My gift to you this holiday season is this list of resources for writers that I love and that I believe will make your lives easier. Some will save you money and others will help you to polish your books. So let’s get’s started with my holiday list of ten great resources writers need to know about and in some cases start using today.
Applications to Create Professional-Looking Banners and Images for Pinterest
Have you ever experienced Facebook banner envy? You know, those beautiful Timeline banners that some people pay a great deal of money to graphic designers to create? Guess what? Canva, presently a free application (it’s still in Beta so request your invitation), is a tool you can use to create Facebook banners, Twitter headers, cards, biographics, business cards, photo cards, and other image-based messaging. It’s an easy, intuitive tool to use.
Here are a few samples of items I recently created with Canva. First, here are some two Facebook banner images. The blue one is for my Facebook profile, and the second one is a banner I used on my Facebook author page.
I created this image when I ran a promotion on my blog recently.
The next image is one I created when my Facebook likes reached a certain number.
Canva features some images that you can purchase for $1 or you can upload your own. The majority of images and features are free of charge.
I’ve used PicMonkey for months to resize and crop photos for free. But recently I wanted to create some images for Pinterest so I upgraded to the paid plan, about $30/year. Here are a couple of examples of my creations. I created the first one for Nina Amir’s Author of Change program and then uploaded it to Pinterest and Twitter.
And here’s a holiday collage for Pinterest I created just for fun.
Once you create and save the images, you can share them directly to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, or Tumblr as well as send them via email to a colleague. You can also use this tool to create Facebook covers or perhaps a collage of some of the books you’ve written.
Use this application to create a variety of images. For example, you can type quotes onto a sticky note, create a pin of your website or your Twitter bio, or create images to pin text, quotes, locations and dates. You can even create a pin of your favorite song and its album artwork. When I typed in Someone Like You by Adele, Pinstamatic provided several options, then created an image to pin based on my selection.
In this example, I typed a favorite quote, included the author’s name, and when I pressed “Pin,” the image uploaded seamlessly to my Pinterest account.
You can also use Pinstamatic to upload your own images (book covers), quotes by your favorite authors, and great lines from books that you’ve written. Don’t forget to include your book title when quoting from your novel or memoir.
DIY Tools for Designing Your Next Book’s Interior and Cover
After writing your book you need a great cover. You can hire a designer (I use the best cover designer, Kit Foster) or you can try to create a cover yourself.
Self-published authors on a tight budget might want to try a new DIY tool. Cover designer Derek Murphy of CreativIndie Covers has put together a package of book cover design templates made in Microsoft Word.
Although it sounds like an unlikely pairing, the templates look clean and professional, not only for simple non-fiction covers, but also for all types of fiction. If you’re familiar with using MS Word, customizing the templates to make them unique shouldn’t be difficult.
Also included in the DIY Covers Package are templates and instructions to make full print covers, business cards, and blog headers, giving writers more control over the graphical elements of their author platform. If you’d like to see the samples and read more about the project, you can visit www.diybookcovers.com.
To use the tool, you’ll need to install the fonts and templates, and then find an image you like. Derek recommends these sources:
The website includes a QuickStart guide, a Cheat Sheet, training videos, 80 fiction cover templates and 70 non-fiction cover templates. Here’s an example of a DIY book cover.
The developer will be adding more features including gradients and color washes and templates for business cards, blog banners, and Facebook covers.
Are you tired of paying the high cost of a graphic designer for the layout of your book? Joel Friedlander’s Book Design Templates let Indie authors quickly and easily create the interior layout of their books. There are templates for fiction, memoir, narrative non-fiction, reference, and technical and non-fiction books. In addition, there are now templates for children’s books
Joel is a book designer so self-published authors can trust that the templates carefully balance typographic beauty with ease of reading. Although I haven’t yet used the template I purchased, a colleague has and she said the process was easy. If you need help, Joel’s team will upload your book into your purchased template. Finally, each template comes with five kinds of interior pages, section breaks, running heads, and page numbers.
These templates will save writers money and help them to produce books that appear professionally designed.
By the way, self-published authors should all become acquainted with Joel’s blog, The Book Designer. You will learn everything you need to know about self-publishing, book covers, and book marketing by reading his posts.
Resources to Help Writers Focus on Their Writing and Publishing Careers in 2014
There are numerous editors and bloggers who can help you to make your narratives shine and here I recommend some of the best in the field.
If you’re a nonfiction writer, you’ll want to check out Nina’s Become an Author of Change program.
How do you know whether you are a candidate for the Author of Change program? You are if you feel called to:
- Change on a personal level or to become a successful and inspiring author.
- Help others change because of things you have learned.
- Write about how to create change personally, organizationally or globally.
- Express a sense of purpose or mission to inspire others to take positive action.
Through the course work and homework, you’ll be asked to look at:
- Who you are as a writer.
- Who you are as a businessperson.
- How you need to change to become a successful published author.
- How you need to alter your message to make it effective.
The course has three study options that start at $147 (early bird special is $127 until December 31, 2013).
Presently, Nina is hosting a Twitter contest. The two people who send the most retweets about her Author of Change program will either win a free seat in her program or a free one-hour consultation. Here’s the tweet to get you into the contest: “Become an Author of Change with @NinaAmir #AuthorofChange Pls Retweet http://bit.ly/1gzRVMH“
Who wouldn’t want to consult with the author of The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master, The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories, and the Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts? Easy Exercises to Get Your Writing? This is the woman who really understands plot (confession: this is my weakness in fiction writing).
In Martha’s four-week Plot Workshop, you will receive a competitive analysis of your plot from Literary Agent Jill Corcoran and plotting help and guidance from Martha.
She also offers Deep Plotting Writing Retreats where you can plan, polish and test your plot both at the overall story level and at the scene level.
In addition, she offers a 27-step free tutorial designed to help you plot your novel, memoir or screenplay as well as fee-based one-on-one consultations. If you have difficulty with plot in your stories, Martha is the expert on this topic.
Are you concerned with how you are telling your story, and about elements such as pacing, character development, structuring chapters and scenes, building tension, epiphanies, and denouements? Could you use someone to delve deep into the heart of your story and come back out with encouraging, constructive feedback? If so, then Susanne Lakin and her team of editors can help you. Members of her editing team are professional copyeditors and published novelists in a variety of genres, and Susanne brings to her editing and critiquing nearly thirty years of experience in writing novels.
In addition to being a respected fiction copyeditor, Susanne is the author of fourteen novels and numerous nonfiction books. Her instructional blog Live Write Thrive was named one of the top ten blogs for writers in 2012. If you’re looking for support as a writer, you’ll find lots of it there.
If all you want is a critique, head on over to her www.critiquemymanuscript.com web page where writers can upload documents and pay for either a partial or complete manuscript critique. She does 200+ critiques a year in nearly every genre for clients all over the world.
If you’re attending the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, you’ll be able to meet Susanne and Martha in person.
Jordan says that she has a simple philosophy in her editing, coaching and teaching: “Practice. Polish. Persist.” She advises, “Make your writing life into an ongoing, deep writing practice that can survive the test of time, discouragement and change. Never stop trying to become better and polish your work, learn new things, take classes and feed both your muse and your craft. But what will set you apart is your persistence. Don’t give up. If you need help with any of these things, I’m here to help you.”
Jordan brings an editor’s attention to both the micro and macro aspects of your fiction project, but she also brings a writer’s ear—having been writing and publishing for two decades (author of the novel Forged in Grace, and the writing guides Make a Scene & Write Free). She likes to work with fiction writers at all stages—from the seed of an idea, to the final product—and at all levels, whether the writer needs coaching or a final copyedit. She is especially fond of developmental edits and critiques.
Story in Literary Fiction is a wonderful website filled with interviews of top editors and writing teachers, essays on how to improve one’s writing, a writing blog, and award-winning short stories that the creator of Story in Literary Fiction, William H. Coles, offers for free.
William has written numerous short stories, three novels, and Story in Literary Fiction: A Manual for Writers. William holds the distinction of having placed in the William-Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition many times and was the 2006 Winner of the Sandhills Writers Competition for his tory “Reddog.”
I hope you enjoyed reviewing my list of resources for writers. I’d love to hear about your favorite resources too!
About the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter, the San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+.
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