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Videoconferencing For Writers: The Top Software And Apps | Web Design Relief

Videoconferencing For Writers: The Top Software And Apps | Web Design Relief

In today’s new normal, writers are scrambling for alternative ways to interact with colleagues and readers. No longer able to meet in person with critique partners, schedule bookstore appearances to promote a new launch, or participate in conferences or workshops, writers have turned to videoconferencing software and apps in an effort to stay connected. But with so many options out there, which videoconferencing platform is best for writers? The tech experts at Web Design Relief have the scoop on the pros and cons of the latest videoconferencing software and apps.

So put on your nicest shirt (no one will see your sweatpants and fuzzy slippers) and let’s get started!

The Best Videoconferencing Software And Apps For Writers


ZOOM has become the most popular videoconferencing choice during the quarantine, in part because it works across lots of devices and operating systems. One author can call into ZOOM on an iPhone, another can join through a PC, and a third on an iPad, along with ninety-seven additional participants, effortlessly.

Because ZOOM allows a large group of people to participate in a single videoconference, it’s a great option for critique group gatherings or impromptu networking events—as long as the event doesn’t last longer than forty minutes, which is the limit for the free option. Paid options are available for as low as $14.99 a month and include unlimited minutes and many more features.

This high-quality videoconference software stands out for several reasons. Paying a fee for use is voluntary, and the suggested amounts are less than the cost of a cup of coffee. The income from these small contributions supports this company’s dedication to keeping high-quality videoconferencing software free or low cost for small businesses that can’t yet afford pricey options. features include:

  • Videoconferencing with up to 1,000 participants
  • Screen-sharing images from your computer—your book cover design, perhaps—to everyone else in the video chat
  • Recording and playback, which is handy if you’re opting to record an informal Q&A in place of a cancelled in-bookstore event

Because this videoconference option has no session limits, it’s great for workshop presentations for your local writer’s chapter, lengthy critique group meetings, or an open-ended editorial meeting with your publishing team.


Skype has been Microsoft’s videoconference software for nearly twenty years. Previously, using Skype required downloading their software. However, with the onset of the pandemic, Skype has introduced a new option: Skype Meet.

Skype Meet hosts can start a free meeting on a Skype web interface for up to fifty people, with no sign-ups or downloads required. In contrast to some other options, the familiarity of the interface may be a boon to authors who feel challenged by newer interfaces.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is one of the few successes that originated from the now-defunct Google+ social media platform. The software is simple. If you have a Gmail account or use Google as your preferred search engine, access is easy. Best of all, video calls with Google Hangouts are free in the US and Canada.

Google Hangouts only allows ten participants, so this option may be best for casual chats with your author buddies, or directed calls with your developmental editor, book formatter, or cover designer.

Group FaceTime

Authors who use iPhones, iPads, or other Mac devices updated to iOS 12 or higher have the option of using the FaceTime app for casual video conferencing. You can connect up to thirty-two people on one call. It’s a great way to network with writing colleagues who are across town or across the globe.

Facebook Messenger Rooms

Facebook recently rolled out its latest messenger chat upgrade called Messenger Rooms. These dedicated video chat rooms can host up to fifty people and are free to use. While you can create the room right from your Facebook account, attendees do not have to have Facebook accounts in order to join the video chat. You can also lock your Messenger Room for more security.

Video Conferencing And The Future Of Publishing

Considering the advantages of remote connection, videoconferencing software and apps will continue to reshape the publishing industry and open up new and innovative ways for you to collaborate on projects, market books, and connect with your readers.

And when you’re ready for your videoconference, try out one of these virtual backgrounds for videoconferencing featuring well-known bookstores!


Question: How have you used videoconferencing software or apps to keep in touch with your writing colleagues?


8 Poets With The Most Inspiring, Beautiful Author Website Designs | Web Design Relief

8 Poets With The Most Inspiring, Beautiful Author Website Designs | Web Design Relief

Move over, tech-savvy novelists and short story writers—poets are also making their presence known online and on social media! More and more poets now have social media platforms with lots of fans and followers, as well as professionally designed author websites where they can share content and connect via newsletters. And just as poetry can be inspiring and beautiful, so are the author website designs poets are using. The experts at Web Design Relief have created a list of the most inspiring author websites belonging to poets—you may want to steal some of these eye-catching elements for yourself!

Poets With Inspiring, Beautiful Author Website Designs


Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur, whose viral poetry has taken the Internet by storm, highlights the minimalistic trend in website design. Her home page features artistic line art and a simple, straightforward menu. She uses the home page to update fans with her latest news, and the clean, uncluttered design lets photos stand out in attention-grabbing contrast to the stark white background.


Andrea Cohen

Andrea Cohen treats fans to a poem as soon as they enter her website and incorporates gorgeous graphics from the cover of her latest poetry book, Nightshade. This is a great way to fill the home page with meaningful content and effectively market your writing.

Ocean Vuong

Acclaimed poet and author Ocean Vuong fills his home page with great reviews from well-known publications about his latest work, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Not only is this an interesting design technique, but it is a powerful promotional strategy as well. His website is a great example of how to build a strong author brand if you write in multiple genres.


Peter Balakian

Peter Balakian’s home page features his headshot, displays the cover art to his latest collections and details his career and awards. The largely monochrome color scheme of the website draws attention to the highlight of his career by introducing using bold red to focus attention on his Pulitzer Prize announcement.

Suli Breaks

Spoken word poet Suli Breaks has made a bold departure from traditional design choices on his author website. To best showcase the voiced aspect of his work, Suli’s home page takes you directly to a full-screen video of his spoken word poetry. The high-quality video serves as an inventive way to promote his content as well as an entertaining and interactive introduction to his site. Here’s how you can make your own video for your home page.


Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson’s website shows the power of minimalism in web design. Her home page features a simple header and an artful, minimalistic photograph above her menu bar. Not only is the understated art indicative of her work as a poet, but her author website is straightforward and easy to use for web visitors. Katie’s navigation is clear and immediate as soon as you enter the website, so you can quickly begin reading her poems.

Diane Mehta

Diane Mehta’s website keeps traditional design elements to a minimum in order to highlight cultural imagery. Her menu bar and social media widgets are on display in trendy, all caps, sans serif fonts. But Diane’s wide-resolution image commands attention and provides insight into her personal background as a writer and the inspiration behind her poems.


Annelyse Gelman

Annelyse Gelman’s author website is a breath of fresh air in terms of design. Gone are the clean lines and limited color schemes, replaced by pastel gradients and asymmetrical text blocks. But her spirited design choices don’t lack anything in terms of content. Annelyse features her list of publications, her book cover, her reviews, and prominently displays her newsletter sign-up right on the front page. A clear call-to-action is a must-have for your home page. This poet truly brings the fresh and funky to her poet author website!

Author websites are the best way for poets to share news and network with industry insiders and fans alike. Having the right design elements highlights the unique creativity and voice of each of these poets and makes their sites memorable. If you’re ready to create your own beautifully inspired author website, find out how Web Design Relief can help!


Question: Which is your favorite poet author website?

The Top 20 Must-Have Free Apps And Software That Writers Can’t Live Without | Web Design Relief

The Top 20 Must-Have Free Apps And Software That Writers Can’t Live Without | Web Design Relief

Most writers know that creating a great, memorable short story, book, or poem takes a considerable amount of determination, energy, and craft. Keeping track of ideas, edits, and revisions—while avoiding the temptation of social media and cat videos—can make it hard to focus on completing your work. Fortunately, there are lots of free apps and software available to help writers succeed! Web Design Relief has compiled a list of twenty great, must-have free apps and software programs that no writer should live—or write—without.

The Best Must-Have Free Apps And Software For Writers

Free Word Processing Software For Writers

Microsoft Word may be the king of word processing programs, but it comes with a hefty price tag. Check out these free compatible options.

LibreOffice. LibreOffice comes from the open-source word processing program Open Office. Along with word processing software, it includes spreadsheet and PowerPoint capabilities. One of its best features is its compatibility with Microsoft Word formats (like .docx) so you can share your manuscript easily with editors and agents.

Google Docs. Although the word processing features of Google Docs are very basic, they’ll suffice for most users. All you need is a Google account to log in, which allows you to access your documents on any computer. Google Docs’s biggest advantage lies in the user’s ability to write and collaborate in real time with other authors on a project.

Apple Pages. Another app that allows real-time collaboration is Apple Pages for Mac users, a powerful word processing program that’s part of the iWork productivity suite. For indie writers, one perk of this software is the ability to export a manuscript directly to an .epub format.

(Mostly) Free Writing Software For Novelists

Scrivener. Though there is a cost for this software, the thirty-day free trial period makes it worthy of a mention. Scrivener is easily one of the top software programs for novelists and offers organizational tools to keep tabs on research, storyboarding views of your novel, and productivity features that help you reach your goals. At an average cost of about fifty dollars, Scrivener’s a real bargain.

Shaxpir. Pronounced “Shakespeare,” Shaxpir is a cloud-based software for novelists who want to set goals, brainstorm, keep track of research, attach concept art, and ultimately export the manuscript into various formats.

WordCradle. On the WordCradle dashboard you’ll see all of your projects listed, as well as the goals you’ve set, the deadlines approaching, the number of words you’ve written, and the amount of time you spent on each. There’s a section for brainstorming and a gallery to keep track of all your characters.

Bibisco. This open-source software allows you to be both the architect and the carpenter of your novel. Check out a video preview here.

Free Title And Idea Apps For Writers

Whether you’re writing a blog, a poem, a short story, or a novel, sometimes you need inspiration. Check out these two free apps.

HubSpot Blog Generator. Need fresh ideas for your blog or creative writing? This online app generates a bunch of titles on the subject of your choice.

Portent Idea Generator. Looking for a title for your book, or a story idea to pique your interest? Give this idea generator a whirl.

Free Software For Writing In Peace…Or Not

Some writers prefer silence; others work best with background sound. Whichever you prefer, there’s a free app for it!

FocusWriter. E-mail notifications and social media are time-sucking distractions. In FocusWriter, a single move of your mouse blocks out distractions on your screen so you can get your writing done using the powerful word processor.

CalmlyWriter. Another browser-based app, CalmlyWriter is a word processing program that minimizes distractions. It even includes a “dark mode,” which allows you to type white-on-black for all you suspense, horror, and thriller writers.

Coffitivity. Do you prefer to work in coffee shops but can’t always find a table? Check out Coffitivity’s ambient-noise writing tool to help get you in the mood, even when you’re not at Starbucks.

HipsterSound. With this writer’s app, you’ll have the sound of a charming French café wherever you go.

Free Grammar And Editing Software For Writers

Grammarly. A free digital writing tool that monitors grammar, punctuation, spelling, tone, style, and word choice to improve your writing. You can add Grammarly as a Chrome extension on your computer and even install it as a keyboard on your iOS or Android phone.

ProWritingAid. This is a grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor all in one package. ProWritingAid is available in free and premium versions and can be added as a Chrome extension.

Hemingway Editor. Hemingway highlights grammar, fluency, and sentence structure issues so you can improve your writing. It also grades your writing for readability level, a feature useful for writers of children’s, middle grade, and YA novels.

Free Post-Production Software And Apps For Writers

If you’re writing a book, you have a few more steps on your publishing journey—especially if you’re considering self-publishing. Here are a few more free apps that are useful for book authors.

QueText. It’s always a smart move to use a plagiarism checker like QueText before you submit your work for publication.

Calibre. This free e-book management software organizes your library of e-books by many different factors. For indie-published writers, Calibre is an easy-to-use software to convert manuscripts into .mobi, .epub, and many other formats.

Canva. Thinking about social media and marketing? For that, you’ll need graphics. Canva offers a free version with an easy interface and access to free and low-cost visuals.

BookBrush. Like the name suggests, BookBrush is a powerful graphics software created specifically for authors. It’s easy and intuitive to use, and there is a free plan that lets you create three images per month and allows access to templates, stamps, and fonts.

Using free software and apps will make it easier for you to write your best short stories, poems, or book manuscript without breaking the bank. And once you’re ready to submit your work to literary agents and editors, check out how Writer’s Relief can help you target the best markets!


Question: What is your favorite software or app for writing, either paid or free?

Writer: Using The “Wrong” Social Network Can Hurt Your Readership Growth | Web Design Relief

Social media is one of the best ways to build your author brand. While your author website provides a hub for information about you and your writing projects, using a good social network also lets you effectively engage your audience in real time. You can promote new projects, receive feedback, and build your fan base.… Continue Reading

How To Build A Strong Author Brand If You Write In Multiple Genres | Web Design Relief

While some writers focus on a single genre, there are many writers who dabble in multiple genres. You might write poetry as well as short stories, and possibly even essays. Or the differences in what you write may be more obvious: spine-tingling thriller novels AND warmhearted children’s books. At Web Design Relief, we know that… Continue Reading

5 Ways To Make Your Author Website More Searchable And Visible Online | Web Design Relief

Every writer should have an author website; it acts as your online “business card” and information hub. If a literary agent, editor, or reader wants to know more about you and your writing, they’re going to look for you on the Internet—so it’s important that an online search engine like Google quickly brings your author… Continue Reading

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