I am frequently asked what tools I am using to research, write and design my book. Here is a quick list with links. I will update as I proceed through the process. Please send me your comments.
Scrivener - Writing App
Scrivener can be adapted to any kind of writing project: fiction, non-fiction, journalism, family history. If you are serious about writing and eventually publishing, this is your go-to tool. There is nothing comparable and there is a huge user community. Don’t even think about comparing it to Microsoft Word!
“Scrivener unites everything you need to write, research and arrange long documents in a single, powerful app. At its heart is a simple ring-binder metaphor that allows you to gather your material and flick between different parts of your manuscript, notes and references with ease. Break your text into manageable sections of any size and leave Scrivener to stitch them together. Integrated outlining tools let you plan everything first or restructure later. And as your project grows, you’ll find that Scrivener grows with it.”
MacOs, iOs, Windows
$45. Frequently on sale for less.
Prowriting Aid - Writing Analysis
Pro Writing Aid is a great set of writing tools including of course spelling and grammar checker. But it goes so far beyond that with analysis of word choice, sentence structure, voice and many other options. It also integrates with MSWord and, my choice, Scrivener. Recently I had it review an article which I was certain was “baked” and it made several suggestions for things I had overlooked. You can try it out for free online (does not integrate with Word or Scrivener.)
This review is particularly complete and they may also have a discount code you can use.
MacOs, iOs, Windows
$70 annually. Frequently on sale for less and once in a while great offers on a lifetime license which is what I got.
Aeon - Timeline App
Aeon Timeline tracks dates, characters, locations and story arcs. It allows me to cross-reference all events and characters. It calculates ages for my characters once I input a birthdate. It can also link to external files such as photos and documents as well as PDFs. This is MacOS and iOs only at this time.
“A timeline is composed of a series of events: an occurrence that happens at a particular time for a given duration. Depending on your project needs, these events may represent plot points in a novel, planned future tasks in a project, or known events in a legal case or historical research.”
$50. Several times a year it is 50% off.
Bookends - Bibliography App
Bookends is a slick tool for creating a bibliography and annotations. What a timesaver this has been: I enter an ISBN number or book title and Bookends finds the information for me. Integrates with Microsoft Word and Scrivener and other apps. This is MacOS and iOs only at this time.
“Reference management entails the collection, annotation, curation, and citation of published information. This is exactly what Bookends does. Bookends can perform Internet searches to retrieve references and associated pdfs or web pages, or immediately find and import references for which you already have the pdf.”
Lightroom - Photo Organization App
Adobe Lightroom is the premiere photo editing and management app. I use it to organize all my photos as well as resize and crop them for my book.
The most economical way to purchase it is on a month-to-month cloud subscription. Currently only $10 a month for the basic plan with or without Adobe Photoshop. Cloud storage varies by plan.
MacOs, iOs, Windows
$10-$19 a month
OneNote - Notebook App
Microsoft OneNote is a great tool to store all your research. It uses the metaphor of a notebook with sections and pages. I use it for pasting information from the web and taking notes. Scrivener has similar functionality and many people use it to store their research. I like the integration of OneNote with my browsers so I can quickly paste an article or link into a section.
It is available to download for free. I have it included in my Office365 subscription. I do not know whether the standalone app has any limitations.
MacOs, iOs, Windows
Readcube Papers - Cloud Organization of PDFs
Papers is a cloud based app which can help you organize PDFs and annotate them. It will auto download a PDF while you are browsing if you install the Google Chrome extension.
There is also a desktop app for Windows and a legacy app for Mac which is being updated. There are several pricing plans depending on your needs and whether you are part of an academic institution.
Mindmup - Cloud Mind Maps
Mindmup is a browser based online service to create mind maps. I use it for the 10,000 foot view of all my topics and connections. I have about 100 nodes on my current map!
MindMup provides two types of service:
- Free mind mapping online without registration, but with limited capacity.
- Paid MindMup Gold accounts, with increased capacity. With a Gold subscription, you can remove size restrictions for your user account or organisation, and support long-term development of MindMup.
Personal Gold accounts are $25 a year or $2.99 a month.
How I Track Images
I have 100s of images in my book. I had been struggling to create a method to cross-reference them. I’ve landed on a simple solution:
I have renamed the images with a sequential numbering scheme. In MacOS I can select a set of images and then group rename them. In this case I chose to use a counter format which sequentially numbers them and put the number as a prefix to the original filename. When I add new image I can manually add the counter or allow MacOS to do it.
Then I created an Excel document with the metadata I want for each image. The counter goes in the first column. The essential columns for me are Chapter and Chapter Image Position(image #1, #2, etc.). That’s all there is to it. I also have a column for the source of the image which for me is either a URL or a my personal collection. If I know the photographer, date taken and location those are added too.
Divi - WordPress Theme
Divi is the WordPress theme I have been using for several years. It is the theme I use almost all the time now. It has a huge base of over 500,000 users. The company is constantly adding features and updating it to stay current. I highly recommend it.