Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The 6 Best Apps for Writers & Authors

apps for writers and authors
For the modern writer, lingering for hours on end in a secluded cafĂ© or on a park bench, with pen and paper in hand, is a romantic idea. More than likely, writers of today’s generation live a multi-tasking lifestyle and severely depend upon technology to keep their notes, thoughts and ideas straight. And now that tablets and smartphones have become an all-in-one communication and information-storing tool, a wide variety of writing applications have become available for authors who prefer the efficiency of the digital writing process over writing everything by hand. Neither method will produce better results than the other; it’s purely based on personal preference. 

But for those who rely on their digital instruments to write, here is our list of the top 6 apps for writers and authors:

  1. EvernoteThis app has been a favorite for, not only writers, but the general population as well. It is the mother of all note taking and organizing apps, and there’s nothing quite like it to this day. But for writers, it opens up an all-inclusive opportunity to store all of their ideas in one setting. It allows you to sync all of your notes, to-dos and lists to every device you have. The major plus with Evernote is the ability to save web clips, files, snapshots and images – even text inside images. 
  2. Dragon DictationYou can’t control when inspiration strikes. You could be driving, running errands, rushing to a meeting or simply have your hands tied at the time. It could happen at any moment, and you’ll usually need a quick reaction in order not to lose your thought. Dragon dictation is the perfect app for writers with busy lifestyles who are constantly on-the-go. It’s a fairly effortless voice recognition app that allows you to jot your thoughts down without typing on a keyboard. Transcribe your moments of genius from dictation to text through e-mail or SMS with this useful app.
  3. Index CardInstead of using whatever scraps of paper you can find to write your thoughts down, use the Index Card app to log and organize your notes. With a visually appealing corkboard interface, it’s easy to distinguish numerous separate writing projects from one another. Outline or column mode is available as well, if you find that a simpler interface is more beneficial for you. Its color label function makes this app a great tool for writers because it gives them the ability to keep track of multiple characters and scenes. Simply touch and drag a specific card to reorganize your notes in a more logical order, and export your work in a variety of formats. 
  4. Poet’s PadIt isn’t unfair to say that a poet requires a different type of writing and thought process. As lyrical writers, poets may need different functions in an app from their screenwriting or novel writing counterparts. Poet’s Pad is not only a note taker but an idea generator as well. It can produce emotive words, phrases and rhymes depending on the mood or tone you enter. With a built-in dictionary, rhyming dictionary and thesaurus, it is a writing powerhouse for poetry. Create, edit or reorganize stanzas by keyboard or voice, and instantly export your ideas or finished poems as a text document or audio file through e-mail. 
  5. BonzoiMeet the future of publishing in the Bonzoi app. If not the app itself, the idea and purpose of the app have arguably taken some of the most innovative steps in digital publishing today. Bonzoi provides writers with a digitally interactive writing experience. No matter what type of work it is – novel, script, comic, textbook, etc. – it allows users to share their project in real-time for multiple authors to connect and collaborate on the same project. Customize and instantly publish your work in e-book format, and start advertising campaigns to get effectively market your finished product. Just imagine the possibilities and doors this app opens for amateur writers. 
  6. Scrivener - Designed for writers of all kinds, Scrivener is a powerful word processor that allows you to organize ideas, outlines, research and drafts all in one place. Scrivener binders let you have all your information at your fingertips. The unique split-screen option is perfect for transcription and research. Keep characters, places and POV's all organized with tags. When a draft is complete, simply export it as a Word document or rtf file for interaction with editors and readers. Scrivener even compiles and exports in popular eBook formats!

A bonus app we would like to recommend for any writer, both professional and amateur, is a dictionary/thesaurus app. Don’t forget the basics!

Tell us your favorite writing app in the comments below! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Take an Idea, Leave an Idea

When I first decided to take writing from a hobby to a career, I quickly realized that the days of writing for my muse were gone. I no longer had the luxury of waiting for inspiration to hit. I had to write NOW! I had to write today, tomorrow and the next day. That was the only way to build my craft and my publishing credits. 
But staring at a blank page could be daunting. Even if I had the plot of a novel laid out, just getting the creative juices flowing was a chore every single day. Most writers experience this angst at some point and we turn to procrastination as the fix. How easy is it to ignore that blank page and surf your social media sites, watch videos on YouTube, play with the cat, read a book or find any other distraction so you don’t have to put down that first word?

Here’s a better solution: The Writing Job-jar.

After a few months of dithering I came up with a system. I called it my Nine O’clock Job-jar. I chose that time because my family was gone to work and school by that point and I’d had a few minutes to eat, putter and tidy up. Then I would sit an my computer and force myself to write for an hour—and not on my current work in progress. That’s the key. Instead of agonizing over my next chapter, I pulled a prompt from my job-jar and focussed only on that. I’d write without constrictions, revisions or planning. Some of those prompts later became stories that were published. Some were nothing more than exercises in dialogue or description, but none were wasted time. 
So where did I get my writing ideas? Like many writers, I have way more ideas than I’ll ever have time to turn into full-fledged stories. Whenever an idea popped into my head, I’d write it down and drop it in my job-jar. I also found ideas all around me. Newspapers are great source. I subscribe to News of the Weird for truly mind-boggling stories. And yes, that procrastination on Facebook can also provide some fodder for the imagination. 

Here are some ideas to get your job-jar going:

Choose two of your favorite fictional characters from different stories and write about them having dinner together.
  1. Write an interview with the main character/villain from your work-in-progress.
  2. Describe one afternoon in your main character’s childhood.
  3. Create a village square in a fantasy world.
  4. Continue the story of a fairytale like Cinderella (What happened after the wedding?)
  5. Have fun with extreme description. Describe an alien, a man drowning, a murder, a first kiss, etc

In the following weeks, I’ll throw out some writing job-jar ideas. Like the old 'take a penny, leave a penny,' take what you like and leave a comment with a writing prompt of your own.

This week’s writing job-jar prompt:

World’s Creepiest Island: Watch this short video and write one of the following:
  • A description of the island
  • A night spent on the island to win a million-dollar contest
  • For history buffs, a description of workers bringing plague victims to the island.

Visit Castelane's FREE resource page for more writing and book marketing tips.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

5 Reasons You Need a Video to Promote Your Book

video book trailer
Writing a book is no easy task; it may take years and years to hone it down to the masterpiece you want it to be. But once you’ve finished, you would expect that writing the book would be the hardest part. Little do authors realize that promoting their work is just as hard, if not harder, to do – especially for authors who do not have the funds or backings from a major publishing company. In most cases, you’ll have to find creative ways to get the word out, and one way is through video marketing. Here are 5 reasons why a video trailer is a productive way to promote your book:

  1. Ability to go viral – With the ever-present use of tablets and smart phones as a constant information source, people absorb and digest visual information more readily than textual material. Thus, they are more likely to share video links to their social network – and the same for those who receive those links. A video book trailer is an amazing marketing opportunity for authors without a substantial public presence.
  2. Higher rank in Google’s search engine – Not only do people seem to relate better to visual information but so does Google. As an owner and partner of YouTube, Google ranks videos higher than text in its search algorithm. That’s why you’ll often see videos at the very top of your search findings. Combined with your stellar work and an engaging video trailer, your video has a better chance of making Google’s top list than any piece of written marketing content.
  3. Not yet pervasive in the author/writer realm – Although videos are widely popular, multimedia advertising is not necessarily a favorite in the writers’ world but have recently started to hop on the digital train. While publishing companies may be utilizing video trailers as a marketing method, most self-publishers are not. Making a quick 45-90 second visual promo of your book will give you an edge over others who are still lagging behind.
  4. Branding – Video representations of you and your book have the power to distinguish you against other authors. Through the use of images, music and themes, a video trailer advertises the essence of your book while revealing your personality as an author simultaneously.
  5. Cost-effective self-promotion – It’s a common lesson that it takes spending money to make money. The idea that authors instantly start reaping monetary benefits from their books is a typical misconception. It’s generally very pricey to promote your book, whether you are involved with a publishing company or not. For boutique or independent publishers, a video trailer is the most promising marketing method while remaining fairly inexpensive. 

For example, Castelane’s most popular book trailer packages (featured below) range from $200-$500, which is an economical choice considering that this multimedia technique has the ability to reach a significant portion of the public audience.

  • Book Trailer Snap - $200
    • 45-60 second spot
    • Combination of still-images, music, sound effects & animated titles
    • Additional options include: voice-over narration from one of our voice actors

  • Book Trailer Snap Plus - $275
    • 45-60 second spot
    • Combination of still-images, music, sound effects & animated titles
    • Live video clips
    • Script and revisions
    • Additional options include: voice-over narration

  • Book Trailer Touchstone - $500
    • 90-120 second spot
    • Combination of still-images, music, sound effects & animated titles/backgrounds
    • Live video
    • Script and revisions
    • Additional options include: professional voice-over narration
    • Movie-trailer effect

Give your written masterpiece the chance to receive the attention it deserves, and use a video to effectively promote your work. At Castelane, we offer all-in-one publishing and design services, so call or e-mail us for more information.