Thousands of online resources claim to be the best websites for writers. But how do you know which ones are worth your attention? And sometimes your money. Thankfully, we have a tried-and-tested outline of the most useful websites and software for indie authors. From writing to editing to marketing your book, you can depend upon these top 10 websites to make your indie author life much easier.
That blank page at the beginning of your self-publishing journey is one of the most intimidating parts of the entire process. So be sure to accept some guidance to get you started. These four websites for writers make that first step far smoother.
This is an indie author favourite. It is recommended by such self-publishing pros as Mark Dawson. And Scrivener has helped many writers organise their thoughts, plot points, and stories. A brilliant tool for authors, Scrivener has many features. But it is also super easy to use. The layout is arranged like a pin board. So, you see the big picture of your book and can dive in to alter specific chapters.
Basically, Scrivener allows you to store all the information about your book in one place. From character outlines to quick notes to whole chapters. You can move things around, change, edit, and rearrange your story in a simple and visual format. Scrivener encourages a smooth workflow. And it ultimately helps you create a clean and polished entire manuscript.
The Most Dangerous Writing App
This might not be as sophisticated a software as Scrivener, but I personally love it. I already recommended it in our Indie Author Interview with J.D. Weston. It came into conversation when talking about writer’s block. Because this app is a brilliant solution. It’s a way to tackle that horrible blank page and get your fingers moving when the thoughts aren’t flowing.
The premise is that you set a timer and have to keep writing for that amount of time. You can choose from three minutes to even sixty minutes. And if you stop typing, after a few seconds, the words start to fade. And then they eventually disappear forever. So, if you want to keep what you’ve written, do not stop typing. Of course, your writing isn’t going to be perfect. It’s going to be full of typos and errors. But it gives you something to work with.
Remember, you can’t edit a blank page.
My Write Club
While Scrivener helps you organise your novel and The Most Dangerous Writing App helps you write it, My Write Club sets your deadlines. It allows present-you to force future-you to get words down on a page. And it does so in a simple and satisfying way.
Create deadlines easily by setting a goal. Then choose a unit of measure such as lines, words, or chapters. Choose an amount, a description, and a deadline. Then get writing. You can track your progress and update your total as you go along. It’s extremely satisfying when you reach your goal. And that encourages you to keep going.
The Novel Factory
The Novel Factory has a great piece of software for writers. It is similar to Scrivener in that it helps you plot your story, build characters, and establish settings. But it is slightly more user friendly. You can access it at any time from your phone. So, if you have a burst of inspiration while walking the dog, you can immediately write down a note and not lose the fresh idea.
The Roadmap option is also great. It offers a step-by-step guideline to writing an entire novel. That completed manuscript might seem like a far-off ideal. But it becomes a true and possible reality through their simple and supportive process. They have a load of other resources for authors too. Like ideas for plot outlining and how to establish character personality types.
Every indie author knows that writing is just the first of many steps on the self-publishing road. Editing is just as important as writing. This is when you go from just getting words down on a page to making your story as polished and refined as possible. It’s a transformation from thinking about yourself, the writer, to thinking about your audience, the reader. Luckily, loads of editing apps out there make this process bearable.
Just remember, while these editing websites and software can be incredibly useful, don’t depend on them too much. Always apply your human intuition. And never use editing apps to edit your whole manuscript. They should only be used for initial self-editing purposes.
Always hire an editor before you publish.
Grammarly has long been a favourite software for writers. This reliable and easy-to-use app picks up on the most seemingly unmissable mistakes, reminding writers that editing their own writing is near impossible. But it offers more than just checking spelling and grammar. It picks up on things like formalities, conciseness, and use of vocabulary. However, you do have to pay for these more premium options.
Another great thing about Grammarly is you can add it to your browser. So, it will always be there to correct your typos – in emails, direct messages, social media posts, and documents. But you can also add Grammarly as a plugin for programs like Word or WordPress. So, whether you’re writing a book or a blog post, you can rest assured that most your mistakes are being caught.
There is no reason not to download the free version.
Like Grammarly, ProWritingAid also picks up on spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. But it too is much more than your basic spellcheck. It helps you be a smarter writer and communicate more efficiently with your readers. Style suggestions not only make the language you use correct, but better. Through continuous and consistent corrections, you strengthen your overall writing technique.
For example, it will pick up on your use of passive voice. Not only will it suggest a change to active voice, it will suggest how, and explain why it is more effective. ProWritingAid basically encourages you to improve your craft as a writer. And best of all, it does so barely without you realising.
The Hemingway App is based on the idea of clean and efficient writing like that of Ernest Hemingway, who famously used very concise language. It highlights your words according to a colour-coded system. Each colour notices different traps in your writing. For example, overuse of adverbs, use of passive voice, over-complicated phrases, hard-to-read sentences, and very-hard-to-read sentences. It’s satisfying to go through and make the suggested changes. Especially because after you do, you really notice a difference in its readability.
Readability is a big factor of the Hemingway App. And it tells you the readability of your text on a graded system using the reliable algorithm of the Automated Readability Index. The debate of the importance of readability is an interesting one. Just because it has a high readability grade, that doesn’t make the writing necessarily good. And vice versa. However, undeniably in our modern world, people have less patience for difficult-to-read texts. So, bear that in mind while writing.
Marketing is one of the most dreaded of the self-publishing steps for indie authors. But once you get into it, much of the fear goes away. Promoting your book can actually be quite enjoyable. It’s rewarding to build a community and gain followers. And once you see the results of your hard work through book sales, it all becomes worth it.
So, to soften the struggle of marketing, check out these top marketing software for writers.
Crowdfire is my go-to social media scheduling website. It’s easy to use and has a very decent free plan. You can connect up to 5 accounts to one profile. That covers the top three social media platforms all indie authors should have – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Plus, if you have YouTube, Pinterest, or a WordPress blog, you can add those too. It helps you organise and schedule your posts. So, you keep a consistent and flowing online presence for your audience.
The other subscription plans of Crowdfire are also great. They offer advanced analytics options so you can learn more about your audience, their favourite content, and the best times to post. Plus, you can bulk schedule posts in larger numbers.
If you want more advice on social media marketing for indie authors, check out our article: Marketing Your Book: Social Media for Writers.
An indie author looking to market their book must know about the importance of mailing lists. They are one of the top ways to promote your book to readers and grow a community. However, the more your mailing list grows, the harder it is to manage. But a large mailing list is a great thing. So, don’t be disheartened. Email marketing services like Mailchimp make keeping on top of your mailing list a whole lot easier.
As well as sending out bulk emails in a simple way, they help you track subscribers and provide tools for writing newsletters. Through using consistent and effective templates, your mailing list becomes a consistent reminder to your readers about your commitment to the indie author world. And Mailchimp is far more than its mail list services. It offers a range of software for writers – branding, website design, analytical insights – all upping your marketing game as an indie author.
Find out more at the Mailchimp website.
Having a reliable and well-designed author website is another important part of indie author marketing. WordPress creates brilliant websites for writers. It is simple to navigate but still produces quality results. Their templates offer strong frameworks for pages while allowing you to add personal touches to make your site unique. Your website is often the first impression of you as a writer. And your readers want to be won over by a page that exudes your brand as an author. And, of course, makes it easy to buy your book.
Plus, everyone knows WordPress is a perfect resource for bloggers. And blogging is a great resource for indie authors. Regular posts about the indie author community can boost traffic your way, help you engage with your audience, and improve your marketing success. So never dismiss the importance of a powerful author page. And turn to WordPress to make one that will stand out amongst a crowd of half-hearted and out-dated websites.
As well as our favourites, there are many other websites for writers out there. Trust in the recommendations of other indie authors. Remember you are not alone in this process. While it might often seem daunting, others are going through the same journey. And reliable and useful software for writers makes the whole thing so much easier. Just take it one step at a time and use the many resources at your disposal along the way. And get writing!