Apps and tools authors can’t live without

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I’m a big fan of “my favorite apps and tools” articles because I always discover something new and helpful.

I decided to create one for you, too, but didn’t want to limit it to my favorites. I knew it would be more useful if we heard from other authors about what they’re using to streamline processes, create content, save time, or get inspired.

So, I used HARO and my Facebook group to ask authors about apps and tools they can’t live without.

Here’s what they told me. You might find a gem in here that will make at least one part of the writing and marketing process easier for you.

Favorite apps and tools

Book Brush

“I recently got introduced to Book Brush and I love how easy it is to create social media posts and ads (in the platform appropriate sizes and resolutions), book covers (although I still recommend hiring a professional designer), box sets, bookmarks, and book trailers.”

K.R. Raye, The Colors Trilogy books, beginning with The Colors of Friendship


“Honestly, as an indie publisher I couldn’t live without BookFunnel. I deliver ARCs, join promos to build my mailing list, and sell digital content directly from my website. And they support audio! I love it so much.”

Diane J. Windsor, publisher, Motina Books


“This is one of my longtime favorite tools for social media marketing. Similar to Hootsuite, you can schedule your social media posts across your author platform. In addition, as you browse through social media, you can add interesting posts to your ‘Buffer’ to reshare or retweet later.”

K.R. Raye, The Colors Trilogy books, beginning with The Colors of Friendship

apps and tools 2Canva

Canva is one of my favorite tools. I use it to create title images for blog posts (including this one), social media images, and even the worksheets and templates for my new author publicity course, “Get Quoted.”

Here’s why three other authors like it:

“I can create social media posts quickly using it, and I find it really fun to use. It has lots of templates for different social media platforms, for websites, and it has a bunch of stock photos and videos which are great. It’s really easy to make book ads and Instagram posts.”

Risa Williams, The Ultimate Anxiety Toolkit: 25 Tools to Worry Less, Relax More and Boost Your Self-Esteem

“I love Canva tools for creating graphics online. I’m not very tech-savvy, but Canva makes it easy to design attractive ads for events and social media. It’s user-friendly and includes options for customizing graphics and videos for different platforms including Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.”

Julie Carrick Dalton, Waiting for the Night Song

“I make most of my marketing materials, social media posts, and newsletter graphics using Canva. It offers a huge variety of templates and designs, and it’s fairly easy to use – I learned as I went along. I have the app on my phone, too, so I can access any of my designs and work with them or share them wherever I am.”

Cheryl King, Sitting on Top of the World

Eye Dropper

This Chrome extension is one of my absolute favorites. It lets you identify and match a color you see online when creating graphics. For example, when I review a book here on the blog, I use Eye Dropper to match the title image I create for the post with a dominant or accent color in the book’s cover. I like it so much that I created a short video that shows you how to use it.


“It works as my personal editor, capturing those grammar mistakes I wouldn’t see otherwise. It also has the option to save words to your own personal dictionary. Best of all, it tells me how nice of a job I’ve done!”

Eileen Gillick, Babyland: When I Was a Baby

apps and tools 3Instagram

This social network was mentioned by two authors.

“I find that after I post little wellness tips that I get whole ideas for chapters I want to write in my next book, too. Instagram has been a great way to test out writing material for my books and see what people respond to.”

Risa Williams, The Ultimate Anxiety Toolkit: 25 Tools to Worry Less, Relax More and Boost Your Self-Esteem

“The overall positive vibe and super creative and artistic bookstagrams make it a happy and fun place to sell books.”

Sharon Geltner, CHARITY BASHED 

Microsoft Word

“I’m old school here and have worked with the Microsoft suite for decades, so I can easily write, edit, and format my books in Word.”

K.R. Raye, The Colors Trilogy books, beginning with The Colors of Friendship


“I write cozy mysteries and often need a detailed plan of houses or in one case an ocean liner, to make sure of people’s whereabouts and the logic of their movements. Minecraft works surprisingly well and allows me to check and double-check when I’m editing.”

Carmen Radtke, A Matter of Love and Death

“This helpful app takes down notes as I say them out loud, negating the need to manually type out all my thoughts. This is extremely helpful as I have a habit of coming up with great ideas, but never having anything around to jot down the idea, or it simply takes too long to type it all out.”

Donny Gamble, Code Bytes: Conversations With Internet Entrepreneurs


“Without it, I find it very difficult to locate all the little things, like split infinitives, comma splices, and variations in spelling between the UK and the U.S. While it is not foolproof (and does take time to review a 150,000-word manuscript), it is a great starting point for getting a work ready for a beta-reader or editor.”

Benjamin X. Wretlind, Out of Due Season: The First Transit (not yet released)

apps and tools 5Publisher Rocket

“Once everything is published and I am ready to market my work, I turn to Publisher Rocket, which helps me discover categories and keywords to better promote my book.”

Matt Donnelly, Naughty Week


“QueryTracker is an invaluable tool for writers who are trying to get an agent (aka ‘in the query trenches’). It allows you to find agents who are open to your genre(s) and track the queries you send and the responses you receive.”

Finola Austin, Bronte’s Mistress


“One of my favorite apps I use when writing is a tool called Reminders on iOS and Mac. It’s a powerful little app to create a list, then add quick notes, and reminders for when a thought comes to mind. This is especially handy when in the middle of writing you don’t want to interrupt focus, but don’t want to forget your thought. Simply jot it down with an alarm set for an hour later or even the next day. One hack is to use Siri for when you don’t want to type the thought down.”

Roberto Torres, The Local Marketing Handbook

Save the Cat

I’m a huge fan of the Save the Cat franchise of books, videos, and software for writers. In particular, I love the Scene Cards and Beat Cards, which are index-card-sized decks that provide templates for hitting the major plot points when drafting a new novel. They are easy to stick to a wall or spread out on the floor to visualize your whole story and see what’s missing. Then you can pack them up to fit in your pocket.”

Julie Carrick Dalton, Waiting for the Night Song

apps and tools 4Scrivener

We’ve got three votes for Scrivener, so maybe it’s something we should check out, right? Here’s why authors like it.

“This is hands-down the number one piece of software I have in my writing arsenal. It allows me to keep all of my writing organized and makes outlining and chapter writing easy (and fun!) — and best of all, it keeps everything in one app so I’m not bouncing around from Word to Google Docs to PDFs to websites, etc.”

Matt Donnelly, Naughty Week

“I can’t imagine writing without Scrivener, software that allows you to format all different types of manuscripts. My first novel and my forthcoming novel are dual timeline narratives that bounce back and forth in time. Scrivener makes it easy to color-code different timelines and move chapters around. It also has a great corkboard feature which makes it easy to leave yourself notes.”

Julie Carrick Dalton, Waiting for the Night Song

“I love the ability to see my outline and chapter text simultaneously while drafting and that Scrivener allows me to store my hefty historical research, including reference images, all within the same project.”

Finola Austin, Bronte’s Mistress


“I used Squarespace to build my author website and use its email campaigns to distribute my monthly author newsletter. There are some design functions that I wish were easier, but overall, I am happy with it. I can easily go in and update, change, or add things to my site. For this, too, I have the app on my phone, and I’m currently obsessed with going in and checking my analytics.”

Cheryl King, Sitting on Top of the World


“Vellum is an incredibly user-friendly publishing app and has a number of features to produce quality print files for physical books and e-books.”

Matt Donnelly, Naughty Week 


This one’s mine. WordSwag is an iPhone app that lets you combine words with pictures to create social media images. It’s easy to use and there are lots of image and “style” options that let you create exactly the mood and look you need. I often use it to create quote graphics for my blog and social media.

Share your favorite apps and tools

I’m grateful to these authors for sharing their favorite apps and tools with us. Testimonials from users are “social proof” that help us make decisions about tools that will or won’t help us.

What are your favorite apps and tools for writing, publishing, and marketing? Please tell us in a comment.

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  1. Hi Sandra,

    I love for site-building and blogging. It is very easy to learn and comes with many options to choose from. You also just need to learn where to copy and paste the codes without actually needing to know how to code. It is also more convenient to manage than Blogger.

    I use Convertkit for email marketing. It has a short learning curve and the staff are very quick to respond if you have a question. It doesn’t cause weird issues – which happened a lot to me when I tried Mailchimp or Mailerlite.

    I prefer Reedsy’s free online tool for book formatting. It’s free and simple. You don’t need to download anything or learn a new software from scratch.

    As for the actual writing, I’m a Microsoft Word person thorough and thorough. I started writing seriously when I was about 14-15, which was 20+ years ago. Word was the only tool around back then, but I still couldn’t find a better alternative so many years later. It’s simple, easy to use, and there really isn’t anything tricky to figure out. It is there for you online and offline, and if you want the right format while you write, there are many free online templates and tutorials you can find.

    I use the free Grammarly version for an extra set of proofreading eyes, but I always edit before and after Grammarly, which gives the best result. Grammarly is great for showing what I call “writer eye” mistakes. After spending so much time with the same document, you start seeing what you think is there as opposed to what really is there. It is also excellent at catching spelling errors and repeated words. However, it’s not human and makes incorrect suggestions as well. So it’s best to choose carefully after it has made its suggestions.


    1. Thanks, Pinar! These are great! (I’m a Convertkit fan, too. I wish I had switched over to them sooner than I did.)

      I really appreciate your helpful additions.


    1. Thanks, Jean! It looks like a great resource. Do you use it for fiction? I write nonfiction and I’m wondering if it would be useful for that.


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