It’s been a while.
In my defence, I’ve had my first short story published in an anthology (Spring Paths) and published my own collection of paranormal short stories (A Supernatural Shindig) in the past month (see my Books section to buy!). I’ve also finalized a contract with my publisher that will hopefully see Moved to Murder out in the world in the middle of next year.
So things have been moving right along.
But as I’ve done all these things, I’ve been honing my skills as a writer and publisher, and I wanted to take a moment to share some of the tools that I’ve found helpful along the way.
For formatting: Atticus has been a wonderful tool for formatting both my novella (the one you get for free if you join my email list) and for Shindig. It’s easy to use, has pretty good support, and isn’t unreasonably priced (I think it was $149 for a lifetime subscription). I’d definitely buy it again, especially once I found the search and replace functionality that will allow me to write within the tool (although you can also upload Word files, of course).
For images: So much here, and most of it is free. Unsplash provides me with marvelous images for use on my website ( kudos to Elaina Rouame for the one on this post) and Fotor allows me to edit them to the size I need. Canva was invaluable in creating the book cover for Shindig, and Bookbrush is a wonderful tool for taking cover art and making it into ads. All of these tools have paid options which give you more functionality, and I may end up getting those if my design career progresses, but it’s lovely that they let you do so much for free.
For the website: The options here were mind boggling. Mostly I asked friends what they used, and ended up going with GoDaddy for the URL and Hostinger for hosting. I purchased both of them for multiple years to save money (and to prove to everyone that I’m serious about this writing gig!). I haven’t had trouble with either yet, but I did back up any recommendations with lots of online research. Hostinger came with WordPress embedded, and that has been a challenge. WordPress editing tools still have a ways to go. I used Astra as my theme after trying a couple of others which didn’t give me the flexibility I wanted. I have used lots of very expensive web editing tools as part of my career, and I now understand why they charge so much to provide something that is more intuitive to use.
For publishing: Well, Amazon is king, queen, and all the dukes as well. You’d have a very hard time if you didn’t use them, and their publishing process is quite easy (and you can’t beat free!). So yes, that has been my starting point to get going, but I still plan to take Shingdig to IngramSparks after my 90 days of Kindle Unlimited is done (because you can’t publish anywhere else while it’s in there). The latter will allow me to publish in all the other outlets, and also offer my books to libraries and bookstores, if I so desire. The fact that bookstores want you to pay to send all your books back if they don’t sell is a bit daunting, though.
For marketing: My publisher is going to help a bit with my murder mystery, but as the first two books mentioned have been about getting my feet wet, I’m sticking to Facebook and Instagram for the moment, along with this website. I may see if I can get some people to blog or review Shindig as my next challenge, so we’ll see how that goes! If you do buy the book, you can all help out by leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads, it really can push the book up the rankings and help others find it.
So that’s my round-up. I’ve spent the last year reviewing and selecting tools, almost as much as writing, and I’m looking forward to getting back to the writing part as I continue to work on the second book of the Vivien Brandt series (because everyone says you have to follow up quickly!). If any of you think you have a book in you that you want to publish, I’m happy to provide more details about the tools!