Writing and publishing today is a long way removed from typewriters and carbon paper. The days of sending typed or printed manuscripts are over.
Every word you write now is digital, electronic and published via the Internet, exchanged by email or shared via Google Drive. Even if you attend writing courses, you will be using electronic tools.
The writing process has not changed, but technology has. Because of this, a writer today needs the very best digital tools.
There are almost unlimited choices when it comes to writing software, apps and online tools. But you need to be selective.
How do you choose the right tools?
You should try a range of software and apps. But your decisions, in the end, will be based on your what you write and your writing style.
An article writer will have totally different needs to an author. A blogger will not require the same tools as a short story writer.
However, there are five areas all writers have in common.
You need to write and save your words. But you can achieve this in so many ways today.
You might think instantly about Microsoft Word. But it is a business tool and not the best solution as a word processor for creative writing.
A dictionary and thesaurus are a writer’s right and left hands. But today, you can access both quickly and easily within many writing programs.
Every writer needs to keep their ideas and notes organised. You can use a notepad and pen, but your phone is always with you now. So a simple phone note-taking app is often a much better way to stay on top of everything.
Whatever you write, you will undoubtedly need some form of image creation. It could be a mockup of an ebook cover, a blog image or a Facebook header.
Lastly, every writer needs to promote their writing in one form or another.
Do you want to find the most appropriate and productive tools for your needs? Here is a selection of some of the best digital solutions available today.
1. Your Writing Program
For bloggers, you probably use WordPress or a similar blogging platform. Your in-built editor is usually the best tool to write a blog post.
Perhaps the only external writing tool you might need is a plain text editor for HTML code.
Microsoft Notepad for PC and Apple TextEdit for Mac are perfect for this and are already installed on your computer.
For content and article writers, you definitely need word processing. The most popular for short-form writers is Google Docs.
The advantages of Google Docs are first that it is a free tool for writers. Secondly, it makes collaborating and sharing files very easy.
Lastly, unlike other online word processors, you can use Google docs offline. So you don’t need to be connected to wifi to work.
For authors, you face a more complex decision.
Writing a fiction or non-fiction book is a very long process. A good book writing program will allow you to write in sections and stages.
It should have the facility for you to keep notes about your characters, events and track a timeline.
You will be working on a long document over a long period of time. So your software must save and store in portions or small files. Ideally, you want to save by individual chapters or scenes.
It will keep your manuscript protected much more securely than in one huge document file.
You should also check if there is an auto-save function. It will make sure you don’t lose a single word of your work.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to free,open-source and premium book writing software.
But one stands head and shoulders above the rest and is the tool of choice for many, many authors.
Scrivener is very well-known as one of the best writing software programs for authors and screenwriters.
It has an outliner, corkboard, side by side viewing, word count targets and a full-screen editor for distraction-free writing. There are print, export and publishing tools. It has everything a writer could possibly need.
On top of that, you can use Scrivener on any device. No matter what your writing habits are, your WIP manuscript is with you at all times.
2. Your Writing Checker
How many writers today have access to proofreaders or copy editors?
Of course, the answer is almost no writer today can afford to pay for this.
But you still have to check that your writing is error-free, up to standard and ready for publishing.
There are two excellent options available, but your choice will depend on what you are writing.
For an author, the best tool to check and improve your writing is Prowritingaid.
It is perfect for working on very long documents like a manuscript. You will have access to twenty different reports and tools to analyse your writing in great depth and detail.
For a short-form writer, Grammarly is the tool of choice for bloggers, article writers and content writers.
The big advantage is that Grammarly works in almost all online writing situations.
It works with the WordPress editor and with Google Docs. It works with social media posts to check for any clumsy errors.
It is the ultimate online writing protector.
3. Your Note Organiser
You can keep a notebook and pen in your handbag or pocket. But your phone is a much more convenient way to keep your notes about writing ideas.
The little notes and ideas you jot down are gold. Never write in your head is excellent advice. This is why having something at hand at all times for note-taking is so important for any type of writer.
Your list of ideas will help you as writing prompts and to overcome writer’s block.
Every phone today has a notes app. But if you want to be able to organise your thoughts a bit better, you can install other apps.
There is always a lot to choose from in any app store. Here are two that are quite popular with writers.
Trello is one of the popular free note apps for writers.
You can organise your writing projects, notes and to-do lists. You can even collaborate and assign tasks, start discussions, and so much more.
Evernote is another note app lots of writers use.
You can arrange your ideas and create to-do lists. There is also a web clipper to save parts of web pages to help you with your writing research.
The free version comes with more than enough storage memory to suit most writers.
4. Your Graphic Designer
You have a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a blog. All of them need fabulous images and graphics to attract attention.
If you are an author, you also need to design, try and test ebook cover designs.
Writing today is not only about your words. You always need images in one form or another.
But you are not a graphic designer. You don’t want to spend months learning how to to use a complicated program like Photoshop or Gimp.
Luckily, there’s a very easy solution.
Canva is one of my favourite everyday working tools. I know nothing about graphic design. But with Canva, I can create stunning blog images, ebook cover mockups and Facebook and Twitter headers in minutes.
There are lots of sites where you can find royalty-free stock images. Then all you need to do is upload your image to Canva, resize it, add your text and make it unique.
It is the quickest, easiest and simplest solution for creating fantastic images for all your needs.
5. Your Writing Promotion
You have written it, triple-checked and published. Now you need to attract readers.
Every blogger, author and content writer knows that you have to promote writing today to help attract readers.
Yes, you can add a few posts on social media. You can wait for weeks for Google and Bing to index your blog posts or article. You can cross your fingers and hope readers stumble across your ebook on Amazon.
But you need to do more than cross your fingers and hope.
You need to be much more proactive.
For bloggers and article writers, search engine optimization (SEO) is the starting point. But it takes time to work.
If you have a WordPress site, you can automatically promote your posts on social media. It helps you to get traffic in the first few weeks or months.
Revive Old Post from Revive Social is a very effective tool for increasing blog traffic. I have been using it for years now on my blogs.
You can share any of your published posts and pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Tumblr using automated posting schedules. There are filters you can use for date ranges and categories.
Social Networks Auto-Poster (SNAP) is another WordPress plugin for sharing posts and articles on social media. It is slightly more complex to set up.
But you can post to over 20 social networks and publishing platforms such as Medium, Flipboard, WordPress, ScoopIt and Blogger.
If you are an author, you know that Amazon is your most important ebook and book retailer. Amazon also uses a form of SEO to index your books.
The most vital pieces of data you need to research are your genre categories and seven search keywords. These all help you to increase sales of your book.
You can use the search function in Amazon and Google to find keyword and category ideas.
But both are limited in how much usable data you can obtain.
There is a much more effective way to find profitable niche categories and effective search keywords. You need to use software that gives you the ability to search the entire Amazon database.
Publisher Rocket gives you access to real data that shows you exactly what Amazon book buyers type into Amazon. It shows you how many people search for these keywords every month. It can also help you find profitable keywords for your AMS book advertising campaigns.
Finding the best writing and publishing tools for your needs takes time. You need to assess how well each writing app works for you.
You can find a lot of free writing software that works exceptionally well. But in some cases, a premium version might be a better solution.
I use all of the tools I have noted in this article. Some I use every day of the week, and others from time to time. They are all robust, useful and effective in helping me with writing and publishing.
Whatever you write, you need the best tools for the job. Hopefully, some of the tools in this article will help you write better and more productively.
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
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