Tools For Self-Publishing

I wanted to post, and also make a page, of actual tools that writers can use for self-publishding. I love lists because lists are easier to use and has step-by-steps to follow, instead of fishing through a lot of blog posts.

NOTE: The majority of the software below can be downloaded all at once at

NOTE of NOTE: After reading the list below and you’re still needing help, check out my Tools Page. It has step-by-step videos on formatting your novels for printers, Smashwords and Kindle.

1) A writing software

– I’ve used Microsoft Word because that is what majority of people use and that’s what came with the laptop. But you can also use Open Office (free tool) for those who can’t stand Microsoft or don’t have the money for it. My current and most favorite tool now is yWriter (another free tool). yWriter helps me jump around from scene to scene; keeps track of: locations, items and characters (with character descriptions); and I can find almost anything, anywhere, so much more easier. It’s a great thing! I have tips on how to get your MSWord document ready before importing into this software. It’s long, but it’s well worth it. Though the software is free, I donated because it was THAT useful to me.

2) A PDF converting software

– Adobe Professional is what I use, but you can get a cheaper version (a poster told me about) that’s hundreds of dollars cheaper called Serif Page Plus X5. Either way, they both are learning curves, meaning you do have to learn the software to know what you have to do…which is basically for all softwares. Want something FREE! Try DoPdf. You can size the pdf to the specific print size of 6×9 (which I couldn’t figure out how to do in CutePDF) and embed fonts. It won’t work for Lightning Source, since they have specific PDF requirements dealing with PDF/X-1a:2001, but you can try it with CreateSpace printer. I looked into PDF995 (also free), but it had like four (4) separate parts and I couldn’t easily just “click a button” to get it working. I’m sure there’s someway to get it to work, but I just couldn’t figure it out. DoPdf was easy and quick. And I’ve heard Open Office conversion worked well with authors too. It has a button that you just click. Give the Freeware a try in CreateSpace first before going to Lightning Source, to save some $$. If it works in one place, it just might work at the other.

3) A photo software

– Here’s where my GIMP comes back in for me. It’s help edit everything that’s a picture, and it’s also free. Need to cut your pictures to 800×600? Use Gimp. If this software is too much, just go to Ninite and look under the Imaging column and take your pick on editing software. You can NOT keep the entire image when you turn it into this size without skewing the picture, but you can view what will be cut out first before sizing it with any frame tool. This helped me with my Book Trailers. Oh! And make sure to have a photo of yourself, because you’ll need it to post…EVERYWHERE!

4) Web Design Program

– I first learned webdesign on FrontPage and moved on to Dreamweaver. I’ve also read good reviews on a Free software called Kompozer. I downloded Kompozer, exported it to my desktop, and it worked great! I took the code in my Kindle Template, pasted it in the Source tab of Kompzer in the “body” section, and did the Preview to see what it would look like. Watch the Step-By-Step videos on how to use it. There’s also SiteSpinner that’s cheap to buy (less than $50.00).

You should get something faster to upload your files from your PC to your domain, however. I use CoreFTP. Need to learn HTML or remember an HTML code? Go to W3Schools and self-teach. If you’re not much into web designing, just go to Blogger and you don’t have to worry about domains and hosts and html. You just need your Google ID (same login used for YouTube, Analytics, Adsense and Feedburner). A lot of authors have pages with {authorname} For more about Web Design stuff, go to my blog: Design a Website for Us Beginners. Oh! Forgot! I purchased my domain name from Namescheap and my host is ICDSoft.

5) Audio software editor

– Whenever I get to this point, I’ll be looking into Audacity (free) for recording audio books. ACX has a great list for beginners and what to get, in its How It Works section. If I ever have another 4-5 hours a day, this would be next on my list to get into, but until then, this is waaaaayyyyy down the list for me.

6) Flip Page software

– You might want to give a nice way for people to get a free peak inside your novel on your personal website. Flipsnack/a> (up to 15 pages free) and Flip Builder (I use this but it only gives 20 pages) and BookBuzzr are some good options. They use pdf files. Also note, that Kindle and Smashwords allow for a free sample…if you use the checkbox option for it. With Smashwords you can just link to the page of your book preview and you don’t have to worry about one for your site. You can also make a separate sample page of your novel on your website.

7) Website Statistics

– It’s time to get narcissistic! The best tool to know how many times someone visits your webpage is Google Analytics. I look at this everyday. WebStatChecker is pretty cool as well. Just type your domain in, and click on the underlined hyperlink number for the Yahoo Backlinks. There’s also SEMrush and SiteWorthTraffic.

8) Book Trailer Tools

– I used Windows Live Movie Maker, which is free, but MAC users can use iMovie. You can get stock photos (images you can use that are royalty free and where someone won’t have a problem with you using their picture) from Dreamstime and your music from AudioJungle. Places like that. Then when you’re done with the Book Trailer, you can post them everywhere like this list below (NOTE: I’ve only done the first five because you get tired of having to create YET another profile/login/password again and again…). Check it out:

9) Backup Your Work Tools

– I use an external hardrive that can plug into my laptop, but mostly I depend on Google Drive and DropBox. After I make changes, I drop everything in here. It’s FREE! And if you don’t have your laptop, but can get access to a PC with internet, you can always access your work.

10) Writing Process and Marketing

  • Help with words

    – Online Dictionary and Thesaurus are my best friends. But TheSage is my blood-brother. Don’t have to be on the internet for this one, though it can work with online help as well.

  • Critique Group

    – Join an online critique group such as CritiqueGroup. I write Science Fictin and Fantasy, so I found a group specific to my genre: For fairness, these sites make sure you critique others and keeps up with your amount of critiques. If you keep a certain average/amount then you can upload your work for critique. If you want to meet physically with someone and/or work with other writers in your area, a local group, try finding one with MeetUp.

  • Getting it Done

    – Have Writer’s Block or just can’t start that book? I HIGHLY recommend NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It takes place mainly in November, but there are writing stuff to do throughout the year as well. It helps you forgive yourself for not being talented, not knowing grammar, and not knowing what to write. Just write without anything stopping you that you think normally would. It has helped me complete several novels. Need a quick boost before sitting down to write? Try OneWord. It’s fast, 60 seconds to write about One Word and it gets the juices flowing.

  • Community of Writers

    – Find a community, rather it’s online or in person. You’ll need the support. You’ll need to talk about writing with those who understand. Find a forum. I enjoy KindleBoards. You can find a community in a critique group as well. Currently, I no longer have a face-to-face critique group, we disbanded after many years (Nothing negative; it just people move one, lives change. That’s the way life goes, you know? A new season…a different reason.). However, I got SO MUCH help from them. They were wonderful people! I now keep track of them on Facebook. I haven’t submitted my work for critiquing for the entire year of 2011, but from 12 years of being in critique groups, I know what to look for now. I also have a reader to look at my novels as well as an editor that I pay for her skills.

  • A Laundry List of Marketing and Promoting

    – See this very long list of things to get into: How To Find Readers and that will keep you busy for a few years while time and more time will get your spiraling to your definition of success!

That’s it! That’s all the brain, downloading/dumping, I can do. Hope it helps!


6 Responses to “Tools For Self-Publishing”

  1. Wow, that is quite a list. I thank you for all the work. And I am most interested in the book trailer tools. I want to try that soon and you have given me the tools.

    • deana72 says:

      Thanks for posting! Book Trailers were fun to make. They don’t drive people to author’s websites, they’re basically a “nice to have”. But I found them helpful to narrowing down what a book is all about and they also provide a nice visual. They do take some time to make, but I found them quite enjoyable once all the sweet-wiping, work-efforts are all done. 🙂

  2. Helen says:

    Hi, irt a critique group, how trusting were you as far as them stealing your idea/work?

    Also, after you wrote the book, how long did it take you per book for the rest of the setup, ie, formatting, cover design, publishing, isbn’s, etc? I’m finished writing/editing but now I’m lost.

    Love your info by the way……

    • deana72 says:

      For very, very new writers/authors, the idea of someone stealing your work is a concern, but it really isn’t. No other author wants to steal your work. There’s just too many novels and stories out there, and everyone wants to write their own original thing, and present their own original writing. Someone might like the idea and write something similar (which can be annoying in a same critique circle…but that also will be discouraged by the other members), but it won’t be your actual story word-for-word. However, EVERY TYPE of story has been written before. There’s nothing new underneath the sun. If stealing is a concern, I would suggest doing a CopyRight which is only $35 to upload and all that worry would be gone. You could combine several stories under one CopyRight, bundle it all up, and all of it would be covered. You don’t have to buy one for each individual story until you do your novel and you want it to have it’s own separate CopyRight number.

      But to answer your question, as a newbie to critique groups way back in 2000, yes, I had that concern as well until I learned the atmosphere of the group, and they also explained that no one wants to steal anyone’s work and they’re not really interested in doing it either.

      I don’t quite remember how long it took for formatting, cover design, publishing, ISBN’s because each was of it’s own time period. Formatting a book took HOURS and HOURS before I made a template, and now it’s only 1 hour. I don’t do my own cover design, I pay a designer and she can take up to a month. ISBNs, with filling out the Bowker Library fields, could take an hour. Publishing…that’s just uploading the files to the website and opening an account. So, for one book, I don’t know, it could take one day to a few months. It just depends on how familiar you are with the process and which part you’re doing on your own.

      I hope that answers your questions. And after writing/editing, you should take a look up top of the Steps of Self Publishing. That could give you an idea on where you would like to go next.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  3. Helen says:

    Deana, thank you so much, not only for responding, but for your quick response as well. I’m lucky to have come across your websight. I guess my frustration is that I read books that discuss, “How to make money at home,” and each of them include a chapter about writing and publishing a book for free. But looking at the fees you’ve included (and I’m sure there are some I could do without) there is no way they can be correct. So thank you for your honesty!


    • deana72 says:

      There is a way to do a book completely free. It would be an eBook and you make your own Cover with RoyaltyFree images and you just upload to a distributor website. There’s no fees or anything. However, you would need some kind of bank account or, if using Amazon, you can just provide an address for them to mail you a check. Smashwords can send or check or use Paypal, and Smashwords is also somewhere where you can upload a .doc file and provide a Book Cover picture. With both cases, you need to learn extensively their requirements for the files you upload and how the text and images need to be designed.

      If you’re looking into printed books, there will be a cost associated with it for the proof. You can select a specific printer who could provide an ISBN number for you, but you won’t own that number and won’t be able to use it anywhere else but with that particular company, like CreateSpace. Or you can pay them for an ISBN number. You can make your own Book Cover but you’ll have to learn how to work with images and templates and sizing and pdf file format and coloring and etc. etc. Then there’s the interior that you have to design the pages and set margins and page breaks and … You get the picture.

      It’s a lot of work in both cases. And it’s not as “simple” as most people say. It’s simple for those who are already familiar with, and not afraid to learn more, on software, but it really isn’t just “easy” per se. That’s why I made step-by-step instructional videos to help those who need it for eBooks and Paperback…for free. And it uses all free software, except those who want to go with Lightning Source.

      I’m concentrating on eBooks only until my sales increase. I really, really, really don’t get any paperback sales…at all. So, for those who do not already have a fan base, I wouldn’t recommend using Lightning Source since their fees will continue every year and it cost to upload to the site. I am sticking to just CreateSpace for now for paperback…no fees.

      As for making money at home, from what I’ve researched, you would need a large supply of books…about 12 or more from what people say on the internet. Take a look at Dean Wesley Smith’s idea on making money writing fiction. It was a real eye opener for me.

      Sorry, I’m rambling. But I hope this helps clarify some things. Thanks for the conversation 🙂

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Tweeter button Facebook button Youtube button