Awesome Apps for Authors

Technology has been the greatest enabler for authors. It has drastically improved productivity when going from typewriters to the personal PC, and now with Amazon’s CreateSpace plus the advent of e-readers, it has never been easier for an author to publish their work. There is no doubt that technology has made the life of all authors easier, but what about being more organized? Below, I’ve compiled a list of some software and iPad/iPhone apps that can do just that.

  • Name Dice for iPad/iPhone, by Thinkamingo. If your creativity is fleeting, then this free random name generator can help you come up with a character name on the spot.
  • Final Draft Writer by Final Draft, Inc. This is the premier composition software for screenwriters, and the iPad app is available for $49.99. Personally, I don’t know how anyone can be as productive on an iPad as they can on a laptop/PC with a full operating system, but I know Final Draft 8 software is available for $249.95 on PC and Mac as well.
  • iBookWriterLite for iPad, by AgileBoard.com. This free app allows you to compose your story and then instantly publish your work to various self-pub markets once complete.
  • Subscribe to Writing Magazine on the iPad. Filled with useful articles for fiction, short story and poetry topics. $20.99 for 6 month subscription or $39.99 for a 12 month subscription.
  • My Writing for iPad, by 21×20 Media, Inc. This free app helps you keep track of all your published works.
  • Writer’s App for iPad, by Thomas Sillmann. For only $0.99, this app gives you a book composition/organization tool. You can track your synopsis, Premise, Plot, Chapters, Characters (bio, description, etc), Places, and Notes for your novel. I, for one, would have loved a character-tracker app during my first novel!
  • Literary Agents and Publishers Database for iPhone/iPad, by BookCaps. It’s a free app that lists agents and publishers based on Genre. This might be handy for the iPad, but I still prefer queryagent.com for their database and submission tracking system.
  • Manuscript for iPad by Black Mana Studios. This app costs $6.99 and takes you from pitch to a publication-ready document in 4 steps.
  • Total Recall for iPhone/iPad by Zyense. This free app lets you organize your thoughts via mindmapping. It is a great tool for any author that likes to visualize the story or see character relationships and motivations. Great for outlining your novel, as I previously mentioned here.

For those of you that have found other useful apps or software, please feel free to share! Leave a comment below! I personally used Microsoft Skydrive to write my novel. Not only that, with Skydrive, you can edit your documents right in the web browser. I found this extremely useful so that I can work on my book from anywhere, and I prevent the risk of data loss by saving it in the cloud.

Questions For A Literary Agent

An agency has requested to read my full manuscript. After I had submitted it, I had been waiting to hear from them for about two weeks. Those two weeks were nerve racking. I began rereading my book and noticed so much more that needed editing. They were small things, but they were imperfections, so I did another round of editing. I took the liberty to send the revised manuscript to them just in case they hadn’t received my original submission (they never confirmed with me that they got it). 

The lady that I was in contact with informed me that she was 100 pages in and did not want to switch to a new file. I learned that she was an intern at the agency and it was her job to review my manuscript and then write a report to submit to her boss. As far as I can tell, this report is going to be the deciding factor in whether the agent chooses to offer me representation or not.She also informed me that whatever her boss’ decision is, he will let me read her report verbatim. While that is very comforting, this chance to communicate with an agent about my novel and my future as an author is monumental. It is also a critical opportunity for learning any information that can help me to succeed if, *knocks on wood*, he chooses to pass.

I can only hope that they can look past any minor errors that may have existed in the version of my manuscript that she read. I’m hoping that they can say, “With editing, this book would be great!” What I don’t want to hear is, “I’m sorry, while your story is compelling, your writing isn’t strong enough.” (Or something of that sort). So, in during the wait for their response, I have prepared a great many questions. When I get that phone call, I want to be ready.

  1. (The BIG question) What did you think of the story of The Soul Smith?
  2. What criteria was I being evaluated against?
  3. As an agent, what are you looking for in a book? (e.g. marketability, story, characters, originality, length?)
  4. What are you looking for from the author? (e.g. commitment, motivation, coach-able, long term relationship?)
  5. What was I doing well in my book?
  6. What is my greatest area that needs improvement?
  7. (If necessary) Am I worthy of a second chance?
  8. What did he like about my query letter? What caught his eye when I submitted?
  9. (Assuming he offers me representation) What are the next steps? (e.g. professional editing? submitting to publishers? getting it translated for international submission?)
  10. What services do you provide as a boutique agency?
  11. What could a full agency provide that a boutique agency cannot?
  12. What are the terms you are offering me? (% for international and national sales)

How to Format your Final Manuscript

I just had the pleasure of formatting my final complete manuscript, so I would like to share how it should be done with other authors. I had to use multiple different sites to obtain concurrence about how something should be formatted as well as just to find ALL the information. Too many websites left out important details so I will ensure that this one is comprehensive.

Title Page

In the top left corner, you should have: Your real name, address, phone number, email address. Top right corner should say: Approx. XX,XXX words. Then centered in the center of the page, it should say TITLE OF BOOK <press enter> by <press enter> Your Name or Pen Name.

NOTE: As much as I wanted to include the cover art for my novel, it has no place here. That is why I believe authors (even unpublished ones) should have a webpage. The agent/publisher should have been given a link to your website during the Query process, which is how you can get them to see it. I will Blog about this later.

Manuscript Header in Microsoft Word

Insert Header, pick Blank. In the top left hand corner type “Your Last Name/TITLE OF YOUR BOOK”. Under the Design tab, check the box for “Different First Page”… this will let you NOT have a Header on your Title Page (which is what you want).

After done entering the info in the left corner, Hit Tab twice. Select Insert Page Number, Current Position, Plain Number. You should edit it so that the page number count starts at 0… this will take into account the title page (and since no header will be displayed on that page) the first page of your manuscript will start with 1.

Entire Manuscript Format

Within Microsoft Word, hit Ctrl + A to select all your text. BE CAREFUL NOT TO DELETE ANYTHING WHILE EVERYTHING IS SELECTED.

Make everything 12 point Font.

Make everything either Times New Roman, Courier, or Courier New Font.

Make everything Double Spaced. Instead of choosing “Double Spaced” as your Line spacing selection, choose “Exactly” and set it to 25 pt.

Make everything have 1″ margins on every side of the page.

At the end of your manuscript, center the word “End” on a page.

All new paragraphs should be indented (TAB over).

Chapters

When you start a chapter, the word “Chapter” should be 1/3 or 1/2 the way down the page. Make sure the way you capitalize Chapter, and/or the way you use the numeric portion is consistent throughout. For example, CHAPTER 1, or CHAPTER ONE, or Chapter 1, or Chapter One.

The first sentence of your chapter should always be indented half an inch (or one TAB over). This is exactly how every new paragraph should start.

In order to keep Chapters starting on their own new page, you should always enter in a Page Break. This can be done by inserting a Page Break through the buttons in Microsoft Word or simply hitting Ctrl + Enter at the end of every Chapter.

Little Things

If your manuscript ever changes POV, use a # in-between the paragraphs to signify it, make sure it is centered on the page.

If there is a break in time, use *** between paragraphs, make sure it is centered.

Some Agents/Publishers are picky about how you format it. Just follow their instructions. If they don’t provide instructions, then follow what I have outlined above. If you are submitting it via e-mail, then you should probably send as a .pdf (unless they request different). If you are printing it out, do NOT print front and back… just do 1 sided printing. And if you print it out, ONLY use plain white paper.