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13 Ways for An Author to Use Google Tools

13 ways for an author to use google tools.

Google is a powerful company with powerful tools that can enhance an author’s productivity and final product.

I have come up with 13 ways for an author to use Google tools that will enhance your productivity and the final product. I first wrote about writers using Google in 2012. But Google’s array of tools has grown and my needs as an author continue to morph, so I realized it was time for a new list. As you read through my list of both obvious and clever ways to put Google to work for you as an author, keep an open mind that you may have 13 additional ideas. Feel free to share!

  1. Share and Collaborate. Move your working manuscript to Google Drive and then send a simple invitation to select collaborators, editors, and reviewers to give them access to the latest version of your work. You can easily define what permission level they have when they open the document. You can limit reviewers to read-only or give an editor full editing rights. I was recently working on a trade manuscript with an author from another country and got a pleasant surprise. As I went to add a paragraph on a chapter we had discussed via email I was able to watch her computer keystrokes as she edited the same chapter. I thought that was cool.
  2. Schedule. You can obviously use Google Calendar to schedule your workflow. But Google Calendar and other calendar apps enable you to set up multiple and specialized calendars. A couple of years ago I began the practice of establishing a new calendar to nail down the times, days, weeks, and months of events while writing a novel. That saved me countless hours of editing by keeping me from mixing up the timeline of a tight plot.
  3. Search. Google Search has competition from Microsoft Bing and other powerful search engines, but Google is still king of finding information, details, images, and history on just about anything and everything you ever wanted or needed to know. How many hours of work in a reference library would it take to find what pops up on page one of a Google Search in seconds?
  4. Research. Everyone knows about Google Search. But what about Google Research, which employs the Google Books data base? The ubiquitous company has currently scanned and digitized close to 35 million books—with the goal of completing that task with all 130 unique books in the world by the end of the decade. The Google Books program is controversial and debated vigorously by authors, librarians, publishers, literary agents, and intellectual property rights attorneys. But no matter what topic you are writing on—from 16th Century Huguenots to 21st Century Japanese business management—you can use the research feature to find primary and secondary source material from seminal books. Go a level deeper into the Google vault and discover there are specialized search engines for scholarly works, blogs, patents, finance, and more.
  5. Translate. Want to add some savoire faire to your book with a couple of phrases in Spanish, Italian, French, German, Russian or one of the 85 other languages on Google Translate? Don’t worry if you haven’t loaded the alphabet for Mandarin Chinese in your font files. An English transliteration of the word or phrase is provided alongside the indigenous alphabet.
  6. Blog. I started my blogs on Google Blogger because it was easy to use and free. Blogger doesn’t have nearly as many widgets as Word Press and other site builders, so it isn’t as versatile. Surprisingly, the SEO isn’t rated as high on Blogger as it is on Word Press, which is why I migrated my combination web and blog site to Word Press last year. I’m not positive I am getting that many new visitors to my sites with the improved SEO and there have been more than a few days when I wish Word Press was as easy to adjust and fine tune as Blogger. Google Blogger is not a bad starting point. Click the link above and I outline the pros and cons of migrating.
  7. Promote. There are many ways to promote yourself and your work online, with plenty of debate and discussion on what works best for building an author platform. You can set up a small budget for a trial run with Google Ads or use the various free platforms Google offers like YouTube and Google Plus.
  8. Map. Writing a novel set in Chicago (where you used to live) while you are living in Nashville? Yep. That’s one of the things I do. It’s nice to map out scenes and events with up-to-date locations, routes, buildings, and markers using Google Map. Want a birds eye view? Get on Google Earth and hover over the setting you are describing in your book. That does sound a little creepy but you don’t have to work for the NSA to see where things are.
  9. Trends. What is on people’s minds? Google Trends doesn’t claim to practice ESP but Google is the undisputed champion of collecting, sorting, analyzing, and sharing big data. Check into the Google Trends tab for help on blog, posting, and twitter ideas—and maybe even your next book idea. Trends will show you what people are searching for throughout the world, broken down by territory, medium, and categories.
  10. Ideas. Google Keep helps you save and organize as many ideas as you can think of as a writer and human being. I use Evernote for similar purpose so I haven’t kicked the tires to check the various features and efficacy of Google Keep. If you have or decide to, let me know how it works for you.
  11. Feedback. Google Forms will build a survey for you for free. I have a Survey Monkey account so I can’t offer firsthand testimony of the advantages or disadvantages of what you can build and broadcast on Google. Again, feedback welcome!
  12. Monetize. If you put Google AdSense on your blog or website, Google will pay you on the basis of your followers clicking the ads on your site. How many clicks before the money starts rolling in? Let’s just say this needs to be considered a blue-sky income stream that will finally click in after you’ve sold a couple million books and don’t need the advertising revenue anymore! Why not? Adding the code snippet to your site is easy.
  13. Analyze. Google Analytics provides a wealth of information on who visits your website, where they come from, how long they stay, what they look at, what links they click, and more. If you use your website to promote your books, this is a must to help you shape your messaging around what actually gets a response.

There are a lot more Google tools I’m not getting into. They have a business suite that provides Microsoft equivalents for Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and more—but I like Microsoft productivity tools a lot and can’t commit to trying and learning something that might not have all that I want. As I said up front, my 13 ways for an author to use Google tools might be a jumping off point to help you brainstorm.

The point is, Google is a powerful company with powerful tools that can be used, usually for free, by authors to enhance productivity and even the final product. Writing is a hard, time-consuming labor of love (except when we hate it). Make sure you are using the resources that are as close as your fingertips.

10 Ways Google Can Help You as a Writer

I’m not getting paid by Google to write this and I use a variety of production tools besides Google – some more helpful than the Google counterpart. But just familiarizing yourself with the array of Google products can add productivity to your work as a writer. Here are a few obvious and not so obvious ways that Google can increase your productivity and quality as an author.

1. Docs. Upload and share working document with peer review groups, co-writers, editors, publishers, and anyone else you are asking to make your writing better. Google Docs will soon become Google Drive with more space and features.

2. Calendar. The obvious use of Calendar is time management – and I also use it to sync my appointments between devices – but I also found it incredibly helpful to create a specific calendar while writing a novel to keep track of days, weeks, and months for the events in my storyline.

3. Maps. Want to add authenticity to the addresses, streets, cities, and other places in your writing – Maps even has pictures of the landmarks at street level.

4. Blogger. It’s the absolute easiest way to set up an author website with simple push-button publishing. I’ve used it for years and recommend it – though I know many authors like WordPress better because of the SEO advantages.

5. YouTube. Set up a channel to serve as home for your video blogs to promote your book. I use YouTube as the main video source for my blogs on this website.

6. Translate. Want to add some phrases in another language to your book? Translate is an unbelievably easy and valuable tool to use. Now includes 50 languages.

7. Web Search. I never felt the need to switch to Microsoft’s Bling. Maybe it’s better but I find that hard to believe. No one has helped more people find the information they are looking for faster and more accurately than Google Search. You have an entire library at your fingertips.

8. Groups. Create mailing lists and discussion groups to promote your writing or interact with like-minded creators. This feature might be falling behind and fading fast – but I predict they replace it with something rivals the leading apps in the near future. (Edit: Hangouts arrived.)

9. Specialized Search. Did you know that Google has tools to help you examine search trends – content of blogs – content of scholarly papers – and more? They do. Keep clicking.

10. Analytics. Keep track of what and how people follow your v/blog. And as a bonus way that Google can help you – if you have a growing online following, you don’t want to be without Google Ads to generate income from page views. It takes an enormous amount of page views to add up – but better to set it up early in your online writing career.

You can use iGoogle as your homepage and set up your Google apps – and other apps – just the way you want to see them as on online dashboard – plus a whole lot more.

Google has a great array of products that can help you focus on what your best at, maximizing the value you deliver. And whether your prefer other tools over one or more Google apps, their suite will at least alert you as to what is available to make your work easier and more focused.

The Move From Blogger to WordPress – Why? Why Not?

I used Blogger for seven years.

Is Blogger best for you?

I just moved to WordPress.

Is WordPress best for you?

I am mostly done with moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress. Look around my site and you will find there is still a lot to update. But I’m far enough along to feel reasonably comfortable in inviting you to stop by. (No housewarming gifts needed, but thank you.)

So why did I make the move from Blogger to WordPress? I must have seen a need to change. And why did I wait seven years? I must have found reasons to stay where I was.

If you are a blogger or considering setting up a blog, my experience might help you understand the best platform for to use and a little of what goes into making a change if you determine that is the best course for you.

 

EASE OF SET UP

There is nothing easier to set up and run for a blogger than Google’s Blogger platform. I write. I don’t program and design. Blogger was the perfect place for me to start. It was so easy I actually had time to learn the features and customize my website to a reasonably attractive and professional degree. (I did pay a few bucks to a designer to create my own custom header.) Building and changing the layout and adding or moving features was as simple as dragging elements around. Because the layout templet was visual, you knew immediately and exactly what you were going to see with each change.

Another thing that made Blogger easy was it was free.

WordPress requires an immediate decision. Self hosting (.org) or free hosting (.com). If you choose free hosting, you are restricted from adding plugins or widgets like AdSense that monetize your blog. If you do the self hosting you have to install WP into your hosting service before you start setting up and designing your blog.

With WP you next decide on whether to use a free template or a premium template. Either way, the dashboard view is not nearly as intuitive and visual for building your layout and adding features. I’ll quickly note, after the first four or five hours of arranging and rearranging elements, WordPress has gotten quite easy to work with.

I chose the self-hosting option to have the most control and flexibility over my blog, whether or not monetization is a big issue for me. I chose a premium template from a company that has been developing templates for years. I think that provides better insurance that my template will always be up-to-date with the newest version of WP. [Read more…]

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Social Network Numbers in 2014

What are the social network numbers in 2014? Just how many people are using Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, and more?

The social network numbers are staggering. There are 7.2 billion people on planet Earth – the top 21 social networks have a combined 5.7 billion user profiles. More than a third of the world population now has access to the internet.

Some people still argue that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the other top networks are huge time wasters. Maybe so. But the numbers tell a story. To dismiss social networking as irrelevant feels similar to the great Yogi Berra quote: “No one goes to that restaurant anymore because it’s too crowded.”

Whether you join a network because it’s the newest craze, to connect with old and new friends, to entertain, to be entertained, to market and sell, to buy – or some combination that includes other reasons, here is what is happening in the universe of social networks in 2014. [Read more…]