Thursday, June 6, 2013

Some apps for writers

Top-rated app.
I try to remember life before personal computers and the Internet and Twitter and blogs and all the things that are central to my life today. I have no idea how we coped.

Well, we just did a whole lot less. And the world survived just fine.

Today I have a smart phone so smart it's always burning up the battery. So I have an app, Juice Defender, that tries to preserve the battery. So far so good.

There are so many apps out there -- there's one to test my urine should I so desire -- that my phone has an app to suggest other apps I might like. I hate all the suggestions. They seem to be for people in some parallel universe.

I was delighted when I came across an article by Carla King, an author and publishing consultant, on five apps for writers, because I'm actually using some of them. I feel kinda cool.

Here are several.

1. Efficiency and analytics. We writers browse the web a lot, especially when researching a book or article, Ms. King writes. And we know it’s important to interact with our “friends” and followers in order to build something called a “platform.” So along the way, when I see something that I want to share, I highlight it, then click the extension in my browser. It pops up with a short URL and the text I highlighted, and asks me what networks I want to share it with: Twitter? Facebook? Do I want to email it to a friend? Yes, dahling. Yes.
It’s like having your own personal social media butler, except it won’t bring you a martini. But it will tell you how many people clicked on the link, which of course gives you insights on what’s hot and what’s not. (More motorcycle accidents, fewer grammar lessons.) So now I use for almost every link I share on social media sites, blog posts, and newsletters.hash.k5JSV5Cz.dpuf

Feedly. I juggle book research with adventure travel and self-publishing journalism careers, and the fire hose of information coming in on both those topics is pretty thick, Ms. King writes. To stay up-to-date requires perusing the daily news and organizing the blogs and other RSS streams.
I moved to Feedly as soon as I heard Google Reader was being discontinued. It’s a much better-looking news aggregator, and the mobile app is awesome, too. I installed the Feedly bookmarklet on my browser toolbar, which is overkill because Chrome and Firefox embedded it in the bottom left corner of their web browsers. Best of all, when I go to Feedly I can desperately scan an uber-efficient list view, or relax and enjoy my feeds in rich visual mode, like I’m reading my own custom newspaper. 
Tweetdeck and HootSuite: For managing Twitter relationships. As a writer, I probably connect with more sources and readers using Twitter than any other social media site. I use TweetDeck all day long when I’m at my computer to share wisdom and links, to converse and congratulate.
TweetDeck is a desktop app, and HootSuite is similar, only it’s a browser-based app. They both manage your Twitter streams so you can keep track of friends, mentions, direct messages, and to track hash tags. They both let you schedule tweets, and cross-post to your other Twitter accounts and your Facebook and LinkedIn updates. The column-based format is great when I want to know what’s going on in #selfpub or @HuffPostBooks, but especially during live Twitter events. As a side note, TweetDeck is discontinuing its mobile app, but Hootsuite still has one. However, I’ve always preferred Echofon for mobile tweeting.
Like Ms. King I use HootSuite and Feedly, and I'm going to look at and Echofon. On my phone I started using something called TweetCaster, because I've found the typeface on Twitter hard to read, and I can't seem to change it. I use HootSuite, because I have two Twitter accounts. It works well on my laptop and my phone.

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