feeling. It was because of my internet because my internet kind of, it’s not particularly great. We’ll leave it

 

Dave:

There. We have, we have some backup. So the cool part is we have a lot of backup systems on it. The good thing about the cloud is like, say for example, your computer breaks or you pour wine on it and it dies. We can always like all your work is saved. So that’s like a really cool thing for authors. The other thing is is that if you are if you’re working on something and we have like some hard systems that literally say like, Hey, just a heads up. But like, because there’s no connection to the internet, we can’t save this. Right. So it’s not gonna show up on any of your other devices. And we have the ability for you to, if, if, say for you want to, you can export on your computer you can save on your computer. Right. but we make sure it’s clear that, Hey, our system hasn’t backed this up because we don’t have the internet.

 

Dave:

Right. and so that’s one of the things that we we have, the other thing is that we have some more opportunities that are coming to, to address that. But like I said, for me, I’m traveling all the time and most of the time I do my writing on an airplane. And so it was like hardcore for me, it was like, yeah, this is, this system is not gonna work if I can’t work on it while on a plane. One of the things and the reason why I think PWAs are gonna be the future by the way. And I think is really important is because some of the issues that software companies are running into is problems with apple and Amazon and Android fighting with each other. Okay. Apple, I’m just gonna put it this way. Apple’s kind of being a jerk [laughs] like it’s and you can just look at all the lawsuits that are out there on what Apple’s doing.

 

Dave:

But basically apple is making it that with every iteration of their operating systems, that it’s harder and harder for software to work on a Macintosh without going through Macintosh’s store. Okay. The app store. Right. And the reason why they’re doing that is because if they put like, if the only way people on a Mac can use it is to go through the store, then it means they have to buy the app through their store. Well, apple requires that they get 30% of the sale. So apple is making it harder and harder for software to exist without paying them 30%. And other companies are, have problems where like Facebook got into a bit of a fight with, I think, like I said, all the big companies are fighting. There’s a lot of issues and having software that can effectively and efficiently work on all of them is getting harder and harder to do. But PWAs are a way to skirt around that have no problems. And the best part is, is that we as programmers, like when I add something to our system, I don’t have to like add it for the Mac and then work to add it on the PC and then work to add it on the Android. What I get to do is we work on that hard server system that I talked about and we we just put it there and bam, it works on every computer. So it’s

 

Amelia:

One version, not 12.

 

Dave:

Exactly. So people who are on one type don’t have to sit around waiting until we get around to it. Like with Scrivener, right. They had Scrivener 3.0 for Mac and that was four years ago. And then just last year they finally came out with 3.0 for PC.

 

Amelia:

Yes. That was a long time coming. I have a Scrivener template and I had quite a few people who use PC sort of say to me, this doesn’t work. And I’m like, wow, this is, I’m really embarrassed for them.

 

Dave:

Right. You know, and that’s, that’s the thing. Whereas anything that we do will work with Atticus, no matter what computer or what phone or what laptop they’re on. Another great thing about this too, is that my team is adding new features and capabilities twice a week. And what’s awesome for Atticus users is that when you open it so long as you have internet connection, it will be, it will all of a sudden just maybe you’ll see a circle and then it’s done. Like, it’s all the features are good. You don’t have to check your latest update or, you know what version you’re on. You don’t have to re-download anything it’s all just taken care of. So we can get out new features, licky split without any hassle to our users. And I just, I personally love that. So those are a couple of reasons why we went with the PWA system because I really think it’s the future. It allows us to do things faster and better. It doesn’t cause hassle authors don’t have to worry about what version they’re on and they’ll never have to worry about what computer or phone they’re using and when they’ll get that component, if we make a new feature, it works for everybody just like that.

 

Amelia:

Wow. Because it’s a PWA. Do you think it’ll be easier for your for Atticus to work with programs like Grammarly and pro writing aid?

Dave:

Yes. So we already work with pro writing aid. We, we, we actually teamed up with them. Yeah. And they’re, they were great to work with. They’re also one of the reasons why I, I like them way better than Grammarly, but that was even before we worked with Grammarly is a hot mess. From a programme side, if you’re, if you’ve been using Grammarly. Okay. And you’ve noticed that your web browser has slowed down or your word document has shut down for some weird reason. A lot of that is the way that Grammarly was designed. Grammarly is aggressive. In looking and analysing everything on your computer and because it does that, it will, it will basically just, it can, it can overload your computer, especially like, for example, if you’re someone like me where you have like 20 tabs open Grammarly is analysing all the words on all 20 of those tabs all at once, which is why, you know, your Chrome or your Safari, will just shut down, you know?

 

Amelia:

Oh, I had no idea.

 

Dave:

Yep. And so we tried to work with them on Atticus and first off they, they were kind of like, who are you? And we don’t care. And then the second thing was also too, when we were like, fine, we don’t need to work with you. We’ll figure out a way we started looking at it. We’re like, Ooh. Yeah, they really have to fix this code. This is not, this is not good. So I’m saying PWA are all done. Awesome. They were great. We did a, you know, our two teams did a high five on that Grammarly. I wouldn’t hold up much hope on being able to work with them, but it doesn’t mean we won’t stop. But we are working with like plotter as well. We hope that one day people can export and import their Plottr Json file right into Atticus and Atticus will put the stuff where it should be. We are teaming up with 4 The Words as well as I think Word Anvil is the other one we’re in the preliminary discussions with them. We also did a really good team up with book brush. And I love those guys. Book brush is kinda like Canva, but specifically for books they specialise in helping to make advertisements as well. Like they can make,

 

Amelia:

Yeah. I noticed with book brush, they do a lot of stuff that you have to purchase add-ons for, if, if you do this kind of thing in Photoshop, you have to purchase an add-on to it. And it’s super quick. Like, cause I have like a part-time sort of pre-made book, cover design business. And I, I took it I looked at book brush and I noticed that they, the way they do their 3d book cover images. It’s very quick. Whereas in, in Photoshop you have to purchase the, I think it’s an add on and if it breaks.

 

Dave:

Yeah, exactly.

 

Amelia:

I was just, I was quite blown away. I was like, wow.

 

Dave:

Yeah. And you know, and so with us, with book brush one of the things like we have some really cool capabilities to make some awesome full bleed images in your book or make a really awesome looking chapter theme. Or also too, like ornamental breaks. We allow authors to upload custom ornamental breaks to show up in their books. But again, going back to that my favourite, the brain calories, when you’re dealing with a book and you want to put an image in to make it full bleed on your book, you actually have to go through and figure out, okay, what trim size am I using? Okay, got it. And then you have to like calculate, you know, the length and width of the image so that it’s the right length and width for your trim size. So it looks good when you insert it.

 

Dave:

I was like, man, that sucks. Or also with the ornamental break too, like you have to figure out the, the, the exact dimensions for the momentum break or it will get squishy or it look weird. So we went over to book brush and I was like, man I would rather my team focus on adding more features for Atticus. And instead of trying to build some like image sizer slash you know, graphics thing, and I was like, let’s go to book brush. So I went over to them. I was like, Hey guys, I’ll tell you what, we’ll send you over all the, the mathematical dimensions for all the, the, the trim sizes and everything like that. And you guys work on it and they’re like done. So we now have a button in Atticus where you can click it. And then you, it’s a special page on book brush.

 

Dave:

And by the way, if you’re not a member of a book brush, you could still get they’ve set it up that the 10 free images that you can use with them automatically. So then you go over there and you say, they’ll ask you, okay. So is this a full bleed image? Just one, or is this a double page, full bleed image? And they’ll ask if it’s ornamental break and you select that. And then you select the trim size that you’re gonna choose. And all of a sudden it pops up with the perfect dimensions. Now you could just drag and drop your image, resize it perfectly. Or if it’s a two pager drag and drop your one image and it will split it perfectly. And now you just take those images and upload it right to the book and it looks perfect. And so that was one of those things that we were thinking about, like, how can we make this easier? Because trying to figure out those calculations and then resize it in Photoshop or Canva like that sucks. So they took care of it.

 

Amelia:

So this is really good. Like if you write, if you write middle grade fiction, this is a big thing at middle grade fiction. Is there those first two pages of every chapter look, have this certain feel. And I’ve noticed there’s nothing other than InDesign that could possibly create that. That’s really interesting that you’ve found you’ve created something for that market as well.

 

Dave:

Yeah. Nailed it. Book and it’s super easy. Book brush did an amazing job. They’re a phenomenal team and now Atticus owners can immediately just go over there, get the right size image, perfect. To look in their book, drop it in. And bam, it’s a, it’s an honest little, like a match made in heaven. I loved that. I was so jazzed about that.

 

Amelia:

I have to admit I’m super jealous of all of these new programs that are out there because even though I haven’t, I’ve only, I only started publishing in 2019. I’ve been writing for a long time and not having these programs has forced me to use Photoshop and a bunch of other things. Cause I couldn’t afford to do my own covers. I couldn’t afford to hire a graphic designer because they’re really expensive. Especially if you find someone that’s good. So I had to figure out myself, but, I guess if I had these programs were around, I probably wouldn’t have developed those skills, but

 

Dave:

No, I understand

 

Amelia:

But, I’m still jelly.

 

Dave:

I have I, I also have Photoshop. Luckily I have the old Photoshop where I don’t have to pay for the annual subscription. And, and right. So I mean, it’s like, I was like got in on that. And they’re like, oh, you wanna upgrade? No, I don’t wanna upgrade. But then you don’t get our new features. I don’t need your new features. You know, it’s good enough for me. So I still have Photoshop and that’s like, that’s like the one thing that I’m like trying to do whatever I can to never lose because I don’t think I would pay, I love using it. Because I do a lot with my website, you know, and creating images. And I’m like you for the longest time I learn, like I learned I’ve done Photoshop for like 10 years and learned by trial. And I’m not, I’m not saying I’m great at it, but I’m good enough to get the things I want done. But I wouldn’t pay the annual subscription for Photoshop. That’s insane. That’s like

 

Amelia:

It’s £9 98. I think you get Lightroom. Never used it.

 

Dave:

No.

 

Amelia:

I’m super jealous that you have that

 

Dave:

Actually I, I know, right. Like I feel like’s like something will pass on to my children. They’re like, there you go.

 

Amelia:

I feel like you’ve got a pet unicorn and only you have that.

 

Dave:

Yes. Yes. It was the best thing. Long time ago I bought the students edition and it’s, it’s a CS five boom creative suit five. So I’m gonna keep that until the day. It won’t let me, but in the meantime though, I’m just like you, I forced myself to learn how to do Photoshop just to get around. And I do wish that some of these tools had been around. So it would’ve been way easier.

 

Amelia:

Yeah. Especially book brush. Because I have a funny feeling. If you have a bit of graphic design knowledge, you probably could design a cover in there. Yeah. Are you planning on releasing new features in the future and if so, what are you most excited about?

 

Dave:

Oh yeah. We got a lot of new features in the future. I mean, we actually make public the things that we’re working on as well as the upcoming things and the things we finished. If you just go to Atticus dot IO forwardslash roadmap and you can see a breakdown of what my guys are working on, what they just finished, what’s coming up next. Oh, wow. Yeah. because we want our users to know. I think, I think it’s a great thing for people to see is that we’re, we’re, we’re not just one and done, like we’re, we’re hitting the gas and we’re adding things. And one thing I will say to everybody out there is all of our new features and updates and upgrades and everything. They’re all free. They’re free for current owners. I personally hate it when software you know, improves itself and then it’s like, okay, pay us again. It’s like, yeah,

 

Amelia:

That’s a bit…really?

 

Dave:

Right. So, so all of that we’re talking about is there with regards to like a favourite? Oh, that’s like trying to choose which one, which one of your children is your favourite? No, I, Hmm. I have my own personal ones that I wanted. Like we came out with this one capability. So this one happened, but just kind of get show you like what my thought process is. One of the things we authors have to do, especially if you have multiple books, is that you have to update your back matter. Right. So I’ve published eight books. If I come out with a ninth book, then I want to go back and update the back matter of my other eight books so that it can talk about the book, especially in the also by page. Right. Well, in doing that, or let’s say, I want to update my bio or something like in doing that, I’d have to go through all of my books and copy and paste, copy and paste, copy and paste.

 

Dave:

And I just didn’t like doing that. So what I did was I told my team, Hey, let’s make it where I, we can create a template page. Okay. So if I’ve already written this also by page, right. And I’ve put in all the links, I’ve done all the things for all the books, instead of me having a copying page or have to redo it on every book. What if I could just turn that special page into a template? And then when I write my next book, I could just access that template. Right. I don’t have to rewrite my author bio. I don’t have to rewrite the also by page or the dedication or any of those things. I could just bring in the templates, but what’s even cooler is that if you go to make a change on a template, the program will then ask, Hey, would you like me to automatically make that change to all the other books that use this template? And it lists those books. And then all you have to do is say yes, and then boom, all the books are updated. And I, I know it sounds dumb, but I like, I was so giddy with that because I hate updating my books and just making it where the program figured it out. And just poof, there it is, was like, yes. And amen. [Laughs]

 

Amelia:

You must not be a favourite person with book formatters because you are sort of making them obsolete.

 

Dave:

Yes and no. One of the things, so when we talk about collaboration, actually one of the ways you can collaborate, there’s actually four ways you can collaborate and each way has different permissions that you can give. I mean, the first is collaborating with an, with another writer. So two writers can write the same book. Okay. there’s that then there’s collaborating with an editor collaborating with an arc review or a beta reader. So arcs are advanced review copies and betas are, are. And the difference between the two is betas are people who are reading your book as you’re writing it and giving you tips and things to change advanced review, copy readers are people where they read the completed book and they leave their thoughts kind of either helping you make last minute changes. But most of the time you’re trying to get an arc reader to show up to then promote your book once you, once you release it.

 

Dave:

But so you can do that. And then the final one is a format because even though we’ve made it really easy people there will be authors where they’re just like, you know, I I still want somebody to format it for me. You know, like I just don’t want to, like, I can make a good book, but I want it to be really creative and I’m just not creative. So can I bring in a formatter too, to make special chapter themes and images and full bleed images and do all that for me. And so we’re gonna make that available. And, and that way formatters and the cool part is for the author, they don’t have to export and send it over. They click, they send a link to that formatter that formatter can go in. They can change only the formatting components make it look really cool.

 

Dave:

The author can watch ’em as they do it, or, or whenever the editor or the formatter says it’s done, they can look at it and then communicate the things they want different, you know, like, oh, that looks, no, I don’t like that. Like, you know, that’s a little too weird or perfect, you know, and then once they’re done, just like with the editor, you can remove their access and they’re good to go. So it won’t eradicate the need for formatters. Instead, it might actually be a phenomenal marketplace for formatters to find jobs.

 

Amelia:

Oh, okay. I guess I sort of take for granted that not everyone is as stubborn as I am. I’m determined to do a lot of things myself. Maybe it’s eldest child syndrome. Like I can do it myself and obviously not everyone is like that.

 

Dave:

Right. And, the other thing too is is that I know that there are a lot of teams out there. You know, there’s a publisher who has a format or a go-to formatter. It’s gonna make the, software’s gonna make it ridiculously easy for these publishing companies to tag their formatter to come into the software and pop good to go. And again, for, for publishing companies, it’s gonna be great. Cause you don’t have to worry about version control. You don’t have to worry about, you know, the wrong product being sent over. You can control everything from that point. So

 

Amelia:

I know you have touched on collaboration already, but how does the collaboration feature work in Atticus? Because prior to talking to you, I just understood that it was, you could use it in a similar way to Google docs. Yep. Where it was two writers.

 

Dave:

Yeah. So, well you have the four capabilities, right? You can either collaborate with the writer, an editor, arc beta, and a formatter. The writer and formatter have to own Atticus in order to do, to do it. So both writers have to own Atticus and, and the writer and the formatter. They both have to own Atticus. We can’t make like the free version for that one. So in order to use your format to do it, the format matter has to own it cuz they’re, they’re just special capabilities. Right. and so in this case, what you would do is is that if you’re working with a writer or formatter, you would click on collaboration and then you would type in the email address to the person and you can choose certain permissions that you give them on what they can and can do and then send over to them.

 

Dave:

And when that happens and they click and accept it, that your book will show up in their dashboard of Atticus, but only with the permissions you gave them. So when they click it, if they’re a formatter, they’ll only see the formatting page, they can’t see your writing section. They can’t see your notes. They can only see it as a formatting component and they can get to work on it. And then let you know, when they’re done with writers, it’s the same thing where one writer we’ll send the invite to another. We are setting it up. That one will be kind the, the leader. And that’s something that if you talk to anybody who co-writes, you should always have one that like, that is the leader of the Trump, you know, Trump card to it, they make the final decision. It just works way better that way.

 

Dave:

And so then what we do is that, so you can write just like, it will look like Google docs. Okay. If you’re writing on different chapters, you could always just click on the chapter and watch as they write it, just like on Google docs. And we’re also setting it up too, that if one of the writers needs to travel and won’t have internet, then all they need to do is lock the chapter. Okay. And they can lock it so that there’s no chance that the other author might be writing in a chapter that the other person’s also writing in, right. That hasn’t synced up. And so that we’ve got a lot of fail system fail, safe systems for that kind of component with regards to editors and art team readers, they don’t need to own Atticus. Instead they get this email with a link, they click the link and will ask them to create a, a free a free account in Atticus. And they will see your book in their dashboard. And when they click on it, like I said, it will look like word documented. It will open up, like it looks like word. And so they can access this on their computer. They can access this on their iPad, their Chromebook, wherever they want to. And they can start making their changes, but on your Atticus, you’ll see them make those changes.

 

Amelia:

Okay. So with beta readers, can they make inline comments and stuff like that?

 

Dave:

Yep. And also with beta readers too, you can make it, or once we come out with this, you can, you, we intend to make it where you can also choose if the beta readers can see what the others wrote or not. And this is important because I have seen where a beta reader will put in a comment and other beta readers might not have thought it was that bad, but because they see the comment they think it is. And they’re like, yeah, yeah. And then all of a sudden you get this cascading effect that makes you think, oh my goodness, I ruin this chapter. This is terrible. No, no, it’s just one person, but they all picked up on it after they read the fact. Right?

 

Amelia:

Yeah. There is a bit of a crowd mentality that you have to be very careful of with beta reading.

 

Dave:

Exactly. And so what we can do is make it where only you can see the comments of all of them and they can’t see each other’s comments. Right. And so that way it’s a, it’s a protective layer. I think it makes beta reading that much better. Cause right now, if you do beta reading over Google docs, they can see everybody’s that sucks. So,

 

Amelia:

Oh, I had no idea.

 

Dave:

Yep. So all the comments will show up in the one spot and you can read ’em you know, whereas with Atticus, on the other hand, they won’t know what the other people said. So now you’ll really be able to say, you’ll see them, all the comments on one spot yourself, but they won’t see what the others have to say.

 

Amelia:

There are be reading software’s out there, but you have to pay a pretty penny. Right. And some of them are super expensive. And then when you see the product, you can’t, they can’t make inline comments. And you’re like, I just paid a hundred pounds for nothing.

 

Dave:

Yeah. Like I said, way back in the day, I’m like, man, I wish there, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a software that did at all, I didn’t need to pay for all these things and I can control everything from one spot. And that’s exactly how it came about.

 

Amelia:

Just another question about the collaboration. So which of these features are available now or this, or is the collaboration something that you’re working on?

 

Dave:

The collaboration is something that we’re currently working on. We, it’s sort of like we built the engine of the car. So we, we did the architecture of the software with all of these capabilities in mind. So it’s like the engine, the frame of the car is there right now. We’re putting on, you know, putting in the seats, the steering wheel, you know? And so that’s kind of where it is. We don’t have any crazy hardcore lifting only because we designed it with this in mind.

 

Amelia:

Okay. I have… actually that, wasn’t the last question I’ve got one more. Okay. So I understand that when you create products that eventually once you start getting a lot of people using it, you’ll start getting users asking for things. Do you get users asking for particular features?

 

Dave:

We do. And we’ll get in on support. We’ve got an incredible support team. But we also have a Facebook group as well on Atticus and periodically our team will put up because we have a public roadmap of all the things we do, but periodically we’ll put a a survey or a, a, you know, a Facebook survey, if you will, to select which feature you want most so that we can prioritise things. So we really love the feedback. We really, we communicate with our team. I mean, you may find that we might be the most responsive communicative I would say maybe writing software out there, if not in the book world just because there’s so many things we’re doing, like I said, we’re updating twice a week, you know, with new features, capabilities and improvements. Yeah. I mean, we’re here for the community, so we’re taking in the feedback.

 

Amelia:

One of the things I particularly love is that you can create your own formatting template. You can’t do that anywhere else. There’s a couple of exceptions to that, but the program’s difficult to use, but I saw that and I went through the templates and I was like, there’s nothing really here that would suit mystery. And then I realised, oh,

 

Dave:

We have a custom,

 

Amelia:

I can create a template. All of my own. And I was, and that’s when I was like, oh my God, I think I need to talk to Dave about this. Because I was…at that point I realised what you had created and I realised, wow, this is must have taken a lot of people. It must not have been just you.

 

Dave:

Yeah. It is. It’s eight full time programmers on the team. Yeah, that’s a big team. And on top of that to what’s really awesome about that. Template is you could design a special template for an entire series and use it on all of those books with a click of a button, you know, or you can make subtle changes on your next series. But yeah. Being able to design your own look and feel to a book I thought was like, like critical to software.

 

Amelia:

I think that’s everything I wanted to ask you. So thank you for coming on to the entrepreneur podcast and chatting about and chatting with me about Atticus. It’s really, really interesting. And I definitely look forward to seeing the features and where you go with Atticus in the future. Cause it’s really exciting that we finally have something that’s designed with writers in mind. It’s quite great. Yeah, I’m a huge fan.

 

Dave:

Well, thank you. That really means a lot. Won’t let you down. And as an author myself, I’m really jazzed about its future and capabilities and we’re just gonna keep hard charging.

 

Amelia:

Great. Well, all the best and thank you for, you know, spending time to chat with me.

 

Dave:

Absolutely. And thanks for having me.

 

Amelia:

Thank you. Bye.

Concluding Thoughts

Thank you for listening or watching this episode of the Authorpreneur Podcast, where I spoke with Dave Chesson about Writing, Editing, Formatting, and collaborating with Atticus. I hope this interview answered a few questions you had and helped you make a great purchasing decision. In the comments section below, let me know whether you have purchased and tried Atticus. Or, if you haven’t purchased the writing software, what Atticus feature are you most interested in?

 

Once again, thank you for listening, and I’ll see you in the next show.

 

Happy reading and writing, everybody.

 

With love,

Amelia xx

 

Amelia D. Hay
Amelia D. Hay

I’m Amelia. When I’m not hosting the Authorpreneur Podcast™️ and the Book Nerd Podcasts, I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Suspicion, the Lawn, and the Candidate.

On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process.

Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Suspicion, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.

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