Resources for Authors

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Below I go through my top recommendations for handy PDF guides, writing software, graphics, email lists, author websites, and books about writing.

Some cost money, but many are free or have free versions with considerable functionality.

These are the resources I have found myself recommending to authors like you over and over again. Most of them are things I use on a regular basis, and they’re partly here because I know they’re good quality and because of how much I like them. But they’re mostly here because when I compare them to their competitors, they seem likely (in my opinion at least) to be the best fit for most authors.

I plan to continue adding to this list periodically, so consider checking back every couple months.

resources for authors

2023-2024 Key Book Publishing Paths (free)

Jane Friedman is an expert on the publishing industry and educates authors on business strategy and on how to get published. She’s pretty much THE person for this kind of stuff, so you may already be familiar with her.

This PDF goes through the different ways to get published and the steps involved, from traditional publishing to self-publishing and everything in between.

It’s a single page, but it’s packed with helpful information and formatted to print on normal-sized paper, though the writing is on the smaller side.

EFA Guidebook for New Authors (free)

The Editorial Freelancers Association is a professional organization in the US for editors and other freelancers in the publishing profession.

This guidebook walks authors through the process of working with an editor, going over the types of editing services out there and providing helpful tips for finding the right editor for you.

It’s especially helpful for new authors who are going through the editing process for the first time, since it will give you an idea of what to expect.

Writing Software for Novelists

Scrivener (paid)

In my opinion, Scrivener is the best writing platform for authors.

It’s specifically designed for writing novels and other long-form content, so it has a lot of features that were created with you in mind.

The way it’s set up makes it very easy to stay organized, whether you’re a planner who wants folders for each chapter and a file for each scene, or someone who likes to jump around and needs to be able to easily rearrange things as the story develops.

There is also a specific section for keeping track of any research you’ve done, and there are places to write a synopsis inside each file and add notes on the side that don’t belong in the running text.

I discovered Scrivener in the fall of 2022 and have been using it to write articles for my blog and keep track of my business ever since.

It works great for what I use it for, but since it was designed for authors, it will probably work even better for you.

And there’s a very generous free trial so you can thoroughly test it out before buying it.

ProWritingAid (paid)

No artificial intelligence is as good as a human proofreader, but ProWritingAid is the best user-friendly editing softward I’ve used. I use it for writing and editing my blog posts, and I like it enough that I bought the lifetime subscription. (I don’t use it for editing work I do for clients—that wouldn’t be time effective, since I’m reading those manuscripts with fresh eyes and I’m smarter than the software.)

I once had a client use ProWritingAid to make revisions on a manuscript I’d edited and then ask me for another round of copyediting. And I could really see the difference. It helped him improve how the words flowed and figure out what wordings best fit what he was going for. And while the software is a little pricey, it costs less than I would have had to charge to make the changes it helped him do on his own.

(If you visit Bob’s website, you can download the first few chapters of his book and see what ProWritingAid plus professional editing can do, at least for authors with writing talent and dedication. This one was actually a MWSA finalist in their 2023 book awards.)

The main thing ProWritingAid will help you with is line editing. This is an expensive type of editing to pay for and involves many discretionary wording choices, so it’s always ideal for you to do as much line editing yourself as you can—both in terms of making the writing fit your vision and in terms of saving money on copyediting later. No tool is for everyone, but this one could be worth looking into.

The Business Side of Things

Profitable Productivity (paid)

Every author is a business owner, but sometimes it’s hard to see things from a business perspective. You have to balance the writing with the marketing while also making sure you’re focusing on tasks that make a difference. If you want a course on how to manage all of that, Eb Garbano has a great one called Profitable Productivity.

I also recommend signing up for her free productivity masterclass to get an idea of her teaching style and a sneak peek at some of her productivity advice.

Eb Gargano is a professional blogger and teaches online business owners how to get more done without working harder. I took it in the spring of 2023, and it was a complete game-changer. Her productivity strategy isn’t about doing more things, but about figuring out which things will be the best use of your time.

One of my favorite things about Profitable Productivity is that Eb explains the science behind her productivity advice. It’s really easy to trust the system she’s giving you because she tells you why it works. This course is higher quality and more applicable to real life than anything else I’ve seen on this topic—and it’s gotten me more results.

Email Marketing for Authors

ConvertKit (free or paid)

An email list is an important part of your marketing efforts as an author and lets you keep in touch with your readers, or future readers, and let them know when new books come out.

So if you don’t have one already, now is the best time to start. And ConvertKit is the cheapest and easiest way to do it.

I’ve been using them since 2020. Everything is easy to set up, and they have courses that teach you all the basics of managing an email list.

On the free plan (which is what I use) you can send as many emails as you want to up to 1,000 subscribers, and you can also create unlimited landing pages, which are especially helpful if you don’t have your own website.

If you have over 1,000 subscribers or want to use their automation features, the paid version of ConvertKit is still cheaper than some of its competitors, especially for all the features it has.

At that point you might want to do some research to figure out what’s right for you. But until then ConvertKit is my top recommendation.

Creating Your Author Website

NameHero (paid)

If you create an author website, you’ll need a hosting company. They’re the ones who take care of a lot of the back-end techy stuff that I don’t understand well enough to explain.

NameHero is relatively inexpensive, and they prioritize the customer experience more than a lot of other hosts do. I recently designed an author website for someone who used them at my recommendation, and the process of getting everything set up went smoothly.

They don’t try to sell you expensive add-ons, their user interface is intuitive and easy to figure out, and they’re known for hosting fast and reliable websites that load quickly and experience minimal downtime.

I recommend their Starter Cloud plan (it’s all the way on the left), which is the cheapest option and a great choice for small websites.

If you get the Divi theme to go with it, it will be just about as easy to build and edit your pages as it would with a drag-and-drop website host like Wix or Squarespace, but you’ll be saving money with your lower yearly hosting fees.

Divi/Elegant Themes (paid)

I’ve been using Divi as my WordPress theme since 2018, and it’s what I use for the author websites I design.

It uses a drag-and-drop builder that makes it simple and easy to create beautiful pages that have a professional look without any coding knowledge.

They have templates if you want to keep things simple, but you can also customize everything to look exactly the way you want it to.

Companies like Wix and Squarespace charge extra every year because they have built-in drag-and-drop builders. With a normal hosting company like NameHero and Divi as your theme, you get the same easy web-design experience but more customizability, and you spend less money in the long run.

I recommend Divi’s lifetime subscription if you plan to keep your website up for more than two years. It’s a significant up-front cost, but you save money over time.

You’ll also have access to all the other themes from the same company, Elegant Themes, but Divi is the only one I’ve used and is worth the cost all by itself.

My Top Book Recommendations for Authors

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King is the best guide to self-editing that I’ve found. If you’re on a budget or just want to make your editor’s job easier, you need this book!

The type of information it gives will help you with developmental editing and line editing tasks. That means it helps you to sort out big-picture issues and make your writing flow better.

It walks you through a variety of important ideas like character development and showing vs. telling and teaches you how to fix common writing issues.

It even has some exercises for you to practice what it’s teaching you. But it isn’t a workbook, and most of the book is dedicated to presenting information.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is the kind of book that will save you money on editing later on, as long as you read it and implement what you’ve learned.

Writing Fiction

Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway is an excellent resource for both new and experienced authors.

And for editors. I use it when I need to look up what the best practices are in a certain area (like point of view) or if I need ideas on how to explain specific concepts to the authors I work with.

It’s often used as a textbook for creative writing courses, and it’s excellent as a reference when there’s a topic that you want to learn more about.

It’s harder to read cover-to-cover than Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, but it’s easier to read than what you would normally expect from a textbook.

Writing Fiction goes over all the basics and gives examples to illustrate the main points. And as I mentioned, it’s great to have on your bookshelf as a reference when you get stuck on something and need authoritative answers.