Monday, April 17, 2017

#AtoZchallenge New Tools Every Author Should Be Using

The #AtoZChallenge 2017 Theme at Operation Awesome is the Publishing Journey.

Today's guest post is by Leslie Hauser.
New Tools Every Author Should Be Using

Welcome to another day of the 2017 April A to Z Blogging Challenge. I'm super excited for this opportunity to write a guest post for Operation Awesome and talk about something that I've had a lot of experience with lately: Being an author.

Being an author can sometimes feel like this:
#AtoZchallenge 2017 Operation Awesome ~ New Tools Every Author Should Be Using by Leslie Hauser

But I've discovered through my journey that a few tools can make life as an author a lot easier and open up a lot of doors:

1. QueryTracker

As an author, you have several paths to publication: 1) secure an agent as a means to be published by one of the major publishing houses, 2) submit on your own to smaller publishing houses, and 3) self-publishing. No matter which you choose, you need to keep track of the process.
#AtoZchallenge 2017 Operation Awesome ~ New Tools Every Author Should Be Using by Leslie Hauser

If you are querying agents, then QueryTracker is for you. QueryTracker allows you to find agents listed in its database. This will help you narrow your search to include only agents who accept your genre. It also has a feature that allows you to track and organize your queries, and you can review agent data such as response time and preferences. This is all free! ItÕs such a great resource. If you want to track more than one novel or are into data reports, you might want to upgrade to the Premium membership. If not, then the free version has all you need.

2. Hootsuite

Social media is so important for an author. You have to get your name out there, and some publishers won't feel comfortable taking a chance on you if you don't have a social media presence. There are many choices: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Goodreads, Snapchat, Litsy, Bloglovin', LinkedIn, Google+, and your own blog. It's a ton!

#AtoZchallenge 2017 Operation Awesome ~ New Tools Every Author Should Be Using by Leslie Hauser
My advice is to pick 2 or 3 that you really feel comfortable with and focus on those. But even with this, keeping up with your social media channels could be a full-time job! This is where a social media manager can help you. I like Hootsuite the best. You can schedule posts, track certain hashtags, track your mentions, and be alerted to all of this. It's very easy to use. I'm still getting used to it because scheduled tweets sometimes sound forced to me. And sometimes I like to tweet in response to things I read on Twitter. But when I have blog posts or weekly Instagram quotes I want to post and promote, the scheduler is helpful in getting multiple tweets out throughout the day. It's also helpful to track hashtags I might want to participate in.

3. PicMonkey

As an author, you want to make as many contacts in the writing and blogging worlds as possible. This will mean participating in blog hops, weekly memes, and posting some attention-getting posts on social media. When I started doing this, all these people had such fun graphics to go along with their posts. If you're not much of a graphic artist like me, you might also be wondering, How do they do this? Then I stumbled upon PicMonkey. I looked into it, and it's been one of the greatest tools I have now. I create graphics and announcements for blog posts; I add text to pictures for weekly quote posts on Instagram; and I'm able to create Facebook banners and other site-specific graphics that don't look all wonky when I try to upload them.

This is a cover image I made in PicMonkey for my weekly Photo Stories post on Niume (another tool explained below!).
#AtoZchallenge 2017 Operation Awesome ~ New Tools Every Author Should Be Using by Leslie Hauser

4. Pixabay

If you want to have great blog posts and use PicMonkey for personalized graphics, you need pictures. But with all the copyright laws, it becomes a little scary and confusing. What can you use? What kind of attribution is correct? This problem was solved for me when I discovered Pixabay. All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. This means you are free to use them! I always try to link back to the profile of the person who posted the photo as a courtesy. By far, this is the best free-use photo site I've found. It has the most choices, and I canÕt think of a time I've been looking for a photo and haven't found it there.

I make my weekly literary quotes with pictures from Pixabay.
#AtoZchallenge 2017 Operation Awesome ~ New Tools Every Author Should Be Using by Leslie Hauser

5. Niume

#AtoZchallenge 2017 Operation Awesome ~ New Tools Every Author Should Be Using by Leslie Hauser
Do you want to make money for all this blogging that you're doing? Do you want to get a blog post and social media outreach done at the same time? Then let me introduce you to my new friend, Niume. It's fairly new and rising in popularity. It uses a concept called "collaborative blogging". Bloggers are separated into themed segments known as Spheres. Here people can share interests and find information on shared interests. The best part is that you get paid! I'm still relatively new to this, and by no means am I quitting my day job. But, the more "shares" and "hype" your posts get, the more money you make. With enough hype, your post can become a Staff Pick and be featured. What does all this mean for you? More exposure and a little help by giving you a built-in audience, especially if you're new to blogging or promoting yourself. Plus if you get really good at it, you can make some nice side money!

Overall, I'd say being an author is exciting, but it can also be extremely overwhelming. Hopefully some of these tools will help make your journey a little more manageable, too. Good luck!

Author bio:
Leslie Hauser teaches middle school English and history. Though originally from Ohio, she currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with her dog Mr. Darcy. Her debut novel CHASING EVELINE releases 2017 from Pen Name Publishing. Visit Leslie at

#AtoZchallenge 2017 Operation Awesome ~ New Tools Every Author Should Be Using by Leslie Hauser


  1. Never heard of Niume. Thanks for the headsup. N is for Nuggets and News #atozchallenge

  2. Great summary of new tools. I've heard of most - but definitely not the last. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the great tips. I need to get better at using images, as that's an area where I lack.

  4. I knew about Query Tracker, but I haven't heard of any of these others. I'll have to check them out. Thanks for sharing!
    Discarded Darlings - Jean Davis, Speculative Fiction Writer, A to Z: Editing Fiction

  5. Thanks for this great list! I pinned it for later use. Another good tool to use with Querytracker while searching for an agent is MSWL.

  6. Some new resources here! Too cool. Thank you for compiling this. I've been curious about whether or not Hootsuite is worth the cost versus other no-cost programs like Tweetdeck. Any feedback on that? Thanks!

    1. Hi! Sorry, I forgot to check back here. :) I don't think the paid version of Hootsuite is worth it unless you are a numbers/data person. I get by just fine with the free version!

  7. Omigosh, I'm 1-for-5. Batting a measly .200, and this is supposed to be up my alley. I need a blog that adds six hours to my day. Can I download that? Please! seriously, though, thanks for this. I'm gonna save it.

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