My favorite aspect of the self-publishing process is that I coordinate every aspect of the process from the initial idea to the printed book in my readers’ hands! And the most challenging part of self-publishing is…coordinating every aspect of the process from idea to printed book. While most authors are talented in several areas of the publishing process, few of us are gifted in every step required. We can overcome the hurdles of those challenging steps by hiring professionals or finding the right tools to help us succeed. I am going to share my favorite tools for three steps in creating a book. Hopefully, you will find just the right aid to get your book one step closer to completion.
While I highly recommend that all authors hire a professional editor to comb through their manuscript, many editing services are priced by the hour. The more you can clean up your manuscript before sending it to the editor, the faster they will work, and the less expensive it will be for you. My favorite editing software is ProWritingAid.
Features: ProWritingAid allows you to choose your type of writing and suggests edits based on your intended audience. It offers edits in grammar, style, punctuation, repeated words and phrases, pacing, sentence structure and length and more. It even assigns the reading level by grade, which is a great feature for children’s authors! Not only can you use it for manuscripts, but also for social media posts, emails, promo text, and blog posts.
Pricing: There is a free version, but you are limited to editing 500-word sections at a time. To access the unlimited version, it costs $10/month or $120/year.
PRO TIP: ProWritingAid is 50 percent off Nov. 15-30! They also offer lifetime plans if you know you will need it often. Formatting
Finding a formatting software that is best for you depends on the type of project you are formatting. Some books are simple, text-based projects that don’t require any extra features. Others, such as picture books, or in my case, fully-illustrated chapter books, require heavy formatting. Instead of inserting text, each of my page layouts is designed like a poster with several graphics and text flowing through naturally.
Professional level formatting is so important, and can be extremely frustrating and intimidating even for seasoned authors. I have tried several different formatting softwares including Word, InDesign, and Atticus, but they all had major drawbacks specifically for the needs of children’s book authors. Formatting was a headache and expensive until I discovered Affinity Publisher.
Features: Each page layout is created with independent, movable elements that can be modified and layered however you want. Combining text, images, and headings is easy peasy! And automating page numbers, sections, headers, and the table of contents is simple to set up. There is a learning curve, but there are lots of YouTube video tutorials specifically for laying out a book in Affinity Publisher that can teach you everything you need to know. It has all of the features of InDesign, but is much more user friendly.
Pricing: Instead of paying based on a monthly subscription like many other options that can add up quickly, it costs a flat rate of $69.99 to buy with no added-on fees.
PRO TIP: In past years they have run significant discounts on Black Friday, so keep an eye out!
PROMOTING AND MARKETING
Marketing a book means posting on social media, and creating print, digital, and video pieces that demonstrate how your book meets the readers’ needs. Without the right tools, creating these promo pieces can be time-consuming and expensive. And let’s face it, authors are good with words, but find design isn’t always intuitive. My go to online software for all things design is Canva.
Features: Canva provides the tools to create everything you need to promote your book: social media posts, reels, posters, postcards, bookmarks, coloring sheets, teacher resources, PDF author magnets, school visit forms, and even book trailers! It is easy to use, and there are plenty of tutorial videos on YouTube to take your design skills to the next level.
Pricing: There is a free version that handles most of what I use on a regular basis. CanvaPro offers a lot of extra features and costs $14.99/month or $119.99/year. They have a free 30-day trial that you can experiment with as well.
PRO TIP: During book launches, I will splurge and subscribe to Canva Pro for a month to use their special features. To save money, I cancel and switch back to the free version during seasons that aren’t as promotion heavy.
Whatever stage you are in with the creation of your book, I hope these tools help you create a professional product that you are proud to share with your readers while saving you some of the headache and expense of trial and error.
Erin last blogged for W2I here. She is an award-winning author of five books and mom to three girls who make every day an adventure. She loves working in the garden, and finds her best inspiration while digging in the dirt. Erin has worked in children’s ministry, missions, education in at-risk communities, and curriculum development. Erin is passionate about exploring the practical application of faith in everyday life. She uses writing to take Biblical ideas and present them in a way that is clear, creative, and captivating. Her published works include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and even a game! Read her weekly devotion series, Sunday God Meets Monday Mom, at https://eringreneaux.substack.com/ Find her books and projects at https://www.greneauxgardens.com Follow her on https://www.instagram.com/eringreneaux/ and https://www.facebook.com/greneauxgardens