Here are my favorite tools for writing, editing, designing, and publishing both print and digital projects. These writing resources will be updated as I find them.
Note: Some of the following are affiliate links; at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. These links in no way affects my suggestions. I only recommend products I know, love, and trust to make life easier.
Citation and Style Guides
Here are three of the most common styles for formatting and citation.
Grammar & Writing Resources
Grammarly is a useful tool for checking grammar and spelling for obvious mistakes. A free version is available; you can use it online, in Microsoft Word, or on your desktop. There is also a paid version that includes helping with vocabulary and checking your text for plagiarism.
Hemmingway is an app that highlights common errors such as run-on sentences, passive voice, and misuse of adverbs. It also indicates lengthy or complex verbiage.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst: Writing Center has multiple resources for helping you become a better writer. It is primarily for student use but is open to the public. It’s a great source for reviewing grammar and writing rules.
Print Publication Layout & Design
Adobe InDesign — Adobe InDesign is the industry standard for print and digital publication design. It is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud products and I have used it for years to create both print and digital publications. There are a variety of templates that you can find online and with the program.
QuarkXPress — Quark is another program used by design professionals that lets you combine writing, editing, and design into one. Full disclosure: I have not used this program since the late 1990s but I do know that it is still frequently used in design houses. It is still a good alternative to Adobe InDesign if you need one.
Microsoft Publisher — I can hear my design friends yelling at me already but if you don’t want to pay the $21 a month price tag of Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Publisher is another good alternative. It comes with Microsoft Office and may already be installed on your computer. It’s basic, but it can be used for layout of (short) books, brochures, etc. It also comes with several templates for your use and is fairly user-friendly.
Scribus — Scribus is an open-sourced desktop publishing software, similar to Adobe InDesign. It has a higher learning curve, but it will allow you to accomplish many of the same layout and design tasks.
For text-only novels, I strongly suggest simply using your word processor and free tools from Amazon. For example, Amazon has several programs that will take your Word document (or PDF) and simply import it as is. No need to get fancy or purchase extra software!
You can also use programs like Canva and PicMonkey to create brochures and other short publications. I would not recommend constructing a 100+ book with these programs, however.
Writer Promotion & Blogging Resources
WordPress is a FREE software that you can use to create blogs, business websites, and e-commerce sites. You can either use their own hosting website (wordpress.com) or reserve your own spot on the Internet with a hosting platform. The best hosting services are ones that offer one-step installations and give you the freedom to customize your site (such as add plug-ins for more functionality) to fit your needs. Here are three platforms that I have personally used and recommended for hosting your site.
Hosting (for WordPress)
BlueHost — BlueHost is one of the most trusted names in the industry for a reason. For as little as $3.00 a month, you can get a fully-functional WordPress installation with a customized domain name. BlueHost sets up your basic site after you select your free domain that comes with your package. Then you simply choose your theme and customize WordPress to your specifications. I currently use this for all of my sites and highly recommend it.
HostGator — HostGator is another trusted name in the industry and also has the classic one-click WordPress installation package. It offers unlimited disk space, emails, and bandwidth on all plans.
WordPress.com — WordPress.com offers a free solution if you wish to host a general blog online. You can have a tailored domain extension such as myblog.wordpress.com. The free site comes with limitations, however. You cannot customize it or monetize your blog without upgrading to one of the paid packages.
Email Marketing Hosting Providers
To reach out to existing readers, and to attract new readers to your publication, email marketing is a great alternative to social media and other outlets. Here are three ones that I suggest for you to use.
ConvertKit — ConvertKit is an email marketing service created by bloggers for bloggers. It is one of the top providers on the market and highly recommended. If you wish to have more automation in reaching to your readers or promoting your next book, this service is highly recommended. It is kind of pricey for starting writers, however, so you can start with a service like MailChimp and then transfer your users over.
MailChimp — MailChimp’s free version is an alternative for writers, which offers email marketing for up to 1,000 email users. Once you go over the 1,000 users, they also have paid tiers alternatives.
Campaign Monitor — Campaign Monitor is another great program that I have used for sending out newsletters and mass emails. It has a very easy user interface and allows you the ability to drag-and-drop images and text into your email.
Image Editing Software
Adobe Photoshop — Yes, it’s a paid software but it’s the one that image and publishing professionals use most often for a reason. You can do almost anything with Photoshop; it’s good for both print and digital publications. For $10.00 a month, you can get both PhotoShop and Adobe Lightroom to help you make the best of your images for either print or online publications. You can even use it to create brochures and other marketing tools. However, it does have a steeper learning curve than a program like Canva.
Canva — Canva is a free online tool that allows you to edit your images for different forms of use. The site also contains templates for creating social media ads or announcements that help for writers that are not otherwise artistically inclined. You can select what you need in your onboarding process and they will recommend different templates.
PicMonkey — PicMonkey is another online photo editing software that allows you to choose from templates for creating software in addition to editing, touch up, and design.
GIMP — GIMP is an open-source image and graphics image editor used for image retouching and editing. It’s very similar to Adobe PhotoShop but can have a bit of a learning curve.
Interested in more alternatives to software? See my post on this subject and let me know if you have used any more recent software.