We have an extremely tech savvy friend visiting us this week, and I’m forcefully struck by just how rapidly technology and the capabilities of computers/tablets/phones et al are advancing.

As an author, it’s extremely helpful to keep up at least a little with various software, apps, and services available to make your writing and marketing time more efficient and effective. NOTE: I doubt any of us can truly keep up with emerging technology and programming AND actually ever finish writing a book. The idea is to periodically integrate new gadgets and widgets that have come along recently into your repertoire.

A good place to hear about handy-dandy stuff that has come along to help writers is on writer’s chat loops online, blogs, or pages like this one. It’s also not a bad idea to cultivate some tech savvy friends and ask them if they’ve seen anything recently that might make life easier for you as a writer and marketer.

Sometimes, you’re forced to find new tools out of necessity. You injure a hand and can’t type for a while, and you’re forced to research a voice recognition software (I lurrrve Dragon Naturally Speaking. I recommend it highly.) Or, a fan writes you a note and asks you to autograph an ebook for them. Which happened to me this morning.

Which leads me to my next point. Sometimes, you just have to dive in and start playing with a program or application or social media platform and figure it out as you go. Look for FAQ sections or help buttons and just poke around. Any decent application in today’s world should have fairly clear basic instructions embedded in it. It’s scary, I know. But give it a try. I’m as bad a Luddite as the next technology hater, but even I can figure most of this stuff out. If I can do it, you can DEFINITELY do it!

In my case, I entered electronic autographs in a search engine this afternoon. Turns out a free service called authorgraph.com is out there. Free to use, and easy enough that even I was able to figure out pretty quickly how to sign up and load my books into it.

Furthermore, it had a one-click button that loaded an authorgraph link onto this very Facebook page. If you click the “More” drop down menu at the top of this page, you’ll see a link to authorgraph. You can find all my ebooks there and ask for a personalized e-autograph for your copy. You can even buy a book on this website and get it e-autographed. Very cool.

I would never have dived in and found out about the service or figured out how to use it had a lovely reader not very sweetly kicked me in the butt. I was lucky this time that someone gave me a nudge in a direction I should have gone long ago. But it made me ask myself how many other handy and time-saving apps are out there that I haven’t found.

My last suggestion for updating your e-toolbox is to schedule in a little time every few weeks to just poke around and see what’s out there in the world of marketing tools, writer’s tools, search engine optimization tools, website widgets, organization and scheduling tools, and any graphic tools that might help you if you self-publish and/or create your own covers or book packaging.

It’s tempting to hunker down in a writing cave and just write books. But the reality in today’s publishing world is that we all MUST keep learning and adapting and finding ways to be more efficient and productive if we’re going to stay competitive in a very tight market. And by the way, if you find a great tool that has helped you a bunch, share!

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