Make your self-published book
a success with these tips...

13 Top Tools for Authors to Make Your Life Easier

We know how hard authors, especially self-published ones, work to fit in their writing; around the day job, night job, the school run, and hobbies.

We speak to authors every day and many of them ask us if there’s anything they can do to make life a bit easier, and utilise every second of their precious time.

tools

So we thought it would be helpful to list some resources, products and software that can help you to shortcut some of the hard work involved with writing your book.

A handy tip is to bookmark this page on your computer so you can find it again.

Enjoy!

1) Hosting – where your author website lives

Your website needs to live somewhere online. This is where hosting comes in. We highly recommend using Blue Host.

They provide great value website hosting which is so easy to use, perfect for beginners. They have excellent customer service, so you if need any advise setting things up, help is at hand. There are a wide range of additions available to power-up your book’s web presence as your website grows.

At the moment, there’s a Special Offer- unlimited web hosting for only $3.95 per month

If you’re outside the US this offer applies too, so sign up now before the offer ends. Signing up with Bluehost is a great option to get your site online and boost those book sales fast!

2) Email Marketing – spread the word about your book

Aweber – email marketing made easy.

When visitors comes to your author website, one of the most important things to do is to collect their email address.

aweber email marketing

You need to do this so you can communicate with your fans later by email. This is great way to build a following and allows you to send out emails to your email list when you have news to tell them or when you have a new book out. This can be a great way to kick-start the sales of any new book.

Aweber is the email marketing tool I would recommend for getting started. It’s affordable, simple to use, and lets you create an opt-in form that you can put on your author website to collect emails. Then you can send emails to your readers easily to keep them updated on you and your book. This capability is a must-have for any serious author.

Sign up to Aweber today for a special $1 trial

3) Security – keep your author website safe from hackers

Sucuri
Sucuri Security
These days keeping your website safe from hackers is the number one priority of website owners. So it pays to make sure your site is safe and secure from the start. We use the most reputable security service on the net right now – Sucuri. They monitor your site 24/7 so you never have to worry about being hacked.

Keep your site safe from $18 per month

4) Scan handwritten notes and ideas into your computer

scansnap scannerHave you ever misplaced your notebook, and then not been able to find it when you wanted to refer back to your notes?

“It’s here somewhere I’m sure”.

Well, I scan all my handwritten notes, scraps of paper, receipts into online software called Evernote with the use of my simple-to-use Scansnap scanner.

  • Just plug it into your PC’s USB port to power it up
  • Can be used on a PC or Mac
  • Press the scan button and you’re ready to go

See the Scansnap scanner

Alternatively, if you need to scan larger quantities of documents I recommend the hard-wearing:

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 Deluxe Bundle Sheet-Fed Scanner

5) Keep your notes organised – in the cloud

evernoteHaving problems keeping track of new character plots or story ideas? Well now you can store, retrieve and organise all your ideas and flashes of inspiration with the online software Evernote.

Based in the cloud (that’s just a fancy way of saying online) you can upload photos, notes, and scanned documents from your smart phone, desktop computer or tablet.

  • Keeps all your notes and documents in sync
  • Remember things – without having to remember them
  • Capture ideas and save them into Evernote with the click of the mouse
  • Access from your PC, Mac, tablet or smart phone
  • Your ideas all always with you wherever you are

Sign up to Evernote for Free

6) Prefer pen and paper?

moleskine notebook copyIf you still prefer to make your notes with pen and paper you can’t get any better than a Moleskine notebook. I LOVE my Moleskine. My wife buys me at least one each year for Christmas.

  • This classic ruled notebook is the best selling Moleskine notebook, it keeps your scribbles and doodles neat and tidy
  • It uses acid-free paper inner complete with a ribbon bookmark so you can mark the place inspiration last took hold
  • There’s an expandable inner pocket, where I keep any loose bits of note paper
  • Plus, and elastic closure to keep all your bits of paper safe
  • Enjoy the durable cover, which stands up to even my 1 year olds little fingerprints!
  • And it easily fits in your pocket to take with you on those coffee-and-cake writing sessions

Moleskine ruled notebook

7) Hate typing? Why not dictate your book

dragon naturallyI get so frustrated when the ideas are flowing, but I can’t get them down fast enough, as my typing or writing can’t keep up with my brain.

One of the best tools I have come across is dictation software. I use this almost daily in my emails, and preparing blogposts and podcast material. It’s totally addictive – once you start using it you’ll be giving your family and friends demonstrations!

It doesn’t matter what software you use when you write, you can dictate documents in Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect, or OpenOffice Writer, and send e-mails in Microsoft Outlook or Windows LiveMail. When you’re using spreadsheets to do your planning or financial forecasts for your books, you can also use it in Microsoft Excel (or Mac equivalent).

You can also create presentations for your marketing and promotions using Microsoft PowerPoint, do your usual web-surfing in Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Google Chrome, and even speak a post to Facebook or Twitter.

Try Dragon dictate for PC

Try Dragon dictate for Mac

8) Wrist strain? Try an ergonomic keyboard and mouse

ergonomic keyboardAs someone who spends 8 to 10 hours a day at my desk, I know how this can cause aches and pains. We all know spending too much time on the computer at a desk is bad for our health, but deadlines dictate that your book has to be finished.

From strained wrists, to sore shoulders and a stiff back, writing your next masterpiece can be  – well a pain in the back. So doing all you can to prevent and reduce aches and pains should be top of your list. This is where an ergonomic keyboard and mouse are essential.

Here are the two best ergonomic keyboard and mouse for writers:

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000

Goldtouch GTU-0088 V2 Adjustable Comfort Keyboard

9) Bad back? Try standing when you write

stand up desk for writingAnd don’t even get me started on my back! Long hours spent writing can wreck havoc on your back. Cheap office chairs and poor posture – over time – can lead to a whole host of back and neck pain problems, like slipped disc, headaches, migraine and eye strain (yes, yes and yes).

With the recent invention of the stand-up desk – popular amongst the entrepreneur community – maybe now is the time to say goodbye to back pain once and for all.

It’s a little ‘out there‘ but many writers swear by these to improve overall posture and reduce aches and pains.

  • Height adjustable – so it’s always at just the right level
  • Keyboard shelf can accomodate any PC or Mac keyboard
  • Work surface is the perfect size for writing by hand too
  • Work surface can be easily adjusted in height from 35-inch to 49-inch – so whether you’re tall or small you can find the perfect height.

Safco Muv Stand-up Adjustable Height Workstation

10) Don’t like to stand? How about kneeling?

kneeling chairIf you’re not crazy about the idea of standing up while writing, there is a great alternative. It’s been proven that kneeling can have a beneficial effect on back pain, as it relieves tiredness and eases tense muscles.

This wooden kneeling chair has a black fabric upholstered bottom and knee pads for comfort, and is foldable, so you can easily store it away when you’re not using it.

It’s also height adjustable, so suitable for tall and small alike.

Flash Furniture WL-SB-210-GG Mobile Wooden Ergonomic Kneeling Chair

11) The private way to share documents with friends

When the time comes to start sharing your manuscript, it’s much easier to be able to share it privately online, rather than having to print multiple copies. Dropbox is a free online application that allows you to share your files with your family, friends and business colleagues.

You can give them private access, so only those who you intend to see your work will be able to access it. It syncs automatically with your computer, and you can even access your files on your smart phone.

dropboxWhen you try Dropbox you will never know how you lived without it. I use it every day for my work and personal files.

Download Dropbox FREE

12) Smart pen – remembers so you don’t have to

livescribe penYou can record everything you hear, say and write, and link audio recordings directly to notes with the Sky wifi Smartpen from Livescribe.

This ingenious bit of techy-kit comes with a 4 GB memory which can record up to 400 hours of audio and thousands of pages of notes, diagrams and drawings. It can even wirelessly sync notes and audio to your Evernote account.

So, whether you’re on the train, in the supermarket, or at the park with the kids, you’ll be able to easily record your ideas the moment they hit.

Plus, it makes you feel a little bit like James Bond!

Livescribe 4 GB Sky Wi-Fi Smartpen (APX-00011)

13) Outline your book on this whiteboard

use whiteboard to outline bookIf you’re a visual person like me you like to see things written down. One of the most effective ways of mapping out your book’s characters and plot is to write it on a whiteboard.

I have a large whiteboard on the wall next to my desk so I can jot down ideas, write notes and plan things visually. And when I’m done I can rub it clean.

I use this 4 foot by 6 foot whiteboard, so there’s plenty of space for all my ideas. It’s easy to hang, and very hard wearing – I’ve had mine about 5 years, and it’s survived a house move, and is currently standing up to a 12 month old!

Quartet Standard Melamine Classroom Whiteboard, 4 x 6 Feet, Aluminum Frame

P.S. Don’t be put off by the word ‘classroom’ in the description, they’ll deliver it to your home absolutely fine.

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We’re Peter and Caroline O’Connor. Creating beautiful book cover designs for authors all over the world is our passion. Every author should be able to benefit from a beautiful book cover design (not just the lucky few who get signed by a big publisher). We design, podcast, and coach authors full-time so we understand your struggles. Currently accepting new clients.

Question:
What other tools have you found useful on your journey into self publishing?
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