What to Buy Writers for Christmas

You could pick up your writer friend a gift card to Barnes and Noble or Amazon, but what if you could pick up your friend something that will almost certainly help him/her take a step forward toward publishing? What if you could give someone a useful tool for his/her writing career?

I’ve been thinking for the past few days about putting together a list of a few services and books that I use a lot as a writer, but then I thought it may be a bit more useful as a gift-giving guide. If you want to know what I use for invoices, advertising, etc., check out the end of this post. For now I give you my gift guide for writers…


Creating Fiction

How much would you pay to attend the top MFA writing workshops in America? Would you be interested in learning the best advice from each professor? This handy textbook is an incredible resource that provides just that. It’s an amazing book with tips on everything from characters to plot construction. If you want to publish fiction, you need the advice in this book. It blows my mind pretty consistently.

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go

This may be one of the most entertaining books I’ve read on writing, aside from Bird by Bird. Filled with practical advice and great examples, this book makes starting a novel easy and accessible.

A Moleskine Lined Journal

My writing thrives on giving focused attention to my ideas, and an old-fashioned journal is the perfect tool for writing down ideas and developing them without the distractions of my computer. These journals are relatively affordable, sturdy, and fun to use. Almost everything I write begins as a few ideas in my Moleskine.

A Nook Touch

You may be suspicious that I’ve included a big ticket item in my list, or you may question why I’ve chosen the touch and not a Kindle Fire. I have my reasons. For starters, every writer needs an e-reader because publishers are constantly throwing free and cheap books at us. At the start of NanoWriMo, I was able to download 6 excellent books on writing for free. Marketing companies send me free e-books all of the time about managing my website and social media accounts. There’s so much out there, you need something that you can use to read it all.

I endorse the Nook Touch in particular because it’s first of all a dedicated e-reader. There’s no temptation to check e-mail. Just read. Focus on one thing. I love that about my Nook. In addition, I like Barnes and Noble because it at least supports physical book stores where real human beings can get together, look at books, and interact about ideas. I use Amazon for some online shopping, but I shudder at the thought of Amazon closing down every book store in the country.

When it comes to technical end of things, the Nook Touch has been the darling of online technology sites with its easy to use interface that makes the previous Kindle model look like the ugly duckling.

A Path to Publishing: What I Learned by Publishing a Nonfiction Book

This is perhaps my most self-serving item on the list, but hear me out. There are great books out there on how to write a proposal, how to market a book, and how to prepare for publishing. I’m not as experienced as all of those other writers, but I do have one advantage on them: I published a book fairly recently and I wrote this book right after my book’s first year. I have yet to find another book that pays so much attention to the process of becoming a nonfiction author from start to finish.

I wrote this book as a first step, an introduction to publishing that teaches readers how to plan for the future, how to write a proposal, how to write a draft of a book, how to work with an editor, and how to promote it. The reviews have all been positive, and the endorsements quite strong. I wouldn’t include this book here if I many readers hadn’t told me how the book helped them.


That does it for gift ideas. However, if you want to know what else I recommend for freelance writers, there are 3 services that I recommend using.


I try to get checks from customers when possible, but PayPal makes it possible to receive payments from international clients and from customers who prefer the convenience of online billing. 


I apply for very few jobs. Rather, I post my services on Thumbtack and set up an auto-post of my advertisement to Craig’s List every three days. I have found all of my clients through Thumbtack. Even better, Thumbtack notifies you when someone has posted a project in my field of expertise! It makes advertising so incredibly easy, I can’t imagine freelancing without it.


I hate paperwork and spreadsheets, and Freshbooks makes all of that go away. By simply tracking my time throughout the week in Freshbooks, I can send out invoices to my clients and track whether they are late for payments or whether their accounts are up to date. Freshbooks allows you to manage 3 clients for free, which makes it practical for a small operation like mine, while allowing me room to grow in the future. Once again, I would hate freelancing if it wasn’t for Freshbooks.