FastPencil's mission is to make things easier for authors by bringing this process online and to collaborate with others. FastPencil takes writers from idea to published book. The service offers features for collaboration, editing and design, as well as professional consulting services for authors. One cool feature of FastPencil is that it can import blog posts and turn them into books and e-books that bloggers can then sell through all the major book distribution channels.Writing a book will never be easy, but
The areas where FastPencil exceeds are online editing, collaboration and distribution. Fast Pencil offers a surprisingly comprehensive online editing suite. While this editor isn't quite as fully-featured as Microsoft Word, OpenOffice or Apple's Pages - there is no feature to create headlines or tables of content, for example - it's more than enough to power the service's online collaboration tools.
In it's latest update, which launched earlier this week, FastPencil introduced a number of interesting new features. These include new templates, new roles for collaborators (co-authors, project managers) and forums for prospective authors to meet and discuss their work.
Turn Your Blog Into a Book
If you import your blog feed, FastPencil will turn every blog post into a chapter. The service also imports images from these posts. These images have to be inserted at the beginning or end of a post, however. You can't have your text flow around an image.
Publishing: Hardcover, Paperback, E-Book
Once you have finished your book, you can publish it as an e-book and printed book. These services, however, do cost. These paid services include printing, obtaining ISBN numbers, and organizing the distribution of your book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram Digital and other retail partners. FastPencil also offers a number of editing services like design, illustration and editing services. Besides printing hardcover and paperback books, FastPencil can format books for virtually any digital platform, including DRM-free ePub e-books and the Kindle.
Don't Need All These Services? Try SmashWords
If you don't need all of these services from Fast Pencil - or if you have already finished your book - another service worth looking at is SmashWords. Smashwords specializes in e-books. Thanks to deals with Barnes & Noble and Sony in the US and Indigo Books & Music's Shortcovers in Canada, self-published authors can get their e-books into traditional distribution channels, or sell their books directly on SmashWords. Smashwords acquired the New Zealand-based e-book self-publishing service BookHabit earlier this week.