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Six Tools of the Publishing Trade that Serious Authors Need

Early on in my book editing, writing and copywriting career, I realised that the right equipment was crucial. While amateur authors can be content with simple books in Word, I needed Adobe Indesign. I use MS Word too, but in this article we talk about all the Tools of the Publishing Trade which help me run a publishing support business.

Then there are the tools we use every day. For typesetting, promoting and editing, I needed an Apple Mac.

Since 2010, I have been using either a laptop (Macbook Pro) or desktop (iMac and now the iMac M1). These are simply the best and most reliable for running complex programs and multiple items at once. Big screens and crystal clear.

It boggles my mind that people will spend $600 on a boring conference but not spend on stable computer power and a sharing and storage system, such as Google Drive.

Just one time that your computer gets hacked or goes AWOL in some way, and you will be pulling out your hair. Google Drive or an even better backup from one of the paid services will SAVE your bacon.

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Graphic Design Software, such as Canva and InDesign

Similarly, the right software costs money. We have some affiliate partners (a click leads to a commission) that our founder uses the software of.

While you can doodle around with Canva freely, the Pro version offers flexibility with scaling sizes, instant re-sizing for various Social Media, and loads of photos. Canva also have all these yummy templates which only require applying your own brand colours and fonts to – a 5-10 minute job at worst. (Brand Kit is a Pro feature).

Canva is useful for making image with captions for social media promotions.

Adobe Indesign is a pro desktop publishing program, so it qualifies as a Tool of the Publishing Trade! It helps designers lay out coffee table books or mockups and creative works, like Childrens’ books, colouring books, Journals, Workbooks, and brochures. You can also turn an Indesign into an ePub allegedly, but I never had much success with the outcome, except for once.

However, I use InDesign because in the ’90s I was a desktop publishing assistant and used QuarXpress and then PageMaker, and these gave me an insight into how it all works. In Indesign, I prefer the Typography Workspace, no matter what I am creating, because it has the right toolsets, including my personal favourite: Glyphs.

Glyphs give access to printer ornaments and em dashes. Say no more.

These are modern-day printers’ ornaments – used for book prettying

Getting back to my point, most novices will find it incredibly stressful to learn InDesign without a tutor. It just bears no relation to anything word processor-like.

However, InDesign can’t be beat for laying out pictures with text, something that MS Word has caused migraines when trying to achieve a fully designed page. Try Pages instead, if you have an Apple Mac.

More business tools are mentioned in my Freelance Tools of the Trade blog post.

A Cheat’s Tool to do Grammar Checking

I’m an editor. Another tool of the publishing trade I use when confronted with a lot of tedious grammatical errors or longwinded construction is ProWritingAid. Grammarly is fairly similar, but I got PWA with a promotional special. It seemed ideal for using as an import to Word or in the app itself. It is always good to buy a tool that helps you save time, and this is what it does.

See ProWritingAid for the latest offer and a free trial.

Similarly, it is good to invest in self-publishing courses which save you time in learning.

Website Design Tools of the Trade – for Creatives

Although I’m a WordPress diehard of 11 years, the website publishing tool I recommend for creatives on a small budget is SquareSpace. I am an affiliate partner for them, too, but I have used it when creating and adapting websites for a financial services company. It was easy enough to learn, with video tutorials and help menus, and dragging and dropping the parts was usually the way I designed the page. feature list is very long. So view a general website design feature & benefits page. It starts from about $15 a month.

Building starts with a theme and it is a hosted platform, so save hours in time… This is called ‘software-as-a-service’. It is better because there’s no need to negotiate problems at hosting level or keep a platform and 20 plugins updated.

As someone who spends $45 a month just on website hosting, I give my advice that creating a solid website on a SEO-friendly platform needs a small budget like this.

Summary: Tools of the Publishing Trade

Sometimes we must spend a little on hardware (recommend Apple Mac for stability and endurance), on design software (recommend InDesign or Canva) and on a stable website development platform (recommend SquareSpace) so that we can meet our objectives. My objective is not to get the cheapest tool, but to have ‘ease of use’, speed, reliability, and most importantly retain an emphasis on QUALITY.

Please share your own tools for publishing below in a comment.

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