7 Essential Editorial Tools for Writers and Editors

This post comes from Producer/Editor Non, who has a penchant so hard for tools that he might just marry them someday.

When it comes to creating winning solutions for authors and brands, we believe strongly in taking advantage of tools that enable us to be more efficient, effective, and unequaled in our efforts. It's why we created our Resources page, which is a full list of our favorite resources. This list are the seven most essential, and some of our personal favorites for writers and editors.

As much as we'd like to think we could do our jobs alone, we really can't. Just as we rely on each other in a relational sense, we also rely on each other's outputs, which includes some of the amazing tools we (you, developers, Transformers, etc.) create. Tools that make our jobs easier are the tools we love. These tools make it so we can do the things we want to do, but also do things we couldn't imagine ever doing. It's really quite a beautiful, collaborative relationship if you think about it.

We're going to give you a moment here to think about it, and if you need a peaceful serenade that most certainly indicates our age range, enjoy this killer Enya tune:

Okay, have you thought about how tools can make your life better, or have you fallen asleep? If the first, good on you. If the second, how dare you. ENYA IS MAGIC. And also, quite serendipitously, another tool we can use as writers and editors. Not Enya as a human, but the music she creates could very well qualify as an essential tool that allows you to focus, which is an integral component to our success that we can take for granted. But enough about Enya (not really; we love you, Enya!). Let's jump into our seven favorite editorial tools that make life as a writer/editor hum!

7 Essential Editorial Tools for Writers and Editors

Essential Editorial Tool #1: Google Docs

For a dark time in our content production history, Microsoft Word held the crown. But thanks to the emergence of Google Docs in 2012, we were all saved from the headache-inducing formatting and "oh crap, I forgot to save that document" moments that seemed to be so prevalent in Word. With Google Docs, formatting isn't an issue and it auto-saves so you don't have to remember to click save every minute or so. The best part of all is that we, as a team, can work on a Google Doc simultaneously without worrying about undoing what someone else wrote or edited.

When it comes to sharing your Google Doc, you can in a number of unique ways, including adding specific people to your document with either a) full editing capability; b) the ability to comment but not edit; and c) viewing access only. You can also just create a shareable link, and share that link with the people you want to collaborate with. As a team that works on a wide variety of content across multiple industries for various clients, using Google Docs over any other option simply makes good sense.

If you're not yet using Google Docs, get on that. Your writing and editing future is bright! Don't believe us? Check out the real time collaborative power of Google Docs in this pretty nifty demo:


Essential Editorial Tool #2: Scrivener

If you want something a bit more sophisticated than Google Docs, Scrivener is for you. Scrivener is designed to set structure for your book, not just any general content.  It's designed specifically for authors, which makes it a great tool if you're serious about your writing or editing project, and you're looking for a more focused, organized approach. You can break down your book project into scenes and even sub-scenes with corresponding metadata, such as title, mode (draft or revised), and target word count. Google Docs will give you the capability to add an outline, but not in the fastidious way Scrivener allows. So if you dig that structure, we recommend it!

One other great thing about Scrivener is that, if you're writing a book about the migration of Hoth's Tauntaun population, it allows you to import any research materials that you have, including but not limited to the time you may have served the Rebel Alliance.

If you're curious about Scrivener but feel a bit intimidated, check out Learn Scrivener Fast for a quick rundown of the product. This Scrivener demo from Karen Prince is also pretty useful:


Essential Editorial Tool #3: OmmWriter

If you're anything like us—and we're going to assume that you are at least similar—you have forty-seven browser tabs open while you exchange adorable puppy gifs with a friend on Twitter, nerd out over grammar intricacies masterfully relayed by Grammar Girl, and do countless other things that distract you just enough to keep your book project going Ad Infinitum. While that may be a bit of hyperbole, it captures the essence of the type of distraction zones we're always fighting against as editorial sorts. The good news is that there are a bunch of amazing tools out there that can help us battle those distractions, one of which is OmmWriter.

With OmmWriter, you can swiftly say goodbye to all of the distraction (yes, even the puppies) and combat your yearning for multi-tasking yourself into a less effective frenzy. It was designed to help you "re-connect with your old friends Concentration and Creativity," two friends who are the backbone of every successful writer. It accomplishes this by giving you a private work studio with backgrounds to hold your attention and set your mood, audio tracks to focus your mind, and keystroke sounds to get you in the right rhythm.

Here's a screenshot example of the serene, distraction-free environment of OmmWriter:

Essential Editorial Tool #4: CoSchedule

As a fully distributed/remote team (meet the team here and here!), it's especially important that we stay on top of our tasks. Otherwise, it can be madness. Thankfully we have CoSchedule, which is the tool we use to schedule our editorial calendar and assign tasks around client projects we work on. Our managing editor, Janna, created the editorial strategy for Pat Flynn or SmartPassiveIncome.com, and recently spoke with Pat about the wonders of CoSchedule and how you can keep up with your editorial calendar.

Even if you're not a full-time writer or editor, CoSchedule can be an immense help by making it easy for you to create separate calendars for your writing projects, editing tasks, and personal to-dos. You can plan and schedule all of your social media posts, integrate it seamlessly with your WordPress blog and Google Docs, and basically manage all of the content you create and edit in one place. It really does make life so much easier for us. We wouldn't be able to do what we do without it (or Janna).

You can register for a free CoSchedule demo here.

Essential Editorial Tool #5: ConvertKit

Email marketing shouldn't be complex. But a lot of email marketing tools make it that way. Not ConvertKit. ConvertKit is our favorite email marketing tool because it allows us to reach our audience—or, rather, assist authors and brands in reaching their audience—in the most streamlined and simple way possible. We want a tool that enables us to focus on the audience and the relationships we build with the audience. ConvertKit makes it easy to create that 1-to-1 connection with your audience on a large scale without the added complexity of imposed algorithms and add-ons.

As a writer or editor, you should be spending your time, you know, writing and editing (and sometimes balancing those things with cat snuggles). But not building needlessly elaborate email marketing campaigns that are less about that human-to-human relationship and more about salesy poppycock. With ConvertKit, you have the time to write and edit to your heart's content, plus still have time to connect with your audience through email.

Oh, and they put together a pretty awesome Guide to Email Marketing you can get for free here (or by clicking the logo below).


Essential Editorial Tool #6: Claim Your Throne

It would be the understatement of the century to say that Winning Edits loves books. But we're going to do that anyhow. We. Love. Books. We're bibliophiles. Book nerds. Nose-stuck-in-a-book types. We love the books that we work on as a team to produce (Will It Fly?, Level Up Your Life, and Virtual Freedom to name a few), and we love the books that we read on our own. Most recently, we're loving The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Heavy by J.J. Anselmi, and, You Look Like That Girl by Lisa Jakub. Books make us happy, which is especially so when we have a team member write one!

That's right. Our editor, the aforementioned Janna, wrote Claim Your Throne: How to Manage Your Online Content & Rule Your Corner of the Internet. Whether you're an author or a brand, Claim Your Throne is a tremendously helpful guide on the basics of editorial management, building an editorial calendar, the whole editorial process, and some useful tools and resources to get you from blank page to publishing.

Okay, we're biased clearly. But it really is that good.

Essential Editorial Tool #7: WordPress

The platform we love and recommend the most for those in the editorial field is WordPress. Unless you're living under a rock (or even under the Rock), you've certainly heard of WordPress. Many of your favorite websites are run on WordPress, including Boing Boing, TED, and TechCrunch. It's easy to use, very inexpensive (free for the basic plan!), and can integrate with boatloads of apps, plugins, and other software, including, as we mentioned before, CoSchedule. Combine the power of CoSchedule with the power of WordPress and you have a pretty fetching combination of editorial umph!

Sure, you'll also get access to hundreds of cool themes, stellar customer support, built-in social sharing, and plenty of space for customization to help your author or brand website serve your audience the way you want. So, with WordPress, it's a win-win-win-win.

Well, that about does it from us on a few of our favorite editorial tools! How about you? Do you have any favorite tools that help you do your job better? Leave your favorites in the comments below or share with us on Twitter @WinningEdits!

And if you're still thirsty for more amazing tools, check out our full list on our Resources page!

Happy creative-doing, folks.