We’re at the end of 2013 already. Can you believe it? Throughout this year, we’ve done the hard work (so you wouldn’t have to) of bookmarking every site that we used or came across that you need to check out in 2014. The ones with stars are editor’s choice–the sites that we use all the time and have found superb for authors.
Need we go into why Twitter is our number one favorite social network for authors? Besides the fact that it helped us grow our own following, we’ve seen authors use Twitter to promote their books, network with media, increase visibility, and create long-term fans.
We love Goodreads for its many purposes. Join the author program, enter your book in a giveaway, browse books for cover design inspiration, and encourage your readers to rate and review your book.
Pinterest is a fabulous social network for authors of cookbooks, business, how-to, inspirational, and self-help. Create boards of your favorite things, pin your creations (recipes, infographics, tools, photos, and quotes), and build a following by creating informational boards that double as a resource repository. Check out our Pinterest profile to see how we’re using it.
If you’re not a fan of Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, we recommend LinkedIn. LinkedIn is your best low-maintenance social media option. Post updates, send announcements about your book, add “author” and your book’s title to your profile, and join LinkedIn groups that include potential readers.
Once your book is published, optimize your presence on Amazon by joining Amazon’s Author Central. It’ll allow you to sync your blog and Twitter accounts, add video, and a detailed bio. You’ll also have access to sales stats.
This is one of our favorite tools this year, especially for authors who are also bloggers. Put in a keyword and boom it generates a boatload of title options for you. Of course some of the titles are useless and silly, but if you’re at a lost, it’s a fun tool to help stimulate ideas.
Spreaker is one more way to share your content. Record a provocative scene in your novel, tips from your business book, or a reflective passage from your memoir. Upload and link it to your website. Don’t forget to infuse your personality and even ad-lib to add texture and authenticity. Spreaker integrates and sends updates to your other social networks.
Pull tips, lessons, stories, and resources from your book into a presentation. Upload to Slideshare as another way your audience could potentially discover you. Include important links and contact information (website, email, social networking accounts) within the presentation.
We’ve enjoyed the evolution of Scribd. Read more about it here. Upload your entire book to Scribd as a PDF or epub file. You can also upload short excerpts, blog posts, etc.
If you’re using Pinterest, check out PicMonkey. Edit photos, create a Facebook cover, design a collage of images related to your book.
Another fun tool for Pinterest users and authors who enjoy repurposing text into images. We’ve used Pinstamatic to transform quotes from our book and blog posts into images that we posted to Pinterest and Facebook. We also created a board of our favorite authors on Twitter. You can turn audio clips, events, and websites into “pinnable” images. You can also customize photos and add captions–the possibilities are endless!
A tad more limiting than Pinstamatic, but another image tool that we’ve used to create images for blog posts.
We clearly loved image tools this year. Shareasimage is another favorite for creating images. Another idea: upload a stock image with a background related to your book, add your text and upload to your website. Pin the image on Pinterest, upload to Facebook, and Tweet it. Make sure it’s hyperlinked to a landing page, order page, or your book’s Amazon page.
How does one manage several online accounts? Use IFTTT to create “recipes” that are automated. For example, create a “recipe” that automatically tweets your new blog post. Turn IFTTT into a “personal assistant” of sorts. A few popular recipes include: starring an email in Gmail and having it automatically saved to your reminder list; inviting new phone contacts to connect on LinkedIn; and adding receipts and orders to a Google Drive spreadsheet.
We use Buffer to make our lives easier managing Twitter and Facebook. When we read posts we like about writing and publishing, we often use Buffer, which adds those links to a queue and tweets them automatically.
We were really sad to see our beloved Google Reader go away this year. In its place we use Feedly. As an author, keep yourself in the loop by using Feedly to follow all of your favorite websites/blogs. Skim several articles by topic and/or source in one place and you’ve made it much easier to stay informed.
Use the Social Cam app on your smartphone to record a video and quickly upload. The major advantage is how easy it is to use on your mobile device as a video recording tool.
If you’re looking for content software to help organize and structure your book, Scrivner is the best option out there. It boasts several content-generating features, our favorite being the Outliner.
Advanced Twitter users will enjoy Tagboard’s ability to help you track your favorite hashtags. Create a hashtag for your book as author Aurora Whittet has for her YA novel Bloodmark (#Bloodmark) and track its activity on Tagboard. It’s pretty slick.
Bookbuzzr offers several book marketing technology tools for authors, including a “Book Tweeter” and several widgets. There are four pricing packages, including a free option.
We’ve heard good things about BookBub and its ability to help ebook authors gain more visibility. BookBub boasts thousands of subscribers. By signing up for one of their promotions (its fee-based), your book will go out in an email to subscribers and be featured on their site.
Considerably cheaper than BookBub, Ebook Booster submits your ebook to 50 sites for $40. The price is low enough to give it a try this year.
Join HARO for free and get daily notifications from reporters that need sources. You might find yourself quoted in an article with a mention of your book.
Author Community Sites
Mostly geared to the readership and authors of YA fiction, it’s a neat little community for sharing work. We love how easy the site is to navigate and the collaborative energy among fellow writers. However, if you’re looking for hardcore connections and networking, this isn’t probably the site for you, but you’ll certainly enjoy the work posted here and equally enjoy the process of uploading your work.
Tumblr is part blog, part social network. Here’s an excellent GalleyCat article that explains perfectly how authors should use Tumblr.
The Library Thing community is 1.7 million and counting. As an author, you can create an author page. Similar to Goodreads, you can enter your book in giveaways and join relevant discussions. Visit their page for authors and become familiar with the benefits for your book.
We’re longtime fans of Kelsye Nelson, co-creator of Writer.ly. We recommend bookmarking this site right now (we mean after you’re done reading this post). Writer.ly is an online marketplace that connects authors with services and experts. The interface is simple to navigate and the selection of high-quality freelancers is decent.
We’ve heard good things about this community, specifically regarding workshopping manuscripts and networking with other authors. We’ve shared our take on Book Country before. However, full disclosure: we’ve also heard not-so-great things about Book Country’s self-publishing services. Read J.A. Konrath’s take here. So in a nutshell, check it out, but do your research before signing up for formatting or ebook services.
If we had to pick a favorite community for writers, it’d be NaNoWriMo, which you can frequent all year long–don’t wait for November to make use of this gem. From the tracking tools, to the forum, to the events that you can discover in your own backyard, you will treasure this site. For novelists, NaNoWriMo is the mandatory resource for your arsenal.
We won’t describe each blog here. Just know that these blogs are the best in writing & publishing and should be followed religiously.
Publishing & Crowdfunding Resources
Our choices below are the best sites for uploading your book and having it published instantly and for free. We threw in Pubslush as our favorite crowdsourcing site for authors. Of course there’s Kickstarter, but PubSlush is geared to authors. You keep anything raised above your minimum goal, not your maximum as in other crowdfunding sites. Read this recent article about them to learn more.
We’ve used Hello Bar on our website in the past to promote a product and workshop. It’s a decent tool for linking to your book’s buy page on your website or offering a free tool in exchange for an email address.
Don’t bother having a blog without the ability for readers to share your content. Dig Dig is our favorite share tool that provides a nifty floating bar with the ability to share each post via your social networking sites. You need only look to the left of this post to see it in action.
Need a business card designed, flyer, or postcard? What about a logo for your website or blog? Don’t want to hire a graphic designer for a simple design project? No problem. We LOVE using Fiverr for our uncomplicated project needs: website sliders, business cards, etc. Did we mention that you can get most things designed for as low as $5?
Need to print those business cards? Gotprint is inexpensive with decent quality to boot.
If you want a fabulous array of beautifully designed stationery and business cards, we guarantee you’ll find at least one or two designs on Moo that you’ll love. You can order stickers, postcards, and they even offer Facebook cards. Their writer-centric business cards are our personal favorites.
Need swag with your book cover on it? With Zazzle you can add your book cover to phone cases, journals, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and so much more.
Education & Inspiration
Want to teach an online course related to your book? Check out Udemy. It’s also a valuable site for taking a course that might enhance your publishing process. Courses on writing, marketing, and sales abound.
Every writer should frequent the Writer’s Digest site and/or add it to your Feedly feed to peruse when you have free time. You’ll receive everything from writing tips, writing prompts, and tutorials to critique services and writing contests.
We covered a post not too long ago about our favorite Ted Talks on writing. Check that post out and then have fun rejuvenating your writing efforts this year.
So there it is…our roundup of the best in websites to stalk in the New Year. Which ones to did we leave out?