SPQ 070: 13 Essential Tools All Authors Need

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essential tools for authors

The Question

Thomas Lau asks: What are the absolute essentials and good-to-have tools (online or offline) for authors?

Biggest Takeaway

Steve’s Answer

Steve has a list of recommended resources on the SPQ Resources page. The tools on this page are really good for authors.

Thomas asked about the essentials, so Steve has a list of tools he uses pretty much on a daily basis.

#1: BlueHost

Steve uses BlueHost for the SPQ website. Having a website is important because you own your audience. If people can visit your website and check out your content and online brand, you have a higher chance of turning casual readers into subscribers or book buyers.

Another benefit is the ability to use re-targeting. If you put a conversion pixel on your website, you can actually find people who look at your content and show them ads to entice them to join your list. Search engine traffic is also a big benefit. If you have content on your website, people might find you by searching for terms related to your book.

You can’t necessarily just pitch your books to people. You need to have content that resonates with people. If you have a site filled with content, you can attract people via social media.

#2: Google Analytics

This is a tracking code that you put on your website. It shows you where traffic is coming from and tells you which pages people are visiting the most. Steve highly recommends installing Analytics on every property you own.

#3: Aweber

Aweber is an email marketing program. When someone signs up for your list, Aweber stores the information, making it easy to contact people when you have a new book.

#4: Word Processing Program

Steve doesn’t get too technical with the writing process. He uses MS Word, and then he sends the file to Archangel Ink to have it formatted. Scrivener takes it to the next level with outlining and formatting. It also allows you to collect notes and ideas for each piece of content you write.

#5: Calibre

Calibre is a software program that converts files to .MOBI format. Steve outsources his formatting, but if you’re a DIY type of person, this can help you save a few bucks.

#6: Evernote

Steve uses Evernote to jot down ideas. You can clip items from the Web, save audio or video clips, and make text notes. It’s a great place to store all the ideas you have for your self-publishing business.

#7: Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a good tool for identifying potential niches. It gives you an idea of the keywords people are using to find information online.

#8: Pat’s First Kindle Book (Facebook Group)

This is Pat Flynn’s Facebook group for people with book-based businesses. Steve is a moderator in the group. There are a lot of cool people willing to help each other out and share tips.

#9: Kboards.com

This is a forum for people interested in Kindle publishing and self-publishing as a whole. Steve lurks on Kboards, but he still thinks it’s a good place to learn about what is working in the self-publishing business.

#10: Amazon Author Central

Author Central is a great place to check the overall state of your business. This is where you set up your author profile, add your blog or Twitter links, monitor your stats, and claim your books

#11: PickFu

This is an online polling service. If you are trying to figure out which title or book cover works best, you can use PickFu to get instant feedback from members. It costs anywhere from $20 to more than $299 per month, so it can get expensive. You can get quick feedback for about $20.

#12: Elance

Steve uses Elance to hire writers, graphic designers, and other freelancers. This site is ideal for finding people who will work on longer projects.

#13: Fiverr

Fiverr is a good site for finding people to do quick tasks. Steve doesn’t hire people from Fiverr to do things that require a lot of brain power, but he does use the site to find freelancers for short-term projects.

Key Takeaways

Resources and Links

SPQ Resources: Steve consistently uses these tools to build his publishing business

BlueHost: Steve’s recommended Web hosting service

Google Analytics: Analytics makes it easier to track your book promotions

Aweber: Steve recommends Aweber for email marketing

Scrivener: A combination word processing and project management tool for writers

Calibre: This tool allows you to convert book files to several formats

Evernote: Keep track of your research and book projects with Evernote

Google Keyword Planner: Use Keyword Planner to search for marketable niches

Pat’s First Kindle Book: Pat Flynn’s Facebook group for authors

Kboards.com: Forum devoted to all things Kindle

Amazon Author Central: Set up your author profile, claim your books, and monitor your sales statistics

PickFu: Get unbiased opinions on your book titles or cover designs

Elance: Find freelancers to help you with your book-based business

Fiverr: Get help with quick tasks

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