During the Fall Nonfiction Writers Conference held last week, I was inspired by Fauzia Burke’s presentation covering her favorite digital tools. I decided to put together my own list of tools that I know our community of nonfiction authors can use. They are listed below in no particular order. Some are free, some are fee-based, yet all make my business life better!
123rf – This is a massive database of images that you can purchase and use for book covers, PowerPoint presentations, and in your blog. It is imperative that you get permission for any and all images you use professionally so buying images from 123rf ensures you’re following the guidelines and avoiding potentially hefty fines. I’ll add that if you’re seeking free images, Pixabay.com is a good choice.
Acuity Scheduling – This is an excellent scheduling tool that you can use if you want to give clients or prospects a way to book time with you online. It even integrates with payment processors if you charge for appointments.
Google Analytics – When you’re building your online platform, it will be hard to tell if your efforts are working if you don’t track the results. Google Analytics is a free tool you can install on your website and it will give you a tremendous amount of data related to your website traffic, how visitors locate your site, what keywords they use, and which web pages are most popular.
Google Forms, Google Sheets, Google Docs – If you’re not yet taking advantage of all the free tools offered by Google, you may want to reconsider. Google Forms allows you to easily create fillable online forms. Google Sheets is a spreadsheet program that is compatible with Microsoft Excel, and Google Docs is a word processor on par with Microsoft Word.
Google Image Search – While we’re talking about Google, you should know about its free image search feature. This is handy if you’re trying to locate the copyright owner of an image you want to use in one of your books, for example. Or looking for the identity of someone in an old family photo. (Or if you’re doing some online dating and want to make sure you’re not chatting with a cat fisher!) Simply go the link above and click on the camera icon to upload an image.
Stamps.com – If you do any kind of shipping on a regular basis, you can go to the US Post Office site and print your own postage. However, their system is tedious and has limited features. I’ve used Stamps.com for over a decade and love it because it makes it super easy to paste mailing addresses into the screen, plus it offers media mail (an inexpensive rate for shipping books) and recently added options for shipping with UPS, which can be competitive when shipping heavier items. You can also print postage on regular paper from a printer, though I recommend investing in a thermal printer since it makes life much easier. Also note that you can get free envelopes, boxes, and other shipping supplies from the USPS—and even schedule them to pick up your outgoing packages.
Upwork and Fiverr – Upwork is a massive directory of freelance talent based all around the globe. From graphic and web design to custom coding and other specialties, this is a great place to hire contractors. Fiverr is an inexpensive freelance directory, based on the premise of paying $5 for various tasks. I love this site for simple graphic design, such as getting social media headers designed or having someone create a digital caricature of you.
PS Print – Need business cards, bookmarks, postcards, fold-over booklets or banners printed? I’ve found that PS Print has some of the best pricing around and orders are always delivered quickly.
Print Globe – For promotional items like custom printed pens, water bottles, and tote bags, we at the Nonfiction Authors Association use and recommend Print Globe.
Uber Buttons – Want to print pin-on buttons to distribute at an event for a fun promotion? You will appreciate the great prices and free shipping offered here.
Book Review Targeter – If you want to research book reviewers for competing titles on Amazon so that you can reach out and offer review copies of your book, this service makes the process easy!
Trello – This is one of my favorite tools for creating and managing projects in a visual way. Trello is useful if you work on your own or if you collaborate with a team or clients. You can try it out for free.
Rev – Need to have podcast episodes or dictated recordings transcribed? This service gives a variety of options and turns around the work quickly.
Alarmed (app) – Of all the apps on my iPhone, I rely on Alarmed for all kinds of notes, reminders, and tasks. For example, when I realize I need to schedule a doctor’s appointment, I’ll set a reminder for when I have some free time to do so. I kept forgetting to take my daily vitamins, so I set a reminder that nudges me every day. I even set a reminder to pick up my kid at school because I have a tendency to get caught up projects and have been late a few times. (oops!)
Recommended Resources – This directory is hosted by the Nonfiction Authors Association and it’s one of the most popular features on our site. You will find all kinds of resources including editors, book coaches, book designers, virtual author’s assistants, book printers, and much more. You will find lots of value here!
I hope you found a few resources here that will be helpful in your own author business. Have some favorites of your own? We’d love to see your recommendations in the comments below!
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