By Bryan Collins (@BryanJCollins)
Are you having trouble finding time to write?
Do you find it difficult to balance self-publishing with the other parts of being a writing, creating and marketing a book?
Are you looking for a definitive list of writing tools you can use and depend on?
In this post, I’ve gathered 15 of the best writing tools that will save you time, write more frequently, and become a more productive writer.
What is it: Scrivener is a word processor and a project management tool that many writers including Joanna Penn and Jeff Goins use to manage their writing projects.
How it will save you time: If you take the time to learn how to use Scrivener, you can can organise all of your writing, including blog posts, books and screenplays, in one place.
Scrivener makes editing easier and you can use it to convert your work in eBook formats for Amazon, Google Play, Kobo and other stores.
What is it: Google Drive and Dropbox are two great ways of backing up your writing for free and collaborating with other writers. No more dead hard-drives and lost manuscripts.
How it will save you time: With Dropbox you can restore earlier versions of your work, while the comments feature and shareable links provided by Google Drive simplifies collaborating with editors and proofreaders.
Google Apps for Work
What is it: Google Apps for Work is a suite of tools for professionals. Alongside additional cloud storage, it enables you to send emails to and from your domain using the Gmail interface.
As a writer, you’ll look more professional if you send emails from your domain i.e. firstname[at]mysite[dot]com.
How it will save you time: The Gmail interface is the easiest and fastest way to manage email on the go. Plus, the additional cloud storage can help seasoned writers with lots of book design assets to backup.
Price: USD5 per month
What is it: Grammarly is an online grammar checker that will find up to ten times more clichés and mistakes that the spelling and grammar checker in a word processor.
How it will save you time: Grammarly isn’t a replacement for a human proofreader but if you need an extra line of defence before you self-publish your next book, it’s a good investment.
Price: USD29.95 per month.
What is it: Compfight is a Flickr search engine for finding free and premium images for your website, blog posts and books.
How it will save you time: Compfight speeds up the process of finding stock and license-free images. It also provides an attribution that you can cut and paste into your blog or the acknowledgements section of your book.
Death to the Stock Photo
What is it: Hate stock imagery? Death to the Stock Photo is a monthly curated photo pack of high-quality images, many of which are aimed at writers.
How it will save you time: You won’t have to spend time looking for images for your books or your website. Death to the Stock will send them to your inbox.
What is it: Michael Hyatt is just one of the bloggers who recommends Evernote for organising the research that goes into non-fiction writing projects. If you haven’t used it, it’s a digital tool for storing your research, notes and ideas in one place.
How it will save you time: Writers read a lot more than they write and organising this research is often tedious. With Evernote, you can sort your research using meaningful tags and notebooks and find information when you need it. I use it for storing blog posts, articles, giveaways, ideas, and quotes.
Price: Free/USD5 a month
What is it: Rev is an audio and video transcription app. The people at Rev will take your recordings and transcribe them for you. I used this service to dictate or write a blog post that should have taken four hours in just one.
How it will save you time: First drafts are hard, and all the more so if you stop to edit yourself. Rev is great for getting a first draft of your head and onto the blank page. Pat Flynn provides a great guide for writing your first book draft with Rev.
Price: USD1 a minute
Google Adwords Keywords Planner
What is it: Google Adwords Planner is a free tool that you can use to discover the the language of your target audience. When you input your niche, topic or book idea, this tool show you keywords that people are searching for. Using these should make your work more discoverable and relevant.
How it will save you time: If you’re a non-fiction writer, the AdWords planner will help you unearth popular search terms you can use in your promotional copy and even your title.
Look for terms that have a relatively high search volume (i.e. over 10,000 per month) and a low or medium degree of competition.
A Social Media Automation Tool
What is it: Buffer and HootSuite are two popular social media automation tool that you can use to master Twitter and send Facebook and LinkedIn updates at a time that suits you. It’s also great for curating content.
How it will save you time: Most savvy writers who self-publish recognise the importance of building an audience on social media.
However, it doesn’t make sense to stop writing every hour to sent a tweet. Buffer and HootSuite take care of this heavy lifting for you so you can write your social media updates in one sitting.
Price: Free/USD10 a month
What is it: Do you find it difficult to pick titles and covers for your books? Using Pickfu, you can ask 50 or more people which title and book cover they prefer.
How it will save you time: Inspiration is nice, but real-world feedback is more practical, especially if you want to sell books.
Price: From USD20
What is it: If you have the time and patience, maintaining a blog is a great of building a relationship with your readers. WordPress is the most trusted and accessible blogging platform for writers.
How it will save you time: I’m not going to lie, there’s a learning curve to WordPress (more on that in a moment), but a blog will help you practice the art of writing and it’s an ideal platform for non-fiction writers.
Price: Free (but you’ll need to pay for a domain name and web hosting)
What is it: Lynda.com is an online training service that you can use to learn everything from self-publishing to WordPress. I learnt the basics of blogging from Morten Rand-Hendriksen’s tutorials.
How it will save you time: No more scrubbing through YouTube videos or looking for tutorials that make sense.
Price: From USD19.95 per month
What is it: Medium is a blogging platform for people who hate the nuts and bolts of running a blog.
It’s run by the people who set up Twitter, and it’s almost impossible to write an ugly looking post on Medium. This Medium guide by Kevan Lee should help you get started.
How it will save you time: No Medium is not a replacement for self-hosted WordPress blog, but it is a great way of exposing your work to an existing audience.
You could, for example, post chapters of your book and then link back to your sales page or website.
What is it: Using these email marketing tools, you can ask your readers to join your email list and write to them every time you have a book out or some new writing to share.
How it will save you time: Social media is great, but unless you’ve a large audience, it’s an inefficient way of attracting new readers.
This is why every online writer and marketer asks for an email address in exchange for an ethical bribe. Do this and marketing your books will get a whole lot easier.
Price: Free/USD1 a month until your list grows
Put Your Words Before Your Tools
A bad craftsman blames their tools when things go wrong. The writing tools in this post won’t do the hard work of writing for you, and you’ll still need to put the hours in on the blank page. However, these tools will help you become a more productive writer, find your audience and market your work.
What are your favourite writing tools? Share them in the comments section below.
Bryan Collins is a writing coach and author who helps other writers use words to achieve their goals and dreams. His free 20-part email course will help you launch your writing career and become a writer today. http://becomeawritertoday.com/.
Photo: bigstockphoto.com. Scrivener link contains my affiliate code.