The Top Tech Tools For Authors

Tracy Sheen

 

Whether you’re a content writer, content creator, blogger or author we all love to hear about tech tools that can save us time in our process, make us look a little more polished, help to keep our work more secure or assist us in the promotion of our writing.

When I’m recommending tech tools to people I’m thinking about the smart use of technology within their business. Tech needs to fit in to part of your overall digital strategy. If you start with a strategy first approach you’re guaranteed to find and work with your own version of essential tools.

And so, in no particular order, I share with you my top ten tech tools for writers… plus a few bonus writing tools to sweeten the deal.

Writing without digital interruptions

You know what it’s like. You sit down at your computer, open a new file and stare at the cursor blinking away on the screen… judging you.

And so, you check your social media, respond to a few emails or perhaps ‘invest’ in a little more research time before you get down to the business of writing.

These next few writer tools will help you stay on track without disruptions.

Do not disturb

Whether you’re an Apple, PC or Android user your device will have some kind of ‘do not disturb’ mode. It’s a great app for everyone to use in their day to day business when you need to get stuff done. If you’re not sure how to activate it do a quick Google search for your device.

Do not disturb will likely become your favourite tool in your toolbox.

Tide.fm

If you’re a fan of the ‘Pomodoro’ technique you’re going to appreciate using the Tide app. You can create a focus timer that will help you to let go of other distractions knowing you’re working to your allocated time allowance.

Available as a Chrome extension or via the Apple App Store or Google Play. Tide.fm is a free online tool worth trialling.

Bonus tip

A simple tool you can use and one which is often overlooked ‘aeroplane mode’. Using it will guarantee you avoid interruptions… Oh, and remember to turn your computer wifi off at the same time.

How can I reliably and automatically back up my writing?

For authors, the thought of losing any words sends shivers through your body. The good news is there are a couple of really quick and easy things you can do to ensure this doesn’t happen.

  1. Make sure you have ‘auto save’ turned on in whichever writing software you use. If you’re unsure how to do this you can do a quick Google search for ‘turning on autosave on Microsoft Word’ (or Google Docs or Apple Pages).
  2.  There’s a rule in Cybersecurity, we call it 3.2.1. Quite simply it’s 3 copies of your data (in this case writing), stored in 2 separate locations and make sure 1 of them is ‘offline’. During my writing process, I would email a copy of my work to my hubby as soon as I’d finished writing for the day.

Is dictation software a good idea?

Of all the writing app tools dictation software is possibly the most contentious. The thing to recognise is all authors are different. For some, dictation software will be a gamechanger, freeing up time and allowing thoughts to flow. For others, it will be ‘another’ piece of tech they need to learn before they begin putting thoughts on paper.

If you’re not a frequent user of dictation software already I’d say, now is not the time to start.

If you’re determined to give it a crack then you can look at the following:

  • All phones have a voice memo recorder option. Easy to use and you can export your completed file for review.
  • Microsoft Word, Google Docs and Apple Pages all have a dictation option
  • Dragon Dictate has been a long term player in the voice dictation market and one worth considering if you’re looking for a paid solution.

What software should I use for writing?

If you haven’t guessed by now I’m a big fan of using the tools you’re already familiar with. Tech for tech’s sake is never the answer. With that in mind the obvious answers to this question are:

Microsoft Word, Google Docs or Apple Pages. Make sure you’re creating your content in whichever word processor you’re familiar with. Bear in mind your editor will work in Microsoft Word, so you will need to export your writing in word format.

A couple of other cool tools for writers worth checking out are:

The whole idea of Ommwriter is that it provides a space for you to concentrate. The app provides backgrounds and soundscapes to help you get focused and stay focused.

The whole purpose of the Hemingway app is to point out sentences it believes may be seen as too long or complex for your readers. The app will also offer insights into using passive voice and alternate word selection. The other tool you may like to look at is Grammarly. I use Grammarly as my day to day spell checker tool.

Both are great to use for prompts, just don’t take them as gospel.

Sometimes tech just gets things right. Brain.fm is one of those times. Advertised as a fusion of science, music and tech this tool gives you musical options that bring your brain waves into a rhythm that will allow you to focus. The whole app is based on neuroscience and definitely one I’d recommend you take a look at.

What apps can I use for planning my book?

I mapped ‘The End of Technophobia’ out from thought to publish in Trello. You can see the level of detail I went to from this screenshot.

 

 

Whether you’re a Trello, Asana or any other type of project planning tool I firmly believe this is an area to invest in some tech and utilise.

If you’re more of a mind mapper then you can look at tools like ‘Mindly’, ‘XMind’ or Mind Maps Pro if you’re a Microsoft user.

The other tech tool I’d consider looking at for your planning phase is ‘Evernote’. It will help you organise, allow you to clip notes (great for research), copy documents and a bunch of other stuff you’re going to find really helpful. Evernote really is one of those great tools we all need in our kit.

 

How can I use tech to manage my time?

We’ve already touched on tools like ‘Tide’ and ‘Do not Disturb’ I also like to lean on tech we all have at our disposal.

Things like the calendar we have built into our phone (and also part of our cloud provider of choice) can make blocking time and organiseing your day significantly easier. Calendar scheduling tools like Calendly, Book Like A Boss and others can remove all the hassle when trying to find a suitable appointment time with clients.

If all else fails, pull your phone out and set a timer to allocate blocks of free writing time.

How can I use the cloud for my writing?

We discussed word processing programs earlier, most of our options these days are linked into cloud based services. Remember, cloud based solutions are designed as online collaboration tools. Making them perfect to easily work with your editor and other team members.

Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, Apple iCloud are all excellent options for everyday business use as well housing your writing. Just remember to make a second copy and save it in a different location. And while you’re at it, send a third copy to a friend via email for safe keeping.

Other tools you may consider are platforms like ‘We Transfer’ and ‘Box‘. Otherwise you can do a quick Google search for ‘cloud storage’ and you’ll find a multitude of options, These storage systems are excellent for transferring files to your editor (like screen shots for your book) while keeping everything in a secure location.

What apps do I need to protect my computer?

Cybersecurity is such an important topic for any author and business owner. In fact, during COVID the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) were fielding 1 call every 8 minutes from a small business owner who had been hacked, scammed or otherwise compromised.

When considering the security of your devices and software keep the following in mind

  • When you’re backing up your important data consider the 3.2.1 rule. 3 copies of your data in 2 locations, 1 of them offline. That way if you are hacked you can simply pull back the data and continue on your way.
  • Always use multi factor authentication. Yes, it can be a pain to have to verify yourself when you log in somewhere, but better a little nucence than a cyber attack.
  • Don’t open any attachments unless you’re expecting them. If anyone emails me an attachment and I’m not expecting it I will call them to verify they’ve sent it first… The same applies for links sent in emails or social media channels. Links are one of the easiest ways for hackers to access your devices.
  • Keep your software, and hardware up to date. All devices have an ‘auto update’ option. If you’re not sure where or how to activate this do a quick Google search for ‘how to turn on auto updates’.
  • Consider using a password manager. Last Pass is a great option, but you can also Google ‘best password managers’ if you want to see what else is out there.
  • Never play the ‘what kind of potato’ am I games on social media.
  • Make sure you have awareness training in place for your team (virtual, contractors and direct employees). Everyone needs to know what your Cyber policies are and what they can (and can’t) use or do on their devices.
  • Finally, consider engaging a Cyber Security expert. This is an area you do not want to muck around with and there are a lot of great tools you can use and implement to keep your business safe.. In our Small Business Tech Club we work with Roger Smith from CareMIT based in the ACT.

Do I need an online presence?

100% you need an online presence. 

More importantly than just having a presence though is knowing and understanding your strategy behind your book, and why you want to be online. It’s the first (and most important) piece I work on with any new marketing client.

It’s not as simple as choosing a few social media platforms and hoping for the best. At the very minimum you’ll need a website where you can sell your books. You’ll also need a social media presence, but which channels you use and how often you communicate to your audience will depend greatly on your overarching strategy.

The good news is once you’ve defined that strategy you’ll be able to lean on some fab marketing tools and social media tools to assist you in your promotion.

What other apps can I use?

Tech and tools you can use for your business and your writing are really only limited by how much time you want to spend learning and implementing new things.

Adopting tools for tools sake is never the answer. You’ll just end up with a bunch of apps and software laying around that barely get touched. This leads to frustration and a sense that digital tools add no value to the work you do.

With that being said I do think there are a couple of other technology tools that do make everyone’s lives just that little bit easier.

  • Having a good Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) is something every business needs to adopt. A CRM will allow you to build deeper, more engaged conversations with your client base which strengthens your relevance and increases your revenue. If you don’t have a CRM currently I highly recommend checking out the free version of ‘HubSpot’. I’ve done a lot of work with this platform and even spent time as a partner, if you want an idea of how it could work for your business book a time to chat and we can dive a little deeper.
  • Use a social media scheduling tool. Once you have chosen which platforms you want to promote your work on then finding an easy way to schedule content is a must. If you’re only scheduling content to Facebook or Instagram you can use the planning and scheduling tools within the Meta Business Suite. If you’re looking to post to platforms like LinkedIn then finding a third part tool like ‘Buffer’, ‘Publer’ or ‘Hootsuite’ will be a lifesaver.
  • Canva. As far as graphic design tools go, Canva has really taken the lead as an easy to use tool. If you’re looking to build a consistent brand presence online then Canva will help you.

 

Phew! As you can tell when it comes to talking about cool tech tools I could go on and on and on. And, I’ve certainly shared more than ten of my best tech tools with you above.

When it comes to tech for writers, think about it the same way you approach writing your book. With a plan and a strategy.

If you’d like to discuss putting a digital strategy in place for your business, the best writing tools for you to use or how to map your online presence to maximise your book exposure book a time to have a chat. I love hearing what other authors are working on.