Category: Writing & Editing

Top 5 Writing Apps of 2017

What is


Writings apps can not only save you time and super-charge your writing progress, but they’re also incredibly fun to use. Whether you are just starting out on your first writing project, or are working on revisions and rewrites, we have scoured the web to bring you the absolute best writing apps of 2017. Whether you are an Apple or Android user, you will wonder how you ever managed without these!

writing apps1. Creativity

Price: FREE (or upgrade to pro for £1.99)

Apple Alternative: Brainsparker Creativity and creative thinking

What is it? This writing app provides you with various tools and techniques to originate and develop new ideas in a creative way.

How does it work? You choose the exercise to get your creative juices going. There are 10 different techniques: brainstorming, 6 thinking hats, exquisite corpse, write text, random words, question & answer, transformation and SCAMPER. All of these creative techniques are thoroughly explained in the app, and if you are not sure where to start, there is even a section on ‘which technique should I use?’, so you can start writing like a pro!


2. Character Story Planner

writing appsPrice: FREE (or upgrade to pro for £2.19)

Apple alternative: A Novel Idea

What is it? This fun app helps you create and keep track of all your characters. You can also add storylines, different worlds, different scenes and simply have your whole novel in one little app!

How does it work? You just click on ‘add character/story/ scene/ location/world’ and start creating! You can add images, name, age, date of birth, species, job, one sentence descriptions, appearance, backstory, relations, past and so on! The app prompts you with lots of questions about your characters so you really get to know then inside and out. You can also export your work from the app to PDF, share it on social media, Evernote, Google Drive, Gmail or your WordPress account. The user interface is very simple, so even if you’re not familiar with complicated apps or smartphones, you will still be able to figure this great writing app out!

3. Goodtime Productivity Timer

Apps for writersPrice: FREE

Apple alternative: Focus Keeper Free

What is it? This writing app is a Pomodoro Timer, designed especially to keep you focused for fixed periods and gets rid of procrastination.

How does it work? The Pomodoro technique splits your work into sessions of 25 minutes with a 5-minute break between each session and a 25-minute break between every 4 sessions. The idea is to get you straight down to business with no messing around. You’ll be amazed at how much you can really achieve in 25 minutes when you put your mind to it. In the Settings section, you can edit the duration of your work sessions and longer breaks if you’re feeling adventurous. You can also choose how many sessions you want to complete before you award yourself with a big, fat break. You can even tell your app to disable all notifications and wifi so you can put all of your focus energy in your work!

4. Speechnotes

Apps for writers2Price: FREE (or upgrade to pro for £5.99 (or £0.99 per month)

Apple Alternative: SpeechNote

What is it? This writing app serves as a microphone and a secretary in one! It turns your speech into text straight away! Use this app if you want to ‘write’ down quick notes or thoughts when you don’t have anything to write on or to save time. (Note: don’t use in noisy cafes)

How does it work? You know those people in court with their little typewriters who have to record everything that has been said? This app works in the same way, but instead of a person, it’s all in your phone! This app is very useful for when you’re walking down a street and suddenly an idea hits you. Just grab your phone and say the words. Talking is (for most people) a lot faster than typing, so you can make notes a lot faster.

5. Wordbook English Dictionary

writing appsAvailable: Android + Apple

Price: £1.27

What is it? This writing app is a comprehensive, quick and intuitive dictionary and thesaurus of the English language. It provides etymology, IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet), pronunciations and a thesaurus.

How does it work? You just type in a word and you get all the information you need. Synonyms, pronunciation guides, word origin (not for every word), usage samples and so on. You can listen to the pronunciation of every listed word and there is even a built-in thesaurus! Never make a mistake again, and make sure your vocabulary is rich and interesting, with this little app in your pocket!

I hope these writing apps super-charge your writing and help you to get more done in your precious writing time. If you know of any other handy apps that help you write, please share them with us in the comments box below!

Free writers' resource pack

Want some quick and easy tools to improve your writing?

The pack contains:

  • 25+ inspirational writing prompts 
  • A list of commonly misused words
  • A beta reader feedback questionnaire

Repost – Rohini Rathour’s six lessons on becoming an author


Rohini blogpost3At the end of 2015 I made only one resolution for the coming year: to make peace with myself. I did not know how exactly I was going to do that, but it sounded like a good thing to aim for.

Fast forward a year, I made significant progress towards that goal. Quite unexpectedly, I did it by writing a book. My first ever non-fiction book Leading Ladies: inspiring stories of women who found their purpose with passion was released on 30th November 2016.  It features stories of 32 ordinary women who took courageous decisions when faced with change in their lives, and came out the other side stronger and happier. These women who come from different backgrounds and have varied aspirations, are very relatable and inspire action, if not awe.

Listening to their stories, narrating them in a style that is easy to read and putting all the learnings together helped me come to terms with a number of things in my own life. I also shared my own story, so my own conclusions and motivations for writing the book would become clear to the reader. And in doing all of that, I made peace with myself.

Along the way I also learned a number of lessons and discovered there was so much more to being an author than the love of writing.

Six Lessons I learned along the way

Lesson #1: Ask yourself why you want to write a book

It’s always a good starting point to ask yourself whether writing a book is really what you should be doing. There are so many tools available to us, writers today, and many are completely free. Social media permits us to share so much of what we know and who we are with those in our lives. Blogging also enables us to reach a wider audience. Publishing a book doesn’t have to be the first port of call for someone wanting to get something off their chest.

I’ll admit that the idea of writing a book came to me out of the blue, and was triggered by something I had seen on Facebook (this happens to me a lot). I had a germ of an idea and I knew it would change into something else by the time I had finished. I had the time to go with the flow and see it through to its conclusion. More importantly, for me the time was right to embark on such a project.

Lesson #2: Think long and hard about the content of your book

Thanks to the internet and social media, there is a plethora Rohini blogpost2of really excellent (mostly free) content available at our fingertips. If you are treading old familiar ground but have your own unique angle on it, then it may be something readers are willing to pay for. But it is always a good idea to research your subject matter thoroughly and see what is already available in the market – free or not.

If you have content bubbling inside you that you really want to share with the world and are not too keen on the long process of turning it into a book, then blogging could be the answer. It’s a great way to access an audience that is global and you can do it for free. It can also be a stepping stone into some day becoming a published author. I took to blogging  just over a year ago, simply as a way to write about things that were close to my heart. It never crossed my mind that I would be publishing a book just over a year later.

Lesson #3: Research your subject matter and target reader

At first I wanted to write a book about entrepreneurship. My plan was to find successful, but not necessarily
well-known entrepreneurs to share their stories with me. I figured that anyone looking to start a new business would be interested in reading my book. But before going ahead with that plan I decided to check out my competition and looked for books on the subject.Rohini signing books along with some of her 'leading ladies' I even bought a few books and borrowed about seven or eight others from my local library so I could read them and learn how to (or how not to) write my book.

What surprised me the most was how much useful information was available on the subject for free and written by people who had direct experience of running their own business. My target reader would have no reason to buy a book from me to learn about successful entrepreneurship.

I needed to step back and think about what I had to offer that was not already available to them. I also had to find a target audience with whom I could relate, so that when I sat down to write, they would sense that I understood who they were and reach them in a way no other book had done before.
I then thought about the book that I really needed at that point in life where I was facing change, when I wanted to follow my heart but was deeply unsure of where it was going to lead me. I put myself in the shoes of the many women out there who want to be financially independent and have an identity beyond the role society has given them (of being a wife, mother or carer). I wanted to know if it was possible to have it all. Since I could not find a book that gave me those answers, I decided I would find out for myself, with the help of other women, and then write a book about it. Thus began the journey of writing my book.

Lesson #4: Non-fiction content needs external, unbiased input

First of all I had to seek out people who would be willing to share their stories with me. By this time I was sure that my book needed to be about exploring women’s contribution to society, whatever role they might have chosen to play. With that clarity I found that more women were willing to come forward and share their story with me. Before I knew it, I was getting more and more leads on women who wanted to talk to me.
My journey through their stories (I prefer not to call them interviews) began in early April and I had finished all of them by the end of May. With that process complete I had the raw ingredients to develop a structure for the book. The first stage was to simply create a narrative based on what I had heard from each woman and send this to them for their approval and revision. Once I had all the stories in place I sat down and created my first manuscript.

Lesson #5: Get independent and professional advice along the way

Rohini blogpost1Since I am neither an established author nor a celebrity, mainstream publishers were unlikely to be interested in my work. So I knew that I would have to go down the self-publishing route. But even then, there is an abundance of options, none of them particularly easy to understand if it’s your first time. So I researched the subject online and spoke to a few friends who have self-published books. In the end I went with I_AM Self Publishing partly because their co-founder Leila Dewji is one of the women whose story is in my book. More importantly, I really liked her business ethos and the layout of her website. I also figured that a publisher whose story appears in my book would have every reason to help me make a success of it. My experience with the I_AM team in the following weeks and months confirmed my feeling that I had made the right decision. They were professional, punctual and provided a personal touch to the whole process of self-publishing that can be very daunting for a first time author.

Before I had decided to go with I_AM, I sent Leila the first draft of my manuscript. She gave me very clear, honest and constructive feedback. She raised interesting questions that made me revisit what I had written, and how I had written it.Rohini blogpost4 This constant process of reading, editing and re-reading my work, assessing it from the reader’s point of view meant I had to make countless changes along the way with the hope of making it easier to read and more impactful.

A number of self-publishing authors might want to do it for as little upfront cost as possible. Instead of using professional proof-readers, editing services and cover designers, they may get close friends or family to do it for them, or go with the lowest cost option. I would really advise you to do otherwise.
Your book is your baby. Why wouldn’t you give it the best possible start in life by ensuring it gets the maximum possible chance of success? As a reader, I am irritated with books that have spelling, grammatical or formatting mistakes. I may forgive such errors in a blog, which is free, but in a book that has been paid for, even small mistakes can ruin a book that might be very good. A bit of professional input may be what lies between a sloppy production with potential and a best-selling book.

Lesson #6: There is so much more to becoming an author than just writing the book

Becoming a self-published author is not that different from setting up your own business. Writing a book is clearly central to the process, but even excellent books don’t sell themselves. The book marketing process needs to begin well before the book has been published. As the author, you’re not just selling your book, but also yourself to your potential readers.

If you think about it, it’s no different to how other content is sold – be it music, film or a line of clothing. First you have to identify your target market. Then you need to understand what is already out there serving that market and get familiar with the competitor’s product and their marketing tactics. Rohini blogpost5Next, you have to device your own plan to create a buzz around your product and get people interested in it, even before it’s launched. Luckily for authors, books are not particularly high value items and having read your competitor’s book is more likely to make the reader want to read yours.

Once the book is launched, it’s critical to ensure the book reaches those who will read, rate and review it. If you are a brand new author no one has heard of, chances are people will rely on reviews to decide whether or not they want to read it. You also want unbiased influencers reading your book and posting their reviews. For example, I sent copies to everyone  who is in my book as a thank you, and I made a list of other men and women who I admire, and whose views I value. It is my hope that some of them will take the time to read my book and give me feedback. If they love it, they may even shout about it to the world.

I learnt about book giveaways – inviting strangers to take part in a sort of raffle where the winners are chosen at random.
Book launch events, although more expensive and require more effort to organise, are a powerful way to target readers, giving them an opportunity to get to know you so when they read your book they hear your voice in their heads.
Social media is also a great way to have an ongoing conversation and create lasting engagement with your readers beyond just the first book.

Writing my book has helped me deal with changes in my own life and helped me take that next step with a confidence I did not have at the beginning of the year. If it serves the same purpose for others out there, then I will know it has been a success.

Leading Ladies is available on  Amazon globally, Waterstones (UK), Barnes & Noble and The Book Depository (free shipping globally).  

Want to Know the Secrets to BESTSELLER SUCCESS?

“The motto at I Am Self-Publishing seemed to be 'we want to get this right for you' and they did just that.”
~ Jo Mach, editor of Finding My Way books

How to write non-fiction


Having worked with many non-fiction authors, a lot of which were writing a book for the first time, I have noticed some common problem areas. Lots of very knowledgeable people struggle to get their expertise down into an easily accessible read because they don’t know how to write non-fiction; they’ve never done it before and don’t know where to start. Even experts who can communicate very clearly in day-to-day life fail to take a step back and see their topic through the eyes of someone just learning it for the very first time. When they know so much about a topic, it’s easy to go off at a tangent or assume the reader knows much more than they actually do. Their ideas are often inter-linked and it can be hard for them to see what to put in which sections. Things can get very messy. Not only that, but when authors write over a long period of time, they forget which parts of which topics they have already covered (and where) and end up repeating themselves or referring to a topic that has not properly been explained yet and confusing readers (cardinal sin!). All of the above results in a poor reading experience and lots of work for their editor. So, let me show you how to write non-fiction the professional way…

Write Better Non-Fiction


My FREE at-a-glance planner will make writing your non-fiction book a breeze and ensure your readers find it valuable and enjoyable.

How to write non-fiction books

The secret to writing great non-fiction is having a solid structure plan in place. You need to spend time carefully planning out your structure before you start writing your chapters. If you don’t have a clear idea of where you are going, then readers won’t have a clear idea of where you are leading them or why they should follow you. This is the single most important thing for any non-fiction author to get right, and needs careful consideration. I can’t stress this enough.

Brainstorming and mind-mapping are great for getting the ideas ball rolling, but then you need to marshal all those ideas into a sensible, logical flow that anyone can easily understand, even if they know nothing on your topic. After you have had a brainstorming session and scribbled loads of great ideas down, you need to take a moment (and a deep breath) before you try to organise those ideas into the structure of your non-fiction book. Think about your reader – what problem they are having or how you can help them. Look at your ideas and try to group them into 3-4 parts e.g. “Part 1: What you need to know before you start”, “Part 2: Beginning your journey: how to make it happen”. This will help you shuffle your ideas into a great flow. Now repeat the process, breaking the parts down into chapters. You are now ready to progress to the next stage.

How to write non-fiction chapters

In addition to the overall structure of any non-fiction book, you also need to create a great chapter structure, which can be easily repeated uniformly across all your chapters. This is the precise pattern and flow of each chapter, and where lots of debut authors get themselves (and their readers) in a muddle. Avoid confusing or overwhelming your readers by using our free non-fiction structure planner to make sure you’ve got the right content in the right place. After a couple of chapters, the reader will ease into your style and know what to expect from you in each chapter.

how to write non-fiction

Elements of each non-fiction chapter: learn from the bestsellers

Of course, all books are different, but a lot of bestselling non-fiction books that either help readers do or learn something have these 5 core elements in common. All of these are included in our free non-fiction structure planner and more (download at the bottom of this post). Now let’s take a close look at what the bestsellers are doing:

1. Clear explanations

An easy to Non-fictionunderstand summary of what the problem or issue is, the benefits of overcoming it, followed by sound advice on how to solve this problem, broken down into sub-sections. This is really important to get right. The reader may know nothing about this topic at all, so they need to be smoothly guided through to get a full understanding. Use clear explanations, and where possible, break up these explanations with subheadings that address a specific element of a larger issue.

Bestseller case study: First-Time Parent: The honest guide to coping brilliantly and staying sane in your baby’s first yearThis book was published in 2010 but is still the top seller in the parenting category on Amazon. Why? Because the author clearly explains the issues and breaks down solving them into easy to understand, bite-sized chunks e.g. within the chapter “Prepare” she explains the problem – that many couples go crazy in the baby stores and end up spending a fortune on stuff they don’t know they don’t need. She then groups what you need into sections e.g. clothes, feeding equipment etc. and walks you through what you do and don’t need for each. It’s full of clear, easy to digest information.

2. Examples or case studies

Real-world examples that back your idea/teaching up – these could be things that Non-fiction1you have experienced, problems you have helped other people overcome or even things that you were not directly involved in, but which illustrate your point well. Using a case study after an explanation will cement the reader’s understanding and give them a good idea of how this particular thing works in the real world.

Bestseller case study
: Bigger, Leaner Stronger is the no.1 natural bodybuilding bestseller, which has already sold over 200,000 copies. This book is full of real life examples of men who have used the author’s system to achieve great results. There are plenty of “before and after” pictures as well as quotes from the men about how amazed and happy they are with their new bodies. Without this kind of visual proof, readers may not have had as much belief in the author’s teaching.

3. Non-fiction2Data 

Indisputable facts that prove to the reader that you are right. Your argument may sound pretty persuasive, but a reader is always looking for hard facts, so make sure you’ve backed yourself up. The more credible the source, the more impressed the reader will be.

Bestseller case study: Content Inc. How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses is a book that would be nothing without data. It’s pitched at entrepreneurs and businesses who are going to need facts and figures to persuade them to do anything. Each chapter uses data from a wide range of sources in different sectors, and at the end of each chapter there is a “Resources” list where people can go to read the full reports and articles they have quoted from. This gives the reader huge confidence in the message of the book.

4. Direct quotes

Non-fiction3Using other people’s voices to back up your ideas gives greater weight to your argument. You might want to use inspirational quotes from famous people (which get readers in the right, positive mindset for learning whatever you want to teach them) or quotes from people who you have personally helped with this problem (which makes the reader feel like they can trust you).

Bestseller case study: Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers is a book built up from interviews the author has conducted with billionaires, so there are a lot of direct quotes throughout the book. That is the value he is offering his readers – access to the billionaires’ secrets. However, the author also starts each chapter with a few quotes from wide ranging sources. It could be a philosopher or a Hollywood actress, for example, each viewing the chapter’s theme from a different angle. This subconsciously gets the reader into the right mental space before they delve into the chapter itself.

5. Tips and take-homes

Non-fiction4These short, simple pieces of advice are easy to remember and will stay in the reader’s mind long after the book is closed. It’s often a good idea to have these at the end of the chapter to reinforce the learning within that chapter.

Bestseller case study: Auto Repair for Dummies is currently the bestselling book in the Dummies series. Personally, I feel that wanting to know how to write non-fiction could learn a lot from carefully analysing the Dummies books – they are so successful because, regardless of the topic, they can guide a novice through to some level of expertise and make the learning easy and enjoyable. Like all other books in the Dummies series, Auto Repair for Dummies, clearly explains how to do various tasks in very basic language. Each section has a special box with tick lists of the most important things for the reader to remember. Putting the most important “take-homes” in special boxes makes the information really easy for the reader to digest.

Write a better book with our free non-fiction planning tool

Given my experience working with lots of non-fiction authors over the last decade, I have created a free non-fiction structure planner that you can download here.

This worksheet makes planning any non-fiction book a breeze. Filling out this planner before you start will make the rest of your writing quicker and easier, as every time you sit down to write, you will have a checklist of what you need to cover, in what order and how. It breaks the whole project up into smaller, more manageable sections that you can work your way through, ticking them off as you go. It ensures that every chapter is neatly structured, guiding the reader through from understanding the issue and why they should trust your advice on it to giving specific examples and take-homes that will help the reader tackle the issue. This results in chapters that readers find valuable and enjoyable. The at-a-glance planner also helps you keep track of what has been covered where, so you can avoid repetition and referencing things the reader doesn’t understand at that point in their learning journey. In short, it is a solid road map that will help you write a better book in less time.

Write Better Non-Fiction


My FREE at-a-glance planner will make writing your non-fiction book a breeze and ensure your readers find it valuable and enjoyable.

Whatever you are writing, good luck with it and if you need any advice on how to write, self-publish and market your non-fiction book, please book in for a free 1:1 consultation here.