Featured image by Plush Design Studio.
I’ve always been a writer, but now that I’m preparing to step into the realm of ‘published author,’ I thought I’d share some tools that got me here. This is just a partial list of resources for writers. I’m a self-help and webinar junkie, so I’ve used a LOT of tools over the years. I don’t want you to think ‘OMG when do I have time (or money) for all this stuff?’ So I’ve limited it to only my favorite and most useful resources.
The links marked with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you, I get a small commission. I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. These commissions/fees help me keep my website up and running, so thank you!
Writer’s Digest: I received a subscription to Writer’s Digest [link to sub] after placing fifth in one of their annual writing competitions. The “win,” and the wisdom in the magazine, helped convince me I could be an author someday. While the advice in the magazine feels repetitive after a few years, I keep returning to their bookstore as I seek clarity on my trouble spots.
K.M.Weiland (HelpingWritersBecomeAuthors.com): She’s been an invaluable resource in my work on strengthening my characters and deepening my scenes. I still have a way to go, but she’s explained scene structure in a way that finally clicked for me. She writes portal fantasy, so she’s been an example for me in that regard, too. Click here to get Dreamlander for free.
Stephen King’s On Writing*: If you’ve been a writer for any amount of time, someone has recommended this one to you. It’s a no-brainer. The master of fiction shares his wisdom and his own origin story. I’ve taken a lot of the advice to heart and have taken the rest into consideration when finding what works best for me.
Scrivener: This is where I outline, summarize, and write. It can be a little intimidating to new users, and I’m sure I still haven’t discovered all the tools within. But I love that you can organize in outline or corkboard form, color code scenes, make comments, and insert other files (like reference images). One of my favorite parts is the Snapshot feature, where you can save a “snapshot” of a scene, edit or rewrite the scene, and still access the old version. So you can experiment with your ideas without losing anything. You can export into ebook format, or export into Word if you’re more comfortable working there.
The Smarter Artist/Stone Table: Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant (and Dave Wright) are the genius behind Sterling and Stone, the Smarter Artist, and the Stone Table. Sean and Johnny really kicked my ass into gear with their one-time-only workshop, Clocking Out. That work led me to scrapping a story that wasn’t working and to re-imagine Through the Mirrah into its current form. They’ve done some refocusing, so the Smarter Artist and Stone Table of yore no longer exist, but they continue to share their wisdom through books. Check out their library here.
ProWritingAid: This online editing software gives you a summary of your work, showing you what to address in the categories of Grammar, Spelling, and Style. You can then click into the different categories (and more) to see their specific suggestions on what to fix. It trains you to recognize the weaknesses in your writing so you can improve. The free version only analyazes up to 200 words at a time, so if you’re writing a longer piece, I’d recommend the upgrade to Premium.* You can also access it as a Chrome extension, Word plugin, and more.
Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS): A must-have for serious writers. It’s quite a tome, but unless you’re a freak like me, you don’t need to read it cover to cover. I use the CMOS two ways:
- As I write/edit and come across a grammar/syntax situation I’m not sure how to handle
- After identifying my weaknesses (thanks, ProWritingAid!) as a refresher lesson to help me improve my writing.
It also contains some great information in the front about the publishing process, including an overview, editing and proofreading, and copyright information.
Creativindie: Derek Murphy can do everything, so he’s able to help you with everything. From cover design and book formatting to promoting and launching your book, Derek’s got resources for that. I’ve formatted my book using his course and templates. I’ve learned the essence of cover design from him (which I applied to an early version of Through the Mirrah’s cover. A pro did the final version). I’m using his resources now to figure out how to get people to notice and buy my book. The coolest thing about Derek (as if providing all that wisdom isn’t enough) is that he invites authors to writing retreats in castles.
B-School: Marie Forleo is amazing. She tells it like it is, but you love her for it. You can catch her weekly video series, MarieTV, on her blog. But if you can swing it, I HIGHLY recommend her once-a-year B-School course (enroll or join the waitlist here). This course guides you through everything from coming up with a business idea to marketing it to make money. It’s taught me a lot of business sense (without being heavy on the numbers and legal sides of things).
ConvertKit*: There’s now a free version! I prefer the user interface and flexibility of ConvertKit to MailChimp.
Formidable Forms*: If you need to make forms on your site, use Formidable! I did a lot of research looking for a form app for my day job, and Formidable can do pretty much anything. There’s a free version, so you can make basic contact forms and such to get a feel for it. Upgrade for extra useful features (like conditional logic) and integrations (with ConvertKit, PayPal, and more). Their support (for the paid versions) is great, although their documentation library (accessible to all) is thorough.
Elementor: This was the recommended visual editor recommended by the creator of my WordPress theme (see below) and I love it! The only problem I’ve had in the free version is that the blog widget is a little inelegant. (But I installed Premium Add ons for Elementor—for free—and their version allowed me to customize the setup more.)
Resource for, Like, Everything
Wandering Aimfully (WAIM)*: Caroline and Jason Zook are about the coolest people I’ve ever (virtually) met. They’re creative and quirky and have a passion for helping others use their own creativity and quirkiness to succeed in creating/running their own businesses. WAIM is a lifetime membership to pretty much everything Jason and Caroline have done. They limit enrollment, but if you’ve checked it out and want in, this link will get you in: WanderingAimfully.com*.
The price tag on WAIM may seem like a big investment, but when you consider everything included (click here and scroll down past the coaching pitch to see the list), it’s a steal. I’ve only been a member since May 2019, but as of June 2019, I’ve already:
👉🏻 Saved myself $470 per month (Introduction to Build Without Burnout course; Get Out of Debt Roadmap)
👉🏻 Selected my “Product Pony”: the digital product I want to create (Build Without Burnout week three)
👉🏻 Learned Caroline’s method of building an online course and gotten an introduction to using Teachery (Build Your First E-Course)
👉🏻 Learned how not to be perfect and just write (The Imperfect Writer course)
👉🏻 Explored my “ingredients” to make money rather than just get paid (Make Money Making course)
And there’s so much more to discover! I was in a tough financial spot when I joined, but it was one of the best decisions (along with joining B-School) that I’ve ever made.
The links marked with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. If you click through the link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you, I get a small commission. I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. I’m also a WAIM Affiliate, so I’ll earn a commission for every signup through my links. These commissions/fees help me keep my website up and running, so thank you!