One of the things I’m always interested in is how other authors work. Since I’m always reading up on all the tactics and programs and things that authors use in an effort to find things to make my own writing more efficient, I thought I would use this week’s blog post to reveal the different programs inside my authorial toolbox in the hopes that maybe another author will find it useful for enhancing their own workflow!
1. Microsoft Word/Excel
One of the most essential programs to my work that I use on a daily basis is definitely Microsoft Office, specifically Word and Excel. I use Word for the obvious: it’s where I put together the final draft of my books before I move on to the formatting stage (the actual drafting happens in another program, which I’ll talk about in a moment). In Excel, I have a nifty little spreadsheet I found online called the Spreadsheet of Shame, which I use to track word counts in order to try to keep me on track for deadlines that I set for finishing each stage of the book.
Next up on my list is definitely Scrivener. Most writers are familiar with what Scrivener is, but in short: It’s a word processing program, but it’s so much more than that. You can create individual little files for each chapter or scene in your book, which are displayed as index cards, and you can rearrange the cards to move a scene rather than having to copy/paste to move things around. You can tag scenes, create character sheets, create setting sheets, keep research notes, and so much more that I can’t even begin to describe. If you do anything that involves any amount of writing, you should really consider picking up a copy of Scrivener. It’s well worth the price.
For project management, I can’t recommend Trello enough, partly because of its ease of use, its flexibility, and the fact that it’s free for everything I need to use it for. I run and manage not only my general life but my editorial schedule and my writing schedule in it. On my writing calendar board, I track books that are pending, outlined, in drafting, in revisions, in formatting, in the cover stage, in preorder setup, and more. There is literally a list for every stage of the production process in my books, and I track it all in Trello.
Though I often end up having to spend a day detangling and organizing my files in it, I can’t help but recommend the use of Evernote to organize research related to my books. I keep different files with articles and websites related to each of my series, along with another where I keep articles and websites that are good inspiration for story ideas. And best of all, like Trello, Evernote has a free version!
5. Aeon Timeline
This is one of those apps that seems like a lot of writers are completely unaware of, but it has saved my writing life more times than I can count. Aeon Timeline is a really handy app you can use to track the timelines of your books, and it’s especially useful if your story is action heavy and/or it takes place over an extended timeline or series of books. I’ve found it very useful when plotting and writing The Unnaturals Series–that series in particular takes place over a reasonably short period of time in the grand scheme of things (at least, so far), but it references a lot that happened before the first book in the series, and it’s helpful to be able to figure out when an event happened in relation to the events that are being written. You can also tag locations and characters to a particular event, too, and color code it all so that you can see a nice chart of scenes and who was involved and where the events happened with one click!
This one is a Mac-only program, unfortunately, which is why I listed it as a bonus rather than one of my top five, but if you have a Mac, I can’t recommend this app enough. This one makes it an absolute no-brainer to format books for publication on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more, and it will produce galleys for print! You can customize your book’s appearance and insert photos and endnotes and more. It’s fairly on the pricey side, but if you have a Mac and the money and you’re in the market for something that will save you some dough in the long run (by not having to pay someone else to format your books for you), you can’t go wrong splurging on Vellum.
Are you a writer? What’s the one application you find absolutely invaluable to the process of writing or creating your books?
You can check out one of my books (that was created in Vellum!) for FREE just by signing up for my newsletter! CLICK HERE to download your free copy of Nightfall, the prequel novel in The Unnaturals Series! And The Unnaturals, book one in the series, is still going for free on most major ebook retailers, so pick up your copy today!