Tag Archives: writing software

Bonus: In Other Programming (Software) (The Marketing Author 001, Part 13)

Missed an article from this series? Look for it here.

“Bonus: In Other Programming (Software)”

Welcome back to The Marketing Author 001. This week I’m giving you a bonus chapter, which will cover some important software decisions you’ll want to make as you begin you’re indie author hobby…er, career. You won’t need them all, but you should probably consider getting them all, or similar programs, if you want to maximize your potential.

Microsoft Word:

You probably have this item already. It’s the world’s premier word processor. You probably wrote all of your English essays on it. I’m using it to type this sentence. It’s Microsoft Word. You should just have it. It’s very powerful. I shouldn’t have to explain it to you. If I do, you probably shouldn’t become a writer. This is your chance to flee! Really, why don’t you have Microsoft Word yet? Is it still 1990 where you live?

Microsoft Excel:

You probably have this program, too. (Most people have the core Microsoft products, Word, Excel, One Note, PowerPoint, etc. on their computers.) Let me just offer a shortcut here: All of Microsoft’s Office products are useful for one reason or another. One Note is good for keeping all of your thoughts in one place. PowerPoint is good if you want to build an online presentation to promote your product or build a course that will get people interested in what you have to say. But what about Excel? Why would a writer need to worry about Excel? Simple. You need Excel to keep track of your sales or downloads so you can see how well your titles perform (and what changes to metadata or cover images might do to improve those sales). Here’s what my sales looked like in November 2015.

Cool, huh? Okay, those are pretty much all free downloads. But the important thing is that I can see how each book does against the other. You want Excel as part of your author toolbox if you want to keep good records and track performance, especially since most of your hosting sites, like Smashwords, will only display stats over a certain length of time.


Official Website

author marketing 001 - scrivener

You want Microsoft Office for your piecemeal work, but Scrivener is the Mercedes of the writing world, and for writers, it’s the thing most likely to replace Word as the writer’s best friend. It’s got a high learning curve, but through practice or via paid courses, you can discover just how great Scrivener is for any author and why you should have it on your computer, even if you’re a casual hobbyist writer who just wants to journal.

It’s a writing tool. It’s an organizational tool. It’s a digital notebook. It’s an idea farm. It’s a research hub. It’s basically all of Microsoft Office’s programs compiled into a single program, and each “file” is actually a “project file” that stores all relevant information into a story file via folders and special categories. It’s also about 10% of Microsoft Office’s price tag, and it provides a 30-day trial if you’re not sure.

But give it a few minutes and you’ll be sure. It’s gradually replacing Microsoft Office as the go-to for writers.

Note: The Mac version has features the Windows version doesn’t offer.


Official Website

author marketing 001 - editor

Disclaimer: I have this program, but I haven’t used it in years. That said, the reason it’s on this list is because I still think it’s useful, especially if your power of language or ability to spot grammatical or repetition problems is weak. I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting problems at the local level, which is why I don’t really use it anymore, but this program has once upon a time helped me spot a page one problem with punctuation that I must’ve overlooked twenty times, which is something I never would’ve done, even in thirty or forty revisions. I had become too accustomed to ignoring that particular problem. That reason alone keeps me loyally recommending it to anyone who needs an extra boost in spotting problems, even if I don’t use it much for myself.

It should be noted that Editor is a reporting tool, not a fixing tool. Its creator is an Ivy League English professor who wrote the program to assist writers in making wise style choices, not to override their writing, like what Word might try to do. It reminds writers that no program can know all connotations in grammar. It can only make an educated guess about your usage and that you, the writer, should still know grammar.

It’s also the only editing program I know that looks for clichés, repetition, and comes with a few dictionaries, like a rhyming dictionary if I recall correctly.

The only thing I don’t like is the interface. It’s pretty raw.

KDP Rocket:

Official Website

Part of the importance of marketing is knowing how to locate effective keywords that can increase exposure or interest in your book. This program, which I just bought recently, will go to a subscription model soon, so I’d get it ASAP if you want it, as it’s still sold for a one-time only fee of $97, but its job is to report the top performing books at Amazon in that particular category or keyword you choose so that you can make an informed decision about the keywords you apply to your book. For example, I learned that my keyword for The Computer Nerd, “marital thriller,” is pretty good, while my keyword for “computer nerd” kinda sucks for a psychological thriller (though it wouldn’t be so bad if I were writing a book about programming). The things we learn when we research.

Results for keyword “marital thriller”:

Results for keyword “computer nerd”:

You can alternatively find separate programs like KDSpy and Kindle Samurai to do similar functions for less money, but the nice thing about KDP Rocket is that it does everything these other programs do, but in one place, and it does it better in my opinion.

Adobe Digital Editions:

Official Website

author marketing 001 - adobe editions

This is not essential but still highly recommended, as this program will allow you to read .epubs right on your desktop. If you’re writing an e-book and you want to see how your story will translate, this program will help you see that translation. It’s kind of like tasting the batter before you commit to finalizing the cake. You want to know that you’re about to produce and distribute a quality product and Adobe Digital Editions can help you see what your readers will see.

Amazon Kindle (Desktop App):

Official Website

author marketing 001 - kindle

Ditto as above, but for .mobi files used on the Kindle platform.


If you want to blog, this is probably the best platform for it. You’re reading this post via WordPress. That’s how good it is. I don’t really want to talk about something you can clearly see for yourself. But having a blog is a great way to talk to people so that you don’t have to waste your life on Facebook. Plus, you’re more likely to reach your subscribers through WordPress than you are on your friends list, as Facebook requires you to pay lots and lots of money to promote your posts. That’s how they stay afloat.

And so on.

So that covers this week’s bonus chapter. If you have a program you like using, talk about it in the comments below.

Thanks for joining me on this beginner’s journey into independent authoring and marketing. Be sure to tell me how your marketing adventures pan out as it happens. I’m sure I’ll blog about mine soon enough.

I hope to launch a new series soon about books on writing, so stay tuned for that.

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Scrivener: The Most Amazing Program for Writers Ever: A First Impression

September 29, 2015

So, late last week, The Writer’s Store, which I believe found me because I subscribe to the Writer’s Digest e-mail newsletter, was offering a one-day sale on Scrivener for 20% off. Even though I had missed the 50% sale from a couple of weeks ago, which I’ve indeed kicked myself for not reading the announcement in a more timely manner, I knew I couldn’t make that mistake twice, so I finally broke down and bought the program. And let me tell you, it’s awesome.

What is Scrivener? It’s a program native to Mac but also available for Windows (currently at version 1.8.6, which might mean something to someone) that can do basically anything a writer would want a program to do short of writing the story for him.

It looks like this:

Screenshot of
Screenshot of “The Bobblehead” as written in Scrivener.

Now, let me post a disclaimer before I continue. This is not actually my first impression. My first impression happened about four years ago, a year after a friend at work had told me about its existence (when it was Mac only) and I had begun salivating over the possibilities. Because Literature and Latte, the maker of Scrivener, was finally making a version for Windows, I was able to give it a serious follow, and one day, not long before its 1.0 release (version-speak for a program that hits its first official release, or roughly seventy-three bugfixes and feature adds before it’s deemed “final,” at least until version 2.0 is released–a case already relevant for the Mac release), I downloaded the 30-day trial version, which is basically the full version with a time limit attached, gave the tutorial a try, wrote the snippet of a story I called “The Bobblehead” that you can see in the screenshot above, and then set it aside because it wasn’t yet the full version, and I didn’t want to buy it until it became the full version. And then I kept putting it off because I’m a writer, and it costs $40, and forty bucks is a lot of money to a writer, as any writer could tell you.

So, four years and $32 later, I’ve completely forgotten my first experience with Scrivener, and had to relearn its features via the first three parts of the tutorial last night. And let me tell you, what I learned about through hands-on practice was amazing.

Okay, so you’re reading this review and scratching your head. Why is it awesome? you’re probably wondering.

Well, for starters, you can use it to write. Yes, there is a place to write your stories and everything! It’s a lot like Microsoft Word in that regard. But cheaper! Not as cheap as Open Office, which is free, but still reasonable!

But, oh, there’s more. So much more. You can save your work via “snapshots” (complete with shutter sound effects). And you can scroll down. And…

Wait, you want real reasons to buy this program, don’t you?

Okay, try these little handy things out:

  • Corkboard and “outliner” organizational tools that allow you to view your chapters from a distance.
  • Note cards to “pin” on the corkboard so that you can see your synopses of each “scrivening,” or writing segment, at a more cursory glance.
  • Meta-data to more accurately view and sort pieces of your writing so that you can find what you’re looking for more quickly (like scenes, characters, time a scene takes place, etc.).
  • A search feature that can help you piece your documents together in a way that allows you to read things in context without having to read the whole document.
  • A folder system that allows for customizable content management, which can lead to rearranging the structure of a story, screenplay, essay, etc. on the fly.
  • A place to store your research and media files for quick access.
  • And most surprising (and impressive) to me, the ability to compile and print in many different combinations and formats, including manuscript format, screenplay format, and other formats I have yet to explore, and you can select how it prints through various check-box preferences.

I’m sure there’s more, but I only had time to work on the first three parts of the tutorial (out of five). At any rate, I think this is probably the best writing tool a writer could have next to Microsoft Word itself. The flexibility it offers alone is worth the price, even if I had paid the full $40 ($45 if you’re using a Mac, which is fair because it’s a full version ahead of what the Windows and Linux versions can do).

I’ll write more about it as I learn more. The above points are just some of the things I’ve discovered about the program last night. I’m sure there’s more. And, of course, I still have to experience actually using it for my own work; well, not including the experimental piece you see in the screenshot. I’ll be sure to write another “first impressions” review after I’ve used it for its intended purpose for the third time.