People often ask me what tools and resources I use for my business as an author-entrepreneur, so I’ve gathered the main ones on this page. I’ve also included everything I use in this list (not for newbies!). You can check out my recommended books for authors here.
Some of the links are affiliate links which means I make a small amount of money if you click through. I use all these services myself and only recommend those I trust, so I hope they are useful and you can always google them if you don’t want to use my link. Thanks!
Scrivener. I’ve talked before about how Scrivener can change your life, but it really is my #1 recommendation, especially for self-publishing authors. It’s amazing writing software, with brilliant drag and drop functionality so you can write out of order and then just switch things around later. All for just $45. Amazing. Try it here for Mac and here for Windows. It’s also now available as an app for iPhone and iPad.
If you want to optimize your Scrivener usage, e.g. understand which fields do what when you compile your files, then I recommend the Learn Scrivener Fast training which is brilliant and can shortcut the learning process considerably.
I’m also now dictating my first drafts using Dragon Dictate on Mac (and there are lots of other versions of Dragon for whatever OS or device you use).
I format my ebooks with Vellum software, which creates beautiful ebooks 🙂
I go direct to Amazon KDP, iBooks and Kobo. I use Draft2Digital and Smashwords to get to Nook and the smaller vendors. I use Createspace for print on demand but also recommend Ingram Spark and Blurb for picture books. Read more tips on step by step self-publishing here.
I use professional editors and cover design.
I use a tool by Author Marketing Club to format my Amazon descriptions with HTML which adds the fancy formatting and yellow text without having to hand-code it.
For print formatting, I pay a pro formatter but if you want to DIY, I recommend Joel Friedlander’s Book Design Templates – which can be used for ebooks as well as print.
For curated information about being an indie author, connections with industry experts and other authors as well as other benefits, I am a proud member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.
For the website
For hosting, I recommend Bluehost as they have specific packages for WordPress as well as great customer service and easy transfer if you already have a site. Click here to check out the Bluehost options.
Growing a list of fans who want to buy your book is probably the number 1 long term marketing tactic for authors and all businesses. I’ve been using Aweber for years and it’s been consistently good. Mailchimp is an alternative. For the best advice on growing your email list, check out the free video training series on finding your first 10,000 readers from Nick Stephenson.
You can get free themes for WordPress but I prefer to pay for SEO optimized layouts. My current theme is Beautiful Pro for TheCreativePenn.com and Author Pro for JFPenn.com
For productivity and health
Yes, a physical one I schedule my podcasts months in advance, currently 4 months ahead, as well as meetings, events … oh yes, and personal stuff! I like having a physical diary and have tried to move it online but I keep going back to the physical. I actually bought the leather cover edition with my first consultancy pay-check back in 1997, so it has emotional resonance too. You can find a whole selection here, and a lot of photos on Flickr and Pinterest from fellow Filofaxophiles 🙂
I have tried a LOAD of different To Do list applications but this works amazingly well for me. I also have a folder for fiction ideas which I add stuff to every day. I know some people use Evernote as an ideas collector, but it never gelled for me. I like having it as an app and a desktop application as they synch on the cloud and I can add on the go and then check things off. It is expensive, but worth it for me.
Swiss ball for working on. I used to get chronic back pain and went through all kinds of scans as they thought I might have spinal cancer. Turned out that I just needed to move more 🙂 The very cheap Swiss ball has cleared it all up and works as a great stretch break too! Here’s the one I use (65cm diameter), but there are so many different kinds and sizes.
I started getting shocking RSI in my right wrist, elbow and shoulder after an intense period of writing. After seeing a specialist in RSI, I moved to using an Evoluent mouse which has a ‘handshake’ grip. The pain lessened within a few hours and it wasn’t so hard to get used to. As writers, we need to protect our bodies – and this new mouse has certainly helped me. Yes, they’re pricey but hey, if we can’t write, we are in trouble!
For multimedia: video, podcasting and training courses
ATR2100 microphone for recording audio for podcasts or audiobooks, and also for dictation.
Skype with eCamm. Skype is free video or audio calling over the internet, and I use it for all my podcast and YouTube interviews, as well as talking business with my translators and other authors. ECamm records the video/audio which I then edit. If you’re on a PC, try Pamela.biz instead.
Blubrry Plugin for WordPress. For streaming my podcast (and they also have hosting options).
Auphonic for levelling noise
Amazon S3 cloud hosting. Amazingly cheap cloud storage. I’ve been using S3 for years for all my video and audio hosting.
Teachable for hosting my courses. After years of building my own custom pages and hosting my own programs, it is such a relief to have a reliable site that includes hosting and payment processing for a reasonable price. Tech headaches have all gone 🙂
CrowdCast for webinars and meetings with multiple people. Enables easy upvoting of questions as well as time-stamps and participant chat. Plus easy sharing, recording and other online tools that make this a great solution for online training.
For social media
Feedly, Bufferapp and MeetEdgar. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know how many articles I share. About 80% of my twitter stream is scheduled, using these tools, usually from my smartphone in between meetings, or on transport etc.
Feedly is an RSS reader tool, with a desktop and app versions. It integrates with Bufferapp which is a scheduling tool, so with a couple of clicks I can add content to the Twitter stream. I use the paid option so I can schedule lots of content at once. By batching my social media time, I get more done! I also use MeetEdgar.com for creating a library of content that reposts over time, so my backlist articles and books are shared automatically. It’s a premium service so only worth using if you have a lot of backlist content to share.