To coin a phrase from my video gaming life, when it comes to writing and being an author, I’m a noob.  If you’re not familiar with the term noob, it can be thought of as an antonym for veteran or experienced or possibly even expert. I did not major in English, Literature, Grammar, Journalism or any other potentially related field to what I would expect a full-time writing career would require. I am making this up as I go along, with the help from a lot of people on the Internet. From Googling, to blogging to tweeting to FBing- i.e. via Social Networking and tapping into the minds and worlds of some wonderful people I am starting to figure this all out. I have become acquainted in cyberspace (mind you not face-to-face) with people from all over the world and have gathered some useful tips, sites and tools that hopefully will help me achieve my goals of self-publishing my work. I thought it only natural to share what I have learned along this journey so far and hopefully inspire, educate and help another “noob.” out.

The following is a short list of things, places, sites and tips I have discovered so far. If any of it helps you out, I’d love to hear it.

Book Covers

Book Covers. I didn’t realize how important and how expensive choosing or designing a book cover was until I start shopping for one! I found a few places online where you can tap into royalty-free images and use them for an eBook cover. There are several “Stock Photo” online sources that are good for Independent authors and self-publishers just starting out (like myself) Here are a few notable ones.

123 Royalty Free:  http://www.123rf.com
CanStockPhoto: http://www.canstockphoto.com
Dreamstime: http://www.dreamstime.com
Fotolia:  http://us.fotolia.com

Eye Color Chart

Describing your character’s eyes is important. Getting the color right is important too. There are tons of different resources you can find searching the Internet. Here is my favorite eye chart (http://eyemakeart.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/eye_colour_chart_by_delpigeon.jpg)

Name Generators

Seventh Sanctum is an awesome place if you are looking for a little random name generation. This applies to people, places, things, magic spells, organizations, governments, and whatever else you can think of. There are tons of name generatorslisted on this site.

Seventh Sanctum: http://www.seventhsanctum.com

Text Editors

I’ll assume in this day and age your main writing tool is a computer and not a typewriter. There are so many options to choose from to use a computer and a word processor to write with. I’ll summarize just a few of them here and note my favorite tool.

If you have access to a computer you basically don’t need to spend any money to start writing. The simplest tool you can use is the built-in text editor that comes with any PC running a Microsoft Windows operating system or any Apple computer running Max OS X.

In Windows you have two options. Notepad and Wordpad. Notepad is just a simple no frills text editor. Wordpad is essentially the same thing but it allows you to use basic rich text formatting (to make things bold, italic, centered, etc.) In Mac OSX you have TextEdit. There are also a ton of free programs you can get on the Internet as well. Just perform a google search for “free text editor” and you’ll see what I mean. Or on a Mac just go to the App Store and you’ll find several.

Word processors are the preferred tool for most writers. Modern word processors like Microsoft Word or Apple Pages will give you all of the basics the free text editors do plus a ton more formatting options and a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface. The word processor is pretty much the standard tools of choice. However there are other tools that combine a writer’s goal of producing a well formatted manuscript and ensure proper grammar and error-free spelling and have all the benefits of a full-fledged word processor. There are other choices as mentioned above that you can find on the Internet. My editor of choice is Scrivener.  Basically it’s a full-fledged word processor but it also allows you to create an outline on a “cork board” like canvas. It helps me arrange my thoughts and plot my books before I even write a single line of the story. It also has the ability to compile your work to various formats, like ePUB (for Apple iBooks), .mobi (for Amazon Kindle), .PDF, .RTF, DOC.  It’s available for both Windows and Mac OS X. I prefer the Max OS X version as it has some more features that are not yet implemented in the Windows version.

HTML Editors

When you need to comment online and need a quick HTML editor, here’s an online one that works very well. It’s basic, but gets the job done. When your tags are all formatted correctly, you can just cut and paste! Online HTML Editor: http://www.onlinehtmleditor.net/

If you do not like to work online (i.e require an Internet connection, then you’ll need to download an HTML editor. Again, a good old “google” search will net you several free choices of HTML editors. (CoffeeCup, Bluefish two notable free HTML editors.) There are a bunch of paid choices as well but these tend to get very pricey very quickly as they are geared more toward web development rather than helping bloggers format their posts. Adobe Dreamweaver and Microsoft Visual Web (the evolution of Microsoft Frontpage) come to mind. (As of this writing, Visual Web Developer Express is a free, limited function but very usable offer from Microsoft.)

How many words makes my story a novel?

I am still not 100% sure about this one. There seems to be a lot of different opinions. However I did find a general reference guide that answers this and I think it is a good guideline to follow.

The best answer to this question I found was from author Lee Masterson of South Australia. The summary below is from Lee Masterson article- the full article is here ==>Click here for this article

Writing type Approximate word count (k=1000)
Short Story 1k -7.5k
Novelette  7.5k – 20k
Novella  20k – 50k
Novel  50k – 110k
Epics and Sequels > 110k

That’s all for now!

Well that’s about all of the tips, tools, advice, guides, etc that I have discovered so far. As I discover and use more I’ll update this post. I hope you find the information useful. If you have any questions or comments, please use the comment form here or use the global Contact Nick link at the top of the page.

Happy Writing!

-Nick

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