There are a lot of tools that can help you in your author business. Some tools are great for beginners, whereas some won’t be needed until you’re well into your author career. It’s hard to know what you should be spending money on.
What’s certain is you shouldn’t go on an all-out spending spree when you first start writing. You can begin with the basics and build from there. In this article, we’ll look at some of my favorite tools.
One of my favorite tools, and one that I feel every self-published author can use, is an aggregator like Draft2Digital.
While Kindle is responsible for over 80% of the eBook market, there are still other retailers that author’s swear by and earn great profit from. Take Adam Croft, for instance, who’s a great proponent of going ‘wide’ or delivering your books on multiple platforms.
However, registering for every single book retailer can be a drag. Then you need to keep track of all the different passwords, usernames and accounts to check on your book sales.
A book sales aggregator does all that hard work for you, and Draft2Digital is a great option.
What You’ll Love About Draft2Digital
Draft2Digital has two key selling points.
First, you can easily do basic format conversions for your novel. All you have to do is upload a .doc or a .docx format file to the site and it’ll convert it to an epub, .mobi or PDF file. So you’ll be set no matter which book file you need.
You can also add in a range of cool extra pieces to the book before formatting — like a table of contents, copyright page and a bunch more.
Once formatted, Draft2Digital delivers your book to a range of different platforms:
- Apple Books
- Barnes & Noble
- Kobo (including Kobo Plus)
- Baker & Taylor
You can set different price points for every platform too, which is a nice touch. Your book will also get an AISN when you publish it.
Personally, when I started out, I published directly to Kindle and then used Draft2Digital for everything else. Every book retailer you don’t sign up for is an opportunity wasted. I remember a book of mine was a random mini-hit on Scribd, after being a flop everywhere else. A book that I was putting no marketing dollars into was generating hundreds of dollars in profit every month. There’s no way that book would have paid itself off without submitting it to Draft2Digital.
How Much Does Draft2Digital Cost?
Here’s the best part. You can use Draft2Digital’s conversion service for free. So, even if you want to publish directly to Amazon, or any other retailer, you can turn your Word Document into a format that’s ready to publish in an instant.
If you want to distribute your book to any of the associated retailers, then Draft2Digital takes 10% of the retail price of the book every time you make a sale. What I particularly love about this pricing system is that you are never truly paying out of pocket; Draft2Digital only makes money when you make money.
Personally, I wouldn’t use an aggregator for selling on Amazon. However, when you’re starting out, you should use Draft2Digital to sell your books at other retailers.
If you want a truly beautiful book, you’ll have to use a program designed for book formatting. In which case, Vellum is the pick of the bunch if you’re on Mac. If you’re a PC user, you can use the service Mac in Cloud to access an online Mac and use your purchased copy of Vellum.
What I love about a tool like Vellum is what it replaces. Before, if you wanted to get a book that looked as good as a book made in Vellum, you’d have to do one of the following:
- Pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a professional book designer. You may even have to pay for two designers, one for the kindle version of your book and one for the print copy.
- Spend a few months learning how to use Adobe InDesign to format your book.
What You’ll Love About Vellum
Honestly, there’s a lot to love about Vellum. Here are some of the pros that you’ll find if you use the platform:
- “Book Styles” that help you change the entire book’s look in a click.
- You can automatically create a table of contents for your books.
- The ability to adjust the paper size, the trim, and all the other bits and pieces to suit online retailers’ requirements.
- You can see a full view of the book with their preview.
- You can create box-sets and anthologies instantly.
- Smart-links for different book files. For example, if you link to your book when you produce MOBI files for Amazon, it’ll insert Amazon links.
- No upsells or additional fees. Ever.
- You can use as many pen names as you like with ease.
- A multi-use license that ensures you’ll always be able to use Vellum.
- You can include links to any lead magnet.
How much does Vellum cost?
Vellum is a free download, which is cool if you want to play around and see if it’s worth the investment. If you want to generate copies of your book, you’ll need a license to do so. For that, there are two options to choose from.
Vellum Ebooks — allows you to create and export unlimited ebooks.
Cost: One-Off payment of $199.99
Vellum Press — allows you to create and export unlimited ebooks and paperbacks.
Cost: One-Off payment of $249.99
I like this pricing system because you can play around with the tool as much as you like and see if it’s worth the money.
While the price point isn’t super cheap, you can use the tool on unlimited books. Plus, it’s way cheaper than hiring a professional book designer–which you’ll need to do to get a book that is Vellum quality. It’s a one-time fee too, which is great compared to a monthly subscription model.
Here’s my in-depth Vellum review in case you want to see the tool in action.
We’ve spoken about creating beautiful books on a range of different platforms. But there’s no point in doing all that work if nobody ever finds your book. That’s where Publisher Rocket comes in.
Rocket is a piece of software my team and I created to solve a problem that I was facing with my own book marketing. Basically, the sole purpose of Rocket is to save you dozens of hours doing market research. Since our launch, the software is constantly improving and the audience is getting larger and larger.
What You’ll Love About Publisher Rocket
Before Rocket, you had to do your research manually, which meant:
- You’d have to brainstorm a bunch of different keywords for your book.
- Type every one into Amazon search bar and write down what variations of your keywords are auto-suggested.
- Add a range of modifiers to your suggestions and repeat the process until you have a huge list of keywords.
- Try to work out how competitive each keyword was by looking at the top-performing books that showed up when you searched. This involved checking every book’s ABSR and deciding if you think books are targeting that keyword
Sounds like a long process? Well, it was. It would take me countless hours to do this for every book. Even then, I still had to do a lot of guesswork. Now, with Rocket, you can do the following in a matter of seconds:
- Keyword Research. Like I mentioned above, you can automate the entire keyword process.
- Category Search. With Rocket, you can view thousands of Amazon categories (that are continually being updated). This will help you find less competitive categories to list your book in.
- Competition Analysis. You can check out what other writers in your categories are up to, even seeing their predicted monthly book sales!
- AMS Keyword Search. We all know how important it is to nail your advertising on Amazon. Finding the right keywords is a nightmare though. With Rocket, you can get huge lists of recommendations for your advertising keywords. These include book titles, author names, ASINs, and other phrases related to your keyword
The truth is, even if I had absolutely nothing to do with the software, I’d still recommend Publisher Rocket. It has helped so many authors sell more books, and I know it can do the same for you too.
How Much Does Publisher Rocket Cost?
Publisher Rocket has a one-time payment of $97. Now, as it’s my own software, I’m not going to go too much into the pricing as I’m a bit biased. However, I’ve tried to make the tool as accessible as possible for beginner authors, who are the ones that need the most help selling books.
There are a lot of tools you can use to boost your indie-author success. The three we’ve spoken about here will save you time, help you get more eyes on your books, and get those readers to fall in love with your work.
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