I’ve had a couple of people ask me what apps and methods I use to write, so I decided to pull together a resource page aimed at writers. Some of the links are affiliate links, but I promise, I’m not linking to anything I don’t already use and love myself! I’ll update this page periodically as I think of things or discover new tools and services.
Scrivener – After twenty-plus years of writing in Microsoft Word, I’ve finally converted to Scrivener. It took me four tries to really get it, and I’m still learning. Designed by writers for writers, this is great software to research, plot, organize, and compose your novel. With the addition this summer of an iOS app, Scrivener has really won me over. Plus it’s way cheaper than Microsoft Word! Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence) I do recommend that you watch all the tutorial videos, and if you can catch a webinar with Joseph Michael, do so! I haven’t paid for his Learn Scrivener Fast program, but he frequently does free hour-long webinars that give you a good grounding on how to use the program.
Dropbox Pro – The first rule of writing on a computer is to back your files up. Dropbox is an easy way to do it, and it’s compatible with iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android, which covers pretty much everything. A lot of people don’t need the Pro version, but I went Pro last year. It’s definitely worth the price for me to feel my files are secure.
BrainFM – I was introduced to this website by fellow writer Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and I love it. While I enjoy writing to music, there are times I need background noise without a melody or words in order to really concentrate. Enter BrainFM. There’s science backing the audio patterns the website plays for you. It’s fairly inexpensive at $6.99 a month. As an added bonus, the customer service and support is excellent.
Campaign Cartographer 3 – Any fantasy novelist knows that if you’re going to write fantasy, you need a good map! Campaign Cartographer is a lot of fun to use, once you realize you’re not playing with Photoshop but using a powerful CAD-based program. Take my word for it, work through the tutorial videos! I used CC3 to create the maps for my Storms in Amethir series, and it definitely made the world-building stronger. I’ve written an entire blog post about CC3, if you want more information.
MyBookProgress – This is the WordPress plug-in I use to show off how much progress I’ve made (or haven’t made) on my latest works-in-progress. Designed by the same people who created MyBookTable, listed below, this gives you a chance to keep readers and fans updated on your progress, let them nudge you for more information, and display a progress meter on your website. For someone who’s addicted to seeing her NaNoWriMo progress meter go up during the month, this plug-in fills a niche for me.
Moo – I love Moo business cards and mini cards. I’ve been using them basically since the company started, when I got a promo code because I was a permanent user at LiveJournal. Since discovering Moo, I have not ordered business cards from anyone else. My favorite thing about them is their Printfinity option, which allows you to have as many different images on the back of your business card as you’d like. This means I can have business cards with each of my book covers, without ordering a ton of business cards!
Mailchimp – If you’re going to sell your books, you need to have an email list. People who have enjoyed your writing enough to give you their email address are valuable readers, and you want to hang on to them! Keep in touch with readers using Mailchimp. There are templates, including mobile-optimized templates, and all kinds of resources to help you gather contacts and stay in touch. Plans are free up to 2000 contacts, but if you pay a little bit per month ($10 or $9 if you use two-factor authentication), you get automation and can send a series of emails to people easily.
CoSchedule – If you’re planning on blogging or creating a social media presence (you are planning on a social media presence, right?), you’ll find CoSchedule a powerful tool to help you stay on top of things. My day job involves a lot of social media management, so I’ve tried a lot of scheduling tools, from Buffer to Hootsuite and beyond. CoSchedule is my favorite, partly because they make it really easy to set up a social campaign, and they also have fantastic resources for learning the service and learning more about how to be present and engaged on social media without being that guy who constantly tweets “Buy my book!”
PicMonkey: fearless photo embetterment – In order to be effective at marketing, you need pretty pictures. Even if you’re not trained as a graphic designer, PicMonkey is a great way to create beautiful images for social media, websites, email newsletters, and other marketing materials. And at $39.99 for the year, it’s inexpensive compared to similar apps. I’ve been using PicMonkey for at least two years, and I’ve been extremely happy with their service.
Amazon KDP – Amazon’s e-publishing platform, Kindle Direct Publishing is the first market that carried one of my books. It’s pretty easy to use, has good reporting, and has all kinds of forums for users to connect, ask for advice, and more.
CreateSpace – Also owned by Amazon, CreateSpace is where I create my print books. There are other options for this, but I don’t have any experience with them. CreateSpace is fairly simple to use, if you use their step-by-step wizard, and it has the benefit of being free. There are paid options, but I’ve never used any of them. You don’t need to use their paid services to create a high-quality product.
Smashwords – Smashwords is a deceptively powerful service. You can create ebooks of all kinds using their “meatgrinder” process–again, I recommend reading their manual; it’ll save you a lot of tears if you read it before trying to format a book and upload it. In addition to ebook creation, Smashwords is a distributor to some twenty ebook markets, including iBooks, Kobo, nook, Kindle, and more. I don’t use their Kindle distribution (I prefer the KDP platform) but I do use them for distribution everywhere else.
MyBookTable – A great WordPress plug-in to showcase all your books. You can pull in Amazon reviews, link to all the places to purchase your book, share endorsements, embed a book trailer…basically anything you need in a book landing page, MyBookTable has it. I like it so much I’m a Kickstarter backer of their newest version, MyBookTable 3.
Instafreebie – I’m new to Instafreebie, but it looks like a great way to get your book into the hands of lots of eager, engaged readers and grow your email list at the same time. I’m still experimenting, but I’ve read some very good reviews, so I’m hopeful. I’ll update here as I get more familiar with the service.