Author Tools Have Come A Long Way, Baby! If you’re reading this post, you probably know that I recently published my first fiction novel: THE GOLDEN TELESCOPE. The book isn’t the only book I’ve self-published. I wrote and published a self-help book back in 2009 called Lady Get A Life. It was the story about my experience leaving a dysfunctional marriage of 18 years to move out on my own. So, that was an entirely different writing and publishing experience than I had when authoring a work of fiction.
When I wrote Lady Get A Life, I didn’t use many author tools. I wrote that book before Amazon revised its writer platform. Back in 2009, their author tools were a part of what was then called CreateSpace. It was a pretty decent tool for the time. And it was free to use. The service even provided an ISBN for your book at no additional cost when you published through their service.
eBooks weren’t a thing yet
Even though Amazon launched its revolutionary KINDLE EBOOK READER in November of 2007, the ebook trend hadn’t taken hold yet, and digital books weren’t as popular as they are today. So, I didn’t bother publishing Lady Get A Life in ebook format.
I chose only to publish that book as a paperback.
CreateSpace made it a relatively simple and straight-forward process. I just wrote the text using Microsoft Word. I then converted it into a .pdf (required for uploading to CreateSpace). Their platform included a layout and design tool, which I thought was great since it allowed me to handle the cover design within the service at no fee.
I did have to find a logo designer
In those days, I was on a tight budget, so I couldn’t afford to hire someone. But I wanted a custom image on the front of my book, so I did some searching and found an online digital logo design tool called LOGO MAKER that was low-cost and met my needs nicely.
I was a total noob back in those days, lol! And author tools have come a l-o-n-g way since then! I removed Lady Get A Life from my Amazon offering, so it can’t be purchased anymore. I’ve thought about revising it and uploading a new, second edition. I’ve learned a lot about writing in the last couple of years, so it might be worth another go with that book.
But for now, I’m focusing my energy on writing BOOK TWO: THE KIDNAPPING KING in my Jack and the Magic Hat Maker fiction series.
Writing Tools I’m Using Now
I started writing THE GOLDEN TELESCOPE in 2016 but didn’t take myself seriously, as an author, until the last few months of 2019.
I’d written a few chapters but then set the project aside for a couple of years. Then a new fire got ignited in my belly, and I picked up the writing with a new sense of passion and vigor last year.
When I first started writing, I was using Microsoft Word again. After searching the internet, I discovered that Word seems to be “the standard” in the writing community. But I found that tool to be pretty cumbersome and non-user friendly. So I began looking for a better author tool. One that suited my needs better.
After searching the internet, I found SCRIVENER and started out using the free demo version. The software allowed me to break my writing into chapters and sections. I liked it so much; I decided to purchase the program when the free trial expired. Scrivener IS an excellent tool. And I thought it was the author tool I would use, from start to finish, to self-publish my books.
But after using it for a few months, I decided it was still a much more robust tool than I felt comfortable using. Don’t get me wrong; Scrivener might be just the right tool for you! I do recommend downloading the FREE TRIAL and trying it out, yourself. Many, many authors use and highly recommend it. You can find oodles and loads of training and tutorial videos on YouTube, such as THIS ONE BY ALEXA DONNE or THIS ONE BY ABBIE EAMONS, both of which I enjoyed and found helpful. Abbie, especially, blows my mind with her organizational skills! She makes me want to be a more structured writer.
But I figured out that’s just not my style
You see, there are two kinds of writers; Pantsers and Outliners. And I’m more of a Pantser…meaning I write by the seat of my pants. I’ve learned there are definite benefits to writing a loose outline. But when it comes to writing fantasy, I’m a Pantser, for sure!
And I want to WRITE…not format so much. So, the business of getting all the headings anchored and linked to the TOC (Table of Contents) and learning the fact that you have to format all the different versions of your story (manuscript for editors, then ebook, paperback, and hardcover) differently (different line spacing, page numbering or not, etc, etc, etc.) is just not my cup of tea!
So I started searching for yet another author tool that might be a better fit for my particular writing style.
And I settled on REEDSY – It’s a free platform, and you can store all of your books and chapters there for as long as you want! It’s browser-based, so you can access your writing from any device, anywhere you happen to be. All you have to do is login, and your projects are all right there, waiting for you.
In addition to the writing platform, you can also hire reputable professionals like editors, cover designers, publicists, etc. within their Marketplace. For instance, I found and hired my cover layout designer on their website, and I’m SUPER HAPPY with the way it turned out.
REEDSY offers so many cool services and benefits for writers that I can’t cover them all in this one post. But the other thing I will say is this: once you complete your book, you can have the Reedsy platform format and compile your book into .pdf and different file types for both ebooks as well as physically-bound book publishing.
Other Author Tools I Recommend
Lastly, I’ll briefly mention some of the other tools I’ve used, which I feel comfortable recommending to you if you are serious about writing and/or building your author career.
First and foremost…and can’t recommend training highly enough! THIS FREE VIDEO TRAINING SERIES – How To Find Your First 10,000 Readers by best-selling author Nick Stephenson is excellent! I am one of his students and can tell you, first hand, that his trainings are second to none. This course is the exact system Nick used to grow his author business from $0 to over $1,000,000 in 24 months and is used by thousands of his students worldwide.
Grammar & Punctuation
If you don’t use it already, I can’t recommend GRAMMARLY highly enough! You can get a FREE account, and it does incredible things for refining your writing with very little work on your part. I decided to UPGRADE, which only costs me $17 a month and is well worth the small fee for all of the benefits I get from this browser-based tool!
All in One Service
And if you want to simplify and keep all of your author tools under one “roof,” then I can highly recommend DRAFT2DIGITAL to Format, Publish, Promote, and Track Sales all in one easy-to-access, online location. Their service is FREE to use until and unless you sell books! They will distribute your books far and wide! To all the big-name online sources. They also offer a pretty nifty online formatting tool that will compile your files into a variety of types, and they even provide some fantastic stylization options, as well!
Create a Marketing Website
Lastly, you’re going to want to build an author website for promoting yourself and your books. Naturally, I recommend WordPress. I have been using this platform exclusively for about 5 years now and let me tell you, I’ve created websites from scratch using html, and I’ve tried other content management systems (CMS) and WordPress is BY FAR the easiest to learn and maintain. And they are affordable with a gazillion different plugins and widgets available to extend it’s capabilities! And it’s simple to learn! You don’t have to be a programmer to master the basics of building your own website. In fact, you might even grow to love it!
But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Before you install WordPress you’re going to need both a unique domain (website name/address) and a web hosting company. I’ve used a few different web hosting companies over the years and Web Hosting Hub is by far my favorite! I have been using them ever since all of my (several) websites got hacked because I was hosted at a lesser provider back in 2016. That was a horrific experience, so trust me when I tell you that I searched for a really stable and reliable web hosting service before choosing Web Hosting Hub and I haven’t regretted it for one minute! Their service is SUPER AFFORDABLE (I pay one flat rate of $14.99 a month to host all of my websites!), I have experienced ZERO DOWNTIME since moving all of my sites to their service, and they have LIVE TEXT CHAT customer support 24/7 so that, if I do have an issue with one of my sites, I can contact them immediately and they are always available, friendly, and ready to help me resolve the issue.
But even before web hosting, you’re going to need that domain. I recommend GoDaddy. They are the world-leader in domain providers and I have been using them for y-e-a-r-s to purchase all the many, many domain names I’ve acquired over the years. The process is easy and most site names are still very affordable (look for those that only cost you about $12 – $15 a year).
There you have it!
My top author tools for getting started as a professional writer.
Of course, there are many more suggestions I’ll have for you along the way. But these few recommendations will give you a good head start on your author journey!
I’d love to hear about your book projects! Let me know if you decide to use any of the tools mentioned above and how you like them.
Until next time.