How to participate in the Amazon contest using free software.

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Writing a novel can be done in different ways.

Amazon hosts a new edition of the Amazon Storyteller Literary Award in which it seeks to highlight the best of the works published under its direct publication system.

In this article and the one that follows I tell you how to participate in the contest using free and open source software programs.

Contest Features

The contest includes all works published under the Kindle Direct Publishing system that they comply with the terms and conditions. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a free independent publishing platform for authors to publish and maintain control over their books sold on the Kindle Store.

The winner of the contest will receive a prize of 10000 euros, an agreement for publication in audiobook format and additional promotion on Amazon. Additionally, the 5 finalists will get a Kindle Oasis device and additional visibility in stores.

How to enter the contest

We are going to divide this explanation into two parts; creation of the manuscript and formatting of the book. The second will go in the next article.

Free software for manuscript creation

One might think that there is only one way to write a book. Start with the first chapter and continue until you finish with the word END. However, there are at least three methods:

  • Organic method: Used among others by Stephen King, it consists of sitting down and writing the novel as it occurs to you.
  • Drafts method; Used among others by Robert Ludlum, it consists of writing 5 or 6 synopses of 100 pages covering the basic aspects of the novel. Each of the later ones is a polished version of the previous one.
  • Snowflake method: Created by writer Randy Ingermanson consist of a series of successive steps for the planning of the novel.

For the first method, the best option is a distraction-free word processor. Some titles available in the repositories are:

  • POE: As the name implies, it is designed specifically for writers. In addition to its clean interface, it allows you to apply basic formats such as headings, numbered lists, bold and italics, among others. It has the automatic saving function and allows you to set goals based on the number of words or time. It is available in the Snap store.
  • Alighieri: Also intended for writers, it allows you to write without distraction with a dark mode and/or full screen. It has a counter of letters, words, sentences and paragraphs. It has Markdown and image support and allows you to export to PDF. Available in the Snap store.

In the case of the second method, we need a full-featured word processing program. LibreOffice Writer, which is included in the repositories of the main Linux distributions, is not only compatible with Microsoft formats but also exports to EPUB format, which makes things easier for us when the book is published in the Kindle store.

Regarding the snowflake method, there are tools that allow us to complete the different steps. Some of them are:

  • Bishop: With this program we can create the structure of the novel, define the premise, establish the settings, and indicate the geographical, temporal, and social contexts. For writing, it has a complete text editor with a distraction-free mode and it is possible to divide it into chapters and scenes. The result is exported to EPUB or DOCX. It also has tools for creating characters and for analyzing the duration of the chapters, the time and locations in which the characters appear, their distribution in the chapters and the representation of the novel in a timeline. Some of these features are only available in the paid version.
  • Manuscript: This is absolutely free and open source and claims to be specifically intended for the snowflake method. We can see at any time what stage each chapter is in and what characters are involved. It also makes it easy to change the order of chapters. It has a writing mode without distractions and a frequency analyzer to detect phrases and words that we repeat beyond what is advisable. We can download it from the repositories of Debian and Fedora derivatives or from the snap store.

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