Top 17 Tools for Indies (Part II) - Indie Pub It
In Part II of this series (missed Part I? Click here.), I look at non-Microsoft products and applications that I find very useful in the book production process. Please note: I do not receive affiliate fees for any of these products. I simply use them, like them, and would like to make your life easier, too.
Amazon Product Description Tool
This web-based pay-for application builds HTML versions of your book product description that you can drop right into the KDP book details screen.
There are two places on Amazon where you can upload your book description – the KDP book details page, or the Author Central page for your book. It used to be that once you used Author Central to edit your book description, the KDP version was forever after disabled.
I found out the hard way a few months ago that Amazon have now changed that setting. Whatever is the last place you edited your book is the version that is published. Sounds simple, but even if you merely change the price of your book, the old product description in KDP is uploaded with it, even if the actual current version is in Author Central.
Save yourself some headaches, and use only the KDP editing box for your book descriptions. The Production Description Tool lets you add the same HTML decorations and text formatting that Author Central used to.
There are many name generators out there, most of them directly related to role playing games. However, I’ve found Seventh Sanctum’s huge range of generators useful for sparking ideas, and building lists of alien-sounding names.
I don’t use the lists that are generated “as is” – I comb through them (so long lists are more useful), finding names that interest me, and tweaking them from there to build my own list of unique names for all the different races, species, characters, places and things I create for my novels.
Behind the Names: http://behindthename.com/
Behind the Surnames: http://surnames.behindthename.com/
For human names, I love and adore Behind the Name and its sister site, Behind the Surname. The database is exhaustive, easy to search and browse, and provides cross-indexed meanings.
There’s also a simple name generator there, too, if you’re feeling particularly uninspired. Some of the combinations are brow-raising.
I like Firefox as my Internet browsing tool because it coordinates my cache, passwords, bookmarks and themes across every single device I use to access the Internet, with no exceptions.
Google Chrome does the same thing, but as I’ve already invested several years of use with Firefox (and because I also use the Mozilla’s Thunderbird when I’m mobile), I’m sticking with it, for now.
If you’re still using the default Internet Explorer that came with your computer, then I strongly urge you to choose either Firefox or Chrome, and stop using IE. There are well-known security concerns with IE, and there are many websites that simply do not work in IE.
Firefox and Chrome both come in Portable App format (see below)
There are many blogging platforms out there, but Wordpress.org will let you build entire websites that have no blog in them, all without having to know any coding. It makes site maintenance a breeze. Plus, Google loves blog software and constant updates, so your site will rank more favorably.
I’ve used Wordpress for over ten years now. I originally started off using the free Wordpress.com facilities (which have steadily increased their functionality, year by year). I’ve used other blogging platforms, too, including Google’s Blogger.
None of them match the simplicity and high degree of functionality of a stand-alone (self-hosted) Wordpress site.
Everyone has the free Adobe Reader. And these days, there are programs that compile and edit PDF files that are cheap or free, including Microsoft Office.
But for the compilation of publishing quality PDFs, you really need Adobe Standard (sometimes erroneously called Adobe Professional). This is the pay-for program, that edits and builds PDFs, by the company that created PDF formatting.
If you plan to build your own page layouts for print editions of your books, you need Adobe Acrobat. Period.
If you still have a day job, or you are on the road a lot and don’t have a laptop and need to take files with you, then Portable Apps is an absolute life-saver.
It is a whole virtual computer on a jump-drive, including programs that don’t need editor permissions to run (in other words, they don’t have to be installed in the operating system of the guest computer you’re using).
I use Portable Apps every day.
If you’re indie publishing, you’re also reading eBooks, and Calibre cannot be beaten for eBook management and conversion.
If you use multiple-format distribution platforms to upload your books, such as All Romance eBooks or Omnilit, then you need Calibre. It moves beyond simply conventional to absolutely essential.
Calibre is available in Portable App format. However, it is a big program, even in portable edition, and can slow down your computer. I don’t boot it up unless I really need it.
GIMP & Microsoft Paint
Even if you have cover designers building your covers, you will still need to manipulate those images from time to time, to resize to meet design specifications, or to create simple promotion images.
I use the Paint program that is standard with all Windows systems to resize images and/or resolutions. It’s quicker and less fiddly that GIMP.
I use the free GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) to do more complicated layering and changes.
GIMP is also available as a Portable App, and will run off your USB drive.
KompoZer is a free, lightweight HTML, XHTML and CSS editor, which is also available as a Portable App. There aren’t many occasions when you need to generate HTML, but if you’re a Wordpress user, you may want to build slightly more complicated widgets for your sidebars, for example.
Also, if you’re completely HTML deficient, and wish to build something as simple as a clickable link, KompoZer will help with that, too.
Because KompoZer is a WYSIWYG editors (What You See Is What You Get), you can type what you want in the front screen, then click on the Source tab and highlight and copy the source coding.
KompoZer is an open source program and therefore free. There’s a good support community to go with it, too.
Columnist: Tracy Cooper-Posey writes erotic vampire romance series and hot romantic suspense. She has been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award. She published 35 titles via legacy publishers before switching to indie publishing in March 2011. She has published over 40 indie titles to date. Her indie books have made her an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and have been nominated four times for Book of the Year. Byzantine Heartbreak won the title in 2012. Tracy has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. Her website can be found at: http://TracyCooperPosey.com.