40+ Free Tools for Authors

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Picture: © Janaka Dharmasena

This post is designed to give you a concise, yet comprehensive preview of most important free tools you can pick up to publish and promote your e-books. I hope it will help you discover the ones, which in a best possible way fit your author profile and personal needs.

I’ll update the list frequently. It’s planned to be a one-stop place with all what’s available for free and worth getting your attention. For info about updates of this post, please follow or add me to a list on Twitter.

The most obvious choices, like blogging platforms or social media networks, are not included. I wanted to focus on less popular tools. Even so, I’m aware the list is not complete, as new tools take off every day. Please share your tips, ideas and feedback either on Twitter or in the comment section below.

To prepare this post I’ve been using information found on the following blogs: The Bubble Cow, Marketing Tips for Authors, The Creative Penn, The Book Designer, Publetariat, Authors Tools Blog, Author Tech Tips, Inkygirl and The Bookwright.

Use links below to quickly jump to the section you’re most interested in.

Writing and editing – tools, which can help you better write and edit your book
Design – how to easily prepare a cover of a book; it’s actually easier than you think
Formats and conversion – tools to convert and prepare books in desired file formats
Publishing – a list of the most popular self-publishing platforms
Online presence – what you need to effectively promote and sell your books
Reader engagement – tools to engage your readers in your books and writing
Analytics – analyze effectiveness of your online activity

Writing and editing

Google Docs
Popular office toolbox you can use any time from your Google accounts dashboard. Text editor is basic, but you can share documents online for real time editing and feedback. Download as txt, doc, pdf, odt and html. You can access your documents from any device with a web browser, by logging in to your Google account.

OpenOffice
Open-source, multilingual productivity suite, available for Windows, MacOS and Linux. It’s compatible with all other office suites, including Microsoft Office.

Evernote
Powerful note-taking working in the cloud. Advanced functions to capture and save ideas, good search. Access from many devices via applications (for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile).

TextRoom
Full screen text editor developed with writers in mind. Works on Windows, Linux and MacOS. You can export documents to Google Docs.

WriteRoom / DarmRoom
If you need a distraction-free editors you have to try WriteRoom (Mac) or DarkRoom (Windows). They get your computer out of the way, so that you can completely focus on your work.

Bite-Size Edits
An online service where you can submit a text and users will edit it for you. A very engaging way to not only make your text better, but also meet writers and readers.

PaperRater
Paste the text and it will be analyzed in real time. Title checker, plagiarism detection as well as spelling, grammar and word choice suggestions. The service also offers a Vocabulary Builder.

Design

Gimp
Image manipulation program for both Windows and MacOS platforms. Great companion if you want to design a book cover. Includes painting tools,  advanced image retouching and text editing.

Wordle
A very well designed word-generating tool. If you insert proper words, it can produce for you a nicely looking book cover. More details in this post.

MyEcoverMaker
A service in which you can easily create e-book covers stunningly visualized in 3D.

Formats and conversion

Calibre
One-stop solution for all your e-book management needs, both as a reader and writer. It converts files from and to many digital formats. Use it to add e-book metadata.

Sigil
A well-thought editor for epub files. Includes editors of metadata and multi-level table of content. You can add pictures, SVG images are supported.

2epub
Online tool which allows you to convert files in different formats. Input: doc, epub, fb2, html, lit, lrf, mobi, odt, pdb, pdf, prc, rtf, txt. Output: epub, fb2, lit, lrf, mobi.

Epub2Go
A simple online pdf-to-epub converter.

Publishing

Amazon KDP
Kindle Store’s self-publishing dashboard. Your book will be offered in the largest e-book catalog, available on many devices for users in over 100 countries.

Smashwords
A true multi-channel digital publishing solution. Publish a book at Smashwords and it will be available at Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Sony eBookstore, Diesel and iBookstore. More than 40,000 books were published so far.

PubIt!
Self-publishing platform of Barnes&Noble.

iTunes Connect
Use this extended procedure to get published exclusively in Apple’s iBookstore.

Lulu
An easier, more friendly alternative to get published in iBookstore.

Feedbooks
Although you can only offer free books at Feedbooks, you can use it to check great stats feature as well as the easiest possible way to have a book published. No file is required for upload. You just copy&paste a text into an HTML editor.

Goodreads
The popular online community of readers lets authors also upload e-book files, so they can be read right after they are discovered.

Scribd
Also called “YouTube for documents” – the largest reading social network lets you share book files in pdf or txt formats and send to many mobile devices.

XinXii
Europe based marketplace for all kinds of written work. You can upload content in 15 filetypes. More than 10,000 titles were published so far.

Online presence

Hootsuite
One stop solution for most of your online needs. You can send status updates to Twitter or Facebook and even write posts for WordPress.com blog. The Hootsuite ecosystem consists of web-based dashboard, mobile apps, bookmarklet, url shorteners, RSS feed manager and social activity analytics.

TweetDeck
Popular, powerful social media dashboard connecting you with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare and many more. Recently a new feature was introduced, Deck.ly, allowing you to send tweets longer than 140 characters.

SocialOomph
A powerful dashboard designed to boost your social media productivity. Schedule tweets, track keywords, automate welcome DMs, vet new followers and more.

Twitterfeed
Manage your blog feeds in a smart way: add prefixes or suffixes as well as hashtags. You can send updates to Twitter and Facebook and track your feeds.

Dlvr.it
The most advanced content manager available. Publish your content from many feeds to many social accounts, filter messages, replace&remove text, get engagement stats and intelligently route your content.

WordPress SEO by Yoast
The ultimate plugin to manage the SEO of your self-hosted WordPress blog. Control and adjust titles, internal links, breadcrumbs, RSS feeds and more.

Jetpack
The powerful WordPress plugin which can replace several single-purpose plugins. Available modules are: WordPress.com stats, Twitter widget, wp.me shortlinks, shortcode multimedia embeds, After the Deadline and Sharedaddy.

Reader engagement

PollDaddy
The most powerful online survey&quiz software. Responses are collected via different channels, including your blog, Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. Free account allows for 100 survey responses per month.

Quora
An online knowledge market and social network. You can use it not only to ask quick questions, but also give answers and this way become an expert in a field you specialize in.

Kindle for the Web
Tool to read first chapters of books sold at Amazon – without leaving a browser. No installation is needed, the preview works in almost any web browser. You can embed such a preview on your blog and earn additional money from Amazon associate referral fees.

Readability
Turns any webpage into a distraction-free reading mode. An innovative remuneration model – 70% of all subscription fees go directly to content providers. For more information read those articles.

Protagonize
Collaborative story and creative fiction writing community with almost 16,000 members from around the world. Great place to discover exciting narrative forms and find new readers.

Audioboo
Mobile and web platform that effortlessly allows you to record 3-minute sound clips. Let your readers hear your voice!

Broadcastr
An exciting social media platform for location-based stories. Invite readers to your stories in a way they never experienced before.

Analytics

Google Analytics
A powerful service which generates detailed statistics about the visitors of your blog. Among many features, you can track which posts are most popular, what search phrases bring most traffic and which countries your visitors come from.

Bit.ly
A popular url shortener combined with advanced real-time link tracking. You can check how many times your links were clicked (with split to tweets and Facebook shares), referring sites and country split.

Tweriod
The service delivers a comprehensive analysis of your daily Twitter activity. You’ll see what time of day and day of week your followers are online and your tweets get most exposure.

TweetReach
Type your Twitter username, phrase or hashtag and you’ll see the impact the tweets make. The report lists tweet types, exposure and impressions of the last 50 tweets.

TweetStats
Enter your Twitter username to see a report including tweet timeline (by hour, day and month) as well as replies and retweets.

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