I’m a self-publishing author, which means that I take stories from the germ of inspiration all the way to the ebooks of Amazon and the permanence of paper. Over the years, I’ve noticed that there were certain tools that I consistently use to shepherd a story from one point to the other. Write Or Die, Scrivener, TrueCrypt (for protecting works-in-progress), Dropbox (for portability and backup), OpenOffice, Calibre, etc.
I found myself thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if I had a thumb drive with all the tools installed already? When on vacation, I could use whatever system was nearby and plug it in, then continue my writing right where I’d left off.”
Luckily, I’m a computer programmer by day, so I was fairly conversant with virtual machines. I used Ubuntu 11.04 and added all the tools that I normally use. Everything I included is either open-source or freely distributable (actually, Scrivener is a temporary beta while they evaluate the Linux version. Enjoy it while you can!). Now, when I start up my VM, I have my entire environment saved exactly where I left it, ready to run. I call it WriterOS.
Lots of people ask me how to self-publish, so I decided to make my VM public. I wrote a ReadMe that tells what each program does, and how I use them together to go from a basic idea all the way to custom-made, ready-to-ship, ePub files.
As an added bonus, I put in ePub versions of my first three novels. So, not only would people see what tools were available and how to use them, they would also be able to see the results of such tools.
I’m hoping people download the VM and enjoy it. More than that, I’d like for this to become a vibrant and useful tool that people contribute to. If you have questions about how to use things, I’d like to hear from you. If you have suggestions of tools that you think work better, I’d like to hear that too. Let’s make this a real valuable tool for as many people as possible.
Grab the VM now and see what you think!