Here’s my annual roundup of tech tools that I feel are indispensable to my work as an author, publisher, and consultant, and the ones I recommend the most to others. These tools make my personal and professional life easier. There are affiliate and tracking links in this post but I am not paid to recommend any of them.
DropBox has been invaluable for backup and storage of important files and files that I want to access when I travel without my computer. It’s also essential for sharing files and entire folders with others using a web link for access in the cloud instead of email attachments. There are free and paid versions but I’m on the Plus version for $8.25 a month which gives me 1TB of data storage.
After using several electronic editing programs I’ve settled on ProWritingAid to check my spelling, grammar, and writing style. I love their clean, updated interface and detailed report. With its thorough critique, I think ProWritingAid makes me a better writer. As an editor and publisher, the reports also help me communicate better with my authors. A subscription comes with a browser extension that lets you edit everywhere you write online, including Gmail, Facebook, and WordPress. $50/yr, $75/2 years, $100/3 years, $175/lifetime.
I use MailChimp's email marketing service a few times a week to reach subscribers to my various mailing lists. Especially helpful is segmenting by interest or group. Some subscribers only want information such as travel to Baja, Mexico, others want adventure motorcycle news, others want writing and publishing news, and recently I’ve added a segment to communicate with students who have enrolled in my online self-publishing courses. MailChimp makes email management easy. It’s free for up to 2000 email addresses. A low-cost alternative with good features is MailerLite.
Focus@Will combines neuroscience and music to reduce distractions and energize your brain. These tunes have been remixed and tested to specifically help you focus better. I have used this app for more four years now and it helps me shut out the world and get to work. I’m often surprised at how much I get done when using this tool. $69.99 annual subscription
I don’t use Scrivener as much as I should but I’m slowly moving over to it as an alternative to Word. It’s got a steep learning curve but it’s a far superior organizational, writing, and book creation tool. It also easily exports to eBook formats and PDF for print. $45 desktop application for Mac and Windows.
Evernote has been described as an electronic brain. Use the web clipper to capture blog posts, recipes, images, exercise videos, and code snippets. Snap a photo of a business card in the app and it recognizes the data as a contact and records it, noting the date, time, and place. So handy when I’m looking for someone I met at a conference and can’t remember their name. Organize notes into folders and enhance them with links, lists, tables, attachments, and audio recordings. You can even take a photo of a handwritten note to make it searchable. Free trial.
Zoom is a far better solution to meetings and webinars than Skype. I use Zoom to record and share webinars and lessons for my online publishing courses, for virtual book readings, screen sharing, and for one-on-one and group meetings for business, friends, and family. Free, 14.99.mo and 19.99/mo
I use Bitly to save, shorten, and personalize links. It’s also a link tracker so I can tell what links people click, which helps me to better understand and address the wants and needs of my audiences. Install a browser extension to share pages directly to your social media accounts. They offer free and enterprise versions but you’ll probably only ever need the free version.
Audacity is free, open source audio software for multi-track audio recording and editing. I use it to narrate lessons for online courses, to mix music into podcasts, to record blog posts, and create voice recordings for friends and family. You can see voiceprint patterns and silences for easy editing. It can also be used to narrate your own audiobook and to insert music or sound effects into an audiobook or podcast. It is a very sophisticated program but I only use its most basic features, so don’t be intimidated.
MPEG Streamclip is a free video converter, player, and editor for MPEG and QuickTime and it’s also a YouTube downloader. I use it to compress video and audio files for smaller size and faster downloading and streaming. Free for Windows and Mac by Squared5.
Canva is a popular blog and social media banner creation tool with templates in all the popular sizes. Upload your own images or use theirs. I also like Canva’s free book cover maker to mock-up book covers as idea sketches or to quickly design covers for eBooks that I give away to my email list subscribers. The free version is probably all you’ll ever need.
Well there you have it, my fave tech tools to help you maximize your productivity. Let me know about any good ones you've discovered.
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