There are so many things to know about writing books, you should definitely have the right gear to start. Here is a bit about what I consider “the right stuff.”
[Page Updated: 1 September 2017]
Writer Resources – Start Here
Which Computer to Use to Write Your Books?
Your choice of which computer to buy to write your books is a difficult one, but it need not be. Let me narrow it down for you.
I’m a bit of a fanatic about writing with the right tech gear. I have some strong ideas about what gear helps me write at the highest level I can. Here I list my top choices for notebooks for writers in 2017.
MacBook Air 11 or 13-inch Benefits
- MAC-OS, the operating system is different from Windows, in that it is easier and faster. It is actually FUN to use the computer, not a chore. Whichever writing tool you decide on, please do yourself a favor, and make it an Apple Mac computer.
- Super light and thin – you won’t notice it’s in your backpack or shoulder bag. It’s that light. (< 2 lbs.)
- Powerful enough for everything a writer needs – even basic movie and photo editing.
- Battery life for 12-hours. Having a long battery life is crucial so you don’t need to carry around the charger plug with you.
- Magical touchpad and the keyboard is very easy to type on. Note – it takes time to get used to any keyboard, so keep that in mind. Almost every tech reviewer gives the MacBook Air and Pro keyboards very high marks.
More info about the MacBook Air 13-inch for Writers here.
If you just want the best computer to write with and money is no object, get a MacBook Pro 13 or 15-inch made in 2015. Don’t get the MacBook Pros made in 2016 unless you can stand their new keyboards, which most writers despise. I have a 2013 MacBook Pro 13-inch and I absolutely love it. When I need to buy a new computer, I’ll buy a 2015 model MacBook Pro.
MacBook Pro 13 or 15-inch Benefits Over MacBook Air Models
- Super fast. Able to handle complex movie or photo editing. This is a pro computer in every sense of the word.
- The Retina screen is absolute magic to behold. Your words will be so crystal clear on the screen, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it. Note – if you use a MacBook Pro with retina screen and then try to go backward and use the lesser priced MacBook Air without the retina screen, you will be sorely disappointed. However, if you buy the MacBook Air first, and later upgrade to a MacBook Pro with the retina screen, you’ll be glad you did.
- Battery life, touchpad, keyboard, and operating system are all the same – awesome.
Cheap but High-Quality Alternative Computers for Writers
Which Book Writing Software to Use?
If you’re just starting out, you’re going to want something as simple as possible. If the last time you typed a story, article, or book was on a typewriter, well, you’re in for a surprise. A pleasant surprise, but there will be a learning curve. Today’s software for writers can be extremely complicated, and personally, I think it takes away from the experience of writing books. It complicates the book writing process. I don’t use anything special. I use “Microsoft Word” on my Apple (Mac) computer. I paid $120 for a lifetime subscription. They have very affordable monthly plans available too – up to you. Just visit Microsoft.com and look for the “Office” or “Store” links at the top.
A complicated piece of software that, once you learn it, helps writers immensely, is “Scrivener.” If you don’t like MS Word and want something with more features for writers, try it.
Microsoft Word for Writers – Major Benefits
- Easy to learn and many tutorials on YouTube you can follow to get up and running today.
- Amazon and every major eBook retailer and publisher accept MS Word documents they easily convert into eBook formats like EPUB or MOBI.
- In MS Word, you can choose “Save As” PDF. It’s quite nice not to have to worry about setting up Adobe Acrobat to write PDF files.
- Constantly updated to resolve security issues. One of the safest software packages online.
Web Hosting – what is it?
The host is the server (computer) located somewhere across the world (preferably the USA) which holds a copy of all the files for your website. When someone finds your website using their computer, phone, or tablet, the hosting server sends them a copy of your files (your website) to look at in their browser. Hosting costs a little bit of money, but as a writer, this will be one of the cheapest expenses you will need to pay.
Which Hosting Company to Use as a Writer?
We use Bluehost and Knownhost for our hosting needs. For you as a beginner, Bluehost is best. Today they have a really low-cost hosting plan – pre-paid for $2.95 per month. Get in on this deal before it goes away. The three-year plan (36 months) pre-paid for about $100 is the best deal going. Bluehost is an exceptional host with world-class customer support. I highly recommend them. See Bluehost Plans Here.
I have all my book covers done for around $100 by a guy in the Philippines I met through another author who had been commissioning covers with him with great success. The guy is super responsive and so reasonably priced, that I’ve never used anyone else. You can see my covers at my Amazon Author Page. He did the nice covers – meditation, mindfulness topics, keep snakes out, etc. I did the covers that don’t look all that professional. Contact me for Roland’s email. If you write romance, check out his amazing romance covers.
You might insist you don’t need an editor. I encourage you to listen to some author interviews on YouTube. Nearly all mention thinking they could edit their own books and being horrified at the bad reviews that came in when they did so. It’s impossible for almost everyone. Don’t do it yourself. Don’t ask your friend. Pay someone a few hundred dollars to edit for you. For a 50,000 page book, you’ll pay around $1,000 for a decent editor. It’s worth every cent. That is, if your book is worth it.
My sister, Laura Lovic-Lindsay, has an English Lit degree from Penn State. Maybe she can help? Contact me for info.
Selling Your eBooks – Where is Best?
- Amazon. Though not the only game in town, they are certainly the biggest and you should be here, whether you choose to list your book(s) exclusively with them, or not.
- Apple Books. Sales for some books do well here, but Amazon sales are higher in all categories.
- Kobo. Canadian based, this retailer can sell a lot of books. Try them and see what you get. Some people report very high sales numbers. Others, nil.
There is still a lot to cover. Marketing using ads on Amazon? Marketing with giveaways? Building an email list? If you have questions about what you need to do, send me a note.