Category Archives: Tools for Writers

Reading More in 2017

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

In 2016, I worked in more reading than I had in 2015. I love reading, but for some reason in 2015 I ended up with a bunch of abandoned books (I’m not one of those who feels I must finish reading a book I’m not enjoying).

Not only do I love reading, I know that reading makes me a better writer. That’s why I’m pushing myself to read even more in 2017 than I did last year. I’ve got new ways to make that happen, which I thought I’d share with you.

There are a few things that I’ve done differently:

Used a Goodreads account. I opened a Goodreads account under a different name so that I wouldn’t appear to be using the site to promote other books–I only wanted to use it as a reader. I’ve learned that it’s a very helpful site when it comes to reading. So frequently I’d read a book and then forget the author or title. This way, I can follow authors and learn when they have new releases. Goodreads also sends me newsletters with suggestions for other books to check out.

Spent more time at the library. I got out of the habit of writing at the library in 2015 because I was being productive at home. But I’ve found that I can make even more progress on my book…plus find things to read, myself.

Taken advantage of my Amazon Prime Kindle First benefit. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can choose between four (usually) selections for free each month. There have been some good choices. Even better, some of the choices have helped me read books in genres I might not otherwise have read.

Used OverDrive more. This ties into my library time, but it’s online. I request books from my library’s OverDrive site. Popular titles have a waiting list, but I never seem to stay on it very long before getting the book. It’s delivered right to my device and I don’t have to worry about returning it to the library.

Used an extension to find out whether a book I’m interested in is at my library. Jane Friedman mentioned this cool extension in one of her Electric Speed newsletters. It’s called Library Extension and currently just for Chrome browser users. When you’re browsing books on Amazon, it will check your library’s catalog to let you know if the book is available (check first to make sure your library is supported–they support 3200).

Develop ‘for later’ lists and wishlists to always have something to read next. It’s not the reading that takes the time…it’s the finding something to read. This is ironic, since there have never been more books on the market. But not all books are good fits. Not every book makes me want to sit down and read.

What are your reading plans for 2017?

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Amazon Author Insights

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Amazon Author Insights is a new author-facing  Tumblr site to help both new and established writers find writing-related resources and Amazon services for writers in one spot.

I was asked by Amazon to be a beta-tester for the site and to contribute some of its content (here are a couple of my posts on building an author platform and Kindle Instant Preview).

There are tabs for writers looking for information on writing, publishing, and marketing.

Amazon Tools and Services Page

One of the most helpful things about the site are the links to Amazon’s tools and services. I’ve always felt as if it was tricky to find everything Amazon offers all in one place (out of sight, out of mind for me.)

Although I’d heard about Amazon’s free screenwriting tool online, for instance, I’d never run across it, despite the time I spend on Amazon.  I think that’s because when I’m on Amazon, I’m either on Author Central or KDP bookshelf/reports and not searching the site.  I’m no screenwriter, but it was interesting to see they offered peer collaboration, auto-formatting (a nice plus), and the ability to submit finished scripts directly to Amazon Studios.  For scripts in the brainstorming stages, they also offer Amazon Storybuilder. Continue reading Amazon Author Insights

Organization: Top Time Savers

An alarm clock in the foreground emphasizes the need for writers to save time and be able to write more.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

This is the last post of the time saving series. You can find the first post here (on social media), post two here (on saving time writing), and the third post here (on book production). Today, I’m focusing on general organization. I’ve found if I’m better organized, I can free up more time for writing.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got tons of information to organize and work through. It could be writing craft posts. It could be research for your book. It could be ideas and images for blog posts.How do you store this information so that you can easily access it?

I use a couple of different tools for organizing information: one is Evernote and the other is OneNote.  Both are free (Evernote has a paid version if you’re an especially heavy user).  This post will include both the writing-related and personal uses of the apps because, in my house at least, if I’m not organized with both home and writing it impacts my writing time.

Continue reading Organization: Top Time Savers

Top Time Savers for Writing

Alarm clock in foreground demonstrates that time savers are important to writers.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I rely on a lot of time savers to help me stay productive. I’ve spoken to writers before who’ve asked me how long I spend writing each day.  I usually spend no more than thirty minutes writing, but that thirty minutes is enough for me to publish 2-3 books a year and get a head start on another.

I think it’s because of these time saving tricks. Not everyone wants to be a faster writer or needs to be a faster writer.  If you’re someone who is already trying to increase your writing speed, here are the things that work for me. Some of them help me stay on track and fight distraction. Some of them are memory crutches that help cut my revision times dramatically.  Continue reading Top Time Savers for Writing