The only question I get more than “Where are you now?” or “What do you write?” is “How did you do [THIS]?” in regards to writing or illustrating books and building a website.
Sharing is caring so I’ve listed the things I’ve learned and the resources I personally am using in my creative career. I hope you’ll find some of the information useful, and if you’d like to talk more about my personal experience, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to answer any questions—we’re in the creative trenches together. And for those mentioned below, I am grateful for your expertise—thank you for being you.
Books on Writing
Story Genius by Lisa Cron (I also took the workshop via Author Accelerator, see “Courses”)
On Writing–A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody and Blake Snyder
Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul
Grammar & Composition
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
Self-editing for Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print by Renni Browne and Dave King
Chicago Manual of Style. This is the manual most widely adhered to for fiction writing. It’s an annual paid subscription and an excellent reference tool. Most editors will use it too.
Publishing & Marketing
Be the Gateway by Dan Blank about finding and connecting with your audience
The Book Launch Show Podcast with Tim Grahl (and Valerie Francis)
The Business of Being A Writer by Jane Friedman
Carly Watters: Any and all webinars and Clubhouse discussions hosted by Carly Watters, SVP, Senior Literary Agent, P.S. Literary Agency. She helps all writers become informed authors, both indie and traditional
The Hot Sheet with Jane Friedman and Porter Anderson. This is the “essential publishing industry newsletter for authors.” It’s a paid-for subscription that is inexpensive but every other Wednesday it summarizes the current news in the publishing industry.
IngramSpark is the publishing service I use to print and distribute my novels widely to vendors, including libraries.
Mark Dawson’s and James Blatch’s Self Publishing Formula Podcast
Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book by Tim Grahl and Leslie Watts (2nd ed)
Courses I’ve Taken & Recommend
The Inside/Outline with Author Accelerator. It’s online and self-paced. I completed it in a few hours and combined with Story Genius (below), my third novel is well on its way to completion. The Inside/Outline is awesome.
Author Accelerator and Story Genius: It’s because of the Story Genius course that Tiger Drive and In the Doghouse are award-winning novels.
Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula Ads For Authors Course
Kicks Ass Creations: Kelsey Browning is one of my favorite coaches. She knocks out all your excuses and gets your butt in the chair or wherever it needs to be to start and finish your project. I’ve taken Big Creative Project (Get it done in 30 days) and What the F*ck Do I Do Now? (…Stop Wishing and Start Doing).
The Creative Shift Mastermind: I did three sessions of the original WeGrowMedia Mastermind in 2015 and 2016. As a result, I have long-lasting friendships and creative support.
*Basics to Sketchbook Pro 6 for Beginners Tutorial by Toonbox Studios (I honestly learned to use Sketchbook Pro and to draw from this single video, watched numerous times of course) This guy has tons of videos on YouTube and I’ve subscribed to him. I’ve also taken a few of his courses on his site.
Wacom Bamboo Connect Pen Tablet (CTL470): Digital drawing table that connects to my computer. I’ve had mine for several years. I’m sure the newer versions are awesome, too.
Software, Resources & Subscriptions I Use
99Designs is an online community of freelance artists. I’ve used 99Designs for five book covers as well as one tattoo (not for me, but to illustrate a tattoo the character, WJ, has in TIGER DRIVE). 99Designs handles the licensing and the payment to the designer of your choice. You can choose a designer by reviewing their portfolio and working directly with them (usually less expensive since work is guaranteed and you can negotiate the price directly with the artist) or you can run a contest.
Canva.com is a free graphic design website. It’s super easy and there is a free plan. I use it to create my website, social media, and newsletter memes/images.
Dreamhost is who I use to register and purchase my domains (website addresses). They partner with WordPress and provide DreamPress. WordPress/Dreampress is where I create and update my website (don’t worry, they provide templates or “themes”).
Grammarly is an online tool to check your grammar. There is a free option and a paid premium plan (the one I use) that checks for 400+ grammar rules. Having Grammarly is like having a second pair of eyes for my newsletters and novels.
Pixabay.com is a free-to-use photos and images database.
Postermywall.com is a site where you can create your own ebook covers by customizing the templates they offer as guidance. By making changes that work for your story, your cover will be unique.
Scrivener allows me to outline and move chapters around with a click and drag. I can take notes and comments in Scrivener. I can store all of my research links and images in the same frigging file. It’s awesome. When I reach the final stage of the manuscript, I export the Scrivener file to Microsoft Word and send it to my editors where they add their comments in Track Changes. From this point, I keep the file in Word, but almost the entire life of the novel happens in Scrivener.
Sketchbook Pro by AutoDesk is my go-to drawing app. I drew all of my illustrations for my children’s picture books (one of which was shared by Kathie Lee Gifford as a Favorite Thing on TODAY) using the Sketchbook Pro software.
SQUARE: I use SQUARE magstripe to process my book sales at conferences, signing events, and book clubs.
Vellum.pub is an app that allows indie publishers to format their books beautifully and professionally. Truth be told, I know some small publishing houses that are using Vellum.pub. It is amazing!
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