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Tech Tools for Authors #1

Authors have to juggle a lot of balls in today’s book industry. Not only do they have to write that next book, they also have to market it, balance the ledgers, woo their fans on social media, do background research on their next project, and make dinner.

With all this work piling up, everyone is always looking for ways to get more done in less time. The following post details a few online tools I use on a weekly basis to keep my head above water, plus one I really need to start using.


A good image can change a post from blah to boss, and making that image doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time or money.

Do you see the graphic at the top of this post? I made it with the free online design tool, Canva.

This tool isn’t as capable as Photoshop but it is also a lot easier to use. I make everything from blog graphics to book covers to Twitter graphics with Canva. It took a little bit of time to master, but once I did I found that I could turn out a good graphic in only minutes.


Instapaper was one of the first services that let you save the text of an article for later, and it’s still the best. You can use it to save an article for later reading or to push that article to your Kindle, but it also has a trick most people don’t know about.

Whenever I try to read an article on a site that blocks me because of my browser’s security plugins, or blocks me because I’ve reached the quota for free reads this month, I copy the URL, go to Instapaper’s site, and save the article to Instapaper.

I have found that Instapaper will usually be able to save the article to its servers, enabling me to read it in peace.


We’re all expected to be on social networks and talk to fans, but let’s be honest: no one has the time to both find new and fun things to tweet while also responding to comments and joining discussions. So I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Many of the more active social media accounts use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule their updates.

The free version is pretty limited, but the paid version of Hootsuite lets you schedule tweets, posts, and updates across multiple social networks.  I use it to manage a couple Twitter accounts, a FB page, and my other social media.

FYI: The Hootsuite website crashes a lot, so be sure to use one of its apps.


Do you have trouble following through on your to-do list?

Todoist can help. While this app wasn’t created specifically for authors, it is a great way to create an online to-do list or writing schedule. You can enter tasks into the site or apps, or with your voice via Alexa, or from Google Calendar or Slack.

This app won’t actually do any of your tasks for you, but it is a great way to keep from forgetting what needs to be done.

P.S. This is the first in a series of posts on tech tools for authors; if you know of a tool that I should include in a future post, please let me know in the comments.

P.P.S. Hat tip to The Write Conversation for the idea for this series of posts.

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SteveH November 22, 2017 um 12:19 pm

Sigil – Best damn epub editing tool available. Lets you edit in WYSIWYG mode or dive into the xhtml/CSS easily too. Metadata editing, TOC creation too.

Writer2Latex – Extension for LibreOffice that allows for very clean and well formed EPUB export of your manuscript. 100 miles better than Word’s horrible html conversion…

Trello – simple to use To Do list program…very visual, drag and drop adjustments, easy colo-coding, not overly engineered that makes things too complex. Great for tracking projects thru variious stages.

Nate Hoffelder November 22, 2017 um 12:20 pm

yes, I will add that to the list

I should have had that in the first post

Ruth Harris November 26, 2017 um 4:57 pm

Hello Nate, I’m looking forward to your posts! Thanks for cluing me into InstaPaper. I’ve already signed up.
You might want to compare/contrast with the Authors' Alphabet From A to Z I posted today at Anne R. Allen’s blog.

Nate Hoffelder November 26, 2017 um 5:27 pm

Nice, but you didn’t link to me even once

Ruth Harris November 26, 2017 um 7:21 pm

That’s because I wrote the alphabet last week! Before I found about your blog!

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