Hello, writers! Hannah here. This week, Desiree Villena, a writer with Reedsy, is sharing five tools for indie authors. You can learn more about Desiree at the end of this post.
Almost everyone has, at some point in their life, dreamt of writing a book — but few actually follow through and do it. Why? In part, because the task ahead can seem so daunting it’s hard to know where to start. On top of that, a lot of writers don’t really know what kinds of tools it takes to put together a book the right way.
In that spirit, today we’re going to take a look at five essential tools that make writing, publishing, and marketing your book both easy and fun (yes, really!). Whether you’re polishing up your NaNoWriMo draft or prepping for a long-anticipated book launch, there’s bound to be a tool on this list that will help you achieve your goals, while still very much enjoying the ride!
1. Forest App (productivity)
No matter what stage you’re at — chasing inspiration, outlining, writing, editing, or beyond — the one thing all writers need is focus. Sadly, this is often hard to achieve with our phones singing their siren songs of social media, breaking news, and addictive games.
The Forest app aims to eliminate such phone-based distractions. When you set a timer in the app, it plants a little sapling on your screen, and anytime you leave the app to do something else, you’ll interrupt the growth and kill your new trees.
But if you manage to stay distraction-free for the duration, you’ll not only be rewarded with a slowly developing virtual forest, but with the Forest app developers donating actual money to help plant trees around the world. So by staying productive, you’re taking concrete steps toward realizing your publishing dreams and helping the planet in a very real way! For me at least, this tiny bit of do-goodery provides just enough motivation to keep me writing.
2. Evernote (notetaking)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a great idea suddenly comes to you in the most inconvenient of places, like in the shower — and by the time you’ve found your way back to your writing desk, you’ve forgotten it. Frustrating, right?
While I can’t endorse carrying your phone into the shower with you, you can have it on the counter and use Evernote to jot it down the minute you towel off! Evernote is a multi-function note-taking app that’s great not only for authors, but for anyone hoping to organize their life. That said, I’ve found its many tabs and options to be extra useful when crafting the elaborate world of a book.
Ever since I began using Evernote, I’ve been able to keep much better track of thoughts and plans for my novel. I can even scan and insert paper notes anytime I do still write something down by hand! What’s even better is that those papers actually become searchable through some sort of techno-magic. I have never lost a single good idea since switching to Evernote, which has saved my sanity (and my stories) more times than I care to admit.
3. The Reedsy Book Editor (writing and formatting)
Okay, I might be a bit biased on this one, but hear me out. Part of why I do so much work for Reedsy is that I genuinely love their approach as a company — including and especially their dedication to providing free tools to writers at all stages of the journey.
The Reedsy Book Editor is a perfect example. Even at first glance, it’s impressive: a writing app for authors that will save your work to the cloud, allow you to collaborate with your editor, and organize your writing all in one place. Think Google Docs functionality, but tailored toward people writing and editing a book.
And when you’re ready to take the plunge into publishing, you can even use this app for formatting! Once you’re finished writing, editing, and proofing your book, the Reedsy Book Editor can export it into a professionally laid-out ebook or print-ready PDF file, with multiple layouts available that are subtly styled for different genres — for example, one for “romance” and one for “classic.”
For context, other formatting apps of this nature (like Vellum) typically cost hundreds of dollars! So even if you decide to do your word processing elsewhere, keep the RBE in mind for formatting, particularly if you’re a writer on a budget like me.
4. Publisher Rocket (metadata)
One of the biggest struggles many authors face is not knowing how to promote their books. It makes sense: we’re writers, not marketers, right?
In truth, if you want to make a career out of it, you have to learn to be both. Still, marketing can be pretty overwhelming; even something as seemingly simple as picking your book’s keywords on Amazon may present a challenge. The obvious thing to do is to select keywords directly related to your book’s content, but are those the optimal keywords for selling your book?
Publisher Rocket takes the guessing out of this game. By using this tool to analyze which keywords users are actually typing into Amazon, the number of times people search for those terms, and the sales of your direct competition, you’ll be able to easily figure out what works in your genre — and what doesn’t.
Before you know it, you’ll have optimized your Amazon page (a surprisingly major part of your author platform) so well that Amazon’s algorithms actually do some of the heavy lifting for you! If you play your cards right, Amazon will become your best marketer: bringing your book straight to readers to allow you more time for what you really want to be doing, a.k.a. writing.
Needless to say, if you’re planning to self-publish on Amazon, Publisher Rocket is a must. Even if you don’t plan to publish anytime soon, it’s never too early to start familiarizing yourself with Amazon keywords and categories! These data-based elements can be tricky, even more if you’re writing in a competitive genre — so the more you understand about the intricacies of them before you publish, the better.
5. Book Brush (ads)
Of course, you may want to market on more platforms than just Amazon. That’s where the eye-candy ads of Book Brush come in handy!
I know what you’re thinking: I’m not an artist! I can’t do that! But Book Brush makes it so simple to create an ad that you don’t have to know what you’re doing, artistically speaking, to produce some decent work. Also, while tools like Canva are amazing for general design, Book Brush is just as user-friendly and set up specifically for author ads — with tried-and-true templates designed to catch readers’ eyes across various marketing platforms.
By simply selecting a background image, arranging a pre-generated 3D model of your book, and adding text, you’ll be able to create stunning ads in minutes. You can use these ads anywhere, from a Facebook campaign to a pinned Tweet to a new post in your Instagram feed. The days of merely wishing you had beautiful marketing materials for your book are over; with BookBrush, you can turn that dream into a reality.
And there you have it! Publishing a book is not always smooth sailing, but I hope these tools will help make the seas of your success a lot less choppy.
Best of luck!
About the Author
Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories. She’s very passionate about indie publishing and hopes to help as many authors as possible achieve their dreams!