I was talking with another new author recently and we got on to the topic of what we use in writing our books. So here’s a breakdown of my writing resources, for anyone curious about the process.
My most important writing resources are my imagination… after all, it creates the stories! Followed second in importance by the patrons that support me, paying as little as $1 for advance access to everything I write, and third is the thousands of beta readers that read the rough second drafts on the free sites and provide invaluable feedback!
Second drafts? Yup, as Terry Pratchett says, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.“
Here’s all the technical nitty gritty…
Being an IT guy, I started off using Microsoft Word for writing my book. Then I learned about Scrivener and have never looked back since. It’s just so much better for writing, planning, character development, name generation, compiling and, well, pretty much everything that relates to writing a book! Plus it’s a fraction of the cost!
My main computer is an old iMac, although I also have Windows and Linux computers in my house… hey I’m still an IT guy at heart. The decision to buy an older used iMac was so I could use the original, tried and true Scrivener program. Literature & Latte do have a Windows version, but it’s been in a perpetual beta test for years (I hear they’re finally at the RC or Release Candidate stage).
A big bonus is that Scrivener also works on my iPhone and iPad and they all synchronize via Dropbox. Believe it or not, most of my book is written on my iPhone and iPad, whenever I get a few minutes of free time. I do use the computer for writing as well, but it’s main purpose is editing and compiling. My backups go to iCloud and other cloud storage services.
For grammar checking small snippets, I use GrammarChecker.io, but my primary grammar checker is Pro Writing Aid, because it can work directly with my Scrivener files.
For my Book Covers, I use SelfPubBookCovers.com, they’ve been great and even when I need a cover customized they’ve put me in touch with the original creator and they will give me a quote for the modifications I’ve requested.
For my stunning book advertisements, I use BookBrush.com. They make it easy to create awesome advertisements for pretty much any social platform or application.
For my website, I host with my own hosting company, Hosting Hero (a play on my old Computer Hero IT company) using the Managed WordPress plans. Then for my theme I use Divi from Elegant Themes, a truly customizable page builder for WordPress. For wikis and resources for each of my series, I register the domain names through my hosting company and then redirect them to the social wiki’s I’ve created on Fandom.com.
For all my graphic needs I use 123RF Stock Photography for the major graphics and use Gimp to edit them and if I have to make maps I use either Inkarnate or Wonderdraft.
I’m a member of several writers groups and quite often you’ll see people asking, “What about posting the story on the free websites?”, and most authors will laugh the person out of there citing, “That’s crazy talk!”
Those are either authors who already have a huge following, or are hobby authors that haven’t done their homework. It’s pretty easy to get a copyright, plus you can join your local writer’s guild and get all sorts of advice to protect your work.
Now here’s why I choose to publish on the free sites.
1. It builds audience!
If it’s a good story, readers will want a copy of it. Plus the books are usually a lot more heavily edited and refined than the online version they’ve read.
With an audience and followers, you have easy access to people that already like your story, so it’s easy to get user reviews. If a published book doesn’t have reader reviews, it often gets shuffled to the bottom of the search results.
Having an available audience, you can give them a discount code to use to buy the book for free or cheap, in exchange for a review! Reviews are gold!
2. Make a couple of bucks!
It’s called anticipation! If a story is really good, people don’t mind spending a couple bucks to have the latest chapter… especially if it’s a well written story. I’ve no doubt some authors actually make more money with their Patreon following than they do from their actual book sales.
Many writers and artists have a Patreon page these days so fans of their work can support the creator. Most people don’t mind spending a buck or two to support their source of entertainment, readers know that the words don’t just appear, it takes a lot of time and thoughtful contemplation to write something and have it make sense and still relate to the rest of the story or even foreshadow something that will happen in future chapters. It’s like having a backstage pass to the creation.
On my Patreon page, patrons can pay as little as $1 PER CHAPTER to get advance access to my scrivenings.
$1 is something that everyone can afford, and it’s not like I sit at home writing for hours each day and pumping out 5 chapters per month! Often it’s simply 1 chapter per month, maybe 2 if I get on a roll!
By charging per chapter, rather than per month, you don’t get charged without getting something tangible in return!
3. Free Editors and Guinea Pigs!
Many of the people reading on those free sites, do actually appreciate that they’re getting something for free, especially if you’re giving them a great story, and they try to be helpful.
Many readers act as free editors. They will point out glaring plot holes, spelling and grammatical mistakes and stuff like that. Plus it’s quick and easy to make edits for future readers… they see a more refined story and give the chapter a good vote! The higher your vote count and ratings, the more readers you get. See #1!
I know that sounds weird, but with most free sites, there’s always assholes who seem to just enjoy trying to stir up shit! I’ve gotten some pretty scathing emails from readers.
While 99% of the time their criticism is baseless and non-constructive… everybody is entitled to their opinions! Criticism makes your skin tougher and acts like a reality check. If it’s all sunshine and roses, that’s the same as getting a participation award just for showing up, it breeds laziness and entitlement, which is a big part of the reason why the world is in the sad state it is!