Welcome to the Toolbox for Writers, a hand-picked list of the tools and resources I recommend for building and expanding your career as a writer. I have used every recommendation on this page, and find them critically important to running my business. You will also find links to conference materials, presentations, blog posts, articles, and podcasts that I find equally important.
A sizable portion of our sales is generated by social media advertising. There are a number of keys to designing an effective ad – presenting a striking image is the most important aspect. We use a variety of stock photo vendors, including DepositPhotos to supply pictures for the dozens of ads we have running everyday. DepositPhoto is easy to use and has a pricing plan that allows you to download 30 high-resolution and vector files every month for just $29 a month.
Purpose: Stock photos and graphics for online ads
Price: $29/month flexible plan for 30 high-res/vector files a month
Once you have the photo/graphics you need in order to construct an effective ad, you may have to crop, resize or modify the picture before using it. There are a number of applications you can use to do this; however, we strongly recommend PicMonkey due to the ease of use and the affordable price. PicMonkey has free access to some of its tools, and a free trial for its premium services.
Purpose: Resizing, cropping, editing pictures
Price: Some services free | $5.99/month premium account provides access to more editing and effects tools
Social media advertising is a significant, driving force in our unit sales strategy. There are a number of tools that help us create, manage, and monetize our online advertising. Leadpages is a tool we continuously utilize that allows for the easy construction of effective landing pages that converts interested readers into buyers and fans. We also use Leadpages to collect email newsletter sign-ups via text message, helping us feed a growing segment of readers with whom we communicate on a regular basis.
Purpose: Convert advertising traffic into buyers and fans / Add to newsletter via text message
Price: Free trial followed by $25/month for a standard account
Staying in-touch with readers and fans will fuel new book sales, positive reviews, and a steady revenue stream from a loyal fan base. We use MailChimp to manage the tens-of-thousands of people on our newsletter subscription list, and help us format effective email marketing campaigns that keeps our readers and fans engaged. Fortunately, MailChimp’s pricing structure grows with the size of your list, allowing you to grow your list up to 2,000 members before being moved from their free plan into a pay-by-the-month plan.
Purpose: Create effective newsletter and email marketing campaigns | manage subscription lists
Pricing: Free up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month
We spend a lot of time and focus trying to maximize our social media presence due to the amount of sales generated through those channels. In addition to posting daily, we have integrated an automated Facebook messenger bot that can recommend books and direct readers to their preferred vendor for the book that best matches their interest. Chatfuel also allows us to deliver messages to any person who had previously interacted with the bot on our page, giving us a chance to follow-up on a book recommendation and notify the reader of new releases.
Purpose: Artificial Intelligence-based Facebook messenger bot
Price: Free | additional features starting at $30/month PRO account
We give additional offers to our readers and fans by operating a Shopify online store (MillCreekBooks.com) that offers signed paperbacks, links to our books on all vendor platforms, as well as a large selection of custom merchandise inspired by our written works and the Romance genre at-large. Shopify is essentially a hosting and website builder that is built for e-commerce platforms. Additionally, our Shopify store links to Facebook and allows users to purchase items from our store directly in Facebook. Shopify handles credit card processing, and automates order fulfillment.
Purpose: Sell additional offerings to readers and fans
Price: $29/month for basic account + one-time fee of appx $120 for a theme
I have attended Social Media Marketing World in the past and HIGHLY recommend that authors add it to their list of annual conferences. SMMW conference gives you access to information and applications that are on the cutting-edge of upcoming trends. In a lot of ways, SMMW provides a crystal ball for what will drive content and engagement in the coming year. I found the conference to be incredibly helpful.
Purpose: Equip yourself with new applications and a better understanding of upcoming trends
Price: Registration packages starting at $697
Conference Workshop Materials and Presentations
C-Level: Being Your Own Executive (PowerPoint slides)
Book Launches (PowerPoint slides)
Blog Posts, Articles, and Podcasts
Books on Indie Authors / Self-Publishing
How to Hone Your Craft