Writing Resources You Need to Know About
By Oliver Phisher
Many aspiring authors spend hours and hours, alone behind their computers tap, tap, tapping away. Then those hours turn into months, and of course, the months slip into years.
This is admirable. If I’m confident of anything, it’s that to be an author you have to be willing to spend hours of your life equivalent to entire years out of your life slaving away writing. I’m just for sure that you need to read at least just as much.
One thing that gets unfortunately overlooked by many is that you also have to be willing to leave your books and your computer behind sometimes. To engage others.
Not that you can’t be an introvert. Thousands of widely regarded successful authors were introverts. That’s is because in some way or another they were able to overcome, albeit sometimes only briefly, their restrictions and step outside of their comfort zones.
That’s because while writing can take many forms; journaling, hobbies writing, personal letter writing. Authorship is a profession, and that means that it falls within a business structure. No matter how sincerely you believe that Jack Kerouac went from nothing to a fantastic book within two weeks of boozing (which FYI, in reality, he didn’t). If you want to move books from shelves, you will need to approach the task earnestly. With a humble attitude that is open to working with others.
The business of writing, designing, editing, publishing, marketing, and selling your books requires a multitude of strangers. Regardless of whether you have a small budget, or you’re JK Rowling.
In fact, the small your budget, the approach is better suited to involving a large number of people each with small, potentially volunteer style task. For instance, having friends complete a narrative edit before giving it to a professional editor, to reduce the amount of paid time the editor has to spend on the manuscript.
For your first book, I highly suggest having a strong group of people who can offer various products, services, and insights to help you stay focused, motivated, and up-to-speed on the ever-changing self-publishing landscape.
Being a successful author requires a lot more than just writing a great book. You have to get into the weeds, be willing to change out of your writer’s cap and into a variety of other hats depending on where you are in the process.
You may not have the skills or willingness to tackle everything with your own two hands, and that’s why it’s so important to develop your own file of go-to resources along the way.
Here are 30 more resources to tap into along the way!
While this list is mostly self-publishing focused, if you’re going the traditional publishing route, you should still have a rigorous shift through them to make sure you are familiar with what is out there.
Useful Blogs and Sites
1. The Write Life
This workhorse blog is a one-stop-shop offering all you need to figure out how to work with clients, navigate the changing landscape of publishing, learn the ins and outs of social media, grow a following for your blog and find a community that will support you along the way. You’ll always find something useful for your book business here. Try not to get lost in the rabbit hole though. There is so much helpful information here I try to time my visits to make sure I’m not eating into my writing time!
If you want to dig deep into the goulash of marketing your books, Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur is your man. His strategies are groundbreaking. Every successful author has to wear many hats, and Dave shares his years of marketing experience and success to show you how to promote the heck out of your books.
3. The Book Designer
Joel Friedlander, the creator of The Book Designer, says “Writers change the world one reader at a time. But you can’t change the world with a book that’s still on your hard drive or in a box under your bed.” This embodies the Community Writer mentality. Joel gives you everything you need to get your book out of the box with a variety of self-publishing guides, advice, templates, and toolkits. With his experience in book design and advertising, Joel has the creds to help you produce and sell a great-looking book.
4. The Creative Penn
The Creative Penn is run by Joanna Penn, who has been wildly successful with fiction and nonfiction. In her blog and podcast, she covers every aspect of what it takes to start and run a successful author business. She also has a grab bag of books on various self-publishing topics if you can’t get enough on her blog.
5. Jane Friedman’s website
Jane has more than 20 years of experience in the book and magazine publishing industry, with expertise in digital media and the future of authorship. Her site is full of actionable content and detailed strategies for the aspiring author from someone who’s been there and done that many times over.
Podcasts Worth Your Time
6. Podcast – Neural (Uncommon)
Please forgive the shameless self-promotion here, but aside from the fact that I will be most likely appearing on this podcast at some point, Neuralle is a fantastic self-development podcast and in my humble opinion a must for any aspiring author or entrepreneur.
Past guests have included Venture Capitalists, Entrepreneurs, Chefs, Restaurant Owners, Body Builders, Strength Coaches, Activists, Winemakers, Filmmakers and many, many more.
7. Tim Ferris Podcast
This show is the first publishing-related podcast that I followed, and it’s still an all-time favourite. It’s hosted by Tim Ferris an American best-selling author, entrepreneur, self-proclaimed “human guinea pig”, and public speaker.
8. Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
Every green writer should bookmark this podcast. With helpful and insightful tips on grammar and storytelling, Mignon Fogarty’s podcast is sure to help you improve your narrative and technical writing skills.
9. The Writer Files
Hosted by Kelton Reid, The Writer Files is a long-running podcast that delves deep into habits and habitats of famed writers. Reid interviews writers from a broad spectrum, giving each listener a chance to see into the mind of an accomplished wordsmith within their genre or interest.
10. Neil Gaiman Board
Neil Gaiman’s Official Message Board. Enough said.
11. Goodreads Groups
Goodreads is the mega-site (with over 20 million members) for authors and readers. They have more specific groups than you can count, and if you can’t find an answer or inspiration here, then it doesn’t exist. You might feel a bit overwhelmed, but here’s a smart article on using Goodreads to support your author business.
There are tons of writing forums out there to choose from, so I suggest you have a play with a few of them. This one works a bit differently which is why I like it though. Scribophile provides detailed and helpful critiques from a member exchange. The analyses you’ll get are so much more than just a pat on the back – you’ll get actionable ways to improve your writing.
Scrivener is a powerful writing tool for authors that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring your documents. Get a free 30-day trial and watch some brief YouTube tutorials to get acquainted with the system quickly.
This proofreading application is an improved version of your standard spellchecking program. Just copy and paste blocks of text into Grammarly, and it will check your writing for common mistakes. The reason it’s better than most spellcheckers is that it provides useful feedback that will improve the overall quality of your book. You will learn a lot very quickly by taking heed of the sidebar suggestions and explanations.
15. Hemingway Editor
Excellent writing is quite often straightforward writing, and Hemingway was the master at that. Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, your narrative should get to the point with simple language. With the Hemingway software, you will learn how to simplify your writing.
Book Publishing and Freelance Help
16. Archangel Ink
Archangel Ink is a one-stop solution for getting your book ready to publish. Archangel offers a range of services to help you with cover design, editing, formatting, audiobook production and much more. I feel that if you haven’t published before you learn a lot by manually going through the process of completing your manuscript via Scrivner, finding editors/cover creators via say Reedsy/Freelancer and then uploading it to KDP/Createspace. However it can be frustrating, so I completely understand throwing down some cash and handing of some or all of this to someone else. I’m currently considering using Archangel Ink to produce and audiobook for me.
17. 99 Designs
This is a service where you post a design project, like your book cover, and dozens of freelancers submit mock-up examples. You then select finalists based on the submissions and choose the winner to work with you to create a finalised version. 99Designs can be pricey, but it’s a great option if you want a professional cover design for your book.
I won’t rant on this too much as already do that frequently enough if you don’t have the free version of this you need to get it now. What some of you might not know, is that via the paid version they have an option to connect you with a professional proof reader. I haven’t used this before but considering the calibre of everything else they do I think it’s worth investigating.
One the most significant websites for hiring freelance talent. If you want to find the largest pool of people, then this is a great place to look. The app makes chatting with prospective freelancers seamless so you can manage your project and selection of the perfect candidate on the go.
Reedsy offers a boutique experience in editing and cover design. Most freelancers here have worked in the publishing industry, so they have a thorough understanding of what will work for your books. But you should also expect to pay more for the freelancers you find here. If you’re going the self-publishing route within fiction, a professional editor is a must, an absolute necessity, seriously. Reedsy is a great way to find one, with almost every budget available. If you can’t afford the lower tier, I suggest saving your pennies or going the traditional publishing route, where a publisher will provide you a professional editor to work with.
21. Survey Monkey
Is an easy to use survey builder; ask multiple choice questions and get demographic information about your audiences, like age, sex, or occupation. You can use it for your current email list, or post a survey with a lead magnet somewhere your target audience will see it (forums, pay-per-click ad etc.)
PickFu allows authors to get instant feedback on your book before you publish using audience polls. This is a more advanced option for those who already have income streams, again I don’t suggest paying for a resource unless you’ve used a free version and had equitable success with it.
With a drag and drop email builder, unlimited image storage and an easy to use interface, AWeber is a great option to manage your email marketing communication.
MailChimp offers 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers – free. That’s what MailChimp can do for you. A great email marketing resource if you’re just getting started. MailChimp is easy to set up, easy to manage and offers an easy to scale pricing plan as your list grows. As the Wix email option ‘Shoutout’ has a capped number of emails you can send but an exportable email list. You can use MailChimp to send additional emails if you are pushing the boundaries of the free Wix option.
25. Constant Contact
You can’t call yourself constant contact and then not be available to your customers. And that’s just what makes this email automation company shine. They offer round the clock support 7 days a week. They also offer 60-day FREE trial.
Search for any domain and see every place they’ve shown up on Google: every keyword they’ve bought on AdWords, every organic rank, and every ad variation in the last 11 years. This combined with Wix’s seamless SEO makes key words unbelievably easy. You don’t need to have some ten years long.
Learn how to connect with these domains, too. Find online and traditional leads methods — social media, email, phone, and address — you can’t find anywhere else. So you can look at other authors within your niche and find out exactly where readers are going to find them.
27. Google Keep
Keep is an excellent organisation tool. It stores every idea, research plan and content structure. Which can quickly be dumped into Scrivner later.
Another option this is with a few more features is Evernote, you can save snippets of content you find online and go back to all of it in a searchable, taggable easy to find notebooks on Evernote. It also connects to my Google Home via IFTTT which frustratingly Google Keep doesn’t seem to, so I can handsfree keep notes easily.
29. Google Drive
Accessible from anywhere with internet, Google Drive is a great collaborative tool for teams to use when you’re working with content, files, or images in tandem. Google Sheets and Google Docs makes group work seamless, and all work can easily be shared with hyperlinks.
30. Tomato Timer
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy preferred by many authors. It’s not always easy to keep track of the non-writing tasks related to your book projects. With Brain Focus Productivity Timer, an excel sheet (or just pen and paper) and Scrivner’s session tracking you can keep motivated with tangible evidence of how hard you’re working. Not only time associated with the project. Team Viz is another excellent paid alternative to this method, and you can’t forget the simple Tomato Timer (tomato-timer.com)
It’s like super chat. Instant communication. Instant file transfer. Indexed and Searchable. It is fantastic for collaboration if you have a specific project you are working on. Again, use wisely, if you are co-authoring for example. Not if you’re just working with a freelancer for a short time, instead use the platform’s chat for content protection!
32. Lander App
You can learn more about A/B testing here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A/B_testing
I have experimented with A/B testing in the past but didn’t feel that it was hugely beneficial. I think that you have to have a relatively sophisticated reason to use A/B testing. Potentially I’ll use this for a book launch with a landing page in the future. Of those that I experimented with, I found Lander App to be the most straightforward to use.
Again, if you don’t know what A/B testing doesn’t worry, you don’t need to! Don’t jump to trying to use A/B testing, focus instead on the following:
– Mailing list Opt-in rate
– You unique visitor Site traffic
– Total engagement (comments, email responses) / Book Sales
For the third point there, you concentrate on engagement if you haven’t released your first book yet!
33. Freenom – A Name for Everyone
One of my favourite hosting companies, if you’re just starting out, I don’t suggest spending any money on anything if you can avoid it. This is perfect for this, as instead of choosing a.com or a.net you can get a free domain and easily swap with redirection later once you’re profitable. Personally, I use Wix for all website things, but this is an excellent option if you’re just starting out.
34. WP Engine
WP Engine is a hosting company that provides managed WordPress hosting for websites around the world. They have great support, and their servers help your WordPress site run a top speed. I use Wix as I find it far more user-friendly, however, the advanced features do require a minimum annual cost. With WordPress, most features can be scaled up for free, but a bit more mucking around with add-ons and tech stuff.
Learn more about how to write your first novel at http://www.oliverphisher.com
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