Tools for writers

My book Startup Wealth: How the Best Angel Investors Make Money in Startups was written with a set of processes and tools that evolved as I progressed. There were two distinct phases of creation that I went through before really hitting my stride. Thanks Nick Hughes for inspiring this post.

Learning to do interviews

The process I used to write my book was to start doing as many interviews as I could and find the story from there. I got off to a rough start. My first interview was Jeffrey Carter of Hyde Park Angels. The interview was great and helped set the tone for future interviews. While we were talking via Skype, I didn't record the interview and just took notes. At the time I didn't have the final format of the book even in my mind, remember I was still searching for insights that would lead to a story. The second interview was Dan Rosen of Alliance of Angels, again I took pages of notes, but failed to do any recording and after two more interviews I realized I needed more detail if I really wanted to capture all of the nuance and uniqueness that every angel brings to the investment table.

Interviewing like an author

My process evolved into 30-120 minute recorded interviews with transcription. This got me moving quickly through the interviews and gave me an opportunity to quickly get words on paper that I could then read and find the story. As the interviews were progressing, I was also cleaning up the transcriptions, eventually re-reading all the interviews (over and over), finding the story, writing the chapters, editing the chapters myself, having my lovely wife Robin read every chapter (some of them twice), editing the chapters again, reviewing the chapters with the interviewees, editing the chapters with an outside editor, finalize the book, re-review with interviewees, final edit with an outside editor, final proofread with my proofreader, publish in print/ebook, record audiobook, release  in audio book format. Granted the last two steps are still under way, but I'll outline the tools I'm using now.

My Tools

  • Skype - The sound quality and connection quality was highest with Skype. I tried Google Hangouts for my interview with Howard Lindzon. In fact you can watch the entire interview with Howard and then go read the final product in my book. There was another non-Skype interview I did with Brad Feld, we used Blue Jeans which is a company Foundry Group is an investor in. The quality was top notch and the setup was easy to use (not like Google Hangouts was). For my purposes I couldn't record the call so I fired up the built in recorder app on my cell phone and set it next to my Plantronics USB speaker phone and sound quality came through great.
  • MP3 Skype Recorder - This is how I recorded most of my calls. The software works seamlessly with Skype and managing the recordings is super easy.
  • Hindenburg - I used the built in iPhone voice recording app for a lot of the interviews and it worked great. Later I found Hindenburg and used it for some of the in person interviews.
  • Rev.com - I tried a lot of transcription services. Some were cheaper, some were more expensive, some wanted to do contracts for the entire set of interviews, and Rev.com quickly rose to the top as the best fit for me. $1/min is a fair rate and the transcription quality is great - in fact I sent a few audio files over to them that I had already paid to have recorded.They do transcription, subtitles, captions, and even translation.
  • Word - I used Word to write the whole thing. I've played with tools like Scrivener and Quip for writing and while they have their place - I'm comfortable in Word and I know how to manipulate the tool to help me think through the writing process (that mix between outline/storyline and actual sentences on pages is one that all writers need to deal with and I'm comfortable managing this in word).
  • Booktrope - I looked at a lot of different options for publishing, from publishing at Wiley, to FG Press, and ultimately published with Booktrope. I love the concept of shared equity and was thrilled to have such an incredible team involved in producing my book. Everyone wants to see the book be successful as everyone's interests are aligned, from the booktrope team, to my editor, to my marketing manager, to my cover designer, and even to the proofreader. We all get a split of the book sales.
  • Blue Yeti - Microphone I'm using for recording the book. I've had so many people ask when the audio version is coming out. It's coming along nicely.
  • Recordio - Audiobook application I'm using to manage the recording process. They chunk the book into easy to read segments so the recording process isn't a huge laborious undertaking. I'm using the web version to get the benefit of the higher end microphone, although they even support recording from your iPhone.

What tools should I add to my toolbelt? I'm always looking for ways to improve my writing process.

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Comment (1)

  1. Michel

    i’m suggest Another tool for transcription services. its High Quality also Affordable price range $0.99/min. ClickForTranscription.com Try this you can also get a wonderful Experience.

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