As an author, I use a lot of tools and resources. I’d love to say that writing a book is as simple as banging out the words, doing a quick edit and then sending it off to a publisher. As an Independent Publisher, it’s a lot more complicated than that. As a control freak, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
2021 will see me publishing two books within a year. I published ‘Camino Wandering’ on December 24, 2020. ‘Beneath the Surface’ will be published on September 28, 2021. Yes, there have been a lot of balls in the air over the last few months. Not only have I been writing and editing the next book, getting that marketing and advertising organised for its release, but I’ve been continually working on advertising and marketing ‘Camino Wandering’ at the same time.
I think I now have two heads.
The good news is, it’s made me streamline my writing and publishing processes. (I was a process improvement analyst in a previous work life, so the skill is ingrained.)
I’ve tried a lot of tools already, so I’ve ruled out the time wasters. These tools and resources keep me on track, writing books and selling them. And, of course, this is a living, breathing list, so it may change as I go.
I have talked about some of these already on my blog, but it made little sense to omit them from this list as they are imperative to the larger picture.
Today I’m sharing the tools and resources that I find MOST helpful.
I’ve written about this part before throughout a few posts on my blog, so I’ll just summarise here:
I have just discovered Plottr, and while it’s a great tool, there are learning curves since it’s still fairly new. I’m planning a four-book series, the first two books to be published in 2022, and with this app I can see the finish line. This tool has already helped me ‘plot’ out the outlines of the first two books and I’m keen to continue using it. This process is imperative while writing a series, particularly this one, as timelines interchange and the stories weave throughout the books.
There is a free trial for Plottr but join the FB group (listed below) and you’ll see how much this tool is still being developed to incorporate the needs of authors. Until then, I’m plodding ahead with it, to see how it goes.
The app to get the scenes written and to ‘bang out’ the initial storyline. I put all kinds of stuff into Scrivener: character outlines and questions, ideas for lines to include, setting, scenery, images, etc.
This is an amazing tool, but as a writer, you have to be careful not to lose your voice. ProWritingAid will keep you honest with grammar and spelling and offer you help with sections that could be better written. But if you have a certain style, it can see your style as ‘incorrect’. That’s where knowing who you are as a writer and being clear on your style helps steer you away from ‘accepting all’ the changes ProWritingAid offers. Still, I LOVE this app and use it for many things. My writing has improved as a result.
Once I have my final draft file, I copy it into Word and use this file to send to my beta readers. Most have this app and it’s the most universal app to track and review changes.
Another fantastic tool for when the brain freezes.
There are a lot of authors out there who write about the writing process, or their writing process (me included), but I often revert to Jane’s incredible expertise. She offers brilliant suggestions that we all need to hear sometimes.
A great website for writing tips.
I mentioned this tool in my post Creating Complex and Believable Characters. It’s a quirky tool I use to create the visuals for characters. It’s fun and sometimes a distraction, but it helps to get the idea out of your head and on to a page.
Character Count Online
A great tool when advertising portals (like Amazon) have character limits and you need to maximise every letter.
For working out the best categories for your book, if you publish via KDP on Amazon.
Also handy if you publish on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). Offers some great tips.
A great resource for finding editors/book designers/PR folks. The newsletter is very helpful as well.
MARKETING – Creating
The man is a marketing god. His books, his newsletters are FULL of helpful information. (His beard is on another level.)
Brian hosts a ‘5-Day Amazon Ad Profit Challenge’ which took me from freaked-out to knowledgeable with advertising on Amazon. A free course that teaches you HOW to create Amazon ads that will save you a TON of money.
An incredible tool to expand your mailing list/subscribers, send reader magnets, review copies for ARCs/Beta Readers, create Universal links for your books. This is a great resource for authors.
I’ve tried several mailing list management sites and after ten years, find Mailerlite the best one. In my opinion, you need to have a mailing list. Consider this: I lost everything over a three month period on my Facebook Author page because of one simple mistake which I made. GONE. I have not been able to recover it. And before you scoff, all author’s need a mailing list because you never know what your social media moguls will do to your ‘followers/likes’.
This is the website I use all the time to create my marketing images. I’ve tried some others, like BookBrush, and found this one the easiest and most robust.
MARKETING – Implementing
When you publish directly on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), this is THE tool that will help increase sales. You can create hooks (see Bryan Cohen), link them to your book and select the specific places on Amazon to market your book. I’ve seen an increase in sales when I do this, and now I have ongoing ads on Amazon.
BookBub is one of those deals that either works – or it doesn’t – and when it doesn’t, it’s a very expensive lesson. I’ve determined (through research) that it is better to have a backlist before plunging into the BookBub world. After doing extensive research, I’ve decided not to do a Featured Deal on BookBub but will invest in some strategic ad planning. BookBub is not cheap.
Facebook is another resource that can be money waster. But with some smart planning and wonderful resources (Help! My Facebook Ads Suck! eBook is great), they can pay off.
I’m active on Goodreads for a couple of reasons.
First, it helps me keep track of my ‘to be read’ pile. Before Goodreads existed, that list was kept on my Amazon Wish List.
Second, as an author, I love to post updates for my followers.
And finally, it’s great to watch people add my books to their own lists. And then leave reviews. 😉
Yes, I have a YouTube Channel. I have found videos are a great way to convey what my books are about and what inspires me to write them. So, I funneled the videos I have been putting together – including Facebook Live events – and upload them to my YouTube channel. As an indie author, you have to be creative, so please check it out and let me know your thoughts! There’s even a snapshot of what’s coming for my next book, Beneath the Surface!
Okay, I’ll admit, I’m not a huge TikTok user. But BookTok is a real thing for authors. I’m TRYING to get on the bandwagon. And while I’m not a whiz, my intern is, so I’ve asked her to manage this tool for me. And good thing too, because I spent WAY too much time going down that spiral! It was better to hand it over to a professional.
FACEBOOK GROUPS TO JOIN:
Writers Go Forth. Launch. Promote. Party.
For Australian authors and their readers. Authors can promote their books while readers can post reviews.
Alessandra Torres Inkers
A helpful group for asking questions and the admins run great webinars as well.
Wide for the Win
Going “Wide” means selling online on other platforms, not just Amazon. If that’s you, this is the group you want to be in.
As I said, this man is a marketing god. He shares a lot of free information, but his books are also a wealth of knowledge.
If you sign up for StoryOrigin, you definitely want to be in this group. The app developer is very active and helpful.
Plotting for Authors with Plottr
A very interactive group, sharing their own tips. The developer is also part of the group and very responsive to questions and requests.
Indie Writers Unite
If you go Indie, this is an amazing group for sharing information. I’ve learned a great deal here.
Another ‘support’ group for authors. Lots of tips and tricks shared here.
Another support group, with all stages of the fiction writing process.
I highly recommend connecting with your local chapter of NaNoWriMo or join your local Writers Centre group. Often these groups have Facebook groups that meet throughout the year. I LOVE my Tassie NaNo group.
Is there a resource you’ve used that you find imperative to your process?
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