Sunday, December 7, 2014

Snazzy Tech Tools for Indie Authors

A few weeks ago, I called my barber to schedule a time for a haircut, and he admonished me for not using his app to make the appointment.  Yes!  His app!  My barber has an app!  With a QR code and everything.

Needless to say, I was a little surprised.  I guess I had always thought of barbering as being one of those professions that stays the same for the most part, with little change over the years.  It hadn't really occurred to me that technology could affect - if not barbering itself - the ancillary matters related to it: communication, scheduling, etc.  This, of course, got me to thinking of technological tools out there which might be beneficial to writers, a few of which I note below. 

QR Codes
Aside from an app, one of the things my barber had was a QR code, which was printed on his business card. 

A QR code (the QR stands for "Quick Response") can be thought of as a square-shaped bar code. It can provide information about a product or service, connect to an app, link to a web page, etc. Most smart phones have the ability to read QR codes. 

In the case of the QR code to the left, it's one that I created for my own business cards and links to the Books page of this very blog.  Just scan it, and it will take you to where you can find out all about my novels.  (I suppose I could also create distinct cards for each book, with each of those having its own QR code as well.)  

In essence, QR codes can be a quick and easy way for authors to connect with readers. You can make your own QR codes on sites such as

Next, as a writer you really should be making use of smartURLs.  Practically speaking, a smartURL is one which manages internet traffic by directing it to the most geographically appropriate online site.  For instance, here is the smartURL for my most recent release, Terminus:

Someone in the U.S. who clicks on this link will be taken to the Amazon product page for my book.  However, someone in the United Kingdom would be taken to Amazon's UK page.  A person in Canada would be directed to the book's Amazon Canada page.  And so on.

As with QR codes, smartURLs are a great way to help your readers find you and/or your work.  You can create smartURLs at:

Voice-Recognition Software
Voice-recognition software is, of course, a well-established tool for authors.  Unlike QR codes and smartURLs, such software is focused more on making the writer more efficient rather than connecting him or her with readers.

As implied, voice-recognition software will, ideally, simply type every word you utter, saving you from having to type it yourself. Since most people can talk a lot faster than they can type, this is seemingly a way to exponentially increase one's output.

Personally, I find that it makes my thinking too linear when I'm writing, but many authors love it. If it works for you, it is a chance to become far more prolific.  Thus, rather than being able to write, say, three novels per year, you might suddenly find yourself able to crank out nine or ten of them.

All in all, there are lots of cool tech tools out there which can be fairly beneficial for authors. The trick is simply finding which - if any - work best for you.

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