Top 10 Favorite Author Tools
Scrivener – Scrivener is an excellent tool for authors who are working on their first draft. It’s corkboard feature allows you to lay out chapters and rearrange them as you see fit. It is the closest thing to the old index card method without all of the paper.
There are also a number of built in tools like a name generator and others that make this a worthwhile platform for writing your first draft.
The drawbacks of Scrivener include the lack of a version for the iPad. This causes me to carry both a Window-based tablet and an iPad with me when I travel along with my work laptop which I can’t use for writing.
Also, there is no discernable way to track changes which causes me to switch to Microsoft Word when I switch to editing mode.
Word – It’s hard to beat Microsoft Word with its ability to track changes. It’s grammar and spell check help to send a cleaner manuscript to my editor. It’s not a perfect tool, but without the ability to track changes in Scrivener, it’s a good complement. One of the things that drives me crazy in Word is its inability to correctly identify certain contextual grammar issues. For instance, it fails to recognize the proper use of “it’s” for ‘it is’.
MailChimp – MailChimp is a wonderful tool that is completely free in its basic form. It is wonderful for creating and maintaining mailing lists. It also has the capability to help with the creation of professional looking newsletters and emails. Couple those features with robust reporting and you have a great tool to help you establish your author platform. For a minimal monthly charge, you can add automation that allows correspondence to be sent to those on your mailing list that click specific links within your correspondence. You can also store files for download by your subscribers such as special content or even free copies of your books.
RaffleCopter– This service is tailor made to enabling giveaways. It easily integrates with MailChimp so that those who sign up for your giveaway will be integrated into a mailing list of your choosing. It will also pick a random winner from the entrants at the end of the giveaway period.
WordPress – This service is well-known to all of you that use it for your blogs. I’m sure many of you know its features better than I since I am a late adopter to harnessing its power. I know that since becoming a more active blogger, I have seen activity in all of my social media platforms rise. I have met a wonderful group of fellow authors as well. It’s not easy, however, to maintain the activity level in a blog. I have had to sacrifice some of my writing time to do so, but I believe it is an essential part of being an independent author.
Facebook – Although it is still an important part of my author platform, Facebook has diminished in standing over time. Part of this is due to the restrictions placed on promoting books in an effort to drive authors to paid ads. Another part of this is that, with a platform like WordPress, I can post promotional information once and have it permeate to my Facebook components. Facebook is still a major player for keeping in touch with fans and announcing book launches, but it is not the free-for-all that it once was.
GoodReads – GoodReads is another essential tool in the author’s kit. It’s another place to gain recognition for your books. You can also sponsor giveaways that will integrate with RaffleCopter. There is a community within GoodReads for specific genres and it is another platform where readers can give feedback in the form of reviews.
CreateSpace – CreatSpace is essential to authors who want to market print versions of their books. It’s also a great place to obtain lower-cost copies of my books for author signings and events. The setup is easy and, since it’s owned by Amazon, integration with the kindle version of your books is easy so that reviews can be combined. The quality is also remarkably good.
VistaPrint – If you need posters, business cards, banners, or swag to give away to readers, VistaPrint is a low-cost provider of these things. You can easily design and coordinate items so that you get a consistent look and feel to your items. The shipping is quick and the quality is very good at a reasonable price.
Twitter – Twitter is a tough nut to crack as an author. I have it tied to my Facebook and WordPress accounts so that my posts go out as tweets. I’m nearing 1,000 followers and add new followers every day, so I must be using this platform effectively even though I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve run some ads on Twitter and have found them to be ineffective at generating significant traffic.
So what about you? I’m sure there are tools that you’ve used that are very effective. Please share them with us so we can all benefit.