2019 was a productive year and that in part was helped by the great writing tools that stumbled into my life. Some of them have saved me from losing a few coins to the swear jar. You may have encountered them before, maybe even a few years ago, but for me they’re new, and they may be for you too.
What about you? Did you find any helpful writer tools this year? Please share them!
No longer do you have to deal with boring old text to describe your lovely books. It’s quite basic, mind. No colours or whatnot, but you can embolden and italicise your text, add numbering or bullet points and a few symbols. It’s free, effective and useful. Hat-trick.
Just like the Ford Mondeo, the KDP print cost calculator does exactly what it says on the tin. No frills, no faff. Just results. Don’t let the brutalist appearance put you off. The questions are straight to the point, if not aesthetically displeasing, but provide quick and accurate results. And it’s free.
Having published a couple of books on Amazon this year, the calculator came in handy more than once when determining pricing. It’ll save you lots of time working your way through the KDP submission process which only tells you the print cost at the very end. Swines.
Again, not quite a new one but one I started to use early in the year. This database of publishers and agents has cured many a migraine. You can search by genre, sub-genre, length of fiction, pay levels, and much more. Since I’ve begun using it the number of short stories I’ve had accepted has dramatically increased, simply because I have a ready, up to date list of publishers hunting for stories at my fingertips.
You do have to pay for Duotrope (around $5 a month), but personally, I think it’s worth it. If you’d rather not pay, check out these free and handy lists:
Instagram is weird. I’ve never understood the insistence on making you post via the mobile app and the user interface is small and shit. Plus, what’s the deal with line breaks? Call me old fashioned, but I love a line break.
Here to end the frustration is the Instagram Caption Creator. Simply type whatever the hell you want in the big grey box: emojis, numbered lists, LINE BREAKs, and click the copy button. Paste that bad-boy into Instagram and flip off its gods damned creators.
Maybe my favourite tool of the year. Werble is a mobile app that allows you to animate images, namely your book cover! There’s a free service and a paid service with many more options available to you, if you cough up the cashish. The free stuff is good enough for me, though, and you can download lots more effects for free too.
You can add atmospheric smoke, roaring flames, flashing lights, hammering rain. The options are plenty. And you can mix and match by adding different layers. It all serves to help your book stand out from the crowd. Instead of a static image, potential readers will see something flashing or moving and gravitate toward it like iron to a magnet.
I’ve always wondered how those professional-looking pricks on Twitter and Instagram get their books looking all slick next to some blooming flowers, or tucked in nicely amid a pile of golden autumnal leaves. I’ve tried to do it myself and it looks utter shite. Even with a good camera, with the flash on. So I gave up. And then I came across the All Author Magic Tool, a tool that is indeed true to its name. Magic.
The tool allows you to upload the cover of your book which it then edits into 3D images on the likes of tablets, mobiles, paperbacks. There are a limited number of free design options, and much more available with All Author’s paid subscription (of course). If you sign up for their free service (like me), you can access seasonal 3D image creators. Very handy when it comes to promos at Christmas and Halloween.
The All Author website generally is well worth exploring. They run a monthly book cover competition which is pretty fun and generates decent exposure for your book. It’s free to enter, so why in heavens not?
There are a few tools. As and when I come across more tools and resources I think others would find helpful I share them here on this blog, on Twitter, Facebook, or mostly via my mailing list. If you’d like to join, just fill out the form below. Everybody who joins my writing community receives a free eBook on the craft of writing, downloadable versions of the lists mentioned above, and a nifty bunch of short fiction.