The writing community has many web-tools at its disposal, but for project management, remote collaboration, and distribution, no tool is more convenient than The Book Patch (TBP). I had the chance to play around with the website, and the privilege of talking with its creator, Victor Ostrovsky.
Designed by a writer for writers, Victor has made his custom-built writing tool available to the writing community absolutely free. It is a browser-based web-app that only requires users to have Microsoft Silverlight (a free downloadable software) installed on their computer, and from there writers are free to work.
Victor believes writers are very vulnerable. “They have created something that they want to distribute,” but the publishing markets are very small in comparison to the quantity of writers. In hopes of getting exposure, writers are left vulnerable and are preyed upon by agents and self-publishing groups that promise to get their work in front of publishers, when in reality they profit off of empty promises.
TBP offers these same tools for free. “I wanted to make a tool available to authors that did three things…being free up to that point”
- Give writers the ability to work and have access from anywhere.
- Make it easy to work with coauthors, editors, and collaborators in one location.
- Allow writers to convert projects to a PDF that’s ready for print and distribution with the push of a button.
The site is a space where authors can write their works and get them critiqued, published and printed for distribution. TBP also has a few unique features that set it apart from other project management tools.
The users can create various kinds of accounts—even publisher accounts—allowing them to create business profiles and keep track of their colleagues and collaborative projects through a very intuitive interface—most of the functions being only a few clicks away. Furthermore, publishers can make company-page skins and offer the same tools for their own writers’ and colleagues’ use without TBP’s look.
The writing suite offers extremely useful templates and step-by-step creation tools to make editing title pages, copyright pages, and chapter headings a breeze. TBP also features a book-cover creator that allows authors to upload images and control the fonts and layout design of their covers.
In addition, the application breaks projects up by chapters, each with their own designated comment and review section. The multi-storyline feature enables multiple authors to write and publish alternate story-arcs in the form of “chapter strings,” generating endless stories and mash-ups that the original author can still profit from.
All projects also have public/private and user settings to cater to every writer’s preference. Each chapter can even have its own permissions settings to allow certain collaborators the right to edit specific sections of the work.
And to provide the complete package, publishing and printing is just one click away through a print-on-demand service provided by Wilshire Press. Projects aren’t held at ransom in any way; users are fully capable of taking their PDF to another printing house. However, Wilshire Press offers competitive prices, and takes no share of the profits.
Soon, writers can look forward to e-publishing features that take the same PDFs and distribute them through TBP’s bookstore—the company claims a nominal fee of something around 10 cents per book sold in this manner.
“The web-app is a facilitator…The internet should be a general tool,” Victor concluded. The Book Patch is a self-publishing innovation that has increased writers’ access to their market with an astute and understanding attitude.