Resources for Authors Online

The print and eBook editions of The Author Online contain a detailed list of "My Bookmarks." These are the resources I rely on daily for everything from email service providers to photo editing services. The list in the book is static, but here, on the companion website, I can add to it all the time. In the left column are lists of website and photo services, helpful books, blogs, websites and articles for authors online. Below are various categories of services: Organizations & Freelance Services That Support Authors; Self-Publishing Resources; Web-based Tools; Website Building Software and Tools; File Transfer, Conversion & More; Writing & Transcribing; and Miscellany.
The list was last updated on January 15, 2014.


Organizations & Freelance Services That Support Authors

AuthorsGuild.net:  Outsource Your Website 

The Author's Guild is a great organization that lobbies in support of authors on every  front. They have a toolkit for building websites and also offer hosting plans.

DesignRelated.com: Freelance Designers

 A great source of freelance designers that's searchable by tags, so you can find people by location or area of design specialty. The site includes web and graphic designers.

CreativeHotlist.com: Freelance Designers

Listing of companies that provide help with a variety of creative services including graphic, web/flash and multimedia design, art direction, programming and development.

Self-Publishing Resources

Blurb.com: Print-on-Demand and Self-Published e-Books

Long gone are the days when people in the publishing business used to sniff at "vanity presses." Today self-publishing is an honorable route, and there are many options available, including Lulu.com and Amazon's CreateSpace (which I used for The Author Online). If you're producing a book with illustrations – photographs or color art – Blurb will give you the best printed quality. Of course you should do your own research and compare companies and websites, to see what feels like the best fit for you and your project.

SelfPublishing.com: Resources and services for folks who are self-publishing

A rich resource for authors who want to self-publish. You can download a free e-book, Publishing Basics: Navigating the Self-Publishing MinefieldI spent 25 years in the publishing business and was surprised to find that self-publishing, even for someone with a lot of experience, is a fantastically complex process. This book and website walk you through all the steps and offer invaluable advice as well as every service you'll need in order to get started

Web-based Tools for Authors Online

Dropbox.com: Storage in the Cloud

This is one of my favorite programs and I rely it more and more as time goes by. An online storage and backup facility that enables you to place files in a folder (a "Dropbox") on your desktop, and then access them from any computer or mobile device. When you add or change a folder on one machine (say you're in Paris, enjoying a lovely vacation and working on your laptop) the file is updated in the cloud, so when you open the document on another machine (your desktop at work or home) it's the new, updated version. Everything is backed up and if you accidentally lose something you can nip that panic attack in the bud because Dropbox has saved and indexed it, and offers several simple ways to find it. You can also share files with other people, so if you’re working with a designer, developer or project manager this is a great (and free) way to share files without relying on email.

GoDaddy.com: Hosting & Domains

I've used GoDaddy for several websites and am always grateful for their excellent 24/7 support. But I've heard complaints about GoDaddy from some people, and am aware that no hosting service will be perfect for everyone. Karelia, the makers of Sandvox, have a good comparison chart get you started, but there are zillions of hosting services out there and you should do your own careful research before committing. Consider how much space you really need, and remember that you can always increase your plan as your traffic and the content you are hosting grows. 

GoMockingbird: "Wireframes on the fly"

A great tool for organizing your thoughts about your website. It's quite easy to navigate, even for a beginner. Wireframing is to web design what blueprints are to architecture. You wouldn't build a house without a schematic, and my advice is that you approach your website in the same spirit. Working in a wireframe environment helps you prioritize your content and the nice thing about GoMockingbird is that it's so easy to move things around -- to indulge your second and third thoughts about where things should go. You can link the pages and sections of your wireframe, which makes it very easy to test your ideas in a dynamic way, and you can share your wireframes with your colleagues and collaborators. I first used it when it was in beta and free; now there's a fee, but it's reasonable and well worth the money.

LovelyCharts.com: Software for Site-Mapping, Wireframing, Organizational Charts

A web-based software program that enables you to create sitemaps, wireframes, organizational charts, diagrams and more. They have a very good video tutorial that runs you through all the basics and you can share your charts with collaborators. It's inexpensive and very easy to use – a great way to organize your thoughts and get them down on paper. Another great site is GoMockingbird.com (see above).

Lynda.com: Software Training Online

I love this site. As a do-it-yourselfer (and a DIY evangelist) I find it a liberation. They have tutorials on every software product imaginable, and once you watch some of their videos you'll understand why they're relatively expensive (at the time of writing, $25 per month to access the entire library).

MailChimp.com: Email Service Provider

MailChimp is one of the top (if not the biggest) email service providers. There are several good ones (Constant Contact is another) but I like MailChimp because it has a sense of humor and is wonderfully simply to use. You can easily create templates and they have a rich, easy-to-use metrics program that allows you to gather and compare statistics for all your campaigns. They also have great support, both via live chat and site documentation. Karelia, the maker of Sandvox, has a handy chart that compares email service providers. There are others available on the web and you Google it and do your own research.

MemoryMiner.com: Digital Storytelling Application

This app lets you organize your photos and create a narrative by linking them to each other based on the people, places, and things that appear in them. In the book I write about another cool technology, TimeToast.com, that lets you create timelines on the website.

Website Building Software & Tools

Sandvox: Simple, Elegant, Software for Building Your Own Website
Sandvox and excellent, easy to use, fully optimized website creator made by Karelia Software. It works only on a Mac; go here for more info. and to get the special Author Online code for a 15% discount. (Note: I use Wordpress for my blog, LivinTheHighLine.com, but Sandvox also includes a blogging tool.)

Wordpress.org Themes: A Massive Directory of Free Wordpress Themes

As of December 2010 there are 1,295 free themes in this directory. There's a browse function that lets you filter themes by tag (colors, number of columns, features, subjects, and more). For advice about choosing a theme, see my article “The Art of Choosing a Theme or Template."

Squarespace.com: Software for Building Your own Website or Blog

I haven't used this product myself but someone I trust has and he recommends it highly to non-professionals. Squarespace has its own analytics system and also provides a hosting service. Its website is well-designed and seems very easy to use.

ThemeForest.net: One of the Best Sources for Elegant Wordpress Themes

ThemeForest has a wide range of Wordpress themes and HTML templates. There are scores of sites that offer templates but I've found ThemeForest to be among the best and easiest to search, allowing you to browse categories and find templates that were created for specific purposes: portfolios (art, photography), blogs (personal and news/editorial), corporate (business, marketing), retail (fashion, travel, food, etc.), non-profit, entertainment and more.

Weebly.com: Build a Free Website or Blog

I haven't used this platform myself but a former publishing colleague I know has; she created the website TeresaNicholas.com to promote her book, and says it was quite easy to use and intuitive -- perfect for a non-technical person. Weebly also offers hosting services (be sure to review the advice about web hosting above, in the GoDaddy entry) and offer a wide variety of themes.

File Transfer, Conversion & More

Pixlr.com: Photo Editing Online

This is a photo-editing website that enables you to edit images online. It's free, so is a great alternative (especially for beginners) to expensive programs like Adobe Photoshop.

SaveVid.com: Software to Upload and Download Large Files

An easy-to-use web-based program for downloading online videos from sites like YouTube, Google Videos, etc., in multiple formats.

SendSpace.com: software to upload and download Large files.

Slideshare.net: Upload and Share PowerPoint and Keynote Presentations

A website app that enables you to upload and share presentations using PowerPoint, Keynote, Word and PDF documents. You can add audio to create a webinar. For business book authors or anyone who gives lots of speeches, this is a great way to present your ideas.

Zamzar.com: File Conversion

A free, easy-to-use website that does conversion to multiple formats for video & audio files

Writing & Transcribing

Scrivener: Software for outlining, editing, and writing 

Scrivener is one of the most intelligently crafted pieces of software I’ve ever used. It allows you to keep notes, folders, PDFs, audio files, images and more in a highly organized way, with keyword-tagging options that make finding things quick and easy. It has a terrific transcribing feature too. If you’re writing a book, whether on a Mac or a Windows machine, this is well worth the price. 

otranscribe: Web-based transcription program

A free, cloud-based, transcription program that’s very easy to use and intuitive. You have to upload your audio files to otranscribe’s server, which was a deal-breaker for me, but for non-sensitive projects it’s a good tool. Click here to read Media Bistro’s review of the best free transcription tools.

Miscellany

Drum Set: For Your Time Out 

For those moments when you want to tear your hair out, this is a great place to hang out for a bit.

ShelterBuild.com: The Blog of the Shelter Institute

This blog will inspire anyone who's a do-it-yourselfer at heart. It's for builders who use wood and traditional carpentry tools, not technology and robotic kits like the ones you find in Make [http://makezine.com] another of my favorite publications. One day I'm going to spend two weeks during the summer taking the barn building class at the Shelter Institute. It's got nothing to do with websites, but I include it here – along with a shout-out to Etsy.com – because it speaks to an impulse so many of us have to create things – to build it ourselves. They sell fine and hard-to-find hand tools here, but if you're looking for the best quality tools, my favorite store is Garrett Wade. They carry a drool-inducing line of English and Japanese chisels and saws, as well as top-of-the-line machine tools from Asia and around the world.

do nothing for 2 minutes: a site that encourages you to relax, just for a bit

It won’t kill you to take a rest now and then. 

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