The Tools And Services I Use In My Author Business

You can certainly write a book with a stack of paper and a pen. But you can’t run a successful author business that way!

In this article, I list the most important tools and services I use to run my multi-six-figure, one-person-author business.

It might look like a long list, but remember, tools are leverage. They enable you to do more with less. I’ve also been running my business full-time for over a decade, so I’ve added things over the years, changed tools and services, and adapted along the way. No doubt I will keep changing things as new options emerge.

Joanna (J.F.) Penn with laptop and books

Some of the links are affiliate links for products and services I use and recommend and for which I receive a percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. But of course, you don’t have to use my links!

Writing and editing

Scrivener — for writing first draft fiction and non-fiction, keeping notes, organizing, and restructuring. Tutorial here for fiction and non-fiction.

ProWritingAid — for self-editing. Tutorial here.

The Blue Garret — Kristen Tate is my (human) editor. Interview with Kristen on editing here.

Sudowrite — for expanding sensory detail like a thesaurus on steroids and co-writing assistant. Tutorial here.

ChatGPT — for character ideas, plot ideas, brainstorming, and world-building. I’m on the paid plan so I’ve been using the GPT4 model which is a step change to GPT3. More on futurist topics here.

Books on writing fiction and non-fiction by joanna penn

Publishing and Distribution

Vellum — ebook formatting. Tutorial here.

JD Smith Design — Jane does my book cover design and interior print design and formatting

Amadeus Pro — audiobook recording and editing. You can also use free software Audacity. I have a home audio booth. You can find lots more detail on audiobooks in my book, Audio for Authors.

Hindenberg Narrator — for audiobook mastering to ACX and Findaway standards

Ebook publishingAmazon KDP, Kobo Writing Life, Apple Books, Draft2Digital, PublishDrive

Audiobook publishingFindawayVoices, ACX (for Audible, non-exclusive)

Print publishingAmazon KDP Print (for Amazon only), Ingram Spark for wide distribution, bookstores, libraries etc.

Direct salesShopify, Bookfunnel for ebooks and audio, for print, Kickstarter for crowdfunding.

Teachable — For my courses for authors


Premium hosting — WPEngine. Details on WordPress themes and more details here.

Midjourney — for creating images for the blog, podcast, social media, custom ornamental breaks, book cover images, and more.

Canva — for designing and formatting images for the blog, podcast, and social media


Zoom — for recording interviews

Home studio booth — for recording the intro and solo episodes

Descript — for audio editing through text

Amadeus Pro — You can also use Audacity. I have a home audio booth. You can find lots more detail on audiobooks in my book, Audio for Authors. — for AI transcription. I also have a VA, Rebecca, who formats the transcript for the podcast show notes. I have tried lots of different transcription services and will be experimenting with more as AI voice gets better for different accents.

Blubrry — for podcast hosting, distribution and reporting — I mainly do audio-only for the podcast on YouTube, but occasionally make videos — Patrons support the podcast and get an extra monthly Q&A — For ‘tips’ when people appreciate what they learn from my free resources

The Creative Penn Podcast

Book Marketing

Keyword and category research and analysis: Publisher Rocket, K-lytics for genre-specific reports

Paid email list service: Written Word Media (mainly FreeBooksy, BargainBooksy, etc)

Amazon Ads: Outsourced through Reedsy. For non-fiction books and Pilgrimage only, as I have tried multiple times, but never got Amazon Ads to be profitable for my fiction as J.F. Penn.

Social media: Twitter @thecreativepenn, Instagram @jfpennauthor, Facebook @jfpennauthor, Facebook @thecreativepenn

Facebook Ads — I have outsourced these before, but I am currently back to running myself to my Shopify store. For training on ads, check out Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors course.

Buffer — social media scheduling

How to market a book by Joanna Penn

Business admin tools

Google Workspace — for email, as well as Google Docs, Sheets, Forms,

Other applications — Excel, MS Word, Numbers, , Pages, and Keynote for various functions

Dropbox — for file storage and organization

ConvertKit — for email marketing

Things — To Do list and organization tool

XERO — bookkeeping, accounting, invoicing (I also have a bookkeeping service and an accountant).

For banking and payments, I have multiple business bank accounts, plus PayPal and Wise. For the latter, I have multiple currency accounts for payments in different currencies, which is great for Amazon as you can set different bank accounts per country store.

Business books for authors by joanna penn

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments, or share what tools you use in your author business.

The post The Tools And Services I Use In My Author Business first appeared on The Creative Penn.

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Author: Joanna Penn

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  • April 6, 2023