Software for Newbies

A screenshot of the default WordPress theme.

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while.

It took me some time to put together all the bits and pieces that go into writing, and more importantly, publishing (read selling) a book. Everyone has their own taste and favorite applications. I’m just using what I find easiest, and to me, the most valuable.

So here’s the list:

Website and Blog WordPress – I have my own domain and then redirect everything to here. Their software isn’t perfect and occasionally I get a “gotcha” moment but mostly it does everything I need. One of things I like is that they provide new features on a fairly regular basis; for example they now have a recommend feature which provides images and other blog links based upon what you’re typing. Cost: free (you can upgrade to get more something or other).

EmailThunderbird and Google. I set up email accounts at Google and then have Thunderbird download the mail from my Google accounts. Quick tip: set up different Google accounts for different things.  Cost free.

Ebook FormattingJutoh – I love this software which took the pain out of a very  painful exercise and with all due respect to those who want me to go and learn HTML – NO!!! And I’m not lazy, I work about 19 hours a day, excluding time for family. But HTML just does my head in. According to the people I have tested it with (readers at MobileReads – who are incredibly knowledgeable about all formats) it works fine. There’s a free version but it comes with a stamp saying this book was formatted by… so I bought it. Cost US$22-00

WritingPagefour – I only use MS Word and import/export between the two.  If you have word stick with that. If all you own in the world is a notebook and you have no money at all (then writing as a career probably isn’t what you should be doing right now), then go to OpenOffice or Google Documents. Cost US$34.95

OutliningXMind – “Mind mapping” software. Sounds fancy and I wish I had software that could really map out what was in my brain (be careful what you wish for Simon…), but this software at least lets me put ideas down, move the pieces around and create associations, sub-plots that kind of thing. Cost: free

Download Site – One of the drawbacks of WordPress – remember that “Gotcha” I told you about? Is that you cannot host epub files, even when you own the domain (at least I haven’t figured out how). I give away my books and short stories (I call it advertising), until they’re ready for prime-time at Amazon (cover complete, perfect no typo’s manuscript etc.) and will always give the PDF’s away. So that was a problem; for about five minutes, and Google Docs provided the answer. Quick tip: Upload your work to Google docs as a backup. There’s very little chance of you ever losing it.Cost free.

MobiPocket Reader – You need this to look at the format of the epubs you compile.

ResearchGoogle Chrome browser – it beats all the others hands down, with its nice clean interface. Also Google Earth – nothing better for getting around a city short of being there.

Cover Design – No idea. I wouldn’t dream of destroying thousands of hours of my spent time with a crappy cover and that’s what I’d have. Unless you’re an expert don’t go there – you’re doing yourself and Indie Publishing a bad name.

Social Networking – Twitter and Facebook, and if you don’t know where to find them I suggest a pen and paper or an old Smith-Corona available from here.

Disclaimer: The only relationship I have with any of the companies listed above is that I am a grateful customer.


About Simon Royle

Thinking about the future, and how to affect positive change for that future.
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