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 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 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.


The Making of My Video Book Promo

I launched my first book promo video on YouTube! I plan to add it to as many video search sites as possible, such as Vimeo, Facebook video, Google+ video and other reputable sites found here: Video book promos seem to be the flavor of the month in that they are rapidly gaining in popularity.  For me, I knew I needed videos to promote my novel ever since I saw them on a few published author’s websites. In watching a few video book promos, I have seen some that have actors, etc, but I thought that was too close to a movie trailer. For my purposes, I came up with a concept of having a close-up clip of a blacksmith annealing a sword on an anvil in between the quotes/comments I had received from a literary agency and the friends that had finished reading my novel.

In researching where to begin making a video, I tried using a new site ( which allows you to make professional looking videos using pre-crafted templates (much like WordPress does with websites). If you sign up for the free version like I did, you will quickly find out that you are very limited to how many different templates you can choose from and that the length of your video can be no longer than 30 seconds. I was fine with that because I wanted to use the song Lacrimosa in my video which was barely over 30 seconds. So, I was willing to work within the constraints of a free account until I tried making text appear on screen. only let me put 30 characters of text. That’s all. There was no way I could quote the comments/reviews I had received and that’s what made me abandon their service.

I switched over to Windows Movie Maker, which was pre-installed on my Windows XP laptop (yes, I still have XP). So, I no longer had any limitations/constraints with using this application. I searched across the internet for various blacksmithing videos and found a good one on Vimeo. Luckily, Vimeo has a download button built in. So, once I downloaded the video, I realized that it was an MP4 (Apple file) and Windows Movie Maker wouldn’t accept it. I had to download and install a free MP4 to WMV converter to change it to a compatible file. I chose the app called iVideo Converter because not only did it do the trick, but it can download YouTube movies too. Then I moved the new movie file into my Movie Maker project which has a button that allowed me to splice the movie. I used that button so that I could capture just the annealing of the sword. Then I made titles to display the comments and reviews I had received. The comments are real, and they came from a literary agency that read my entire manuscript as well as my friends that finished reading it as well. After both the spliced blacksmithing clips and the titles were overlaid over the music file, I spent a great deal of time aligning everything with the beats of the music.

Lastly, as I explained in my marketing strategy, I knew I had to finish the video with a message that would call my viewers to action. I originally wanted the last message to just display my website URL, but then I made the conscious decision to tell the viewers to read the sample chapter on my website.

When I uploaded this to YouTube, I found 2 things. First, somewhere during the upload process, the alignment of my video/text to the music got shifted. I may need to convert the movie to a different YouTube-preferred file type before uploading. Secondly, YouTube instantly recognized that I was using a copyrighted song, however instead of removing my video or penalizing my account, the copyright owner of Lacrimosa allows anyone to use that song, but they get to collect ad revenue from my video. So, without further adieu, please take a look at the finished product and tell me what you think:

Days later, I began making my second video promo for my short story, The Ravenous Flock. I used iVideo Converter to download all sorts of YouTube videos and began splicing out the scenes that I wanted. I wanted this promo to be have a very eerie vibe to it, so I decided to use the song “O Death.” This song has been remade numerous times, but I chose to use the version that aired on CW to promote an episode of Supernatural, one of my favorite TV shows. Again, using Windows Movie Maker, I dragged the song into the project, dragged the video clips on top of them, and began creating title screens to show the real quotes I have received from readers. The comments of this short story were from my readers that were critiquing it when I submitted it for review at Critter’s Writer’s Workshop, plus some other close friends.

After watching this video, I think you’ll agree that the song selection is what can make or break the video. As always, leave me your thoughts below.