Hi, my name is Anand Modha, and I like to think of myself as a writer. Not an author (you’d have to be published for that,) but a writer. The reason I think of myself as a writer is because I love it. I love stories in any shape or form. It can be a book, film, cleverly written tweet or even some graffiti. To me, stories are the way we communicate our emotions to one another and language is probably still our greatest achievement as a species (suck it Internet!) of which stories are one of its purest expressions.
The kind people at Novlr have asked me if I would blog for them. They have asked me to explore stories as a whole, to think about why we write, story theory, tips from writers, the works! I think part of the reason I was asked was because my day job is in innovation, and the underlying premise of that is to understand how something works, so you can make it better. Before I embarked on my journey to write my novel, I did a lot of research. I read almost any book I could find on stories and why we engage with them. I read as much as I could about how to write a story. What people look for, and what they engage with, and I hope that over the next few months I can share these ideas and things I found to help you all on your journeys to write your great novel.
We get emails every day from you guys telling us what you’d like to see in Novlr, how the tool’s working out for you, what you love about it, what you’d change and what we could be doing better. Novlr wouldn’t be at the point it is now without your help and we appreciate your feedback so much. We’re always asking you all that to get in touch and give your feedback as it’s the only way we are going to improve the app. We thought we’d share an awesome email we got the other day from one of our users, April, who put a smile on our faces.
I just want to say thank you! I am a self-published author (if you could call me that), but I haven’t written much of anything in several years. And by “much of anything,” I mean anything at all. Life just got in the way, in the way a good way. Every once in awhile, I’d sit down and try to write and come up completely blank. I work best without thinking too hard. At least in the beginning. Later, as the characters take shape and their stories develop, I can sit back with a less vague idea of what will happen. But even then, I don’t truly know the end until I get there. Even so, for far too long, I couldn’t get any words to stick. Then just recently, I started with the tiniest, most vague idea ever in my head. I can’t remember whether I saw something about Novlr on Facebook or whether I Googled something, but all of the sudden, there was Novlr, and I was writing again. There are many features yet to come that will make this an even better web-based program, but as it is right now, I am impressed. I love the Versions, and I love that as long as I have the internet, I can hop back online and keep writing. Cheers to The Cloud! And on top of that, I can backup automatically to Google Drive??? Seriously amazing. I don’t have to carry around a USB and pray that whatever computer I come across next has Microsoft Word. ANYway, thank you. So much. I hope you’re around for years to come.
So, thanks April, for spreading your love of Novlr 🙂
Novlr just got better – as it does every month.
We’ve been listening. You tell us what you need and we build it. Have a watch of our summary video or scroll down and take a look at some of the new features – there’s chunky ones and mini ones – they all make a difference.
Evening and night modes
A lot of you write day and night, and many of you asked for a softer colour scheme for the long nights. So we did some research, took on your ideas and voila: evening and night modes.
Curly quotes and em dash
Some of you are very particular about having a certain ratio of curl in your quotes…so now you can.
Who needs commas, parenthesis or colons? Just em dash it by typing two dashes in succession.
We are continuously improving the exports as they are complicated beasts. So this month:
- Notes can now be included in export
- Strikethrough and underline work in pdf
- Page breaks after chapters
Take the tour
Novlr is adding features so quickly we need to make sure everyone who joins gets an introduction to them. You can try it in Settings > Help.
Cleaned up chapters
We cleaned up the chapter sidebar a little. Aesthetics matter when you’re using a tool as much as we writers do. There’s more important changes to the chapters coming soon too…
Click onto a line
This one was a pet peeve of mine (Thomas). It was difficult to click on the beginning of a line. You had to get it exact. Well not any more…now you can click a bit to the left. It’s the small details sometimes.
We’ll be releasing new features every month.
Influence what we build next by adding your votes to the features roadmap and discuss how you would like to see them built. Can’t wait to see what comes next.
Good luck with the writing – and thanks for using Novlr.
You made this happen. You told us that although you felt your words were safe, you wanted more, you wanted to be able to go back and find versions you’d written before. That was the dominant request. So we built you it. And it was no mean feat. Versioning is here.
So you won’t lose your words, and you can change your mind all you like. Are you ready to see it in action? Are you?
You’ll see this little icon in the bottom right of your chapter. It opens a sidebar with a version of your chapter saved every minute.
Clicking “restore” on any revision will create a duplicate of this and make it the current version (whatever was there before, gets saved as your last version too…just in case!).
Try and break it please
As with all new features, we have tested it as much as we can with our tiny team of three but if you find any bugs or anything that you don’t think is working right, just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us @novlrtweets.
The future of versioning
We’re really proud of what we’re releasing today. However, we’re already thinking about ways to make it better 🙂 Please use it for yourself and comment here with ways you think we could improve it.
Here are a couple of things we are going to look at:
- When you view today’s version, scroll to the current point in the editor
- On switching to any other version, scroll to the last edited position from that version
- On switching to any other version, flash/fade highlight of the text changes on that version.
Add a novel button
We also added a new button to add a novel to the drop down. This was a suggestion that more than one of you sent in to us, and you were right – so we added it.
A big part of the versioning work required us to switch from Quill to Prosemirror. These are two editors. Prosemirror allows us to do much more – such as versioning. It’s also quicker and there are a whole heap of other potential things for the future in there too. But for the time being the main thing is that it saves faster and more robustly.
A picture paints a thousand… we all know the saying, and so we’re now on instagram and will be sharing the beautiful things that we encounter – from scenic writing spots to lovely old books.
Some of you have asked us why we have chosen a subscription model. Why should I pay monthly for something when I could pay a one-off fee and never have to worry about it again? It’s a fair question. And it’s one we are keen to answer, because there are very good reasons – good for you, our writers – as to why we’ve chosen a subscription model.
Novlr isn’t a thing, it’s a service.
What do I mean by that? Well lets use an analogy of a school. When you say ‘a school’ you can be referring to two things.
- 1. There’s the physical school building.
- 2. There’s the service that does the schooling.
You could buy the building, but without paying the teachers, cleaners, electricity bill etc you don’t have a school. The school continually changes, gets better, every year there are new textbooks and new meals need to be cooked for school lunches every day. That’s Novlr. We’re not the outer casing, we’re the team of people: developers, designers, support staff, accountants, database technicians – everything else that sits behind the clean simple writing screen that you write into.
Novlr is constantly improving
A major difference between paying for a service or a product is that a service continually improves. We improve Novlr all the time, which means that every month you’ll get a better tool. Just take a look at the incredible list of features you’ve all suggested on our roadmap. None of that will be built if we wrapped up Novlr as it is now and sold it to you. We want to build all that. We want to work with you to build the best writing tool.
It means we can support you
We pride ourselves in responding to your questions and concerns as quickly as we possibly can. We can only do that if we have regular predictable income coming in. We want to be able to do that for as long as Novlr is runningInflatable Pools cleaning.
It means Novlr is more robust
If users pay in smaller increments regularly, it means a company like ours can plan properly – we will know how and when the money will come in and we can hire the people we need based on that. We can make things steady and constant rather than relying on how many copies of a software we’d sold that month.
It makes us work harder
If we took your money up front, we’d not be under any great pressure to keep giving you a good service afterwards. By breaking your payments down into small chunks, we need to keep giving you a good service every single month otherwise you’ll cancel your subscription. That incentive is good.
We’re much more likely to last
If we use a subscription model and it allows us to plan in a sustainable way – so our costs never outweigh our income, we are a much more secure organisation. We won’t stretch beyond our means, we won’t stop supporting you because we’ve run out of money like many startup companies do.
There are also practical costs
As well as the staff required to support Novlr, there are other practical costs, like hosting and licenses etc that a one-off piece of software doesn’t have. Paying for those lets us offer you something better than a one-off piece of software – constant access, cloud storage, offline syncing etc.
The reasons are simple
We’re here to work with you to build the best writing tool. A subscription model makes that far more likely. You just need to look at how one-off software stands still, or introduces new versions, or plugins that then cost more money at a later date. We just want a simple, open, honest transaction with our users. We think Novlr (the service) is worth $10 a month – and hope you do too.