A to Z Challenge

Tech Tips for Writers

T is for “Tech”.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the tech side of the writing business has me a little, ah, crazy. So I asked Jacqui Murray — the Tech Teacher — to help out a bit.

Thank you to Ronel (at Ronel the Mythmaker) for inviting me to talk about my favorite topic: Technology! I generally bore friends and family with it so it’s beyond exciting to be invited to talk as much as I want.

For Ronel’s A to Z Challenge, she’s asked me to be part of her series with T is for ‘Tech Tips for Writers’. Here are five of my favorite tech tools for writers:

1. A good editing program

Whether you’re self-published or sending to an agent, you want the manuscript as clean as possible. You can edit yourself, use beta readers, or pray, but one more option to include in your toolkit is a good online editing program. Often, these ask you to copy-paste your text into a dialogue box on their website and they take it from there. Sometimes, you upload your entire manuscript. What they do varies from simply checking your grammar and spelling to analyzing pacing, word choice, and more. I like Grammarly for basics and AutoCrit for more detail.

See my Grammarly review here.

2. A digital device

I know lots of people who write the first draft of their novels with paper-and-pencil but almost always, the next version is completed on some sort of digital device. That might be a Mac, PC, iPad, Chromebook, laptop, or in some cases a dedicated word processor like the Retro Freewrite or Alphasmart. Pick one or more that work for you, doesn’t matter which as long as it’s a digital machine that allows you to type and edit your manuscript.

See my reviews here for ChromebooksiPads

3. Google Forms

Google Forms are an easy digital way to collect data from readers, sort it, and throw it into a spreadsheet. They’re professional-looking, intuitive, quick to create, and can be personalized to your needs. I use them to collect data for blog hops, curate my newsletter list, ask for feedback, and more. There’s just no reason to struggle through this sort of design by yourself anymore.

See my Google Forms review.

4. Canva

It’s hard enough writing a novel and bringing it to publication, without then being forced to also market it. That includes banners, logos, fliers, headers, announcements–yikes! Years ago, I knew I had to reform when my kindest beta reader wrote, “Is the flier supposed to look like that? No–really, I like it!” Right. I found Canva.com. Canva provides all the tools writers need to create headers, banners, Facebook placards, Twitter tweets, informal book covers, and the myriad of marketing materials that are part and parcel of publishing a book. It provides templates, size options, samples, even a design school–all for free. It didn’t take long to get used. Now, I create what I need usually in less than five minutes. You heard that right. Try it out.

See my Canva review.

5. Book Trailer Program

Book trailers are quite popular because movies are a nice way to get readers excited about your book. If you’re creating your own, you want a program that is easy to use with a shallow learning curve, looks professional, and is as free as possible. I’ve seen a lot of options for this task, everything from Animoto to Tellagami to even a storyboard program like Storyboard That! but one I’ve used that satisfies all those requirements is the free Office Mix. You build it exactly like you would a slideshow (with clever options only available with the Mix add-on) and then render it as a movie. Very simple if you have PowerPoint 2013 or above.

See my Office Mix review.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the upcoming Born in a Treacherous Time. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

I’ve learned a lot today. Do you have any questions for Jacqui?

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