Beginning your journey as a self-published author can be expensive so finding free software and tools can save you time as well as money. I asked the authors in my FREE Facebook group how much it generally cost them to publish a book. The findings did vary on a huge level, but the majority paid between £200 and £300. There were some authors that paid a staggering amount of over £1000 to publish a novel, so here at Wingfield Designs, I am going to give you some options that will help enhance your writing careers as well as save you money. Again I took the time this morning to ask authors what some of their favourite apps and software were and why they used them. This feedback from authors that regularly use these apps is vital to enable me to give you valuable feedback right from those in the writing industry.
So let's take you on the complete self-publishing journey.
Writing Your Novel
How Does Google Docs Assist An Author?
Even as a blogger my go-to software for writing blog posts is Google Docs. This program for me, as well as a high number of my authors, is absolutely essential, and even better, it is completely FREE! All you require for google docs is a Gmail account and this will give you access via your browser to a number of FREE tools such as Google Docs, which is similar to Microsoft word, google sheets which is similar to Microsoft Excel, along with a number of other features. One of the major benefits of google docs is the ability to access your file anywhere at any time as it is saved to Google Drive. You can access that file on your phone, tablet, any pc, or laptop so you can truly write whenever inspiration hits you! Another advantage to using google docs is that it saves constantly, allowing you the satisfaction that you are less likely to lose any of your work. We have all been there when we have been writing what we think is an excellent project, only for the laptop to crash and switch itself off, losing all our hard work and achievements.
How Does Grammarly Help An author?
Grammarly is another piece of FREE software that I have installed on my laptop to assist with my writing. Grammarly finds any spelling or punctuation mistakes in your writing just as the Word’s spell check feature would, this doesn't only find spelling and punctuation errors but will also make suggestions of how your sentence is constructed, on the clarity of your writing and the tone that you are trying to achieve with your writing. With Grammarly, there is a free version but there is also the ability to upgrade to the premium version which gives you more suggestions on your writing. The fee for premium is $144 USD a year or $30 a month if not paying annually. When using premium Grammarly it gives you comprehensive real-time feedback, giving you advanced suggestions, and even plagiarism detection.
Is the premium worth it?
Paying for Grammarly is completely worth it to really enhance your writing, it not only saves you the embarrassment of making simple mistakes in your writing but also enhances your writing skills by giving you good feedback throughout your writing. Ultimately, using Grammarly could save you some money in editing by eradicating simple mistakes that your editor will not have to find. Although, please do not see this as a replacement for an editor or proofreader, these two are vital for the success of your book. Even before publishing any blog post I have a proofreader look over the content and make any necessary changes. Even if you can’t currently afford the premium it is still worth downloading the free version to assist with your writing.
ProWritingAid advantages for authors.
This is very similar to that of Grammarly, both of these softwares are considered to be some of the best grammar checking software currently out there. The difference with ProWritingAid is that it offers a more in-depth report to help strengthen your writing. ProWritingAid tool handles things such as fragmented sentences and gives you the ability to consider alternative options in your writing to make it cleaner. Again there is a FREE option to ProWritingAid but many of the features are limited so would require you to upgrade to the premium option, however, this is more cost-effective than Grammarly and comes in at £110 a year or £20 a month, it also gives you the option to buy a lifetime membership for £399. Again this should not be used as a replacement for an editor or a proofreader.
My takeaway from both of these pieces of software is that if you can not afford either then Grammarly would be your better option as it gives much more of its features inside the free option. However, if you are going to invest I highly recommend ProWritingAid as it is much more suited to fictional writers and still saves you money compared to the premium version of Grammarly.
Can Canva help with creating promotional content?
This is actually even a favourite for me, I use the Canva app for promotional material for my own business. This again has a free option that gives you access to a lot of its features. It is very simple to use and gives you templates of the correct size for the social media platform where you are creating your advertising.
You can create any social media-sized posts including, Twitter posts, Pinterest posts, Youtube banners and thumbnails, TikTok Videos, Instagram reels, posts and stories, Facebook posts and stories, and even WhatsApp statuses. Canva can also be used on your laptop as well as an app on both android and apple devices and saves all your projects to your account. In Canva you can also create a “Brand Kit” which allows you to create consistency in your colourings and keep your branding consistent. A personal favourite of mine is that it will also give you an example of colours within your image that work well together giving your overall look a much more professional feel.
There is the option to upgrade your Canva to either a monthly or yearly subscription, I feel that it's definitely worth it as it gives you a huge number of other assets, fonts, images, videos, and even other templates. Once you have upgraded it also allows you to give access to other accounts as well as create multiple sizes of the same advert saving you much time remaking multiple adverts. The price of this is either £10.99 a month or £107.99 a year saving you a little extra on the monthly subscription.
I highly recommend this to all my authors and also offer a social media package for them to create their own promotional images saving them money in the long run. My social media package includes 3d Renders of their books, .png of titles, and teasers without text so they can add their own quotes. By giving the author access to .pngs it is very simple to use Canva to create a promotional image themselves using either the app or browser.
Can Meta Business Suite Help Manage your Author accounts?
I was introduced to the Meta Business Suite a few months ago and I would recommend it to any business, not just authors. You can access it via an app on your devices or via your browser but it allows you to do a number of things and control your accounts from anywhere, anytime!
I'll go over a few of the benefits of this platform and create a blog post specifically in regards to How to use Meta Business Suit to your advantage. This platform allows you to schedule posts in advance for both your Instagram and Facebook page providing it is connected. You can schedule as far in advance as needed so it really does take the pressure out of logging in each day to post, it allows you to take control of your social media and ensure that you are posting regularly.
The Meta Business Suite also allows you to manage events, products (although only through a browser), appointments, and adverts, all from one place. It also allows you to create saved tag groups for regular posting, this is a huge advantage and saves valuable time when, for example, posting about a particular book all your tags are saved in one place and can just be added with the push of a button instead of trying to remember them all and add them individually. It also shows you how popular a particular hashtag is on both Facebook and Instagram, a little tip from my social media expert is to go for the ones with the smaller numbers as the competition is less fierce and allows you to reach a more targeted audience.
Finally, the insights feature is my personal favourite, it allows you to set yourself monthly targets and tracks your progress. I always set a monthly target to increase my reach and take into account which posts I've shared in the previous months that have had the most interaction or reached a wider audience in order to ensure my marketing for the following month includes posts similar. Facebook and Instagram have become all about interaction, the more a person engages on your pages and accounts the more Facebook will show them your content, so it's vital to not just post sales, post what you need to engage with your audience, by keeping a close eye on your own insights you can accommodate your posts to engage with your own followers.
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