It’s the holiday season and everyone has their list of wants. Knowing that many indie authors are living on a shoestring budget, I knew those: “What to get a Writer for the Holidays” articles just won’t do. Let’s be honest, many of them are silly and rather unrealistic. I mean, who wants a $25 t-shirt with literary quotes that will just wear out in 6 months? I don’t. Besides, you could get some pretty sweet stuff that can help with your writing career for that same amount.
I’ve considered the problems the typical indie author has like; social media, cover design, and proof reading, so I went on a mission to find things that could make our lives better.
P.S. I am in no way affiliated with the companies or products mentioned.
Anti-Social Media Software
Social media is a big problem for a lot of authors because it often becomes a time suck. For years your solutions were either to unplug your modem or disable the wifi on your computer. But what if you’re a writer who needs to do research and interview people online? Disconnecting from the entire internet is irrational. Luckily, there is now software you can download that will temporarily block social media sites and other places you like to linger and it won’t cost a lot of money. Here are just a few of places to check out:
Freedom: This software is for both Windows and OS operating systems and can block up to 8 hrs at a time and only costs $10. There is a free trial version and a 60 money back guarantee.
Anti-Social: Anti-Social is an app that allows you to block websites that you find distracting for $15. However unlike Freedom, it cannot be turned off, which is supposed to keep you honest. Also, Anti-Social has a 60 day money back guarantee. It also works with Windows, and Mac including, Yosemite.
Stay Focused: is an app on Google Chrome which limits the amount of time you spend on social media. You can set it up yourself so that you only spend a specific amount of time on social media per day. It gives you a countdown to let you know when you’re running out of time. P.S. You’ll be asked to donate $15 once you’ve downloaded the app from the Google Chrome store.
Focus Writer: Focus Writer isn’t necessarily an anti-social media piece of software but I’m including it anyway because it gets rid of all distractions on your computer by clearing your screen so you can focus on just your writing. It has all kinds of features like; a daily word count, type writer sound effects, even timers and alarms. This one is a pay what you can type model and runs $5 – $20.
Many indie authors like to create their own book covers and that’s awesome, I know a lot of indies who are actually talented in this area. Many of them use PhotoShop or InDesign by Adobe but I found their new cloud service too buggy. I was also disappointed with their customer service which comprised of a FAQ page with little or vague information. However, if you’ve drank the Adobe Kool-Aid and love it, they have a monthly subscription service that costs $19.99 for just one app, or $29.99 for all the apps. Be warned though, you can cancel after 30 days but after that, you’re locked in for a year.
Don’t worry, there are many other types of software out there that are similar or even better than Adobe and they won’t cost you $359.88 annually.
Pixlr is a free online photo editor that is similar to Adobe Photoshop. I’ve used it myself to edit photos for social media and this blog.
Sumo Paint is another PhotoShop like photo editor that has a free and paid subscription service. The paid service includes cloud storage, new tools and updated apps which cost only $4 a month. Not a bad deal either way, but try the free version first before committing to the subscription.
Scribus is often called the free alternative to Adobe InDesign which tons of professional graphic designers use to create digital magazines, web pages, and yes, even ebook covers.
Corel PaintShop If you must have software installed on your computer, there is Corel PaintShop. It’s often compared to PhotoShop and runs around $39.00 – $49.00 on Amazon. *Warning* They do have a popup ads which is why it’s so cheap.
I’ll admit it, I make plenty of grammar mistakes, and sometimes that hurts my work. I mean, who will take a writer seriously if they’re constantly screwing up? But have no fear, there is software that can check your work much better than MS Word and some of them are cheaper.
White Smoke has advance grammar, punctuation and even alerts you to repetition. They have a basic monthly subscription of $9.95 and a lifetime premium subscription of $299.99 (flat fee).
Grammarly is an online program that checks for misspellings plagiarism, and misused words. They have a free trial if you’re interested. If you end up loving it, it’s $29.95 a month, $19.98 quarterly, and $11.66 a month for year subscription.
Right Writer (CD)
Right Writer is another piece of software that comes in CD ROM and offers grammar, punctuation, with syntax checker. It also comes with a free video grammar course and it all costs only $29.95 not including, shipping of course.
Well there you go, some gifts indie authors need and actually want. If you know of any more useful services for authors tell me about them in the comments section.