By Blair Wadman. 5 minute read
If you want to write a book, you’ll want the right tools to make your life easier. The right tools will truly save you time and help you to keep your sanity. Below you will find a list of the tools I used when writing Master Drupal Module Development.
Scrivener was the primary tool - I used Scrivener to write the actual book. You can think of Scrivener as a word processor on steroids. Big steroids. It is incredibly powerful with a lot of different features. The one standout feature is the ability to break up your book into bite size pieces and move those pieces around. This makes it very easy to organise and re-organise your content.
Scrivener is primarily aimed at writing novels and screen plays, but don’t let that put you off. It is one of the most versatile tools I’ve used and is a perfectly suitable tool for writing a technical ebook.
Scrivener can also compile the book into all the main formats including PDF, Kindle (.mobi) and epub. It doesn’t necessarily look pretty, but it works.
Ulysses is the closest alternative that I have tried. It works in a similar way to Scrivener but with less features. It shares the same core feature of being able to split your book up and move parts around. I’m using Ulysses these days as my primary writing tool because it has a beautiful interface and is a joy to use. Scrivener looks dated and its power makes it less user friendly. In addition - Scrivener forces you to format your document which can be really fiddly. Ulysses on the other hand supports markdown out of the box. I love writing in markdown because it is so versatile. I can simply copy and paste into Draftin.com (which also natively supports markdown) for my editor to review. When she is done, I can copy and paste into Drupal, where I have the markdown module. No fiddling with formatting at any stage. Separation of content and presentation is a big deal.
If you don’t want a powerful tool like Scrivener or Ulysses, you can also go old school and use a simple word processor like Word or Pages.
I used Trello to organise the outline of the book and manage what I needed to get done. Trello is brilliant for this. Trello is another incredibly versatile tool. I won’t go into exactly how to set it up here, but essentially I had a list for each stage: Backlog, In Progress, Being Edited, Done. Each chapter of the book was a card which moved through the various stage until done. You can make notes on the back of the cards and have checklists and assign to other people. I’d assign a card to my editor when it reached the “Being Edited” stage.
You could do all of this in Scrivener. Scrivener makes it really easy to create the outline for the book and then you can add labels for each stage.
Alternatively, you could simply use a todo application. There are zillions of these available (Todoist is my go to todo list app).
Before I wrote the book, I announced it and directed people to a landing page and invited them to sign up to get an early bird discount. I sent valuable educational content (Drupal tutorials) to them in the lead up to the book being published. Campaign Monitor was the email marketing tool I used to do this.
Campaign Monitor has a beautiful interface and is really easy to use. It reportedly delivers a higher open rate than its biggest competitor Mail Chimp but I don’t have any actual proof of this. It is more expensive than Mail Chimp, but I loved using it so ran with it.
The major alternatives are Mail Chimp and AWeber for traditional list based email marketing. The next evolution in email marketing is marketing automation, which allows you to deliver much more personalised and targeted emails. If you are interested in marketing automation providers, check out Drip, Convert Kit, Active Campaign and Infusion Soft. I’m currently using Drip for some of my marketing efforts and will probably switch totally to Drip soon. I will miss Campaign Monitor, but it lacks proper marketing automation.
The source files for the book are held in Dropbox, so they are automatically synced to the cloud. You can’t attach files to email marketing software like Campaign Monitor, so when I send updates of the book to customers, I send a link to the Dropbox file.
Google Drive is probably the closest alternative.
I used Evernote primarily for research. I spent quite a lot of time researching the pains people had when learning Drupal development and clipped what I found to Evernote.
Microsoft’s, OneNote is a worthy alternative to Evernote.
I used FastSpring as the provider to take payment from customers and to deliver of the ebook. FastSpring has excellent customer services and at the time, they handled VAT for European customers better than most of the others.
The major alternatives include Gumroad, SendOwl, DPD. Or you could use full scale ecommerce with Drupal Commerce, Drupal Ubercart, Wordpress WooCommerce or Shopify.
If you have any questions about these tools, let me know in the comments below!