To celebrate the 2 year anniversary of The Future of Ink, we asked our expert writers to tell us about their favorite digital publishing tools they’ve discovered in the last six months or so.
If you are looking for tools to help you publish, curate and create digital content, you’ll find 12 terrific tools to check out in this article.
My latest favorite tool for authors is Scrivener. I’m in love with the program! It comes with several templates for books already created, like fiction (novels), short stories, script writing, poetry and lyrics, and more, so it’s really easy for authors to use.
The best thing about Scrivener is how it lets you write without distractions. You can bounce around to different points in your manuscript as you get an idea, collapse chapters and sections at will to clear the clutter, and save time scrolling through hundreds of pages in Microsoft Word. There’s even a search feature to make finding something fast and easy.
When I introduce Scrivener to my clients, they all rave about how much faster it makes their writing production. It helps them be more focused and get more done in less time, which is also what it does for me. My only issue with Scrivener is its built-in non-fiction templates are more for college students than writers of business how-to or self-help books, so they don’t include essentials like the copyright page, title page, and where stuff should go. That’s why I developed my own non-fiction templates for Scrivener.
Now Scrivener is a paid app (program), but they have a free 30-day trial. Try it out and if you like it, you’ll find the price is well worth the time you’ll save!
Kristen Eckstein, known as The Book Ninja, is a highly sought-after publishing authority, multi best-selling author and award winning international speaker.
2) The Hemingway App
As digital publishers, we sometimes crank out copy faster than water shooting out of a fire hose. We have little time to tighten and tweak. That’s why you’ll love The Hemingway App, which almost rivals a human editor–it’s that accurate. And best of all, it’s free.
Go to the app. Highlight and delete the instructions you see on the homepage. Write or paste your own copy onto the page. Click on “Edit.” The app will color-code phrases it doesn’t like and tell you how to improve them.
Yellow highlights long, complex sentences and common errors. Red identifies dense, complicated sentences.
Blue shows you adverbs that you can remove and replace with more forceful verbs. Purple points out hifalutin $25 words that should be replaced with simple $5 words. Green flags you to the passive voice.
The app will also give you a “readability index” and tell you if someone in the fifth grade, seventh grade or tenth grade can understand your copy. The clearer your writing, the lower the grade level. You’ve heard before that your writing should be so clear, a seventh grader could understand it.
I’ve used this tool many times to improve my own writing–and I’m a writing coach!
Joan Stewart, aka The Publicity Hound, shares publicity advice, writing tips, and more free tools for digital publishers in “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week.”
BitLit is an app I recently discovered, which allows you to get an eBook for a print book you already own, for free or at a discounted price. I love this concept not only because it’s innovative and merging with the trends of the publishing industry, but also because it promotes reading across formats.
Both print and digital are important and I believe all authors should offer their book in both formats whenever possible. Some readers are adamant about print books, while others enjoy the convenience of eBooks. Right there, BitLit is helping readers like me to enjoy the books they’ve purchased both at home and on the go with minimal extra expense.
Aside from the convenience factor, though, I also believe readers should be rewarded for their loyalty to an author and giving them a free or discounted eBook when they already own the print book is the perfect way to thank them for their purchase. Let’s face it, readers have a lot of options when it comes to not only what to read, but what to dedicate their (valuable and limited) spare time to. Showing appreciation to readers is very important for all authors, whether they’re up and coming or have an established fan base, and BitLit provides an excellent way to do this.
Justine Schofield is the development director at Pubslush and helps to educate authors and publishers on the value of pre-publication audience building and marketing.
As an information content expert, I am always on the lookout for tools to make the process of distribution as easy and seamless as possible. As a podcaster, the one tool that I wouldn’t be without (at this point in time) is Libsyn – Liberated Syndication.
Libsyn is currently the largest leading podcast network. They host thousands of shows, mine included, with millions of downloads and audience members.
If you’re thinking of getting into podcasting and want your show distribution process to be as easy as possible, Libsyn provides everything your podcast needs to shine. The investment is minimal for all this tool can do.
Kathleen Gage is a marketing strategist, business consultant, and host of the Power Up for Profits Podcast, who works with consciously aware entrepreneurs who are experts in their field.
5) Adobe Voice
One of the coolest apps I’ve come across in recent months is Adobe Voice. As long as you’ve got an iPad, you can create fast, fun and free videos using Adobe Voice in minutes. It’s by far the fastest and most intuitive video creation tool I’ve ever used.
Simply speak your “story” into Adobe Voice, line by line, add text or graphics supplied by the app, add music, and you’re good to go!
You can use it to create quick book trailers, video promos, or even sales page videos. It takes just seconds to learn how to use and you can be cranking out professional-looking animated videos in no time.
Love, love, love my Adobe Voice app for the iPad, and you will, too! Watch the video below for a demonstration for how Adobe Voice works.
Lou Bortone is a Video Marketing expert and online branding consultant who helps entrepreneurs and service professionals build breakthrough brands on the Internet.
6) Hangouts on Air
I don’t deny it, I’m a Google Fangirl. And even though I’ve been using this tool for longer than six months, Hangouts on Air is my absolute favorite digital publishing tool. I also think HOAs are the best tool that’s come along for authors and online entrepreneurs since blogs hit the online marketing scene little more than a decade ago.
Hangouts on Air – live streaming video – puts it all together for you to create compelling content that is easily shared on the web.
When you to combine live, real time Google+ Hangout video with an Event page on Google+ that is broadcast and automatically recorded for immediate replay on YouTube, you can quickly build authority in your niche. Live video helps you create trust and intimacy, and accelerate engagement with your audience. The combo of Google+ and YouTube gives you a broad reach with a longer life-span than many other forms of social media.
HOAs are also easy to repurpose so you can build even more visibility. For example, for every HOA show, you can embed the video on your blog, strip the audio from the video and create a podcast that is available on iTunes, and transcribe the content and use it for status updates, more blog posts and to create images for Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram. That’s one piece of content (your HOA event) that can be repurposed many times in many ways.
There is a learning curve, and once you learn the technical details, then it’s simply a matter of jumping in and sharing your expertise with an engaged audience.
Denise Wakeman is an Online Business Strategist and Co-Founder of The Future of Ink. She works with authors and online entrepreneurs to strategically use social marketing tools to gain visibility build credibility and make more money.
My favorite tool that I’ve discovered is Canva. Canva is an amazingly simple graphic design tool. And it’s free! I loved it so much I started working with them.
I love what they do because it makes my life as a social media strategist faster and much more professional. I like to share a graphic with each social media post that I use and one of the problems is making sure that you can legally use a photo. So, your choices are to pay for stock photos or spend a lot of time checking on permissions for images and disclosing them on your blog and social media post or using your own graphics and photos. I chose to use my own graphics that I created in Canva.
Canva solved so many of my problems:
- I don’t know how to use PhotoShop well.
- I don’t have a budget for design work.
- I need all the work that I use to be professional and look amazing when published.
- It’s faster to use than PhotoShop.
- I can easily change the text and image on something I’ve created and reuse it.
This post was written by a designer comparing PhotoShop to Canva. She said “Software and platforms are tools that allow us to get things done. There are very specialized, complex tools for experts and there are simple, easy to use tools for entry level users (or those who just want to get a feel for what can be done).” If you’re not at an expert level with design software, Canva is perfect for you.
Another huge timesaver is that social media design-types are preloaded into Canva so you can create a Facebook cover, Kindle cover, or images to tweet in a snap. I really love the Kindle designs that you can use and remix!
Peg Fitzpatrick is Head of Social Strategy for Canva and is co-authoring The Art and Science of Social Media with Guy Kawasaki.
One of the best tools I have found in the last 6 months is Canva.com. Canva is a free online graphic editing tool where you can create images for social media, blog posts, presentations, Kindle eBooks, and more.
You can use your own pictures or their backgrounds for free or pay $1 to use their premium images.
One of my favorite features within Canva is their pre-designed templates you can use to start a project. Instead of looking at a blank screen, you can simply edit their fonts, colors, and images to make it your own quickly and easily.
Shelley Hitz is an award-winning and internationally best-selling author. She is the owner of TrainingAuthors.com and is passionate about helping authors succeed in publishing and marketing their books.
One of my favorite online “cool tools” is Snagit by Tech Smith. Up until recently the main purpose of Snagit was to easily capture and enhance online image screenshots. You could add arrows, draw circles or squares around content, and more. These screen capture images can enhance your blog posts or your special reports, making the information you are sharing much more accessible.
While you can still capture and enhance your images, Snagit now allows you to record screen capture video, and at a fraction of the cost of the current online video options. Snagit’s “big sister,” Camtasia Studio, is a video screen capture software program that is also created by Tech Smith. Camtasia Studio retails for around $299 and allows you to easily edit and enhance your videos.
Snagit now offers a trimmed down version of Camtasia Studio. But with a price tag of only $49 it makes owning a screen capture video program more affordable for the masses. With the newest version of Snagit, you are also able to edit your videos and snip out the “ums” captured during your recording sessions.
With Snagit you can create a video training library for your clients, record weekly video tips, capture content for online training programs, and much more! Have fun with this new, affordable, powerhouse.
D’vorah Lansky, M.Ed., is the bestselling author of several books including Book Marketing Made Easy. She mentors authors across the globe in developing their online presence.
I feel like I spend a lot of my time trying to find great content to write about and to share. It’s become such a huge part of our workday, hasn’t it? Wouldn’t it be easy if there was an app that just sent you ideas: here you go, fabulous things that your audience will love! Well, now there is.
First off I discovered Zite at the Social Media Marketing World Conference in San Diego. I love this app. You can get it on your iPad, iPhone, or Android phone. Basically it will pull any content, blogs, articles, or news items for the parameters you give it. You pick the keywords and markets and that’s it. Granted you should also train the app. So touch the Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down if you want to see less or more of something.
I have discovered a ton of things on this site and shared them with my followers. Love this. I go to ZITE first thing in the AM, find great stuff and share it. Easy!
The next app I love is SWAYY, which isn’t technically an app yet but it will be soon. If you connect Swayy with your social networks, it will find content relevant to your feed. Which means that it looks at what you are sharing and what’s being shared in your network and says “hey, check out what’s new here” or (my personal favorite) “Check out what’s trending.”
I love this site so much because it literally brings great ideas to my doorstep. Now, I would recommend that you connect it with your most active social network. For me, that’s Twitter. I wouldn’t connect it with my personal Facebook Page for example because the content I share there is a mix of news stuff but also quotes, photos of my perfect dog and other sidebar stuff. And while I love dogs, I don’t want Swayy to pull anything related to that but it’s not what my market wants to know. So just be careful what network you ask it to pull from.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert.
My favorite tool is SocialOomph. I like to refer to it as a social media dashboard on steroids. Here are some of its features:
- It schedules your LinkedIn and Twitter updates. (It will also schedule your Facebook posts but I prefer to do these myself using Facebook’s scheduling feature within the status update box on my page.)
- The “cockpit” feature aggregates your updates from your social media streams so that you can view all incoming messages in one location. You can even color code your separate accounts to help you organize them better.
- You can use SocialOomph to schedule recurring tweets. This is how you do it: schedule a bunch of tweets with the same URL and schedule them to be published at any interval that makes sense to you.
- The metrics are great on this application too. You can even track click-through rates to your various domains. And it will keep track of your statistics.
- Another cool feature is the Tweet Digest Email. I enter the usernames and hashtags I want to keep track of and SocialOomph sends me an email twice a day. It’s a quick way to keep track of messages, replies and retweets.
- Another feature is you can use this app to find new people to follow on Twitter. It’s Mimic Follow feature allows users to type in the usernames of colleagues or competitors so that you can determine whether you want to follow their followers.
- Finally, you can create Account Groups so that when you write one tweet, your message will be published to all of your Twitter or LinkedIn accounts in one sweep, so to speak.
Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers.
My very favorite digital publishing tool is Instagram. Although I’ve been on Instagram for almost two years, it’s only in the last six months that I’ve truly begun to appreciate the power of this remarkable digital publishing tool.
Instagram lets me visually showcase my business, as well as my personality, in a singularly compelling eye-catching format that instantly grabs my audience’s attention. Instagram can do the same for you.
When I teach my clients about Instagram, I emphasize three things:
1) Instagram is primarily a visual medium, so put care and thought behind the images you post. Take advantage of the cool editing and filtering tools Instagram offers.
2) Hashtags are the ‘language’ of Instagram and are the primary way new people find and follow you on this platform.
3) With Instagram, most users are viewing your images on their mobile devices, one image at a time, so there are no other competing posts or a lot of text to distract them.
Fun InstaFacts: There are an astounding 200 million monthly active users on Instagram with 600 million posts shared every single day, with Instagram users posting comments at a rate of 1000 likes per second!
Instagram gives you the unique opportunity to be, if only for a few seconds, directly in front of your audience with beautiful, compelling visual content with no competing content to distract them. Take advantage of it!
Dr. Ellen Britt Founder of Pink Coattails and Co-Founder of the Future of Ink, is the Social Media Influence Doctor and Online Marketing Strategist for Women Entrepreneurs, plus Lover of Southern Food, Flowers and Culture.
So there you have it…a dozen powerful and easy-to-use digital publishing tools pre-tested by our Experts at The Future of Ink! And best of all, many of them won’t cost you a dime.
We’d love for you to try these tools and let us know what you think, plus feel free to contribute your own very favorite digital publishing tool in the comments below.
This article was originally published on The Future of Ink and is reprinted here in its entirety for our Magnolia Media Network readers.