11 Tools I Used To Write My Book

hickory ridge studio writing self publishing cookbook author

In case you were wondering how and what I used to write my book I thought I would make a quick post giving you a rundown of the online sources, programs, and physical offline tools I used.    

As far as writing the actual text of the book I had some ready made material to use - the articles I wrote for the newspaper during my first year of writing for them in 2016.  I had so many people tell me that they had loved this recipe or that recipe and had forgotten to cut it out, they had cut it out and lost it, or a family member had thrown it away before they were able to save it.  I emailed several recipes to people but got it in my head to make a pdf document that I could email out to people as they asked.  Which sort of morphed from pdf to ebook to hey, what about an actual physical printed book.  Back in the fall I had researched several different self publishing companies and came down to two options - lulu.com and blurb.com.  After looking at countless blogs, website, youtube videos, and fortune tellers I decided to go with blurb.  The prices were a little higher but they had their own software, the quality looked a little better in comparisons I had seen, and the distribution and payment looked pretty darn manageable.  So I made an executive decision and went that route.  Blurb also offers their own software that is a free download where you build your book.  It’s a little fiddly, I admit, but it’s fairly simple and works.  The learning curve on it is not that bad either.  I did write my book elsewhere and then just used bookwright to lay everything out.  Have a really good plan going in because editing is a bear and please for the love of everything DO NOT add page number until you are absolutely done and ready to print.  It’s just too much trouble trying to change it.  

The next thing I did was to use good old pencil and paper.  I set myself a timeline of when I wanted to be done - this changed several times of course - but I would set myself little deadlines.  And writing it down kept me accountable and able to track how much time this was really taking.  I also tend to be a stream of consciousness writer meaning that it helps me to get all the junk out of my head and then rearrange it.  My notes are often undecipherable to anyone but me.  It’s a thing.  Now if you’re not a pen and paper kind of person you might look at workflowy.com.  I’ve started using it for to do lists at work and it’s fabulous.  I absolutely love it.  

As for writing the copy for the book I used Google docs.  That way I could save it in the cloud and if anything happened to my 6 year old Acer that is on it’s last legs, I knew I would be assured I wouldn’t lose all my work.  Because that would have caused a mental breakdown.  Google drive is my jam yall.  I love it.  You can create docs, spreadsheets, powerpoint like displays.  I also use google images to save pictures.  Google for email as well. If Google ever crashes I am absolutely lost.  I write my journal entries there, make notes there, and save pdf files I find on the internet there.  If you’re not using it and you have a google email address give it a try.  It’s lovely.  

I did include some pictures in my book but the biggest thing designwise to me was the front and back cover.  This is where I wanted it to look professional.  You and I both know that we have seen those self published books and ebooks online that look self published.  They have that dreaded (the kiss of death to any art major) homemade look to them.  This was something that I absolutely did not want.  I looked at a lot of online cookbook covers and ebook covers and finally came up with something I was happy with.  For this I used a combination of the Bookwright program, Photoshop, Canva.com, and Picmonkey.com.  Canva and Picmonkey are both very similar and to me are a pretty good option if you don’t have Photoshop.  If you subscribe to the premium features they will do pretty much everything my ancient version of Photoshop will do.  Picmonkey is primarily for photos and Canva is for graphic design.  Tons of free templates and even more templates that cost only a dollar.  I’m cheap and if I don’t see something for free I’ll just build something from scratch.  It’s an awesome place to start and where I got the idea for my book cover.  They are free, let me repeat that FREE to use.  But they do offer a subscription for a small fee that gets you a few (or a lot) more tools.  Canva and Picmonkey do offer a free 30 day trial so you do have the option to try it out before you commit to the subscription.  Very affordable, very user friendly, and they have online tutorials too.  I use Picmonkey all the time to create graphics for my blog even though I have photoshop.   For my pictures I used my Nikon D90 and my iphone.  Quick snaps of food before we sat down to eat I used my iphone, staged shots when I had time with detail and props I used the Nikon.  

And then there was marketing and social media.  For marketing my book I used word of mouth and a combination of my blog (a little) and Instagram and Facebook.  I shared that I was working on the book (which was super hard to share that I was doing something because then I was held accountable to actually finish the damn thing.)  I also shared progress shots of me editing, the cover when I got it completed, and then used it to announce that the book was available for sale.  I would normally only post once a day and used a combination of images and video.  Thank goodness for all that 4-H public speaking experience!  The main thing I think with social media marketing is don’t be obnoxious and post a hundred times a day, but you can’t just do one post and leave it at that.  Facebook and Instagram feeds move so fast and most people are not going to scan all the way back through their feeds to read every single post.  Every time I would post about the book I would get a couple of new orders.  Also, if you’re going to order physical copies of your book and not just direct everyone to the website then make sure to set a deadline of when you’re going to place an order.  I also only ordered the books that had been prepaid plus just a few extra.  Don’t go into massive debt for this - be reasonable and a business person about this.  It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of a book launch, especially if you’re like me and this is the very first one, but it’s easier to order more books than to over order and then try and figure out how to move a bunch of product.  

So to make things easier here’s a quick list of the website I used:
Bookwright (program that is provided by blurb.com)

Maybe this will help you get started and if you have any questions about anything, just let me know.

Also, don't forget about the book giveaway. You have to go comment on yesterday's post to be entered! Thanks guys!


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