Here are my recommended tools for writing and editing, publishing, and book marketing.
[ Please note: Some of the links are affiliate links which means I make a small percentage of the sale if you buy through my link. 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!]
For writing and editing
Scrivener. Scrivener is my #1 tool for writers and I've written over 30 books with it, as well as using it to organize articles, research, and podcast episodes. It’s amazing writing software with brilliant drag and drop functionality so you can write out of order and just switch things around later. It's also available as an app for iPhone and iPad.
Click here for my Scrivener tutorial.
Before you send your manuscript to an editor, it's a good idea to make it the best it can be by running it through editing software. There are a few options for software, each with their pros and cons.
I use ProWritingAid for all my books. It has integrations with all the writing software and specifically allows you to work within Scrivener, saving a lot of time in copying and pasting. It has lots of useful tools and reports, including a grammar checker, and helps you learn how to improve your writing.
Click here for my tutorial on how to use ProWritingAid.
You can check it out for free at: www.TheCreativePenn.com/prowritingaid and you can also get 25% off the premium edition if you use my link: www.Prowritingaid.com/joanna
Grammarly is also for editing and is particularly good for shorter form work and non-fiction. Click here for my tutorial.
As much as software can help, it will never replace a professional editor in terms of helping your make your book the best it can be. Check out my list of editors: www.TheCreativePenn.com/editors
Transcription is a great tool if you prefer to dictate your books, or you want transcriptions of interviews, presentations, podcast episodes, or videos.
After testing and comparing various options, I now use and recommend Otter.ai.
Book cover design
If you want your book to stand out, I recommend (and personally use) professional book cover design. You can find a list at www.TheCreativePenn.com/bookcoverdesign
One of the issues with book covers is deciding which one you think will sell best. A great way to decide is to split test them with people who don't know you or want to protect your feelings! Check out Pickfu for a quick and easy way to test.
Book formatting and layout
I format my ebooks with Vellum software, which creates beautiful ebooks and print books and makes formatting surprisingly easy — and even fun! Click here for my tutorial on how to use Vellum to format ebooks and print books. (Mac only)
Atticus is a writing and formatting tool available for PC and Mac. It outputs print as well as ebook formats and is run by Dave Chesson from Kindlepreneur.
If you want to hire someone, you can find free options and formatting professionals at www.TheCreativePenn.com/formatting
If you want your book to be found in the store, you need to choose the right sub-categories and keywords. You can find reasonably-priced genre-specific reports at K-lytics which will help you determine the data to use for new books and reposition your backlist over time.
Publisher Rocket is a fantastic tool for researching categories and keywords for self-publishing and for Amazon Advertising.
They also have some great tutorials — How to choose keywords and How to choose categories, plus, a free course on Amazon Advertising, and a Book Description HTML generator so your book looks great on the stores.
Here's my tutorial on how to use Publisher Rocket for categories, keywords and Amazon Ads.
If you'd like to reach readers through paid email newsletters and ads (created by someone else!), check out Written Word Media's options: Freebooksy, BargainBooksy, Reed Feather Romance, New In Books, Audio Thicket, and more. I use these services every quarter to promote my books.
They also have a membership option that gives you loads of great benefits including $ off promotions.
Need an author website and email list?
If you are serious about a long-term writing career, you need a professional author website and email list.
I use and recommend WPEngine for website setup and hosting, but you can find more options for website hosting and freelance help here.
I use and recommend ConvertKit for email list setup and management. It has a free tier if you're starting out and lots of functionality if you're more established on the journey.
If you want to give away a free ebook as a lead magnet, I use and recommend Bookfunnel, which also has integration for selling direct and opportunities for book marketing with other authors.
Need a writing community?
Writing can be lonely and you need a supportive community to help you on the journey. You also need to stay up to date with changes in publishing and book marketing.
There are lots of author organizations by genre, but if you'd like to be part of a community of indie authors, check out the Alliance of Independent Authors. I'm a proud member and advisor, as well as a monthly podcast co-host of the Ask ALLi Podcast.
Need more help?
You can find more help on your writing journey in my Free Author Blueprint, Books for Authors, and Courses for Authors