Useful Tools for Indie Writers

Good afternoon! It’s a good Thursday here in Nashville. Tonight, the Avengers will be premiering and we have tickets, so yay. I am dressed up in a Captain America T-shirt, jeans with Captain America’s shield on them (I painted the shield on with fabric paint…), am wearing bright red sneakers, and have even painted an American flag on my face.

Captain America’s my favorite.

But before I go watch my favorite superhero kick bad-guy butt, I am going to tell you guys a secret. A few secrets, actually.

This post is for you writers who haven’t become authors yet, but are trying so hard! I’m doing the same thing. And since we’re friends, I thought I’d reveal to you the fun sites I use to help make my book enrapturing!

Choosing a Bad-butt Title

Normally, I’m opposed to using crude (and strange, considering my word swap) language in my posts but that title got your attention didn’t it? It did its job. It got you curious, thinking, Hm. How do I come up with a bad-butt title? Right?

Well, for those of you who have been struggling to come up with a good title for your upcoming novel, I have a few suggestions.

  1. Some people will say never visit a name generator site, but I’m here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with it. I wouldn’t suggest that you use a name generated by the site word for word, because hundreds of other people could take and use that name, too! But the name generator will throw out hundreds of selections and they might just spark an original idea of your own.
  2. Never name your book before you even begin writing. After you have written down your plot idea, done your outlining, and maybe have even started writing the first couple of chapters, it’s okay to begin picking a name. Until then, you’re really acting prematurely. And not only is choosing a name before you really know what you want to get across to the reader a waste of time, but it will also marry you to the idea of the title that you have chosen and even when another, better title comes your way, you’ll turn away in favor for the title idea you married yourself to! Instead, wait until you have written a good portion of the book before you decide the name. Chances are, something will jump out and grab you and you will be like, “This is perfect!”1423170288
  3. The title of the book should always have something to do with the plot. Obviously, it’s worked for some of the authors who have chosen names that just sound cool, but nothing beats a name that accurately describes the book. Take the book Alienated by Melissa Landers for instance. The book is titled after the blog owned by the main character, Cara. But it is also a good description of the book. In the book, Cara and the new otherworldly exchange student that is living with her are alienated from the rest of humanity.
  4. Try to choose a name that is different from anything else you’ve ever heard, but I guess that’s obvious.

Great name and plot generators:

  1. Donjon
  2. Chaotic Shiny
  3. Fantasy Name Generators

Editing Program

Obviously, an editing program is not required. You can just as easily pay an editor to read and edit your work, but there are other ways of getting your work edited. The program I use is Grammarly. Not only does Grammarly check your spelling and grammar and all that fun stuff, it also checks for plagiarism, which is always good, since, you know, you don’t want to get arrested for selling something that is considered plagiarized material.

How to Publish Your Book

Well, this all depends on how you want to publish your book. Are you wanting to go through a publisher, who will make the cover for you, change the font of your manuscript, and so on? Or do you want to self-publish the book?

I have always self-published my books, save for one. And don’t get me wrong, the publishers did an incredible job publishing my book, I have just always preferred to have the reins in my hands! I would rather create the cover myself, see exactly what is being done to my manuscript, choose the fonts and images and all that stuff.

The best self-publishing site I have come across is Lulu Publishing. It’s quick and easy to publish your work on Lulu. They have their own cover editor that you can use, or you can upload a cover you have already created. Lulu lets you write a custom synopsis on the back cover of the book, choose your own sample pages, and so on.

You can not only publish hardcopies of your novels (paperback, hardcover, spiral bound, and more) but you can also publish your work as an E-book! The same editing procedures apply. You create a new cover, or can use the cover you used for your hardcopy, if you have one.

Lulu allows you to sell your hardcopies and E-books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble Booksellers Online, Kindle, Oyster, iBooks, and even on their own website. You can even sell your book worldwide. I have not come across another self-publishing online company that offers all of this.

One of the best publishers I have found is probably Skyscape by Amazon. Bestselling authors Jessica ParkChuck Wendig, and (one of my personal favorites) Susan Ee use Skyscape to publish their books.

Amazon has multiple different publishing companies, though. Skyscape is just the teen and young adult publishing company. They also have:

  • AmazonEncore ― (Rediscovered Works)
  • AmazonCrossing ― (Translated Works)
  • Thomas & Mercer ― (Mystery, Thrillers, and Suspense)
  • Montlake Romance ― (Romance)
  • 47North ― (Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror)
  • Little A ― (Literary Fiction)
  • Two Lions ― (Children’s Picture Books, Chapter Books, and Novels)
  • Jet City Comics ― (Comics and Graphic Novels)
  • Lake Union Publishing ― (Contemporary and Historical Fiction, Memoir and Popular Nonfiction)
  • StoryFront ― (Short Fiction)
  • Grand Harbor Press ― (Personal Growth and Self-Help)
  • Waterfall Press ― (Christian Nonfiction and Fiction)
  • Amazon Publishing ― (Nonfiction, Memoirs, and General Fiction)

Creating a Gorgeous Cover

You’ve always been told never to judge a book by its cover, but you do, don’t you? We all do. We’re such judgers. We love looking at book covers and saying, “This looks interesting!” and “Wow, that’s a horrible picture … no thank you.”

Book covers matter. Anyone who tells you different has probably has a gorgeous cover.

Before continuing, please note that you only need to read this section if you plan to self-publish. Publishing companies take care of this for you.

Cover Photos

There are two ways of going about getting a beautiful cover photo for the cover of your next novel:

  1. You can hire a photographer that takes portrait photos. You will also need a model that fits your character,
    Beautiful cover, isn't it?
    Beautiful cover, isn’t it?

    or something else that you want the photographer to take pictures of. It must be able to clearly describe the story. The cover photo means everything! Take the cover of World After by Susan Ee, for instance. In the first book, Angelfall, the cover had angel wings on the front. In the end of the book, the angel love interest of the main character is given demon wings! Hence the demon wings on the front of World After. You would need either a photographer used to taking portrait pictures, or a graphic designer.

  2. The second thing you can do is go looking through stock photos you can purchase. At one point, I would have suggested against this … but I now do it. Not only is purchasing a stock photo much cheaper than hiring a portrait photographer, graphic designer, and a model, but it saves you plenty of hours as well. But there is something special about being able to be on the set of the photoshoot of your own book. That’s always been so much fun. If I had the time and money to constantly hire portrait photographers, that would be the route I took. But stock photos are a good alternative. I am using a stock photo for my novel that is coming out at the end of this year or early next year and the cover photo is stunning. I couldn’t be more excited about it!

An awesome stock photo site is Shutterstock. They’re reasonably priced and have hundreds of thousands of beautiful, unique photos. Chances are, you’ll never find another book with your cover photo.

Cover Fonts and Editing

Obviously, you’re also going to have to write the title of your book and your name (if you’re the author) at the bottom of the book. Sometimes a tagline is included on the cover, or maybe even a praise for the book. You can either:

  1. Hire a graphic designer
  2. Do it yourself

There’s really no other choice. If you hire a graphic designer, it saves you so much time, but doing it yourself is generally free. All you really need is your own computer, some sort of editing program, and the size of the book.


I can’t tell you how annoying it is to stare at a title for ten minutes wondering, “What does that say?” It’s really annoying.

The title should be easy to read but that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be big. Bold and striking, yes. Attention grabbing, yes. Big? Not necessarily. If your cover photo is gorgeous and you want to show it off, you can keep the title small. Of course, you want to be able to see it.

Well, that’s all, folks!

Hopefully you get a chance to use some of these awesome tools.

Happy writing!

Later, babes!

What’s on your bookshelf?


  1. Greetings. I’m an active member of the Horror Writers Association with
    my first novel being published by an independent, Larry Czeronka
    Publishing. INK is a horror novel, coming out at the end of June,
    co-written with my writing partner, Dale Pitman. As for my background,
    I’ve been a professional screenwriter up until this point with two films directed
    by acclaimed horror director Wes Craven. Would you consider looking at an
    Advanced Review Copy? Here is the blurb:

    His studio has become his refuge and his prison – a place of boundless imagination and lonely isolation. Brian Archer,
    creator of a series of successful graphic novels about a vengeful supernatural being called “The Highwayman,”
    has become a recluse after the adoration of a female fan turned to rage and violence.

    But all that changes when he meets a renowned and beautiful illustrator, A.J. Hart, who carries emotional scars of
    her own. Their work together is fueled by the unrequited passion they share and a mysterious bottle of black ink
    that arrives one day at Brian’s doorstep.

    The impossibly dark liquid has mystical properties, making their characters appear so real they eventually come to life,
    reigning terror on those who mean them harm and if not stopped—threatens to unleash an apocalypse on all mankind.
    Brian must break free of his self-imposed exile and solve the mystery that allowed these terrible creatures into the world.

    Thanks for your consideration. All the best, Glenn Benest


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