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 lots more things that I use in this list, but you certainly don't need them all (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 some of my first drafts using Dragon Dictate on Mac (and there are lots of other versions of Dragon for whatever OS or device you use).
Once I finish my first draft, I run each chapter through Grammarly. This picks up some of the most obvious issues, like my terrible use of commas, typos, and repeated words. I'd rather my editor and proofreader start from as clean a manuscript as possible, and I also learn each time I go through this exercise.
I use professional editors and cover designers.
I format my ebooks with Vellum software, which creates beautiful ebooks 🙂 It really makes formatting a lot of fun and you can read why I moved from Scrivener to Vellum for formatting here.
Choosing the right sub-categories and keywords is one of the most important aspects of self-publishing. I’ve recently used a couple of reasonably-priced reports from K-lytics to determine the data to use for new books and also repositioning older ones. I hate fiddling around with data so it’s great to find someone who loves it and makes it easier for us all! Click here to read more about K-lytics reports
I publish directly to Amazon KDP, iBooks and Kobo. I use Draft2Digital for Nook and the smaller vendors. I use Createspace and Ingram Spark for print on demand. Read more tips on step by step self-publishing here.
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.
For email list management with scalable pricing that is compliant with anti-spam laws, I recommend ConvertKit, which I am using for one of my author pen-names.
Growing a list of fans who want to buy your book is probably the number 1 long term marketing tactic for authors. 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.
For web design, I use Studiopress for WordPress premium designs.
You can get free themes for WordPress but I prefer to pay for mobile and SEO optimized layouts. My current theme is Beautiful Pro for TheCreativePenn.com and Author Pro for JFPenn.com
For productivity and health
BOSE noise-cancelling headphones. These changed my life! As an introvert sensitive to sound, I get anxious when the world is too loud and just wearing these quietens everything down. Yes, I look like an idiot, but it doesn't matter, because they have transformed my writing sessions. I work in the mornings at a local cafe and I sit down, put these on, turn on Rain & Thunderstorms from my phone and I can concentrate incredibly fast because the ambient sound is gone. They are birthday-present-type-money, but they are SO worth it. Click here to get the BOSE noise-cancelling headphones that I use.
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.
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.