Tools that helped me keep my cool in 2015

Near the end of the year, I put together a list of tweets of some of my favorite tools for keeping mu cool. They ranged across tricks & websites for tracking/analyzing your sales, places to get stock photos and make promo pics, and ways to format & convert your ebooks. It was a tangle of all my favorite bookmarks and programs, presented in 140 chars or less.

You can follow the tweet above back to the thread, or just browse the list below. (Keep in mind, brevity and abbreviations because, you know. Twitter!)

Bree’s Favorite Tricks

Book Report – a nifty way to watch & analyze your Amazon sales. Free if you make < $1k/mo on Amazon, $10/mo if more.

Google Keep – simple, easy to organize/tag virtual To Do list. Browser, Android or iOS. Free.

Kindle Sales Total Bookmarklet: Tired of adding up your MTD sales or page reads in KDP? Enjoy. It’s magic.

Spreadsheets – I made my own so they’d be as nitpicky & precise as I like them. Have one! Or two!

Sigil – Free epub editing software. Super useful if you need to fix small things in an ePub.

Trackerbox: When you need to track ALL the vendors, and multiple pennames. Free trial, $59.99 to buy:

Kindle Previewer: When you need a quick preview of your book, or to quickly convert epub to mobi:

PicMonkey – $4.99/month photo editing software. Make super pretty promotional pics without photoshop skills.

Dreamstime: Save up promo images & grab a monthly subscription to get ALL THE STOCK PHOTOS you could ever want.

The Windows Snipping Tool: Seriously, I screenshot everything and his makes my life beautiful. Just saying.

Redirects. Still. Always.

InstaFreebie: Give away books & let the winner decide their own format. Plus optional newsletter subscriptions!

RescueTime: No one wants to know how much time they’re actually spending on twitter. But you probably need to know.

Send to Kindle: A shocking % of people don’t know how easy it is to review your MS on your phone and/or kindle:

Help, my FB ads have too much text!

It’s been a while since I had time to post, but a few people have needed this lately, and I decided it would be smartest to just upload it for easy future linking. (That is how I make all my important decisions about blogging: being lazy.)

A lot of people are trying to maneuver around facebook’s 20% text rule for when you can boost a post or use an image for advertising. It’s especially frustrating because the exact same amount of text on an image might be denied one week and approved the next if the text isn’t in the exact same place.

There’s a reason for that.  As of now (which could change tomorrow) facebook’s automated system is using a grid method to decide when an image has too much text. They put a grid of five rectangles by five rectangles over your image and look to see if the text shows up in more than five of them. (20%)

Computers are not always terribly reliable though.



Yeah, I know. Computers. SIGH.

Anyway, it’s pretty easy to get around this once you know it’s a thing. I have two templates I share–one is a PSD file with the grid on its own layer, one is a transparent PNG file you can download and put over your image.  If you can keep your text in five of those boxes, you SHOULD be okay. (Should in that computers are still silly and will sometimes think things like tattoos or squiggles are also text, because oh, COMPUTERS.)


Facebook Ad Template (PNG)

A transparent PNG with the grid that helps identify how much text is too much for a facebook ad.

Facebook Ad Template (PSD)

A photoshop template with the grid that helps identify how much text is too much for a facebook ad.


I interrupt this blog to comment on promotion.

People ask me, “What should I do for promotion?!” more often than you’d believe. Not that it’s surprising–it’s a great question. I ask myself that basically every day.  What should I do for promotion?!

My basic rules of promotion:

  • Give people a reason to want to talk about my books…
  • …without annoying them…
  • …and without requiring (or encouraging) them to annoy the people around them.

It can be hard to come up with a great example, but the HBO show The Leftovers just implemented one that has 100% worked on me. After watching the pilot of the show, I tweeted that I had no idea what was going on, and that delighted me. Last week, the show DMd me saying they wanted to send me something. I was intrigued, so I provided an address.  I got this:

Creepy file is creepy…but so is the show. I expected something like this…
(Note: some of the info in the file is from READING my tweets. I pity whoever had to do that job. Also, the note there is my original tweet.)

A photo of a file included in the package. It has my twitter avatar, info from my bio and some from my twitter feed (including my job, that I co-write under two pennames & that I've been married 10 years.)

A lighter, a sign, and a pre-paid cellphone identified as my new burner phone. OH. MY.

A picture of a lighter, a sticker with a motto from the cult in the show, and a cheap pre-paid cell phone.

And the phone already had one text message waiting…

A photo of the phone & its first text message, reading: "Watchers: you walk with the dead! They're all in white!"

Since the first thing I did was whip out my phone to tweet pictures of the creepy care package, this basically accomplished exactly what was intended. And since I’ll be getting text messages on this phone, presumably related to new episodes, it’s the promo that keeps on giving.  Because you know I will be tweeting creepy text messages with delight.

Now obviously, we can’t all be sending people cell phones. But this is an example of a way to make people want to be engaged. At the end of the day, you can’t buy someone’s earnest interest. But you can cultivate it once it appears. You can give them ways to engage that increase it. Unfortunately, you have to be creative, usually. Nothing works better than something no one else has ever seen or done. (And once you do something, other people will copy it. Which means you’ll have to come up with the next thing no one has ever seen or done.)

Well played, HBO. Well played.