People constantly ask us, what is in our writer’s toolkit? What resources do we use to run our publishing business? Here are the main tools we use to write, edit, format and market our full range of books.
- 1 The Best Laptop for Novelists
- 2 Top Website Hosting for your Business/Wordpress site
- 3 Top Keyword Research Tool for Self-Published Authors
- 4 Free Amazon Ads Course for Self-Published Authors
- 5 The Best Amazon Book Category Finder for Self-Published Authors
- 6 How to Outline a Novel Plot
- 7 Stationery for Writers
- 8 How to Write Books Fast!
- 9 Book Cover Designers for Self-Publishers
- 10 Self-Publishing Book Editors
- 11 Marketing Your Book
- 12 Book Editing and Formatting Software
The Best Laptop for Novelists
MacBook Pro/MacBook Air
Without a doubt, the one thing we cannot do without in our writer’s toolkit is a decent computer. By far the best laptop I’ve ever owned is a MacBook Pro. It is slick, fast and has a brilliant user-friendly interface. It is compatible with every type of writing software and all Microsoft Office programmes. For self-published authors, it is a dream to work on. The book formatting software Vellum works perfectly on it too!
How do I choose a laptop?
As our publishing business is online, we need a fast processor and the ability to run lots of programmes simultaneously. Having a top-notch CPU and large RAM capacity is crucial. But, if you just need a laptop to write on then the MacBook Air is a good choice to have in our writer’s toolkit. It is light and easy to carry around with you.
How much should I spend on a laptop?
It all depends on the size of screen you want, the amount of RAM you need, and what size hard drive you want. Prices range from £800-£2000+ but it is an investment worth making. It is your primary writing tool and will last for a long time.
Top Website Hosting for your Business/Wordpress site
Which Web hosting is best for beginners?
We have tried a couple of website hosting providers, including Bluehost, but the best one we’ve found for page load speed, user friendliness and overall performance is SiteGround.
SiteGround offers a 70% discount on all new signups. You can choose the ‘Start Up’ tariff, which is great if you are starting out in business and only need one website for now. The ‘Grow Big’ tariff is what we are on currently, as you can have unlimited websites on your hosting site. The ‘Go Geek’ plan is the highest priced tariff. This one is not really necessary unless you are running multiple sites and expect to have over 100,000 visitors to your site per month.
How do I choose a host?
It all depends what you want from your website hosting service. We use it to run our WordPress account for all our writing blogs, and also for our online shop and book promotion pages. Most website hosting services will integrate well with WordPress but it is a much smoother process with SiteGround.
The best part about SiteGround is that the page load speed is lightening quick. This seriously affects your customer experience and “bounce rate” – the likelihood of someone clicking off your website before you’ve even offered them anything. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO – the yard stick by which all websites are measured and rated) can be tinkered with using a piece of software called Yoast.
Yoast can help you understand how to get your website ranking as high as possible in a Google search. You want to be on the first page of a Google search and this software helps you make it so.
SiteGround is definitely the best choice of website hosting that we have found so far. We can highly rate it from personal user experience. Their customer service is second-to-none also.
Top Keyword Research Tool for Self-Published Authors
What is the best keyword research tool?
If you are looking for something to help you get your book in front of more Amazon shoppers, Publisher Rocket is the perfect piece of software for self-published authors to have in our writer’s toolkit. It enables you to spend less time marketing and more time writing.
How do I find the best keywords?
Unlike any other software, Rocket gives you real data that shows you exactly what Amazon customers type into Amazon. It highlights how many people search for those keywords every month.
Using Rocket’s Keywords Feature, you will learn:
- Which keywords shoppers type into Amazon
- Estimated number of times customers type that keyword into Amazon
- How much money the books that rank for that keyword are making
- How many books are competing for that keyword
This software gives you results in seconds. It is a game-changer when it comes to finding out the exact keywords that Amazon shoppers are actually searching for.
Free Amazon Ads Course for Self-Published Authors
How do I advertise my book?
Amazon Marketing Services allows you to get in front of readers who are actively searching for books like yours.
With Amazon ads, you can pay to make your book show up right next to similar books readers are already searching for.
You can also market your book to people who are searching for certain keywords, such as, “sci-fi romance, vegetarian cookbook, real estate investing,” literally whatever you want.
Similar courses are selling right now for over £500. But you can join this 5-day Amazon ads course absolutely FREE.
How do I create an Amazon ad for a book?
With this FREE course, you will learn how to:
- Get More Out of Amazon Ads
- Set Up Your First Amazon Book Ads Campaign
- Understand the Amazon Ads Dashboard
- Find Profitable Amazon Book Ad Keywords
- Monitor Your Amazon Book Ad Campaigns Like a Pro
I have completed this course and it provided me with absolutely invaluable knowledge, especially when starting out as a self-published author. I highly recommend this FREE course. It is an essential part of our writer’s toolkit.
The Best Amazon Book Category Finder for Self-Published Authors
The Amazon book categories you choose will have a direct effect on whether or not you become an Amazon bestselling author.
Choose the wrong one, and no matter how many books you sell, you won’t become an Amazon bestseller. Choose the right one, and you could become a daily bestseller with minimal marketing or effort.
How do I categorise my books on Amazon?
To make your book appear in the right Amazon categories, you will need to choose categories and keywords that best describe your book.
This piece of software in our writer’s toolkit will generate the most accurate keywords for your book and enable you to choose the most appropriate category for them.
How to Outline a Novel Plot
Dustin Lance Black – Oscar Winning Screenwriter
This video changed everything for me. It took the overwhelming feeling of writing a book and broke it down into easy to manage steps.
Even though this video is by a screenwriter, the steps involved in breaking down the overall plot of a story still apply to all types of writing.
How do you outline scenes in a novel?
By following Dustin Lance Black’s very simple method of using notecards for each individual scene in his story, the whole plot is broken down into their basic elements and therefore easy to move around the planning board. Once each notecard is complete you can order them and “read” your story at a glance. This ensures that plot holes are noticed before they happen in your writing and allow you to make changes if the flow of the story isn’t hitting the high notes.
Another game-changer in our writer’s toolkit, this video is a brilliant resource to help with the novel-writing process.
Stationery for Writers
What supplies do authors need?
As you will have seen from the video above, the best tool in our writer’s toolkit for planning out your novel is undoubtably notecards. These little cards enable you to write each individual element of your story so you are able to move them around in the order you feel your story should flow so it makes it more exciting for your reader.
Get a few sets in different colours so you can follow a particular character throughout the narrative, or track the progress of a particular story/plot line though the novel outline.
How to Write Books Fast!
After you have watched the video, and bought the notecards, with Rev.com you will now be able to write your fiction/non-fiction books in record time. It is a cost-effective and convenient way to cut corners.
Simply press record on your phone/recording device and speak out loud the scenes of your new story. Upload this audio file to Rev.com, who will transcribe your audio file for you in an amazingly quick turnaround time (around half an hour!) and then all you need to do is edit your own words.
I have used this for fiction, non-fiction, blog posts and emails to save a ridiculous amount of time.
Try this method from our writer’s toolkit once and you won’t look back.
Book Cover Designers for Self-Publishers
How do I get a self published book cover?
We use a brilliant cover designer called Stuart Bache who is an expert in lots of different genres. He accepts submissions form self-published authors and does an incredible job.
Books Covered are a team of five very talented designers with a breadth of experience spanning all genres.
They always create a completely unique design for each book cover (and never reuse the same design twice).
After receiving a brief for a novel they select the right designer for your genre and start creating ideas for your cover.
They create a minimum of two concepts per project, with up to four rounds of revisions.
The DI Rachel Morrison series all have covers designed by Stuart and the team at Books Covered.
For a more cost-effective way of designing your front cover, you can check out the guys on Fiverr. This is where you can seek out a designer at a price to suit all budgets. This is a great tool if you write books in several different genres as you can use a different designer each time to fit your specifications.
Self-Publishing Book Editors
How do you find a good book editor?
Our top tip for finding a good book editor is to insist they edit a small sample of your book first, i.e. the first chapter, so you can see the quality of their work and if the fit between you and them is right before you invest time and money into the project. This is what I did with Gary at Bubblecow.com.
Gary has been our editor for all of our book series and highly recommend his skill, knowledge and professionalism on all our different projects.
His prices are very reasonable and once he gets to know your writing style he offers practical and bespoke advice on how to bring the best out of your writing.
Do you need an editor to self publish a book?
Strictly speaking, no. You don’t have to have your book edited to self-publish, but in our opinion it is a crucial step to ensure you are competing at the highest level with traditionally published authors. An editor will craft and mould your novel from its raw stage and elevate it to the level you need it to be to be taken seriously as a novelist. If you edit your novel yourself you will be too close to it to see where it falls short of excellent. You need an impartial, non-affiliated person to give your the harsh truths about your novel, then advise you on how to make it better.
A good editor will not stifle your creativity, or rain on your parade. They will elevate and enhance your words, giving you advice on areas to improve and even tips on things you may not have even noticed about your writing before.
Believe me, Gary is worth every penny.
Marketing Your Book
What is copywriting?
Copywriting is the act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy or sales copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness. It ultimately aims to persuade a person or group to take a particular action – namely to buy your book over all the others they see in the marketplace.
What is Funnel Scripts?
Funnel Scripts is a genius piece of copywriting software by Jim Edwards. It takes all of the hassles away from writing copy on your own and helps you automate all of your copywriting needs.
Why do you need Funnel Scripts?
This book marketing tool is a total game-changer when it comes to writing copy that sells for Facebook ads, emails, Amazon ad copy and so much more. If you are looking at how to market a book online then Funnel Scripts is the way to do it. It is expensive to buy outright, but when you factor in how much a decent copywriter would cost you, Funnel Scripts is definitely worth it long term. The one-off cost you pay means you have the software forever and already it has paid for itself in book sales for us since we purchased it last year. It makes copywriting a breeze.
Book Editing and Formatting Software
How do I format my self-published book?
There are a few ways you can do this but the best software we have found for this job is called Vellum. This amazing piece of software is brilliantly simple to use. It produces perfectly formatted ebooks and paperbacks ready for you to upload onto the platform of your choice.
Vellum converts your word document to an e-pub and e-mobi format compatible with Amazon and Apple iBooks. It also creates PDFs for the paperback version of your books.
A one-off payment means you have this software forever. It has reaped the costs back ten-fold for us on what it would cost to get a book formatting company to do it for us. You can also use Vellum to write your book in as well as format, so you can see how it is going to look from the start. Vellum is mainly compatible with Apple software, but there is a version you can download for Windows applications via a paid converter called MacInCloud.
We found out about Vellum from a fellow self-published author, Adam Croft, who uses it to format his own indie book series’.