I thought that it might be helpful to put together a guide to some of the resources that I used when I wrote, edited, designed, and promoted my novel (Aidan’s Shadow). Some of the tools were pretty obvious, but I wish that I’d known this information before I started writing my full-length novel. That knowledge would’ve saved me a good deal of time. I’ve included associate links for people interested in checking out these tools.
1: My Macbook
My MacBook was the most important resource that I used when writing, editing, and promoting my novel. I guess that I understand the hipster/ purist appeal of typewriters, but I make way too many typos for that. Spellcheck is one of my best friends. I outlined my novel on notebook paper, but I used my MacBook to write and edit most of my 187,000-word novel. Obviously, other computers can handle word processing, cover design, and the other elements of writing and self-publishing a novel. However, I love my Mac, and it worked really well for me. I’ve been using the same Macbook pro for the last 7+ years, and it hasn’t failed me yet.
It might sound silly, but my Samsung Galaxy S7 helped me to overcome my writer’s block. I type pretty quickly, but my thoughts flowed more freely when I was just speaking out loud. This was especially useful when I went for walks with my dog. I dictated large portions of my novel while walking around my neighborhood. I love my Samsung, and its ability to detect my speech. Other devices can also handle dictation. I just recommend that writers try to alternate their approach when trying to reach those word quota goals.
I use Photoshop to design the titles art for some of the pages and articles on my website. My sister Tara also created the current cover for Aidan’s Shadow with my version of Photoshop. I’m not a graphic designer, but I’ve picked up the basics. PS is an essential tool for self-published authors who don’t want to outsource their cover design and website curation.
I had to experiment with several word processing applications on my phone. I didn’t just dictate everything into text messages. The Google Docs app was too laggy and slow for dictation, but the OneNote app worked well. I largely edited my novel in Word on my computer. I usually transferred the OneNote drafts into my Google Docs and then moved those drafts into Word. It can sync to a computer version of the program for people who don’t want to use Google Docs. OneNote doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but I like the simplicity. It was responsive and fast enough for my needs.
Microsoft Word and Excel were some of the most important software that I used when writing Aidan’s Shadow. I’ve been using Word for school since I was in elementary school. I’m comfortable and familiar with it. There are other word processing programs with special features for creative writing, but word is reliable and versatile. I used Excel to track my word count. Having a quota/ goal was essential.
Kindle Create is s a free tool from Amazon that converts word processing files (e.g., .doc, .docx, etc.) into Kindle’s proprietary format. It lacks a spellcheck, but it has some nice formatting tools. Because it cannot export your changes into a word or PDF file, I do not recommend making any edits to the content of your manuscript in Kindle Create itself. I would just use it for final formatting, packaging, previewing, and uploading.
5: Google Docs
Google Docs and Google Drive are great tools for viewing, sharing, and creating backups of my manuscript. My computer never crashed, but the idea of losing months of work to a spilled cup of coffee was always in the back of my mind. I made copies on a flash drive, but I also wanted cloud backup. Through Google Docs link sharing, I exchanged copies of my manuscript with my editing and feedback team (mainly my mom and one of my brothers).
Thanks for checking out this guide. I plan to make a few more guides to content creation and website design.