Three tools for writers and three tools for avid readers

I keep saying all of these great resolutions, and ideas that people have to make their year better, so I thought I’d share some hints and tips, starting with tools.
Tools, whether app, website or program based, are really important to everyone.  And I thought long and hard about the three reader/writer/shared apps, and wanted to say that actually, anyone can use them.  They’re just most suited, in the context I recommend them, for the category they’re listed in.

Tools, apps, programs, halp?

I thought I’d share my three key picks for readers and writers – tools that both should be using, and why.  As this is a recommendations post, there may be affiliate links in it.  They will be clearly marked with a *, though everything I make under affiliate projects is donated to charity.

Tools for writers

This isn’t to say readers can’t use these things, I’ve just recommended them from a writer’s perspective.

Dropbox

Dropbox – you’ve written your work, you’ve saved it on your laptop, then bam…your laptop fails.  If you don’t have a backup solution, you’ve lost all of your work.  In comes Dropbox (or Skydrive, or a dozen other similar solutions).  I personally love Dropbox because I can also back up my blog to it, it’s painless syncing (though, the new laptop only JUST got the 30,000 or so files in there onto it’s system in the last hour from an install running overnight).  Use the link above and we get extra space, plus, at certain parts of the year, it gives my University more space for IT’S projects too!

Wunderlist

Ever wondered why your todo list is a bit…well…ineffective?  In my case, I had a written one at home, and if I forgot to pick it up, I’d be stuck with trying to remember what goals I’d set myself for the day.  In the case of some of it, it’s routine, but it has meant that sometimes I’ve forgotten a major element of something I was supposed to do.
I’m recommending Wunderlist because it seems to have integration with every major platform, plus is available online.  I actually use something else, because I have a Windows 8 laptop and it integrates just with my windows phone, but when I upgrade to my next contract I suspect I’ll be switching back to Wunderlist.

Sigil

Sigil offers something many indies are crying out for – Simple formatting is basically within reach for anyone.  This does not solve really knotty formatting issues, but Sigil is good for getting you onto Kindle from Word.
Simply save your word document, once you’ve removed all of the track changes information (accept all changes/make sure all changes are complete and delete all comments), then save as filtered html.
Import into Sigil
Use the buttons to set up your chapter headings (h2), and split before your chapter headings.  Compile a table of contents using the menu option, insert it, let it ‘clean’ the html, and go for it.  I’ll do a more in depth tutorial about the CSS you can use to make your book fabulous on The Author CEO another time.

Tools for Readers

Readers are really important to writers – but, I sometimes think with all of the choices they have, they’re overwhelmed and can lose track of their favourite writers.  So in recommending these tools, I’m hoping you’ll be able to find your way through the masses of writers and keep track of the ones they really love.

Reading

I have to recommend the Kindle app for readers.  You may not have a Kindle, and may not like the idea of reading on your computer, but the Kindle App is available for desktop and all major platforms.
Why I like it as a reader – I can take my books anywhere, and it lets me sync wherever I am.

Keeping up with the writerati (or their blogs at least)

I know the major complaint I have from most readers is that there’s no way to keep up with their favourite blogs, and that they’re often worried they’ll miss posts they want to read.  The single easiest way to deal with this is to sign up for a free RSS reader – and there’s two ways to do it.
One is setting up your feeds in Calibre to email you every day to your reader.  The catch with this is that your calibre has to be running, and you do need to know the basics of setting up a feed in there.  There WILL be a tutorial later on this blog, with screenshots 🙂
Or you can use an online feedreader.  There are lots, but again, Feedly seems to integrate broad-scale.

New books!

And when there’s a new book, do you want to know now?  Yes, most authors keep Facebook pages and twitter accounts, but you can also sign up to find out when there are books available to you.  Author Alarms is a great option, although there also appears to be a ‘subscribe by email’ to writers on Amazon too.

I hope these tool suggestions give you a bit of an edge and might solve some problems you might not even have been aware you had.