But finding them all can be hard-going, so we’ve taken the liberty to make the discovery process easier by arranging our top finds here for your perusal. Here are 35 of the best social media tools for writers.
As a writer, you may have grown comfortable with applications like Microsoft Word, the Open Office equivalent, or more basic text editors like Notepad for Windows or the Mac OS X mainstay known as TextEdit. But as you spend more time consuming information in your web browser, you might have a growing interest in producing material through the same piece of software. In that case, here are several that will likely suit most, if not all of your needs as narrator:
Google Docs – This is perhaps the most frequently mentioned processor of its kind, simply for the fact that it is a Google property. Whether the name association is good or bad in your eye, Google Docs is quite capable of replacing virtually all common tasks that your typical desktop-based whiteboard can manage.
Zoho Writer – This application is superb in all sorts of ways. It runs neck-and-neck with Google Docs insofar as features go, yet it’s got the added appeal of being an independent option. In a manner of speaking, Zoho Writer has big talent without the big title.
Adobe Buzzword – Like Google did with Docs (formerly known as Writely), Adobe purchased Buzzword. And like Google Docs and Zoho Writer, Buzzword happens to be a solid option. The most obvious difference with Buzzword is that the visual environment is considerably less light in tone. Adobe gray seems there to stay. Which has its appeal, we won’t deny.
ThinkFree Office Write – It doesn’t get spoken about very often, but ThinkFree’s Write application is able to swim with bigger fish if it’s tasked to do so. You may like or dislike it for various reasons, but technically speaking, it’s quite fortuitous.
picoWrite – Among picoScribe’s suite of applications, picoWrite is the one that makes wordplay happen. It’s not the most glamorous item listed in this first segment of services. You might think the toolbar provided is quite unattractive, in fact. Perhaps that adage of “don’t judge a book by its cover” is apt to restate here, however. Give it a go if you feel up to the challenge.
Microsoft Office Web – It’s not available for all to touch and see, but it’s coming. If you’re a Microsoft Word devotee, and can’t imagine having to transition to another brand for your writerly needs, just wait and you shall receive.
Some authors write blogs to complement their long-form work. Sometimes bloggers’ work becomes a long-form product. Journalists, meanwhile, are increasingly required to write blogs to get closer and more familiar with their readers. Social media is the general idea. If you’d like to join this increasingly mainstream movement among the industry’s professional keyboardists, here are several great picks to choose from.
TypePad – One of the premier blogging services in operation today, TypePad, a Six Apart creation, puts a premium on ease of use and functionality. This month the company introduced an option for journalists to obtain a 1 year pro-level membership free of charge, ordinarily a $150 value. They call it the TypePad Journalist Bailout Program. In addition to membership, Six Apart promises visible placement on Blogs.com and enrollment in an advertisement revenue sharing program.
Movable Type – Also from Six Apart, Movable Type is more a business-level class of blogging platform, with emphasis on multi-user management and enhanced customization. If your fledgling blog turns into something of a phenom requiring incorporation and a full-time staff of 20+, Movable Type may be the thing to jump to.
WordPress.com – Renowned for its simplicity, openness and extensibility, WordPress.com is a hosted blogging service of immense popularity – largely because it’s free.
WordPress.org – You can roll your own blog with a custom WordPress.org installation on a server of your choice with a domain name of your choice. WordPress is the choice of many top blogs.
Squarespace – Customization is key with Squarespace, but it’s very much a visual experience. Almost everything can be handled with the click of a mouse, as opposed to WordPress.org’s sometimes granular, code-heavy makeup.
Blogger – Another simple and very popular blogging engine, Blogger is a Google-run platform that puts emphasis on the basics like none other. In fact, it might be considered too easy for some.
Taking the blogging thing one step further, microblogging restricts the writer to a 140-character-per-post exercise. As you might imagine, this requires inventiveness to produce qualitative and engaging material, whether it be conversational or promotional (or both). And there are a number of ways to go about engaging an audience in this fashion.
Twitter – The most popular and most recognized microblogging solution presently in play, Twitter has many functions. It’s used as a marketing engine. It’s used to talk to “followers.” It’s even used to chronicle poems and verse, as well as brief novella-like inventions. NYTimes reporter Matt Richtel is one figure who employed the platform for creative ends.
Laconi.ca – A microblogging service created in much the same way as Twitter, Laconi.ca allows users to do with 140-character messaging what WordPress.org is able to do with blogging. You create your microblog as you wish, invite whomever you like into the mix, and you’ve effectively got yourself a personal Twitter of your own design. It’s not easy to set up, mind you. But the challenge may prove worthwhile.
Facebook – A network of over 100 million people, Facebook is perhaps the largest purveyor of status updates on the Web next to nifty away messages posted by users of instant messaging services like AIM and Google Talk, et al. Status updates typically denote what a user is doing at a certain moment in time. But the ability to free-form one’s thoughts allows Facebook to act as a microblogging engine of sorts. If you establish a great network of people, the power of this can be extraordinary.
Maybe you’re not ready to start on a book or short story or journalism piece. Maybe you just want to lay down your thoughts on certain matters to make better sense of your mission for a certain project. These services will keep those notes organized.
SpringNote – Founded on the wiki mantra, SprintNote is free, intuitive, enormously utilitarian, and even delivers an iPhone application to extend the experience. Because we all know that some of the best thoughts come when you least expect them – like when you’re walking a city street, without a notebook or desktop PC in view.
Evernote – This is a fantastic note management application that sports numerous access points, including the standard website, desktop applications for Mac and PC users, and even an iPhone-compatible application. All Evernote downloads can synchronize with a user’s account in the cloud.
Google Notebook – With desktop and mobile browser access, Google Notebook is simple, but powerful. Jot your ideas down quickly, wherever you might be, and have easy access when you get to your main terminal at home or at the office.
Zoho Notebook – Similar to Google’s application, Zoho Notebook puts emphasis on convenient information aggregation and collaboration. Need to run a concept by your editor for a manuscript or essay? This is a great way to do it. Wonderfully enough, login is provided for Zoho account owners as well as Google and Yahoo usernames.
Writers may not be the most social folks to roam the planet, but networking on the Web is all but a necessity for people seeking maximum exposure – and maximum sales! Here are several sites to occupy your time away from your word processor.
Red Room – A social network for authors to maintain pages and readers to get better acquainted with those they know and those they may not know so well. Red Room is packed with blogs, essays, videos, podcasts, events and more. It’s one of those places which, the deeper you delve, the more engaging it feels. And it’s still in beta!
Writer’s Network – What may seem a bit plain at first glance is in fact a surprisingly voluminous database of words and the writers behind them. It’s free, with plenty of tips, how-tos, and voting features to see how users rate your work alongside everything else.
Shelfari – A social network with emphasis on what you and others are reading, Shelfari is less about connecting authors to their fans than sharing recommendations and reviews. Of course, authors generally are avid consumers of content, and sometimes only reluctant producers, so sharing a personal library, even if you have an ISBN tag to call your own, might be a fun endeavor.
GoodReads – Similar to Shelfari but constructed in a way that more quickly grants users access to its various components and sections. Also, status updates were recently introduced to GoodReads. If nothing else, GoodReads can be highlighted for its independent role. Shelfari, alternatively, was recently acquired by Amazon.
Gather.com – This is a social network with wide-ranging subject matter, so it cannot claim to be the exclusive domain of readers. Still, Gather has its book clubs, which authors could certainly tap into.
LinkedIn – A website famous for its business networking acumen, LinkedIn could be where you introduce yourself to agents, editors, fellow writers and other valuable connections. Time spent here can be rewarding, for sure.
Facebook – You need only look to pages like that of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, which have grossed roughly a half-million “fans” to see what kind of network effect you can get from Facebook. We mentioned it earlier in the microblogging portion of the roundup, and given the variety of active users, both in age and in occupation, it’s a clear fit in the social networking segment as well.
Jobs and Employment Resources
Hey, a writer’s gotta eat, eh? That’s the express reason for these two sites. Check them out, and if you’ve got suggestions for other services, shout ‘em out in the comments!
Freelancer’s Union – Want jobs? Want to meet important people? Want to advertise yourself and your business? Need insurance as an independently employed person? Freelancer’s Union delivers it all.
FreelanceWriting.com – It’s rough to browse and job leads can be a real pain to track, but FreelanceWriting.com presents lots of links. The more you frequent the site and watch the incoming streams of gigs offered to writers, the more you’ll get out of it.
There are many book fairs that take place throughout the year, but there are some major hotspots that all but require publishers’ attention, and by extension, authors as well. Here’s a run-through of some of the majors.
Paris Book Fair – With a 2009 schedule of March 13-18, the Paris Book Fair is just one of the events each year in the French nation where celebration of ideas is the order of each day.
London Book Fair – This event takes places in the spring season (April), and is one of Europe’s largest and most important.
BookExpo America – Occupying the halls of the Jacob Javits Center in New York City for four days in May 2009, BookExpo America is perhaps the pinnacle of book gatherings in the US. Plenty of events occur in the American capital and places elsewhere to argue otherwise, but the name here speaks volumes. Pun intended.
Frankfurt Book Fair – Also one of the largest and most important of gatherings in Europe for the publishing industry, the Frankfurt Book Fair carries the torch for the global book tour each year in October. The 2009 schedule has it for October 14-18 to be specific. (via)