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I wanted to share with you the writing tools, self-publishing advice websites, further online resources and courses I use to help me manage my website and enable me to publish my books.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a small commission if you purchase through my links at no extra cost to you, and helps me to run my website. Please read the full disclaimer here.
Author Website Tools
These are all the platforms, software and technical stuff I use to make fkmaddison.com possible, as well as being really useful for the editing, marketing and publishing of my books.
Grammarly: as an author, it’s always good practice to proofread your work, even better to get someone else to do it for you. I like to use Grammarly to check through my drafts before I hand them over to my editors – it catches any typos, spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors for you. I also use it as a second pair of eyes to check my blog posts before I publish them. If you just want a second pair of eyes to check your website posts then I recommend downloading the free Grammarly extension so you can check your work as you write. But if you are a writer and looking to publish your work I would highly recommend Grammarly’s premium setup.
ConvertKit: I recently stopped using Mailchimp as my email provider because I didn’t need all their tools on offer and I found their platform too busy and over complicated. ConvertKit is a much simpler email provider to use; their dashboard for managing everything is clear and uncluttered, forms and landing pages are professional looking and easy to compile and creating emails is quick to do. From a professional point of view, I would recommend ConvertKit, they are one of the cheapest email providers out there and they have professional-looking templates that are fuss-free.
Artisan Themes: when I first started my website I used Etsy to find WordPress themes, and though these were beautiful, they made my site run slower and they were not SEO or mobile optimised. Artisan Themes not only have beautiful themes, they are clear and crisp looking and easy to use. You can also use their front-end-editor to customize your site without having to go into your dashboard to edit. Artisan’s also provide you with video tutorials in order to help you set your site up – or you can install one of their ready-made web templates so the job is done for you. Check out Artisans themes – I use the Pepper+ theme. Read more on Artisan Themes in my posts, Best WordPress Themes for Authors & Bloggers.
Fasthosts: as a UK based author I use Fasthosts to host fkmaddison.com. They are a UK based host which means they have UK dedicated servers which make my site run faster. You can get web hosting from as little as £2.50/mth, WordPress hosting from £1.99/mth and any UK domain name free for the first year.
Canva: This is my number one tool for creating my book covers, marketing materials such as flyers and bookmarks, Pinterest pins, blog thumbnails, eBooks and other free printables – and it’s completely free. Granted, with the free version you don’t have access to some of the images and graphics but there are so many resources within the software it will take you a while to run out of stuff. If you join the free version of Canva through my link here, you will also get access to a free CanvaPro element of your choice.
Tailwind: If you really want to increase the traffic to your website and promote your book and all those blog posts you have spent ages writing, then Tailwind is a great tool. You can use Tailwind to schedule your pins days, weeks and months ahead, saving you time but increasing the lifespan of your pins and in turn increasing the traffic to your website. You can start scheduling up to 100 pins on Pinterest with Tailwinds free trial.
The Best Online Self-publishing Resources
Whether you are just starting to write or nearing that time when you hit ‘Publish My Book’ on Amazon, these websites are full of useful information no matter where you are in your journey to becoming a self-published author. I recommend you read as many of the tips and tricks they offer before you publish:
Kindle Direct Publishing is not just the main gateway to self-publishing your book, their website is full of amazing information to get your writing career off to a good start. From tips on how to format your paperback, templates for your book covers and videos to teach you step-by-step how to publish on Amazon.
Kindleprenaur is one of the best places to get those nifty little tricks to boost your sales rankings. This site is run by author Dave Chesson who debunks all of that mind-boggling metadata – from getting your book description right using his code generator, how to choose your book genre categories and keywords with his PublisherRocket Tool and lots of amazing tools such as his amazon sales ranking calculator.
Reedsy are similar to Kindlepreneur, however, I do feel their blog goes into much more detail, plus their site offers the tools to help you assemble your own publishing team – a one-stop place to find editors, beta readers, marketing teams and more. Make use of their free courses, Reedsy’s book editor and competitions whilst you are on there.
YouTube – if you haven’t started using the platform for researching writing and self-publishing then do so now. There is a wealth of information on there from fellow authors, book marketing folk, editors and the like. Personally, I like to use the platform for How-to Videos when I get stuck trying to format, or don’t understand some of the publishing terminologies – a good old tutorial or explanation vid always helps me get the job done.
Useful Online Tools for Creating & Marketing Your Book
When it comes to adding the final touches to your book – such as creating a book cover or turning it into an eBook – I have found the following resources valuable. They save me time and also help me market my book effectively:
BookFunnel is a great tool to help onboard readers to your newsletter, send out tasters for your book or even free books, as well as distribute your advance review copies to your ARC Team before your next book launch. This is a paid service but so minimal and worth it. As well as using Bookfunnel to deliver my free book to my newsletter subscribers, I’ve worked with fellow authors on the platform to help attract new subscribers by promoting each other’s books. It’s easy for you to use and will make your marketing journey that little bit easier.
Draft2Digital is not just a great platform to turn your manuscript into eBook files (ePUB, Mobi and PDF) but you can also use them to distribute your eBook to most of the major online book retailers – including Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Tolina and a handful of Libraries. They don’t ask you to pay to use their platform but do take 10% of any sales you make through their distribution service. Don’t forget to check out their free universal book link generator as well.
Fiverr is a platform I only started using recently but I wish I had started using them much earlier on in my writing career. Whether your publishing budget is low or you have more pennies to spend, there are so many people on there that you can enlist to help you. I’ve used the platform to find my book cover designer and eBook editor and both have been super professional, a pleasure to work with and have made my life so much easier.
Courses for Author Websites
If you are thinking of starting your own website, and you really want to make it a success, I highly recommend that you invest in some courses – SEO and traffic strategies are a must if you really want to increase your presence online, and increase your book sales. These are the courses that I have taken and love.
Pinteresting Strategies: I have used Pinterest for business for a while now but I needed to take my pinning to the next level. Carly Campbell’s Pinteresting Strategies course is really helpful for businesses and blogs alike. And although I haven’t implemented all of the courses strategies yet (I’m still making my way through it) it’s helped me with my pinning strategy, how I use Pinterest and increase my website’s traffic and book sales.
Stupid Simple SEO: If you want to learn the magic behind SEO, or increase your knowledge so you can drive more traffic to your author website, I recommend Mike Pearson’s Stupid Simple SEO course. I’ve taken a few courses on SEO, but none of them mentioned some of the skills and tools required to make a real success of your website as this course does. It is not a cheap course if you are just starting out, but you do have the option of paying in instalments which is what I did. Still not sure? Why not grab a cup of tea, notepad and pen and try Mike’s Free SEO training webinar instead.
Affiliate Programmes & Networks for Authors
If you are looking to earn a little extra money as an author, I highly recommend that you look at joining Amazon Associates and some other affiliates companies. Here are some of my favourite networks:
Amazon Associates: If you only join one affiliate programme then go with Amazon Associates. If most online book sales are made through their website then it makes sense that you link your books on your website via their programme. Just make sure your website is live before you apply and comply with all their T’s & C’s.
Awin: if you join Awin you will have access to thousands of companies who choose to run their affiliate programmes via Awin, including companies like Etsy and Not On The High Street, as well as some well known high street stores. It’s free to join – all you need to do is verify your site with them and you can start applying to individual programmes or add some code they provide you with to the header of your site.
Airbnb: whether I need to head to a writers retreat to finish some work or if I need a break from writing, the first place I look to book a break is Airbnb. They offer unique stays across the globe, are usually much cheaper than hotels and you definitely get more bang for your buck (I always go for the ‘entire place’ option) and the hosts have always been really friendly and helpful. Whether you have tried Airbnb yet, or not, be sure to check out their great deals.