5 Useful Tools for Indie Authors

category Karen M Cox | 2

By Karen M Cox

The term “indie author” has the connotation of a woman who charts her own path, a lone wolf who braves the brutal jungle that is the current publishing world, without the benefit (or shackle, depending on your point of view) of a big publishing house or a team of editors, graphic artists, and publicists behind you. “Indie” to some means rogue adventurer, free spirit, someone who is perhaps a tad eccentric.

My experience as an author who publishes with a small, independent press doesn’t follow this stereotype. From my beta readers at A Happy Assembly, an online community of readers and authors, to my stellar editors and graphic artists at Meryton Press, to the Chick Lit HQ facebook group that is a wealth of positive energy and helpful tips—I’ve found the world of an Indie Author to be anything but solitary.

Yes, an independent author steers her own ship, but she isn’t typically alone in the endeavor. No woman is an island, and writing is a steep learning curve where it pays to seek out the advice of others. However, sifting through the vast amounts of information available can be a daunting task.

So in the spirit of Indie Author Solidarity, I’ve put together a short list (but certainly not an exhaustive one) of helpful resources for the Indie Author—things that have been helpful on my writing journey.
(FYI, here’s my disclaimer: I’ve personally used these resources and like them, but I’m not receiving any compensation, financial or otherwise, for the recommendations below.)


1. Plot and Structure, by James Scott Bell. I’ve blogged about this book before, but it remains one of the best, most straight-forward and informative books about storytelling I’ve run across. Sometimes low-tech print books and old school notions about writing are the way to go.

2. Jane Friedman’s blog: If you are immersed in what my last editor, Christina Boyd, calls this “Wild West” of digital 21st Century publishing, you’ll find a treasure trove of information on a wide variety of topics at Ms. Friedman’s blog.

3. Canva:  This is a free visual arts application that allows an amateur to use templates and fonts, upload images or search images to create some pretty nifty graphics to use for blog posts, book covers, advertisements, Twitter headers, Facebook posts, etc. Some images and services have a fee, but I’ve been able to create most anything I wanted using the free parts.

(Cannot replace the amazing book cover designers at my publisher, however 😉 I need those ladies’ expertise!)


4. Scrivener: I found Scrivener after I wrote the first draft of my second novel, Find Wonder in All Things, for NaNoWriMo. Half-price off Scrivener was one of the prizes for finishing that year. I’ve used it ever since. It’s a robust and flexible software program for writing “long things”—novels, screenplays, even theses and dissertations. A great organizational and research tool, it’s helped me write my last two novels.

ommwriter-logo-main5. OmmWriter: This is an app I discovered after I got my Mac book (I’d always used Windows operating systems before. Omm does work for Mac, PC and iPad, however.) I found Omm to be particularly helpful when I was stuck while writing first draft and needed to focus without distractions. I plug in my headphones, turn on the New Age style music or nature sounds like ocean waves, and the words flow from my fingertips more easily. It’s not complete silence, but as quiet is a rare commodity at my house, Omm creates a sense of calm in the midst of chaos. I then copy and paste the text into Scrivener and start the self-editing process.

There are tons of other helps for authors, indie and traditionally published, but these are some that have helped me along my writer’s journey.

For those of you who write, what are some of your favorite tools? For readers, what are some of the tools you use to help you find the books you like? I’d love to hear from you.

Blog Road Trip Graphic

October 8, 2016 is Indie Author Day!

Please visit the

Indie Author Day 2016 Pinterest Board

for cool blog and Indie Book Links. Browse, comment and share!

2 Responses

  1. Christina Boyd

    Good stuff!

  2. Suzan Lauder

    Wonderful ideas, Karen.

    We have many publishing choices out there, and each author gets to choose their own path and be respected for their choice. I recently discovered that authors signed with small independent publishers are considered indie authors by groups such as RWA.

    These suggestions are useful to all authors. Can I add a book you once suggested? “Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View” by Jill Elizabeth Nelson.