Just some stuff I like to use…
As a writer, I want to make the processing side of my work as easy as possible. Processing means anything that isn’t writing. It describes the tools I use to format and present my work, the systems for communicating my work and the resources I employ to make my work accessible to all.
I find new tools all of the time; here are some of the ones I regularly use and why I use them.
The number of websites is growing exponentially.
1, 518, 207,412
The total number of sites so far as at January 2019.
Earlier this year I decided to add to this number by producing my own website. In truth, it’s a blog. I created it to map my writing journey. I have added some of the tools I use and I will add short stories as my work moves forward. Not all writers use a website at all.
I chose WordPress because it’s really easy to use, it’s quite good fun setting it up and I enjoy the creative process of playing with images and layout.
WordPress has many themes to choose from and I selected their Twenty Seventeen theme.
Publishing Your Website
The process has three parts to it. Firstly, work out what domain name you want for your site. The name you pick should be associated with what you are doing and relevant to your audience. It’s helpful if the domain you pick does what it says on the can. Mine is my name…simple. Secondly find a domain name registration company to keep your name safe and thirdly, your website will have to sit on the Internet and for this you will need a host. The host displays your website and keeps it up there and visible on the web.
Domain name registration…
I secured my domain name (ajvalls.com) with a third party registration company (I use Heart Internet* as they are local to me).
Find yourself a good quality and easy to work with domain name registrant. Cheapest isn’t always best. If you’re creating your own site, their support and customer service promises are very important.
Once you have picked the domain name registering company, you can easily search their site any number of times for a domain name and extension (.com, .co.uk, .net, .org etc…) that works for you and then see how much it will cost for you to continually own that name for the future. You can own names associated with yours and never use them. Simply owning them prevents others from mimicking you.
Hosting your site…
Finally, the domain name and website have to sit on the Internet and for this, you will need a host. The host is where your website lives and is viewed on computers and handheld devices (Phones, Pads etc). Again, read the reviews and pick an established and quality hosting company. You don’t want downtime or conflicts as this will turn off viewers and they won’t value your work.
I looked for some time to find which host I should use and I read many reviews from other creative people. I found a hosting service based on their reviews and feedback. (I host with Siteground GB*).
Linking the three together is very straight forward. Both the WordPress user interface (Dashboard) and tutorial videos (WordPress and YouTube) make life really simple. It takes a little time and patience but the process is both satisfying and rewarding.
I decided to write by using a computer. For this, I chose a MacBook Pro* as it is portable, robust and secure. I wanted to find tools compatible with this platform and ones that enabled me to publish what I am writing.
From the start, I was aware that I would need to get the layout right and make it compatible with the spec required by agents and those for a wide range of eReaders.
I selected Scrivener* and I did this because of other authors, serious authors, that have recommended it and for no other reason than this. I am sure there are other platforms that are just as good and I am also sure that others will offer different functionality and features that will attract a wide range of other writers.
I wanted a platform that was simple to use and Scrivener is a writing and publishing platform that allows me to assemble and move about a wide range of content, chapters and research materials with ease. I don’t know if I will self publish, send my work to agents or a mixture of both; for now, I’m just writing.
I shall review it properly once I have used it some more.
Sometimes I like to test my writing to see if it is readable and coherent. I want my work to be widely read and I want it to appeal to all readers from every walk of life. I want my words to be easy to read and understand and not be too difficult to read, etherial or highfalutin (which both of these words are, apparently).
I occasionally run a segment of what I have written through a desktop app called Hemmingway Editor*. The more I use this app, the more I adapt my writing style to keep it consistently simple.
I use it less and less these days but that’s because I used it a lot when I started…it taught me to write more simply and I do that instinctively now.
Knowing your audience and the genre of your writing is critical if you are to position your book when talking to agents and publishers.
I discovered K-Litics* quite by accident and having paid for and downloaded the E-Book Market Research for the genre Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian Market Report, I was blown away by the depth and breadth of the research and what is trending in this area of writing.
The report covers Setting, Focus, Conflict, Typical Themes, How It (Future World) Comes About, Origin, Examples and bestseller performance lists over the past year, I can say it’s about as thorough as you could get. It’s a snapshot and trends change. Later next year I shall buy the same data analysis and compare the two to see what has shifted.
But never lose sight of why you are writing:
“Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and you are as good as dead, although you may make a nice living.”
― E.B. White, The Elements of Style
Ideas come to me at different times and often when I least expect them. I used to believe that I would remember them later…I don’t. I looked for a tool to use to record my pop up thoughts.
I selected Evernote* because it is so flexible it’s easy to integrate so many different elements into the note and it can also use my phone’s voice recording capability to ‘write’ the note from the words I speak. It’s very accurate and satisfying to use to recall those ideas.
To Do (Microsoft)
Everyone loves a To Do list. Well actually that isn’t true, I really don’t like to do lists and that is why my desk and monitor screen are adorned with yellow post-it notes.
Some time ago I was ‘forced’ to use a to do list app called Wunderlist and to be honest, it was helpful in reminding me of all the things I hadn’t done.
It appears that Microsoft has now taken over Wunderlist and given it the imaginative handle Microsoft To Do.* Yeah.
So I’ve added it here because, to be quite honest, I’m forgetting more than I’m remembering now. So, if I remember, I will start to use MTD as my go-to list of oppressive reminders so that I can start the day feeling as though I have failed to finish all of the previous days.
Great content needs great pictures. Whether it’s a blog or a website, pictures speak volumes about the tone you want to set.
I was shown the Unsplash* site by an online friend and I find it has everything that I would need with a simple to navigate menu. You can use the images for free but it’s a really great feature that you can copy and paste a simple attribution to give credit to the originator (and copyright holder) for their work.
Uploading images has been made really easy with many of the blog or web builder websites. What isn’t so easy is making the images small enough to keep the site load speed as short as possible whilst maintaining the integrity of a great photo.
I download images from Unsplash (or use my own images) onto my computer desktop. I open up CompressNow* then drag and drop the image into the [ane on the left. I set the image size I require on the slider bar and it automatically removes stuff that isn’t needed and shrinks the image to the file size I want. I usually set it for about 350kbs and it’s amazing how good the image is at that resolution.
I then upload the file to the site and size using their tools. On WordPress it’s a simple image grab sizer that gives me the picture size I need.
Mailchimp – My Email Server
I have integrated Mailchimp* into my website so that anyone signing up for a Newsletter of more info has to provide me with a way of contacting them.
Obviously, I take notice of GDPR and so I want to work with an email partner that has all of the tools I need, PLUS it complies with the law so that I don’t bug people.
I am lucky that over the years I have built up a 10,000+ email marketing database of subscribers who have all opted in; it is these people that get regular updates but can opt-out if I do bug them (unsubscribe).
Most sites have a Cookie opt in/out that really irritates me when I use a new site, so I’m going to do all I can to avoid having these things on my site.
Inspiration comes in many forms.
*I get no reward for referencing any of the above providers.