5 Tools Every Indie Author Should Use

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5 Tools Indie Authors Should UseWhen I first started using social media, confusion quickly set it.

I read a lot of blog posts and tried every application I learned about. I signed up for more than I needed and registered for apps before they were even available. Some that come to mind are Strawberry Jam and BrandBuilder and its precursor, none of which exist today. I tried out SocialBro, and it doesn’t exist today either.

In fact, sometimes I write about apps, and six months later, well, they’re kaput! It’s an embarrassing at times and can get frustrating.

There are some applications that I know aren’t going to abandon me, and so today I am taking the risk of suggesting that there are five tools that indie authors can’t be without.

Ready to see which ones they are?

5 Must-Have Tools for Indie Authors

Social Media Dashboards

If you’re going to use social media and you want to be efficient, you need to start using a social media dashboard. There’s no way you can post to Twitter three to five times daily – or more often – unless you use a social media dashboard. Otherwise, you will be glued to your seat with your eyes on your social media accounts instead of writing your books.

Here are four dashboards that I recommend.


Buffer is another popular choice. You can use Buffer for free. If you’d like to schedule images to Pinterest, you’ll need the Awesome plan, which is $102/year. What’s fun about Buffer is its integration with other social media applications, such as its curation app, Daily. Buffer is one of the easiest scheduling programs available.


People new to social media tend to start with the free version of Hootsuite. It’s easy to set up and will allow you to post to Facebook, LinkedIn and LinkedIn groups, Twitter, your Google+ page, and Instagram. You can set up your feeds and use Hootsuite to keep in touch with your friends, fans, and followers by aggregating your social media news feeds on this application. What this means is that you can navigate to Hootsuite to see all of your friends’ and followers’ posts in one place. The paid version provides analytics.


With this free Twitter application, you don’t have to be on the Internet to check your account. Once you download it to your desktop, you can check your Twitter account and respond to Mentions, Direct Messages, and Retweets as they arrive. It’s an easy tool to set up and use, but it allows scheduling only to Twitter.


An application designed just for Facebook, PostPlanner enables you to schedule your status updates. This application will show you the newest content trending in your niche, help you target your readers, and provide you with real-time analytics. It also has a cache of thousands of updates that you can select from on those days when you absolutely can’t think of anything to say. Depending on the payment plan you choose, you can post images to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Book Sharing Application

The best book sharing application and the one that I use is BookFunnel. You would use BookFunnel whenever you offer a free book or free chapters as a giveaway to your email subscribers.

Or you can use BookFunnel when contacting your launch team and providing a free link to your newest book.

BookFunnel costs just $20/year. It’s best if you convert your book to a Mobi, epub, and PDF. You can use Google Docs to create your epub, but you’ll need to use Draft2Digital or hire an ebook professional to convert your Word doc to a Mobi.

Maintain an Email List

The email list provider that I rely on is MailChimp. MailChimp provides a free plan to start. Once you accumulate 2,000 subscribers, you’ll need to convert to a paid plan.

[clickToTweet tweet=”All indie authors should maintain an email list via @CaballoFrances” quote=”All indie authors should maintain an email list”]

To learn how to use MailChimp, read this post I wrote last week, How to Get Going with MailChimp and Email Marketing.

MailChimp is a popular plan among email marketers and provides email-based tech support once you convert your plan to a paid plan.

Unfollow those Twitter Unfollowers

Once you start following users on Twitter, you’ll quickly realize that not everyone will want to follow you back. You need to use an app to flush out the “unfollowers” as well as the spam, bot, and fraud accounts. Here are some apps that can help you with these tasks.


Use this application to find new followers, unfollow spam accounts and bots you hadn’t suspected, and unfollow those users who simply aren’t following you back. You can also use this application to send a tweet at the times of the day when ManageFlitter determines most of your followers will be online. You can also whitelist individuals users so that you never accidentally unfollow them. Also, you can whitelist entire lists you create.


Tweepi will let you unfollow as many people as you’d like. Use Tweepi to follow someone else’s followers, find followers by interest or name, unfollow spammers, clean up inactive lists, and force unwanted followers to unfollow you.

Image Tools

What would social media be like without images? To support your giveaways online and to share quotes from your books, you’ll need an image application. Here are two that I suggest.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Canva and PicMonkey are my go-to image creation tools via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Canva and PicMonkey are my go-to image creation tools “]


Canva is a free application. Sign up with an email and password, and select the correct templates or banner images, headers, posts, blog images, Tumblr images, etc. Canva’s templates will already have the dimensions, so there’s no need to memorize them or look them up.

On Canva, you can select a template, search for appropriate images, upload the covers of your books, add the perfect background color to match your brand, and find your favorite font. There are numerous free templates on this website, and Canva is amazingly easy to use. You can even make your book cover for free.

To learn more about Canva, check out its free tutorials.


With PicMonkey, you can edit a picture, touch up an image, create a design, and create a collage of visuals. PicMonkey now has templates, which you’ll find at https://www.picmonkey.com/#templates. Similar to Canva, you can make a selection from PicMonkey’s list of fonts. The fee for PicMonkey is $35/year.

TinyPng or Compressor

If you use an application such as Canva or PicMonkey to create images for your blog, you’ll soon see the load time for your blog posts slow to a crawl.

The problem is that images created with these apps are notoriously large. With either TinyPng or Compressor, you can reduce the bytes in your visuals without tampering with the dimensions. So whenever you use Canva or PicMonkey, don’t forget to use TinyPng or Compressor before adding those visuals to your next blog post.

Which tools do you rely on as an author?


Frances CaballoThe author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including The Author’s Guide to Goodreads and Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

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  1. Thanks for this article, Frances. As always, I learn so much. Especially using BookFunnel for giveaways, and Tweepi for Twitter housecleaning.
    Ironically, I just signed up for Mailchimp this morning, but I am already seeing that I may need to hire an Excel spreadsheet expert to do my importing for me. I have neither the time nor inclination to learn excel (Wow, how I suck at it, much to my surprise and dismay) so I have to decide when the right time is to hand over some of the work…and that time is now!

    • Leslie: I’m so glad you liked the post. Tweeps has been around a long time and it’s still great. Glad you’re enjoying it. It’s always good to recognize our limitations and get help for projects that would be too time-consuming for us to handle them. Kudos to you for knowing when to make that distinction.

  2. Hi Frances – useful roundup! A question – how do you add Google + and Linked In on the free version of Hootsuite? When I try to add them, it tells me I need to upgrade to the paid version.

    • I believe that on the free version, Hootsuite limits the number of networks you can add. However, LinkedIn should be on the free list. I believe that Hootsuite can only post to a Google+ page, not a profile. To add LinkedIn, click “add social network,” make sure that you’re logged into your LinkedIn account, and select LinkedIn profile from the popup that appears. Hope this helps!

      • Hi Frances
        That’s what I did – and when I tried to add Linked In, it asked me to upgrade to the paid version.
        I’ve previously tried adding G+ and it wouldn’t let me do that either, but I didn’t try linking it to a G+ page, I used my profile. I hadn’t considered it might prefer a profile, so I’ll check that out.

        Do you think the problem is the number of networks? I’ve already got Facebook and Twitter added. Perhaps it doesn’t want more than 2 networks?

        • I know the free account allows more than two networks. It must be some glitch. If I were you, I’d contact Hootsuite to let them know about the problem you’re having. Good luck!

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