10 Great Resources Writers Need to Know

10 Great Resources Writers Need to Know

Here is a  list of resources for writers that I love and that I believe will make your lives easier. Some will save you money and others will help you to polish your books.

So let’s get’s started with my list of 10 great resources writers need to know about and in some cases start using today.

Make Banners and Images for Pinterest & Social Media

Canva

Have you ever experienced Facebook banner envy? You know, those beautiful Timeline banners that some people pay a great deal of money to graphic designers to create?

Guess what? Canva, a free application, is a tool you can use to create Facebook banners, Twitter headers, cards business cards, photo cards, other image-based messaging, and even book covers. It’s an easy, intuitive tool to use.

Here are a few samples of items I recently created with Canva. First, here’s my Facebook banner.


10 Great Resources Writers Need to Know

Here’s a promotional image I made for an upcoming promotional sale of my book.

I created this image for a client.

I also made this book cover on Canva.

Canva offers free and fee-based templates and images for book covers. See this sample.

Canva book templates

 

Find Canva’s book cover templates and image on this page.

Canva features some images that you can purchase for $1 or you can upload your own. Many of the images and features are free of charge.

PicMonkey

I’ve used PicMonkey to resize and crop photos. But recently I wanted to create some images for Pinterest so I upgraded to the paid plan, about $7.99/month or $71.88/year for the basic plan. Here are a couple of examples of my creations.

Write a Book That Inspires You

And here’s a holiday collage for Pinterest I created just for fun.

Holiday Collage

Once you create and save the images, you can share them directly to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, or Tumblr as well as send them via email to a colleague. You can also use this tool to create Facebook covers or perhaps a collage of some of the books you’ve written. You can also upload your own images.

Pablo

Pablo is a great little application from the people at Buffer, which is a scheduling tool. Anyway, Pablo is perhaps the easiest image app on the internet.

When you navigate to Pablo, you’ll see a column of free (yes free!) images. Just select the image you want to use, enter the text, select the size, and the contrast and your set.

Pablo

Here’s a simple image I made using Pablo.

What’s great is that once you create an image, you can schedule it to Buffer in one easy step.

Pixabay

Pixabay is my go-to place for copyright free images. When you need pictures for your blog or to use as a background for a quote, this is the place to go.

Images are free and in nearly every conceivable topic area. Upload your own images as you sign up for hassle-free downloads. You’ll love this site.

Social Media Scheduling App

SocialOomph

I’ve been using this social media scheduler for years and love it. It’s only practical for LinkedIn and Twitter so if you want to also schedule to Facebook (bad idea because Facebook downgrades scheduled posts in the newsfeed), or Pinterest or Instagram, then use Pinterest.

But with SocialOomph, you can schedule posts, set a recurring update so the post can reappear, have access to analytics, monitor interest channels, and see your feed without going to Twitter, this is the app for you.

As a backup, I recommend Buffer. It’s super easy to set up and use and the customer service is awesome. (The customer service at Social Oomph is great too.)

DIY Tools for Designing Your Next Book

DIY Book Covers

After writing your book you need a great cover. You can hire a designer or you can try to create a cover yourself.

Self-published authors on a tight budget might want to try a DIY tool. Cover designer Derek Murphy of CreativIndie Covers has put together a package of book cover design templates.

Although it sounds like an unlikely pairing, the templates look clean and professional, not only for simple non-fiction covers, but also for all types of fiction. If you’re familiar with using MS Word, customizing the templates to make them unique shouldn’t be difficult.

There’s even a tool on this website to help you make a 3D mockup of your book.

Endorsed by Matt Stone, Pat Flynn, and Joanna Penn, this tool is the real deal.

Book Design Templates and More

Joel FriedlanderAre you tired of paying the high cost of a graphic designer for the layout of your book? Joel Friedlander’s Book Design Templates let Indie authors quickly and easily create the interior layout of their books. There are templates for fiction, memoir, narrative non-fiction, reference, and technical and non-fiction books. In addition, there are templates for children’s books and more.

Plus, Joel offers templates for book covers, and toolkits for blogging, social media, public relations, book launches, and self-publishing on Amazon. Here’s the link to all of his other toolkits, including mine.  😎

Joel is a book designer so self-published authors can trust that the templates carefully balance typographic beauty with ease of reading.

Although I haven’t yet used the template I purchased, a colleague has and she said the process was easy. If you need help, Joel’s team will upload your book into your purchased template. Finally, each template comes with different kinds of interior pages, section breaks, running heads, and page numbers.

These templates will save writers money and help them to produce books that appear professionally designed.

By the way, self-published authors should all become acquainted with Joel’s blog, The Book Designer. You will learn everything you need to know about self-publishing, social media, book covers, and book marketing by reading his posts.

Every Author Needs an Editor

Jordan E. Rosenfeld

Jordan

Jordan says that she has a simple philosophy in her editing, coaching and teaching: “Practice. Polish. Persist.”

She advises, “Make your writing life into an ongoing, deep writing practice that can survive the test of time, discouragement and change. Never stop trying to become better and polish your work, learn new things, take classes and feed both your muse and your craft. But what will set you apart is your persistence. Don’t give up. If you need help with any of these things, I’m here to help you.”

Jordan brings an editor’s attention to both the micro and macro aspects of your fiction project, but she also brings a writer’s ear—having been writing and publishing for two decades (author of the novels Forged in Grace and Women in Red and the writing guides Writing the Intimate Character, A Writer’s Guide to PersistenceWriting Deep Scenes, and Make a Scene & Write Free).

She likes to work with fiction writers at all stages—from the seed of an idea, to the final product—and at all levels, whether the writer needs coaching or a final copyedit. She is especially fond of developmental edits and critiques.

Robbi S. Bryant

Robbi S. BryantAnother wonderful and popular editor is Robbi S. Bryant. She says that an editor does a lot more than correcting grammar and sentence structure. “I am a content editor, which means I review everything from grammar to the breakdown of the story—including focus on plot, scene, character arcs, story arcs, pacing, subtext, dialogue, theme, and voice. In other words, I am a developmental editor, a copy editor, and a proofreader.”

As an award-winning author, she has honed her skills. Over the years, her focus has shifted from writing her own work to helping others write theirs.

She offers a free 10-page edit so potential clients can get a feel for her style.

Robbi says that it’s important for a writer to be comfortable with an editor. Trust is essential. She describes herself as a gentle, thoughtful, and light-handed editor. Respect is crucial as is communication.  She says that she offers all this and more.

Her books include a novella, four novels, five short-story collections, and one book of poetry. She has been published in magazines including Readers DigestRedbook, Penthouse, college textbooks, and several anthologies. As editor in chief of the Redwood Writers 2018 anthology, she supervised the creation and publication of Redemption: Stories From the Edge. Her work was also optioned twice for television’s Movie of the Week, and she appeared on TV’s Jane Whitney Show to discuss her article, “A Victim’s Revenge.”

Go Wide with Your Publishing

Draft2Digital

When you’re ready to go wide with publishing your books, Draft2Digital is the best service available to get your book on more venues than just Amazon.

What’s wonderful about Draft2Digital is that authors are in charge and because they’ve been where you are, they know how important it is to provide informative and quick customer service.

There is no fee for using this service. Draft2Digital will take a 10% commission when your books sell. But if you want to price your books at $0 permanently, that’s fine too.

The people behind Draft2Digital are truly cool and supportive. Try them out for yourself.

I hope you enjoyed reviewing my list of resources for writers. I’d love to hear about your favorite resources too!

 

Social Media Just for Writers is now just $1.99!

Social Media Just for Writers 2nd Edition

Well written, well researched – well thought out. This book is a must have!

Ryshia Kennie 

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She wrote several social media books including Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, and finding new readers. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for her free email course.

Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web

Not Sure How to Blog? Follow These 4 Steps

Not Sure How to Blog? Follow These 4 Steps
Blogging. It’s wise for all authors to do it. Are you wondering how to blog? Keep reading.


Authors, who write a lot either as a passion or for a living, often seem stymied when it comes to writing blog posts.

I commonly hear the following comments:

“I said everything in my book.”

“My life isn’t that interesting.”

“I don’t have time.”

Well, as someone once told me, it’s not that we don’t have time; it’s that we let other tasks take priority.

Blogging can be as painful and as rewarding as gardening. Yes, gardening is hard work. You have to dig with your fingers into the recalcitrant dirt, get dirty, take risks with those rose thorns, and suffer the pain of bee sting.

But you can also enjoy fresh tomatoes for your salads, flowers for your vases, and the deep sense of appreciation that you created this marvelous symphony of colors and edibles.

Now you might have heard that fiction authors don’t need to blog. I don’t adhere to that philosophy. I know that blogging signals to Google that you have a dynamic website and offers another opportunity to connect with your readers.

As a fiction author, there are so many options you can pursue. You can review other books regularly or whenever you have the inclination. You can share your marketing tips. You can tell your readers about characters who never made the final edit of your book or share back stories on your main characters.

You can talk about how you got the idea for your latest novel. You can even talk about the death of a pet, your plans to move, explain where you write, and discuss why you write.

And you can do a mix of all of those topics.

Fiction authors have a wide open field of topics to select from. With those many options, why wouldn’t you want to regularly blog?

4-Point How to Blog Blueprint for Authors

Here are my best tips for creating blog posts that will light up your website and generate new traffic.

how to blog

Step One:  Write Your Content

If you’re looking for ideas for your blog, be sure to read this post: 34 Blogging Topics Just for Writers. Here are some additional ideas:

  • When you’re really stuck, use HubSpot’s blog topic generator. Type in a few words and Hubspot will give you several ideas.
  • Read other blog posts. I’m not suggesting that you steal other blogger’s topics, however, I do suggest that you check out who’s writing what and how those posts fair in terms of social shares. Maybe you can take a contrary view or expand on that topic.
  • Use BuzzSumo to see what’s popular.
  • Have you read a post that you don’t agree with? Explain why. I did once and it was so popular that CreateSpace included my post in its newsletter for authors.
  • Check out the types of comments other writers leave in blog posts you read. What questions do they ask? Then write a blog post that answers those questions.
  • What questions or comments do your readers leave on your Facebook page? Answer those in a blog post.
  • What questions do your readers ask in your blog comments?
  • Subscribe to a lot of blogs and read them. Yes, this will help you to generate topics.
  • Conduct a survey. I’ve done this and then used the survey responses as my editorial calendar.
  • When all else fails, go for a walk. That tactic always helps me.

how to blog

Step Two: Create Your Visuals

Once you write and upload your new post to your website, your next job is to create your visuals.

Here’s what I do. Using Canva, I take a shortcut by sizing the image of the top of my post using Twitter’s dimensions because those dimensions also work for Facebook.

Then I create a larger visual for Pinterest.

There are many types of visuals you can insert into your blog posts:

  1. Photos
  2. Infographics
  3. Graphic illustrations
  4. Videos
  5. Screenshots

Visuals improve your SEO (search engine optimization) because they become another way to add your keyword to your post. It’s also a fact that color images improve the reading of your post and multiple images keep people reading.

Also, when you share your post on social media, your visual will automatically be picked up and shared along with your headline and link. Updates are social media attract more readers and shares increase when you include an image.

Face it: creating your visuals are as important as writing your blog post.

Step Three: Determine Your Best Headline

Headlines are critical. They have to deliver a punch, attract a reader’s attention, and pique curiosity in your social media followers.

You want a headline that rocks. But don’t start your new post by writing a headline. The best time to write a headline is after you’ve finished the entire post and figured out your keywords.

Write a blog headline that rocks via @CaballoFrancesClick To Tweet

It’s also important to test your headline using an analyzer. There are various free tools on the internet to use but the one I like best also measures the emotional impact of your headline. Here’s the link for Advanced Marketing Institute’s headline analyzer.

how to blog

Step Four: Promote Your New Posts with Social Media

I use a cool social share plugin called Social Warfare. On the text side of my blog, Social Warfare enables me to upload the images I want to use on social media, including Pinterest.

Here’s an example of what Social Warfare looks like when it’s in use on my website.

Social Warfare plugin example by Frances Caballo

As you can see above, I also have the options to write my Pinterest description, social media description and exact tweet. So whenever someone shares my post using my social share icons, the images and messages I’ve prepared appeared automatically.

In addition to using Social Warfare, I use the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. This plugin allows me to set up Twitter cards. A Twitter card is the image that accompanies the tweet.

So there you have it, my four steps to perfect author blogging.

Blogging Just For Writers by Frances Caballo

A terrific and practical book for writers who want and/or need to blog. Ms Caballo knows her stuff. Her suggestions are sensible, doable and down to earth. Loved it. ~~ Vicki Stiefel 

 

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s has written for  TheBookDesigner.com, Jane Friedman, Joanna Penn, BookWorks, and other blogs. Frances wrote several social media books including Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, and finding new readers. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for her free email course.

Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web

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Indie Author Weekly Update – June 16, 2018

Indie Author Weekly Update

Welcome to the Indie Author Weekly Update. This week’s update covers it all from book marketing to pen names to Instagram and more. They are all great posts!

This is how to market books under a pen name by Belinda Griffin: “Think it’s not possible to market your books if you’re writing under a pen name? Think again. I received an email this week from a reader who is feeling confused about how to start marketing her books as she writes under a pen name and hasn’t shared her writing endeavours with her friends or family. And I spoke to another author recently who is terrified of marketing her books (written under a pen name) in case anyone discovers her true identity and reveals her author career to her abusive ex. Each of these writers are using pen names for different reasons but both feel their writing will be doomed to obscurity as a result. I say absolutely not!”

14 Amazingly Free Stock Photo Websites [Infographic] by Mark Walker Ford: “Images play a key role in content marketing, and can help your posts stand out in busy social feeds. But it can be time-consuming to take your own photos, and you may not have the skills to compose compelling images. That’s where stock photo sites come in. Using stock photos, you can ensure your posts always have great visual elements. But they can also be expensive. Unless you know where to look.  In the infographic below, we share 14 free stock image websites which you can search and use in your content.”

4 Ways Your Brand Should Be Using Instagram Collections from Hootsuite: “800 million people discover, share, and engage with content on Instagram. So, it makes sense that the platform would release a feature that allows users to save and organize the content they want to return to—Instagram collections. With this feature, users can privately bookmark Instagram posts and group them into as many collections as they want. Find out how to use Instagram collections below, plus four ways brands can use this “save it for later” tool as part of their Instagram strategy.”

Dark Inklings: Twitter for Dark Fiction Writers by Shadow Leitner: “I shied away from Twitter for the longest time. It was noisy and I always found myself stuck in a time continuum there. I’d wake up groggy and wondering if I hadn’t been abducted by aliens. While there is still a lot of static and it can suck my time like a vacuum set on turbo, I’ve recently begun to embrace this platform.”

10 SEO Tips to Increase Google Rankings & Traffic [Infographic] by Mark Walker Ford: “Are you looking for ways to increase the number of visitors to your business website? Want to know how to improve your rankings on Google? Express Writers share their SEO tips for success in this infographic.”

6 book marketing lessons from the big guys by Sandra Beckwith: “Sometimes, you can find book marketing lessons in unexpected places.  The Goodreads blog recently published a detailed case study about how Celeste Ng’s second book became a best-seller. “Case Study: How Penguin Press Made ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ a Roaring Success” outlines the publisher’s marketing support, which includes Goodreads activity. It would be easy to dismiss this article as irrelevant to you and me and most other authors. The vast majority of novelists – regardless of the publishing model used – simply aren’t enjoying Ng’s success.”

Quote of the Week

“Things are pretty, graceful, rich, elegant, handsome, but, until they speak to the imagination, not yet beautiful.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Social Media Just for Writers 2nd Edition

Whether you’re setting up your social media for the first time or wanting to take it to the next level, get the newest edition of Social Media Just for Writers.


I would not limit this book to the audience of only writers, it’s a great resource for anyone that wants to take full advantage of the online platforms available. Janet Kinsella

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com. Frances wrote several social media books including Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, and finding new readers. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for her free email course.

Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web

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Indie Author Weekly Update – May 18, 2018

Indie Author Weekly Update

Welcome to this week’s Indie Author Update. Be sure to read Sandra Beckwith’s post on Goodreads and how to create pre-launch buzz for your book by Rachel Thompson. And as always, enjoy your Friday and the weekend!

How to interact with readers on Goodreads by Sandra Beckwith: ““I can’t figure out Goodreads!” It’s a common author lament. While Goodreads is a social network of sorts, the site for book lovers doesn’t look, feel, or operate like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms you might use. It’s so different, in fact, that many authors simply ignore it because doing that is easier than spending the time required to understand the site and how to use it.”

Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing: Eldonna Edwards Weighs the Pros and Cons by Anne R. Allen: “I’d been writing a novel off-and-on for over a decade when life threw me one of those cosmic curveballs that sent me careening in a totally different direction. Actually, it was more like me running onto the field and catching a curveball between the eyes, or in this case, in the kidney.

25 Creative Ways Authors Use Images for Social Media Marketing from BookBub: “Some social platforms revolve around sharing visual content, including Instagram, where photos still generate 36% more engagement than videos. And on platforms where images are optional, including them dramatically increases engagement. For example, Facebook posts with images see 2.3x more engagement than those without images.”

Helping Senior Citizens Self-Publish by Joel Friedlander: “Although the indie publishing world sometimes seems to be populated by young entrepreneurial authors, in fact a lot of writers publishing books today are at the other end of the spectrum—senior citizens. It may be hard to pin down what exactly we mean by “older authors,” but I generally take it to mean people 50 years of age and over who haven’t published their own books before.”

How To Build 1,000 Superfans When You’re Starting From Zero from by Joanna Penn: “Former Wired editor Kevin Kelly famously argued that 1,000 superfans is all you need for success as a creator (authors, musicians, artists… anyone who sells things they create). A superfan is someone who will buy anything you produce and sing your praises to anyone who will listen, winning you potential new fans for your books. Word of mouth is incredibly powerful for selling books, and that’s why authors strive to get superfans.”

How to Create Pre-Launch Buzz for Your Book Right Now Rachel Thompson: “Build relationships with readers on social media. This means interact, ask questions, strategically follow readers (not only other writers). Time: Realistically, plan to spend 30-60 minutes daily.”

Quote of the Week

The most important things to remember about back #story are that (a) everyone has a history and (b) most of it isn’t very interesting.STEPHEN KING

 

Social Media Just for Writers 2nd Edition

Whether you’re setting up your social media for the first time or wanting to take it to the next level, get the newest edition of Social Media Just for Writers.


I would not limit this book to the audience of only writers, it’s a great resource for anyone that wants to take full advantage of the online platforms available. Janet Kinsella

 

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference and a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com. Frances wrote several social media books including Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, and finding new readers. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for her free email course.

Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web

 

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Need Visuals For Your Social Media? Try These Apps

 

Need Visuals For Your Social Media? Try These Apps

I have never described myself as a visual person. I can open the refrigerator door, frustrated when I see there’s “nothing to eat,” and fail to notice a big, fresh salad that my husband made for me in the morning.

Or I can walk into a friend’s home and miss the freshly painted walls or wallpaper newly added to the entry.

If I happened to witness an accident, I would be hard-pressed to give the police any details. I wouldn’t recall the color of the car or details about the suspect.

Despite this quirk of mine, I am always drawn to social media images. In fact, I more often gloss over (or not read at all) wordy posts on Facebook and instead jump ahead to the beautiful pictures, funny memes, and short, meaningful quote graphics.

Visual Content Rules

I’m not the only one who prefers visual posts over text. Look at these statistics from Wishpond.com:

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.
  • Videos on landing pages increase average page conversion rates by 86%.
  • Visual content is social-media-ready and social-media-friendly. It’s easily shareable and easily palatable.
  • Posts with visuals receive 94% more page visits and engagement than those without.
  • 67% of consumers consider clear, detailed images to carry more weight than product information or customer ratings

Keep reading this post I wrote for BookWorks

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances 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 2nd edition of Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. 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.

Practical tips for marketing your books on the social web

 

Get Your Visuals Seen!

Get your visuals on Pinterest. But first learn how to use Pinterest. Pick up a copy of my book, Pinterest Just for Writers!

 

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