Here are some free online tools that I gathered from around the internet that I use or want to try out. All of them are free with a few exceptions. There are many other tools, both free and for a fee that I’m not using, but a quick internet search will find them. In addition to the basic tools for writing such as free Open Office or Google Docs, here are some that I like.
Free Social Media Sites
The basic free social media sites are of course Facebook and Twiter, which you can use to develop and stay in touch with your audience. WordPress is the most recommended site for building your web page although there are other free sites.
For new writers, the biggest problem is getting attention. No one is going to know who you are, and you cannot rely on people just stumbling upon your website and finding your writing. Potential readers don’t know to look for you. You have to get off your own site and post your work where it can be found. Here are some places where you can post your work to gain some exposure and recognition and start building an audience.
- Smashwords (publish your work to Google Play, Barns and Nobel, Kobo, and Apple)
- Draft2digital (another platform to publish you work. They all take a cut of your royalities)
- Google+ (if you use google you probably have one of these, so why not use it)
- Tumblr (short form blogs with a younger audience)
- Pinterest (picture and infographic based profiles)
- StumbleUpon (randomly shows content in your interest area. You can add your own content)
- Medium (post articles and essays. You can even get paid)
- LinkedIn / Pulse (has a business/employment focus)
- Wattpad (post your stories for others to read)
- Scribd (has a large reader base)
- Goodreads (aimed at readers and their interests)
Free Writing and Editing Tools
The following are some free tools to help you improve different aspects of your writing.
- For note taking there is Evernote and OneNote
- Wordcounter (helps you spot overly used words in your writing)
- Cliché Finder (you don’t want those)
- Dictonary.com and Thesaurus.com (when you are searching for the right word)
- Cambridge Dictionaries Online (has translations tools)
- Onelook (search multiple dictionaries in one place)
- Hemingway Editor (fun online app to check your writing)
- Editminion (easy online editing tool to check your writing)
- Grammarly (bad grammar and misspelling will make you look bad so fix it)
- Visuwords (a dictionary that displays the meaning of words in word clusters)
Free Cover Design and Conversion Tools
You can do your own book covers in Word, Photoshop or InDesign, but they are expensive programs. If you are doing your own book covers, here are some tools that are free or low-cost. You don’t have to pay someone a lot of money to make a cover for you. Watch out for sites that offer to design and publish your book for a fee or a cut of your royalties. They are usually not worth the price you pay for the service. You can do most of the work yourself for free if you are willing to learn some new skills. Several professional book cover designers give away free e-book templates. A quick google search can find some of them. Here are some free or low-cost tools that I have discovered.
- Gimp (Free photo editing software)
- Canva (allows you to do quick and easy designs)
- Crello (similar to Canva)
- WordSwag (for mobile devices)
- diybookcovers.com (free book cover design tool)
- diybookcovers.com (free book cover templates)
- Pexels and Pixabay (download royalty free stock photos)
You also don’t have to pay someone to convert your text into an e-book file. Here are some places where you can do it yourself for free (remember to correctly format the text of your book first). There are numerous Youtube tutorials that explain how to format your book before converting them into e-book files.
- Calibre (is free and allows you to do e-book conversion and e-book editing among other things)
- PublishXpress (is a free e-book conversion tool to convert Word documents to epub and mobi file formats)
- Kindle Direct Publishing (allows you to design a cover and publish your e-book directly to Amazon. If you want to make a hard-copy book you can design and publish with CreateSpace)
- Smashwords (the original publishing platform for indie authors)
- Draft2digital (another publishing platform with free e-book services)
Free Marketing Tools
One of the purposes of having a website it to build a list of faithful followers who you can contact to buy your work, help you get publicity for your work, readers who can leave you reviews on book buying sites, or even help with the editing process as beta readers and as proofreaders. You web theme should have a built-in subscription form you can use. If not, there are also apps you can install on your page, with both free and fee options. They will display sign up boxes or pop ups where visitors can leave their names and email address in order to receive email notifications from you.
- MailChimp (free for the first 2000 email sign ups)
- Instafreebie (give away freebies for email sign ups)
For advertising and promotions, you can do free or 99 cent campaigns on the following book promotion sites. These are not all free and have different fees they charge. It might be worth paying some to promote your book. The following sites were the most recommended. There are many more.
- Instafreebie (allows you to set up sneak peeks, advance previews, and special giveaways)
- ENT (E-reader news today)
- Book Barbarian (Sci-fi and Fantasy)
- Robin Reads
- Choosy Bookworm
- Fussy librarian
- Bookbub (very expensive)
Free Content Development and Graphics Tools
Here are some free tools you can use to make graphics for your website or design promotional materials for use on Facebook, Twitter or any other places you need a graphic. The book cover design tools listed above can also be used to create graphics.
- Crello (similar to Canva)
- WordSwag (for mobile devices)
- Creativindie.com (Here are some free DIY templates for promotional materials using google docs)
- Slideshare (create a slide deck of your content and publish it)
- Piktochart (create Infographics from your content)
Free Blogging Tools
These tools will help you share your blog content and keep track of your blogging and tweeting schedule all from one place.
- Buffer (schedule automatic posts on your social media sites)
- Hootsuite (schedule and post updates to your website and social media sites)
- Tweetdeck (monitor and schedule content on Twitter)
- TweetBeep (tracks @ mentions, replies, and links to your website)
- Cllicktotweet (lets you set up tweetable quotes from your content to tweet on Twitter)
Free Critique Tools
If you are looking for a place to post your work where it can receive critique on its strengths and weaknesses from other readers and writers, these sites have been highly recommended. Scribophile and Critique Circle allow you to receive critiques from other site members in exchange for your critiques. Betabooks allows you to receive and organize feedback from your own personal beta readers that you already have. There are other sites that exist for these purposes, but these sites are the ones I thought were the best.
Other Useful Free Tools
Here are some other useful tools to help get your writing related tasks done, whether they are platform building, blogging, marketing or promotion.
- Evernote (record, organize and share notes)
- Bit.ly (link-shortening tool to truncate links into fewer characters)
- Boomerang (email scheduling tool)
- Wonderlist (online and sharable to-do lists for personal and professional tasks)
- Carrd (creates single page websites and landing pages)
- Wufoo (create free online web form)
- Survey Monkey (create free online surveys)
- Serpstat (SEO keyword ranking tool for your website or blog)
- Soovle (find the most popular search terms for your subject)
- Yasiv (locate books similar to your own on Amazon)
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