If you are an indie author like me, you are looking for ways to stretch your pennies and do more with less. I’ve discovered that there’s a TON of tools out there for writers and authors but some of them cost a bundle or they don’t deliver on what they promised. The good news is there are also TONS of FREE tools available online that are cheap (hence the word FREE) and they are amazingly awesome (they deliver and then some).
Some of these you may have heard of and some may be new to you but they are all worth taking a look at and possibly adding to your treasure chest of tools:
1. Grammar-monster.com (www.grammar-monster.com)
A great resource for all things grammar. Easy navigation makes it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for, and you can test your knowledge with quick grammar test. Love this site to find fast answers to questions like, “Are dangling modifiers okay?”
2. Vocabulary Builder on Paperrater (www.paperrater.com/vocab-builder)
Gives you random words, their meaning, and within context. You get several sentences using the word so you can make better associations with how to truly use the word.
3. Guide to Grammar and Writing (www.grammar.ccc.commnet.edu)
This site not only includes grammar rules but also includes those basic English 101 tips that some of us forget. Gems like thesis statements, the five paragraph essay, and paragraph development are included in the free reference site. You can spend a few hours on this site quickly brushing up on the basics, which will help your writing immensely.
4. Writer’s Knowledge Base (www.hiveword.com/wkb/search)
A searchable collection of articles that are highly relevant to writers. In fact, it’s called the search engine for writers. The articles are diverse and cover such topics as the craft of writing, getting published, promotion, etc. More accurate than Google if you’re trying to find articles on to find an article on POV, internal conflict, scene structure, or dialogue.
4. Bartelby.com (www.bartleby.com/)
One of the largest online collections of classic literature, nonfiction, and reference books. If you’re looking for a famous soliloquy by Shakepeare, an epic poem by Milton, or a major work by Locke on education, you’ll find it here.
5. List of Academic Search Engines (wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_academic_databases_and_search_engines)
While Wikipedia is great, you sometimes need to do “hard” research. That means digging deeper than Google. This is a list of search engines used in academia (okay, it’s put together by Wikipedia but still better than 10 second search and results). This list includes major databases and search engines useful in an academic setting for finding and accessing articles in academic journals, or in repositories, archives, or other collections of scientific and other articles.
For Self Publishing
6. Create Space (www.createspace.com)
Still one of the best options for self published authors. The tools provided help guide you through the formatting and creation of your printed book. Amazon offers free distribution channels and gives you a quick look at royalties based on your selling price. You can proof your book online without having to order a printed proof too.
7. Kindle Direct Publishing (www.kdp.amazon.com)
Again, Amazon makes it easy and free for authors to publish their books to the Kindle. Keep in mind this is Kindle format only, not formatted for the Nook or any other eReader. They say it will be available on many devices but Kindle does not support the EPUB format supported by other eReaders.
8. Smashwords (www.smashwords.com)
Similar to KDP but doesn’t have as sophisticated tools to help walk you through the creation process. The beauty of Smashwords is it will publish your book in ANY ebook format (Kindle, iPad, Nook, iPhone, Sony Reader, Kobo, etc). You want to publish on BOTH KDP and Smashwords to make your ebook available to as many people as possible.
For Engaging with Readers
9. Goodreads.com (www.goodreads.com) On GoodReads authors can connect directly with their readers. Not only can you see who is reading your book, you can also see where your work ranks among the thousands of books within GoodReads’ database.
10. LibraryThing (www.librarything.com)
An online service to help people catalog their books easily which also offers authors to list the books they’ve written and create an author profile for readers to easily find. They don’t allow egregious selling but it is another place to find readers.
11. BookTrib.com (www.booktrib.com)
A full service portal dedicated to bringing all the news, blog, sites, and information about books, writers, and readers. The site calls itself “the first and only book-o-sphere” and states that if it’s getting blogged about or reported on it’s all on this site. Good place for self published authors to get the word out on their books.
12. Book Matchers (www.bookmatchers.com)
The premise is readers type in keywords for the genre they are interested in and the site will bring up suggestions. Authors get the chance to get their books into the hands of new readers who may not have heard of them. This service is intended to be free to both the Reader and the Author. Very cool concept.
What tools do you use? Care to share with us in the comments below? I’d love to hear from you.
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