So, as you may know, (being that you came to my website) I am an indie writer. Which was a title some people used to turn their noses up at, but in the past few years the whole game has changed. It's no longer someone tossing together a book and posting it online or buying tons of copies to keep in their basement & give out to friends and family (okay, that still happens but they’re the redheaded step children of the movement) the world and the writing industry is finally acknowledging indie writers for what they are, solo small publishers. We do everything big publishing houses do for their authors and sometimes more. It's a crazy hard journey most of us are on, so today I decided to put together a list of some of the most helpful writing tools I use in my author business.
Let's jump into it:
Now writing can be done with a pen & a piece of paper, but it's 2018 and no one has time for that. I can't even remember the last time I saw someone sitting at a coffee shop or bus stop penning the next great American novel. No, our world has advanced in so many ways and so have our writing tools, here are just a few that I love using:
Google Docs (App & Program): When I first started my writing career all I had was my trusty chrome book, Google Docs (GD) & a dream. Google Docs is an awesome program for the percent of people who don't use or have Microsoft Word. GD was awesome because it was a word processing website which unlike Microsoft Word, allowed you to access your work on any computer, all you had to do was sign in. I was able to work on my book at home, at the library, on my mom’s computer or my wife’s computer without needing a flash drive. Things got even better when I got the GD APP, which let you access your work on your phone. Every second of down time I had went into writing on that app, because of it I think I’m way more comfortable writing on my phone than most authors are (I’m writing this on my phone now)
The Good: You can write anywhere at any time. You can give people access to your work, so editors or beta readers can easily go through your writing and leave notes without you having to have tons of different files. It's free and simple to understand.
The Bad: It's not made to write a whole novel in one file. When I did that my file kept crashing. Formatting sucks and takes a lot of time and focus. Saving the file in any other format than GD causes changes to happen to your file (odd spacing or blank sections). Grammarly at the time wasn’t available for GD but it's running beta trials now and for the most part, it works but sometimes everything runs slow.
Scrivener (App & Program): I heard a lot about Scrivener before I ever got it, not everything I heard was sunshine and roses. It seemed like the camp was divided, some people loved it and some people were confused by it, I was in the latter part of the pool.
The program has so much to it that I felt overwhelmed, I only got it because I got a new computer and thought it would be a good investment for me. It took me a day or two of watching youtube videos to understand how to use it, then when I started to use it, it kept crashing on me.
I put it away for months before I updated the program and decided to figure it out; I am 100% happy I did. Scrivner was a pain in the ass for me to learn but once I did, my writing took off. It is so helpful being able to break my chapters down into scenes and having my story outline, research notes, and character outlines all in one place.
The app is a lifesaver as well because it links with your computer, which allowed me to plot my current book while in the waiting room of my doctor’s office.
The Good: Scrivener is like a plotting toolkit all in one place, note cards, images, you can write a whole scene and easily grab it, placing it somewhere else in the book. It allows you to do a full screen writing session, so you can block out all other taps and focus on your work. It has templates for novels, scripts, poems & more.
The Bad: It’s not free. If you buy it on a mac and then get a PC you can't just transfer over your Mac titles, you have to rebuy the program. The app isn’t free. The app and the program only sync with the help of Dropbox. The app is very limited when it comes to features, mostly you can write and set up the book.
Dropbox & Google Drive (App & Program): Like I said a second ago you need a Dropbox if you plan on using Scrivener and its app, that's honestly all I use Dropbox for, everything else I use Google Drive. My photos, my homework, my old stories, everything is in Google Drive because it holds more, I’ve had it longer, I can access it anywhere. I just prefer it more but some people might not agree.
Vellum (Program): Vellum is the number one reason I got a Mac. I saved up enough money (after dealing with my first ever attempt at formatting a book for Amazon) and decided to get a new computer and the full Vellum package. This is the best investment to my business! Vellum formats your work to the specific needs of where you plan on publishing it and saves it to the proper file as well. When I couldn't understand Scrivener I started writing my whole book in Vellum, which isn't a bad way to go about it. Writing and using Vellum allowed me to see how my book would turn out on every platform and gave me a simple and easy way to fully control how my book turned out.
The Good : Easily converts and formats files. Has preset terms such as ”Also By” ”Table of Content” ”Prologue” There are different fonts and styles that will allow your book to stand out.
The Bad: If you are a skilled formatter than this program will seem basic and limited to you at times. It's only for Mac. It cost a shiny penny.
Grammarly (Program & App): Now, in no way is this a replacement for an editor, but Grammarly is a pretty good way of not looking dumb and unprofessional when you’re talking to an editor or putting together a post for your fans. Right now I’m paying for the annual package, which says it gives you more suggestions and helps with your writing, I haven’t really seen that. Yes, there are a few more yellow suggestions that I can now access but for the most part they didn’t really seem like much. I would use the free version first to get an understanding of what it does and if it’s right for you, then if you enjoy it and have some cash around, then try the paid version.
Okay that’s all I got for you today. Next week we’re going to dive into the marketing and design tools that I use for my social media marketing. If you guys have any questions or have any tips that you think would be helpful, just leave them in the comments below and if you would like to stay updated with my work and be entered in some crazy contests then be sure to sign up to become a survivor.