Sunday, September 4, 2016

Author Toolsets and Apps

There was a point in a writer's life when all the tools one needed was a pen and paper. Typewriters and computers came along and have certainly enhanced the ability to get one's story down on paper.

Today in the self-publishing world, an author is also a marketer. One must work with editors, cover designers, website designers, and a whole world of 'helpers' yet still find the time to write. I've found some apps that have helped me with time management and thought they might be useful for you also.

An essential marketing tactic is collecting and maintaining a mail list. There are a number of services around, but I use Mailchimp. It's free and fairly easy to use. I can set up custom forms for responses to a email signup or use the templates that come with Mailchimp. It integrates with my blog, with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media I use on a daily basis. While I'm still exploring its potential, I've found it a terrific way to communicate with the people who have chosen to follow me.

BookFunnel is a service that lets you manage book giveaways, whether to an ARC reader, a contest winner, or from a lead-gen campaign. There is a small minimal annual cost, but it is so worth the price. If you've ever struggled to help a reader load a Mobi or ePub format onto their reader, you need BookFunnel. They make the process easy and best of all, all questions go to them and their excellent help staff. This is a great time saver for me.

I happen to be in wide distribution for my books and it's a struggle to list all the various links to books when setting up marketing. Books2Read combines all those links into one handy-dandy link that takes you to a landing page where your customer can find the store he uses, whether Amazon, Kobo, or a host of others. It's free to use and while it takes a bit to set up depending on the number of books you have, I've found it handy as a place to refer to easily when I need the link to iBooks for a specific book. Here's one of my landing pages:

Book ratings are the bane and joy of an author's life. Many authors ignore them, but I feel it's important to see what my readers are saying, especially when a critique is useful to me. RatingsCatcher is a terrific service that lists all your reviews in one place, and I mean all your reviews (pretty much). While Amazon can't seem to collect reviews from various locations together, Ratings Catcher allows me to see all my Amazon reviews, whether UK, Canada, Germany, etc. They notify me when a new review comes in via email. This is so handy when setting up a promotion and you want to find a good quote for your ad. They are adding more sites all the time.
With their help, you can translate a review into other languages. You can set up a link with a review that also shows the buy links and allows you to embed it into a blog or website. There is a small fee (a couple of dollars) to use this, but I've found it extremely helpful.
Here's a screenshot of a review landing page:

Blasty is a service that monitors Google for you to find fraudulent websites claiming to carry your books. I got in as a beta tester and it does all that it claims. It sends me alerts when a new site pops up and I can "blast" it to Google to have it removed or decide that the site is fine (it's important to check because a page for a blog tour may show up and that's perfectly fine). It's free right now.
I'll be honest; while this is a good tool to have, I myself am not that concerned about those fraudulent sites. That's just me though and I know lots of author friends who want a tool like this.

Disclaimer: None of these tools are essential to writing or marketing a book, but I have found them great timesavers and helpful to me. While I've worked with some of the companies in beta-testing or making suggestions for improvement, I don't receive any compensation. I just happen to find them useful and I'm passing that onto you.

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