The right tools that fit the job
This page is a response to frequently asked questions that I get. Below are the writing tools that I use when working on my books. Also, I’ve included some of the services that I use to create websites and graphics. Plus, some books and podcasts that have been helpful to me along the way. Blessings!
A mind map is an excellent outlining tool that helps you sort brainstormed ideas. I like using Mindmeister. While this program costs a little money each month, it syncs across all your devices. You never know when creativity is going to strike, having this app available the moment you need it is a great benefit. If you only need one to three mind maps, their service is free.
Every writer needs to write something every day to be successful. I’ve found that by using the app Streaks, I am able to build writing momentum. As I string together several days of writing, I see my writing streak increase. I do not want to let that number fall to zero, lest my streak start over. This is a wonderful motivational tool.
Scrivener is the most robust word processing application on the market for writers. It out works Microsoft Word in features quite easily. There are two main features that I use. One is the ability to move chapters around. Imagine using chapter headings like you do an outline. If you decide chapter B should now be chapter A, drag it before A. The second feature is the compiling tool. It’s so much more than a basic exporting tool. With the compile tool, you can override fonts, create a table of contents, and choose which type of file format you want to export in. This is especially helpful for eBook formatting. Use this link to get Scrivener.
If you’d like a grammar coach when you write, look no further than the Hemingway Editor. You can use this application for free online or install it on your computer for only $10. This word processor will give you insights into your overuse of the passive voice, or if you are guilty of writing run-on sentences. Every paragraph of your manuscript ought to be run through this editor before you publish your book. You may be amazed at its findings.
First, I’ll input my work into the Hemingway Editor mentioned above. Second, I always check each paragraph of writing through an editor called Grammarly. What the Hemingway Editor is to sentence comprehensibility, Grammarly is to punctuation and grammar usage. By using this program, you’ll get to find out where you’ve used commas incorrectly. You’d be surprised how many times you’ve written your instead of you’re. Grammarly does an effective job finding those types of mistakes. I’ll even run my manuscript through Grammarly once more after I’ve corrected all my editor’s revision suggestions. I’m always glad that I did.
To build your own website, it must be hosted on a server, or several redundant servers, somewhere. The internet is just a web of connecting servers. The name for this is website hosting. I recommend Blue Host as your provider; however, a Google search will reveal hundreds of options available. The important thing for you will be yearly hosting space rental pricing and reliability. Your hosting company should be transparent about their pricing. If they aren’t, choose one that is. Expect to pay somewhere between $30-$100/year. Hosting reliability involves two things. The first is how often your hosting service goes down. This is not going to be advertised in their marketing pitch. You should read customer reviews by doing a quick Google search. The other is your company’s customer support record. How are other users getting their questions answered? Is this company responsive and competent? Another Google search should yield these results.
While it may seem like the first step, acquiring your website name (domain name) is a better second step. I recommend renting your website hosting and your domain name with separate companies. The main reason is that you may want to change hosting services in the future. You would rather point your domain name to a different host than transferring your domain name each time. It is much easier to move hosting services. I recommend 1and1.com for all domain registrations. I’ve found their prices to be very competitive and their user interface to be easy to navigate. They are also a well-established company that isn’t going anywhere. When you choose your domain name, make sure that it is something short and memorable. For All You Need To Know About Intergalactic Exploding Stars, I would choose a domain like ExplodingStarsBook.com. This may be better than using the entire title with a .com at the end. You want people to remember your website URL.
WordPress is now the backbone of more than 24% of the internet. There is almost no HTML coding involved to use it. However, if you do know how to code, there are convenient ways to implement that expertise. The reason people like WordPress is because of the thousands of WordPress themes available at reasonable prices. When installing a theme on a WordPress website you are applying a design template. The designer of the theme has written the necessary HTML and CSS code needed to create the menus, layout, font sizes, colors, etc. You have access, through a website builder, to change some of the default choices. This is typically done through easy to navigate menus. I recommend using either ElegantThemes.com (Divi Theme) or ThemeForest.com (Avada Theme). You need to make sure that your theme has a shopping cart function and inventory management system built in. Both themes mentioned above have those features.
Here are some of my favorite books about business and writing. I’ve read each of them and believe they will help you in your writing journey as well. Some are specifically for writing books. Others are to help you learn how to expand your book business. They are well written and great reads.
Top Ten Distinctions Between Millionaires And The Middle Class by Keith Cameron Smith
61 Ways To Sell More Nonfiction Books by Steve Scott
Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull
Grammar Girl’s Quick And Dirty Tips For Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty
Will It Fly by Pat Flynn
Business Growth Day By Day by Matthew Paulson
You Don’t Have to Be a Shark: Creating Your Own Success by Robert Herjavek
If you enjoy either radio or audiobooks, yet haven’t listened to podcasts, you are in for a big treat. Podcasts are basically low-budget, high-value radio shows that target specific niches. Below are a few podcasts that I listen to about successful writing and business. They are all free and available on iTunes or whichever podcast app you use on your smartphone.
The Sell More Books Show by Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen
Authority Self-Publishing by Steve Scott, Barrie Davenport, and Ron Clendenin
The Smart Passive Income Podcast by Pat Flynn
Startup Q&A by Matthew Paulson
Grammar Girl Quick And Dirty Tips For Better Writing Podcast by Mignon Fogarty