The Ultimate Guide to Tools and Tech for Indie Authors

With the dawn of a new year, it’s a great time to pick up a new habit, hobby or skill. Then there’s the bargains to be had with sales and discounts. Or perhaps you’re more of a gadget and software fan. When it comes to the latter, there’s a lot of tech and software at the indie author’s disposal, so much so it can be overwhelming. Fear not, Tim Lewis, science fiction and fantasy author, social media specialist and host of ALLi’s weekly #indieAuthorChat on Twitter, threw this question to the ALLi Facebook members forum in preparation for the recent SelfPub conference. Nominations poured in, and the result is a definitive list of 100 must-have tools for writing, editing, design, production and distribution—this is the ultimate guide to tools and tech for indie authors.

headshot of Tim Lewis

Tim Lewis, ALLi Author Member and Twitter chat host

What is The #SelfPubCon?

Writing and Editing Tools and Tech for Indie Authors

Scrivener word processing and book organising app

What you said “Love the drag-and-drop function as I never write in order.  I use the inspector for plot notes, the research folder for each project, and the project targets keep my manuscript on track.” literatureandlatte.com/scrivener/overview

Plottr book planning and story outlining software

What you said “So visual and it works on Windows and Mac. Turbo-charges novel creation.” getplottr.com/

OneLook dictionary search

What you said “Power tools for wordsmiths. The versatility of its conceptual thesaurus puts Roget to shame.” OneLook.com

Phrase Express keyword text expander and autotext tool

What you said “Expands a short piece of text into a longer text. Especially useful for writing difficult and long character names and placenames as well as for repetitive text sections in non-fiction books.” PhraseExpress.com.

Zotero research management software

What you said “Top tool for organising non-fiction research.” Zotero.org/

Trello listmaking software

What you said ”If you’re a visual planner, Trello is a great way to organise your writing, with different boards for each of your books or writing projects. It also has lists and cards to help you organise your tasks.” Trello.com 

DokuWiki note organization software

What you said ”I use it as a private wiki to organise all my notes on writing and marketing.”

Vintage Parker Lady fountain pen

What you said “Although I’m a fast touch-typist, nothing taps into the creative part of my brain as readily as writing by hand.” ParkerPen.com

Microsoft Sculpt ergonomic keyboard

What you said ”Eliminates RSI pain in hands and wrists.” Microsoft.com

 Goldtouch ergonomic split hinged keyboard

What you said “Totally adjustable to fit your body’s particular preferences. A life-saver for a lifelong RSI sufferer.” Goldtouch.com

3M joystick ergonomic mouse

What you said “A much more natural hand position than a conventional mouse.” 3M.co.uk

Reedsy’s editing and formatting tool

What you said “Great writing and formatting tool for authors.” Reedsy.com/write-a-book/book-writing-software-faq

Writemonkey distraction eliminating software

What you said “Leaves you alone with your thoughts and words.” Writemonkey.com

Fictionary creative editing software

What you said “Enables novelists to DIY a developmental edit, saving time and money.” Fictionary.co/

Evernote note-taking app

What you said “Multitasking app extraordinaire available across all platforms. Integrates with everything.” Evernote.com

Mycelium creativity game

What you said “For anyone who wants to expand their creative capacity.”  Rogueinterrobang.com/

Feedback

Hemingway Editor

What you said “Shows authors how to simplify and clarify their prose.” hemingwayapp.com/

BetaBooks beta reader management software

What you said “Key timesaver for authors, keeping your beta-reader feedback organized, directed and searchable.” BetaBooks.co/

AutoCrit online manuscript editing tool

What you said “Helps authors on their journey from first draft to publishable novel.” Autocrit.com

Grammarly online writing assistant

What you said “For highlighting obvious errors and giving advice to help you become a better writer.” Grammarly.com/

ProWritingAid grammar checker and style editor

What you said “Because it’s designed with authors in mind.” Prowritingaid.com/

ThePenFactor

What you said ”Round-the-clock writing competition that will give you fast and friendly feedback on your story.” PenFactor.com 

Bookboro writers and readers community

What you said ”A great critique service and sharing space for works in progress.” Bookboro.com

Author Accelerator book coach matching service

What you said ”Matches authors to book coaches and trains book coaches to understand what authors really need.” AuthorAccelerator.com 

 

Design Tools and Tech for Indie Authors

Joel Friedlander’s book design templates

What you said “they make doing your own book layout and formatting so much easier.” BookDesignTemplates.com

Vellum design software

What you said “For clarity, flexibility, responsiveness and producing beautiful books with minimal effort.” Vellum.pub/

Acrobat Pro PDF management software

What you said “The best way to send, track and store signed documents. And it makes editing of PDFs easy too.” Adobe.com

Affinity Publisher and Affinity Photo design software

What you said “Does everything Adobe can, with professional results, much more cheaply.” Affinity.serif.com

Jutoh e-book convertor and creator

What you said “User-friendly wizards and feature-rich editing tools allow expert users to tinker with any aspect of the final ebook format.” Jutoh.com

Canva online graphic design tools

What you said  “Makes it so easy to create beautiful, eye-catching graphics for online marketing.” Canva.com

Book Brush online graphic design tools

What you said “Simplifies the process of book graphic design and takes it to a whole new level.” BookBrush.com

NounProject image library

What you said “Superb collection of iconography for any type of communication – email, newsletter, book – and a visual diversity and inclusion mission. Fab!” TheNounProject.com

Production and distribution

Draft2Digital

What you said “Allows you to go wide with professional-looking, elegantly formatted e-books – including MOBIs that you can upload to KDP – all at no upfront cost.” Draft2Digital.com

IngramSpark

What you said “Game-changer for indie authors and micro-publishers.” IngramSpark.com

Kobo Writing Life

What you said “Unrivaled links with global booksellers, great promotions tool… and the famous Kobo world sales map.” Kobo.com/us/en/p/writinglife

PublishDrive

What you said “Wide range of e-book stores and unique author programs.” PublishDrive.com

Leanpub 

What you said “Great for creating, publishing and selling e-books. Also for online courses.” Leanpub.com

Smashwords

What you said “Pioneer in the field and still providing fast, free and easy e-book publishing.” Smashwords.com

Wattpad

What you said “The biggest and best place for aspiring and experienced authors and poets to write, discover and share stories.” Wattpad.com/

StreetLib

What you said “Unrivalled global reach for indie authors.” Streetlib.com

ApplePages and Apple Books 

What you said “Makes creating great beautiful books effortless and fun.” Apple.com/uk/pages Apple.com/uk/apple-books

Amazon KDP

What you said “The most innovative self-publishing service for indieauthors … and the largest retail store.” KDP.Amazon.com

Blurb Books

What you said “Enable indie authors and photographers to create beautiful books and custom wall art.” Blurb.co.uk

BookBaby

What you said “Does the lot: cover design, book printing, e-books, distribution, web creation and more.” BookBaby.com

Google Play author partner center 

What you said “More than 2 billion readers in more than 75 countries — and recently raised the commission rate paid to authors.” Play.Google.com

Bookalope

What you said ”Streamlines book production.” Bookalope.net

DartFrogBooks

What you said ”For selecting and distributing self-published books to independent booksellers around the world.” DartFrogBooks.com

FCI Digital

What you said ”Great for short-run, high-end digital color print.” FCIDigital.com

PH media

What you said ”For high-end reprographic services.” PHMedia.com

BBeBooks

What you said ”For quality formatting at reasonable prices–by an author for authors.” BBeBooksThailand.com

 

Audio Tools and Tech for Indie Authors

Adobe Audition audio editing software

What you said “The best software for authors who want to record and edit audiobooks and podcasts.” Adobe.com

Auphonic audio post-production software

What you said “Quickly and easily removes noise and auto-levels volume. Open source and with a free level too!” Auphonic.com/

Amazon ACX Audiobook Creation Exchange

What you said “Audible’s marketplace where authors and publishers connect with narrators and producers to create audiobooks.” ACX.com

FindawayVoices audiobook creation platform

What you said “Enables authors to create great audiobooks and directly reach listeners around the world on a non-exclusive basis.” Findawayvoices.com/

AuthorsDirect marketplace for authors to sell audiobooks

What you said “A way to sell directly to listeners.” Authors-Direct.com

ListenUpAudio production

What you said “Supports authors in creating high-quality audiobooks.” ListenUpAudio.com

DeepZen text-to-speech technology

What you said “Exciting ways to use artificial Intelligence and new emotive speech technology in publishing.” DeepZen.io/

AudioHiJack recording app 

What you said “Versatile, easy to use, easy file organization.” RogueAmoeba.com.audiohijack

Krisp.ai noise cancelling technology

What you said “Eradicates all background noise so you can podcast or meet in peace.” Krisp.ai

Descript audio and video editing technology

What you said “Especially for its overdub feature, where editing the audio also edits the accompanying transcript text. Also has powerful reader analytics.” Descript.com

 

Marketing and Promotion Tools and Tech for Indie Authors

Facebook

What you said ”Its social media tools and advertising platform make it easy for authors to reach readers in their genre and niche.”  Facebook.com

Goodreads

What you said ”The largest site for readers and book recommendations.” Goodreads.com

BookFunnel reader engagement tools

What you said ”Delivers reader magnets, sends out ARCs and fulfils books sales and giveaways.”  Bookfunnel.com

Chris Well’s Build Your Brand Academy media training

What you said ”If you want to leverage media coverage for you and your book, he’s your man.” BuildYourBrandAcademy.com  

Amazon suggestions, also-boughts and bestseller rankings

What you said ”Invaluable source of marketing data.” Amazon.com

Prestozon Amazon ads tool

What you said ”Makes managing your Amazon ads easier.”  Prestozon.com

TheLitRing author giveaways tool

What you said ”Connects readers and authors with great books through giveaways.” LitRing.com

PubVendo online marketing agency

What you said ”Has unparalleled insights into social media marketing for authors and small publishers.” Pubvendo.com

Dave Chesson’s Publisherrocket keyword tool

What you said ”Dave consistently produces great tools for indie authors.” Publisherrocket.com

K-lytics marketing tools

What you said ”Gives indie authors the e-book market intelligence they need to succeed.” K-lytics.com

Amy Vansant’s AuthorsXP marketing resources

What you said ”Helps authors build email lists and get reviews.” AuthorsXP.com

WordPress website and blogging platform

What you said ”Makes it so easy to create great author websites on a budget. Simple to use but so powerful.” WordPress.org

Blueinkreview reviewing service

What you said ”Honest, credible paid-for reviews for your book.” Blueinkreview.com

Prolific Works reader engagement tools (formerly Instafreebie)

What you said ” Offers great ways to engage with current readers and reach new ones.” ProlificWorks.com

Gleam app marketing platform

What you said ”For organizing author contests and giveaways.” Gleam.io

Patreon crowdfunding platform

What you said ”Allows authors to earn continuous funding directly from readers. You can segment different tiers of readers very easily.” Patreon.com 

Tweetdeck social media tool

What you said ”Helps you use Twitter on full power. Track hashtags, users and phrases.”  Tweetdeck.Twitter.com

Streamyard livestream tool

What you said ”Live stream across Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and other platforms, with a simple, powerful interface.” Streamyard.com 

ConvertKit email marketing platform

What you said ”A one-stop shop for forms, landing pages and email marketing automations.” ConvertKit.com 

Planoly Instagram scheduler

What you said ”Clean and simple tool for setting up, planning and scheduling Instagram posts.” Planoly.com 

Later social media scheduler

What you said ”Create one image and set it to schedule across multiple social media platforms, with people tagging, hashtags and more.” Later.com 

BookBub book discovery service

What you said ”The biggest and best book discovery engine for readers. Also, a great blog with bookmarketing tips and publishing insights.” BookBub.com  

TubeBuddy browser extension for YouTube creators

What you said “Lots of extra functionality and easy to use.” TubeBuddy.com

SurveyMonkey free online survey tool

What you said “Ask your readers what they think.” SurveyMonkey.co.uk  

Booxby AI analytics

What you said ”Uses natural language processing to find your book’s target markets.” Booxby.com 

Rights Licensing Tools and Tech for Indie Authors

PubMatch book rights network

What you said ”Allows indie authors to present books to rights buyers.” PubMatch.com

Business organization and miscellaneous

Vervante order fulfilment for direct sales

What you said “Send them an order from any shopping cart, and they’ll print and ship to your readers. Not just books but also CDs, DVDs and more.” Vervante.com

Linktree one-stop link tool

What you said ”Enables you to direct your fans from social media platforms to your sales site, sign-up forms, retailer websites, or any other online platform with just one link.” Linktr.ee 

Xero accounting software

What you said ”Super-easy to use, gives me a run-down of each month’s income so I can track and invoice from my phone, while in the barbers having a haircut… true story!” Xero.com

QuickBooks accounting software

 What you said ”Much better than a spreadsheet.” QuickBooks.intuit.com

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software

What you said “So much more than just a spreadsheet package.” Microsoft.com 

Things notes app from Cultured Code

 What you said ”Clean notes app for ideas, notes, planning schedules, to-dos and other reminders.” CulturedCode.com/things

Asana team management software

What you said ”Unbeatable organizational tool for managing teams and complex events. Like SelfPubCon!” Asana.com

PayHip payment tool

What you said ”Brilliant for authors and other creatives who want to sell direct.” PayHip.com

The Hot Sheet from JaneFriedman

What you said “Subscription newsletter telling you everything you need to know about publishing.” HotSheetPub.com

BookLikeABoss automated calendar app

What you said “Take appointments, sell your services and manage your author business, all in one place.” BookLikeABoss.com

Calendly online appointment software

What you said “Brilliantly easy way to let podcast guests and consultancy clients book an appointment with you.” Calendly.com

Airtable cloud collaboration service

What you said “Visually appealing spreadsheet that doubles as a database–great for managing reader relationships and everything you use spreadsheets for.” Airtable.com

Airmail email client

What you said “Lightning fast mail client for Mac and iOS.” Apple.com

Bookworm translations agency

What you said “Expert in literary translations. Also translates websites and other copy.” BookwormTranslations.com

 

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