Last week, I wrote about the ever-expanding Bookmarks section of my computer. There are so many great writer-related tools and resources out there, I want them all two-click ready.
After I published that post, I decided that it may be good to do a follow-up article where I talk about my favorite tools and resources, as well as how much they cost.
…And here we are…
So here is the list again—slightly revised—and below it is the breakdown and cost for each tool.
- MacBook Air
- Jami Gold’s Beat Sheets
- Romance Tropes List
- Words to Use Instead of Said and 35 Synonyms for Look
I also hope that you will share some of your favorite tools in the comments section below. There’s a lot of stuff out there, and not enough time to discover it all!
This is what I use as my everyday writing dream machine. I ditched using a desktop computer a while ago. Since I’m not tethered to a desk, this laptop gives me the flexibility to write where I want—at a coffee shop or at home on my couch. I also like that it’s sleek and light enough to slip into a tote bag, without weighing my shoulder down or giving me a humpback. (Not cute.)
Mac products aren’t cheap, but they’re workhorses. I had my last MacBook for seven years before it started slowing down on me. My Macs haven’t been as susceptible to picking up bugs and other malware like the PCs that I’ve owned. They also include cool pre-installed programs, like iMovie, which I am currently using to create a video book trailer.
Cost: Around $1,000
The hype is real, everybody. The writing tool, Scrivener, is fantastic. It’s all I use when I write manuscripts now. Before, I had a Word document of the WIP, an Excel spreadsheet of the outline, another Word document for making notes, and yet another for character sketching. My method was inefficient, clunky, and caused major document-control problems when I inadvertently pulled up the wrong versions.
Because of all the hype around Scrivener, I was a little resistant. Then an awesome friend of mine—thank you, Laura—tried it, raved about it, and explained how it was the one place where I could keep track of all of those items I listed above. Sweetener note: They have a free trial. That’s how I got hooked.
Cost: $45. And they offer a 30-day free trial.
Jami Gold’s entire website and blog is chock-full of good stuff, including her beat sheets. I use the one for writing romance novels. And it has been recommended at a couple of conferences I’ve attended. But she has beat sheets for non-romance genres, too.
This is a long list of different tropes that come up over and over again in romance novels. Tropes, of course, are common in various genres, though. And I’m sure that someone has already compiled a list and posted it online for your genre, too. I think reviewing tropes are helpful for coming up with plot ideas.
“Blah, blah, blah,” Natalia said. “Blah-dee-blah,” Ethan said. “Blah-zay-blah,” Samuel said.
Words to Use Instead of Said is my go-to post when I want to vary the dialogue tags for my characters. The post even breaks down the “said” options by emotion. (Super-helpful.) Cost: Free. 35 Synonyms for Look is not as extensive as the Words to Use Instead of Said list, but it’s enough to bring variety. I don’t know about you, but I over-use “look.” This synonym list is helping to save me from myself. Cost: Free. Of course, the Thesaurus is the mother of all synonym lists. I like Thesaurus.com because it’s more user-friendly than some of the other sites out there. And I like the words of the day. (Word nerd.)
I was recently told about this tool. I haven’t used it yet, but I am very, very intrigued. It’s an online editing tool for your WIP. They have a database of bestselling books that they analyzed and churned into an algorithm. When you upload your manuscript, AutoCrit runs it against the fancy algorithm and lets you know how your book stacks up against bestselling books in its database. It can also help you find plot holes, editorial issues, and Achilles heels (like whether you use the word “look” too much).
Cost: $29.97/month. Cancel anytime. Free trial.
I found QueryTracker when I was curious about the process of looking for an agent. This site blows everything else like it out of the water. Not only does it provide agents’ contact information, it lets you know if they’re accepting unsolicited manuscripts. But the best part, per the name, is the ability to track where you are in the query process. It’s hard to keep up with what you sent to whom, when you sent it, how long ago it was, etc. QueryTracker keeps it all in one place for you here. (Otherwise, begin one-way trip to spreadsheet Hell.)
My blog is a WordPress site. I looked into a variety of platforms before I chose this one: Weebly, SquareSpace, Blogger, Blogspot, and Medium. I picked WordPress because it automatically comes with a large reading community. And about 25 percent of all websites are WordPress sites, which stands for something. (Because if you don’t stand for anything, you don’t stand for anything.)
I like that I can make my site as simple or as complex as I want, per the plan that works best for me. I can change the look whenever I want. And once I’m ready to start selling books and swag, I can upgrade to monetize the site easily.
Cost: I’m on the $4/month Personal Plan, but there’s a variety of plans to choose from.
MailChimp is great for building an email list and designing and sending out e-newsletters. For building an email list: MailChimp will create a link for subscribers to sign up or a pop-up subscription form for you to embed on your website or blog. For designing a newsletter: They provide templates, so you don’t have to create one from scratch. Once you’re all set up, you can email your newsletter to your subscriber list with just a few clicks.
I’m new to the whole newsletter thing. If you are, too, I wrote a post on why I decided to create one and how I’m doing it.
Oh, wait, what was that? You want to be on my email list? Great! You can sign up here. Thanks, friend.
Unsplash is where I get 95 percent of the photos for my blog, newsletter, and graphic images. The quality is really good, and there’s an extensive royalty-free library of pics. If you download one of their photos, they ask that you copy and paste the artist’s info for credit. It’s not a requirement, but it’s a nice-to-do.
This is another online, royalty-free photo library. They also have videos. Big plus. I really like the photos they’ve got cookin’ over there. Good details and high-quality. I also like that I can search for vector images, like on istockphoto. DepositPhotos is more cost-friendly, though. Unlike Unsplash, DepositPhotos is not free. You can do a subscription plan, which varies in cost. Or you can pay for an “on-demand” plan that suits your needs. That’s what I may do. It’ll be 10 images for about $50.
Cost: Varies by plan.
This is another great tool for writers that I just learned about recently. They have pre-made book covers that you can customize. They have a photo library, too, which you can use for making a book cover or ads. They have an app to help you create a video trailer for your book. And yes, there is a library of videos available.
Cost: Free for the basics. $12.95/month for the upgraded plan.
I joined Twitter a while ago, but I didn’t really start getting into it until 2017. I was resisting the hype, I guess. (Hmm, I’m noticing a pattern about myself.) But as a writer, we have to work on raising our platform, so social media like Twitter makes sense. But I also like Twitter for the inspirational tips and memes, and to see what other writers are doing. It’s also a great resource for finding things that would, otherwise, take hours of time scouring books and the Internet. For example, enter a hashtag in the Twitter search box and you can get #editors, #agents, #bookbloggers, and #bookreviewers within seconds.
I had no idea how people were putting text on photos and images before they posted them on social media. With TwitHelper, I can use their stock images or upload my own. I type in the text I want—they’ve got a huge selection of fonts. When I’m done, it links to my Twitter account to post it there for me. Or I can download the image to my computer for something else, like for my blog.
In the comments, please share the tools and resources you use that have been helpful. I’m always on the lookout for new things.
Whew. That was a lot.
What? You want to read more of my posts? Stop, I’m blushing…
- My Bookmarks List Is Growing
- 14 Marketing and Branding Tips I Learned at the RWA Writers Conference
- Pre-Made Book Covers—They Exist
- Why Aspiring Authors Should Start a Blog