How does Christmas seem to come around so quickly these days? I feel like I’ve just put the baubles away and here it is again, a-knocking at the door, in all its festive frivolity.
I’m in Dubai at the moment – the sun is blazing, people are sun-bathing and Santa is everywhere…. yep that scene doesn’t play right in my mind either. Admittedly the cavernous malls are freezing and have no natural light, so you can pretend it’s nearly Christmas whilst you are in the stores, but as soon as you go outside – well, not so much.
Anyway no-matter how much my mind rejects the concept, I can’t slow down Christmas’s arrival, so why not embrace it instead. In this spirit I’ve created the ultimate gift ideas list for those writers, readers and bloggers in your life – very simple for me as I am all of the afore-mentioned. We start today with gifts for Writers and Authors . Bloggers will be represented next Wednesday (see it here) and readers on Monday. So if you are stuck for ideas and want to get gifts that they will really appreciate then check out these gift ideas.
Killer Software for Writers
I know this sounds boring but the software below is anything but boring for the writer in your life – believe me, they will be thanking you forever if you get them these tools, which make planning, researching, writing, editing, and formatting a breeze.
Years ago my Aunt had a daughter going off to University and had twins learning to talk and she said how big the learning gap was. Well, for a writer, Scrivener is so advanced that it’s like university where as Word is so behind in every possible way it’s like potty training. There is just no comparison – with Scrivener writing is a pleasure, formatting for ebooks a breeze and research is just dreamy. Your writer will never forget this present and will always thank you for changing their world with this gift. It comes in formats for both Mac and Windows and is cheap in comparison to its far inferior cousin, Word. Check it out here*.
Price Range: Mid Range – $40
This is my favourite tool – by far and it’s so simple and cheap. I’ve always mind mapped (or spider planned as I call it) my mind works at its most creative this way. So when Literature and Latte (the developer of Scrivener – listed above) introduced a fully integrated mind-mapping software I pounced on it. There are loads of mind mapping software’s out there but Scapple’s endless canvas, that you can keep adding and adding to, and easy import function, gets your ideas as notes into Scrivener, wins it for writers. It makes the planning and outlining process dovetail into the writing environment seamlessly. If you’re thinking of getting Scrivener get this as a stocking filler as well. It’s officially won my fab award – well if I had one, it would be a main contender anyway. Check it out here*.
Price Range: Stocking Filler – $14.99
My ECover Maker
Most writers will create the artwork for their book covers in flat 2d format – which is what you need to upload to the various book sites but we are then faced with the dilemma of wanting to show our digital work as something more tangible – as a real book, paperback or hardback, and that’s not easy if you’re not a designer. This site is great it enables you to upload your artwork and then output it in a variety of different 3d forms as well as create advertising banners for websites or social media pages. It’s really a god-send and your writer will love it. Check it out here*.
Price Range: $99 per year
Large Ticket Items
OK I acknowledge these are biggy’s (definitely considered purchases) but I guarantee the writer in your life will love you forever if you furnish them with one of these.
I have the Windows RT version of this because I couldn’t wait for the Pro version (impatient – ah yep!) but I wish I had – don’t get me wrong I love it – for the purposes of a writer it so far exceeds the iPad it’s not even measurable.
Hosting the full windows environment and tools (Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc.) it’s like the lightest laptop ever. So for those writers who like to leave the house and write in coffee shops, libraries and museums this is a dream – its battery seems endless and it has USB ports so it’s simple to use other devices with or download data (unlike the iPad). With the detachable keyboard/cover and integral kick-stand it turns a tablet into a fully functioning laptop. It’s a no-brainer for me I wouldn’t be without mine – just wish I’d waited for the pro, that has the full windows 8, so I could add Scrivener to it…. next time maybe. Or maybe someone is reading this with me in mind – if so HINT, HINT. Check it out here*.
Price Range: $799+ depending on the configuration you choose.
Apple MacBook Air
Some people would give up their arm before they gave up their Macs – if your writer is one of these people then the Apple MacBook Air is the nearest equivalent to my beloved Microsoft Surface in terms of weight, ease of mobility and general all around great writing experience – well so my Mac obsessed friends tell me . So if Mac rocks your writer’s boat – consider the MacBook Air. Check it out here*.
Price Range – $850+ depending on the configuration you choose.
As writers we all dream of having a professionally designed cover or book edit, we’d love a little additional help with our marketing efforts or a virtual assistant to help with some of the admin, but for most hard-working authors this is beyond their means. I know they would just love to have that support so why not gift them the ultimate present, that of time – time to write more and worry about the niggling details less, with one of these super services. Truly great gifts for writers.
I haven’t used a virtual assistant myself – for the same reason the writer in your life probably hasn’t, as I can’t justify the expense – but boy would I love one to help with finding content, organising my email, scheduling my social media messages etc. Mmmm heaven. Well it probably won’t be happening for me anytime soon but no reason you can’t spoil your writer with the gift of some admin support and an extra pair of hands for the more time-consuming and basic jobs. I’ve sourced a few options for you below (but, as I said, I have no experience with them so can’t vouch for them).
Price Range: Varies massively from $5 per hour & upwards depending on the package & hours purchased.
Author Marketing Club
So many writers and authors are great at creating worlds and taking their readers on wonderful adventures, but can’t tell one end of marketing from the other. In the old days of traditional publishing this really didn’t matter too much but since the arrival of ebooks and self-publishing that has all changed; even a writer with a traditional publishing deal is expected to carry his/her weight of the marketing effort. Gone are the glory days of writers pontificating over word selection in their ivory tower whilst leaving the business people to dabble in the grubbiness of selling – now the author is also getting their hands dirty but with little or no knowledge or support.
The author marketing club provides support and tools to help develop marketing campaigns and promotions and your writer would kiss you under the mistletoe for solving this prickly problem for them. So why not sign them up for a year’s worth of support. Check it out here.*
Price Range: $105 per year
Book Cover Design
The cover design of a book really makes a difference to its success yet so many writers take a short cut and try to dabble in photoshop to create their own. Now that is fine if you are talented, understand the basic rules of graphic design and marketing, and have the skills to create a professional end result – but we’ve all seen examples of author designs that just shriek amateur and negatively impact the perception of the book.
So why not get your writer the gift of a professionally designed cover – the prices vary tremendously but again – your author will love it and everytime you see their book you’ll know you had a hand in the creation of the cover. Not bad eh? I wrote an article previously on some of the best cover designers out there and they would be a great gift option. Check it out here.
For more about book cover design check out my Pinterest board – Book Cover Design
Price Range: From $30 – $1,000+
This is arguably the single most important element of a book, after the writing, editing can totally make or break a book. Many authors hesitate to commit the funds necessary to get this invaluable support and it’s the one they should always get, so if your writer can’t afford to get professional editing you would be his/her hero if you gifted them the cost of the edit.
There are three main types of edits:
Developmental Edit – This helps the writer develop the story and ensure that it’s structurally sound. This is a great deal of work and by far the most expensive form of edit. It’s great for first time or new writers. Cost between $1,600 to $6,000 for an 80,000 word book (based on the Editorial Freelancing Associations guidelines)
Line Edit – This is the more normal edit – covering story holes, sentence construction etc. Cost between $1,600 – $2400 for an 80,000 word book (based on the Editorial Freelancing Associations guidelines)
Proof Reading – This is checking for spelling and grammar mistakes. Cost between $960 – $2560 for an 80,000 word book (based on the Editorial Freelancing Associations guidelines)
Because editing is a very personal service I feel that your writer would definitely want to choose his/her own editor so if you are inclined to give this I would create a gift promissory note and organise to pay the editor once they’ve selected who ever they want. The prices above should give you a rough idea of what to expect depending on the editing level you wish to gift.
The Gift of Knowledge – Training Courses
How many people pay for themselves to go on a training course? Not very many – I think probably because it feels a little self-indulgent and, with so many other things to invest in, people feel reticent to invest in themselves. However the more a writer learns the more successful they will be in today’s marketing driven self-publishing world. So you could gift them success with one of these truly awesome training courses.
You will see a few products by the authors of Write, Publish, Repeat in this listing and that’s because they are doing something I consider to be ground-breaking in the world of self-publishing. Their advice could, quite literally, change your writers career from mediocre to awesome. These guys don’t make rash promises of immediate success with no effort but rather show an author how to write more books, quicker and with greater commercial success.
Fiction Unboxed is like opening a window onto their world and documents ( with video, transcripts and actual work-in-progress) how they created, planned, drafted, polished and published a book from zero concept to publication in 30 days. It’s a mine of knowledge, fun and enthusiasm and your writer will LOVE it. Check it out here.
Price Range: $89
Write, Publish, Repeat. Conversations on Udemy
This is the second product of the Write,Publish, Repeat authors and is the follow-up to their book (listed below). I have subscribed to this and it’s every-bit as useful and interesting as the book and fiction unboxed (detailed above). With Udemy Training programmes you can purchase the course with gift vouchers for your writer and they then redeem them at their leisure. The course is pre-done so they can watch and learn as and when they have time. Plus if you purchase it through this link and use the voucher code ‘THANKSDEC’! you should get up to a 65% discount (coupon valid until end January 2015). Check it out here.*
Price Range: $49
Planning and Outlining Novels Using Scrivener on Udemy
This is also by the authors of Write, Publish, Repeat and details how they use the Scrivener programme, I mentioned above, to create outlines for their novels. I loved this course it really helped me learn to outline better and to appreciate the benefit of pre-planning my novel rather than flying by the seat of my pants. It’s another great accompaniment to the Scrivener software as a bit of a stocking filler. Plus if you purchase it through this link and use the voucher code ‘THANKSDEC’! you should get up to a 65% discount (coupon valid until end January 2015). Check it out here.*
Price Range: Stocking filler $19
Scrivener Coach’s – Learn Scrivener Fast
This is a great course for your writer to learn how to quickly get the best out of Scrivener. The software is so powerful and this course really shows you how to get the most out of it. Check it out here.*
Price Range:$97- $197
The Gift of Knowledge – Books
Yep – I know, not an original idea but it’s the content that’s the true gift in these books – hundreds of years of combined expertise is distilled down into these volumes which will guide your writer’s writing and career. Now that’s a gift indeed, the gift of knowledge.
Elements of Style – Shrunk & White
This book has been haunting me. Everywhere I looked I saw it referred to as the go-to-book on writing and let’s face it we can all do with a hand when it comes to writing. It even enjoys a 5 star rating on Amazon from 50 reviews, so I decided to take a punt and give it a go – it definitely deserves the stars. A tiny book with a huge punch. Check it out here.*
Write, Publish Repeat – Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant
If you only read one book – read this one. It’s a total game changer and it’s a great read. The tone of voice is so fresh and conversational that you find yourself chuckling at some of the throw away lines. Written by Johnny B Truant and Sean Platt, two parts of the trio behind the Self-Publishing Podcast and prolific writers in their own right, – it’s truly a breath of fresh air – no grandiose promises of immediate success or wealth accumulation – instead a logical step-by-step approach to building a long-term, and hopefully profitable, writing career as an Indie Author. Check it out here.*
On Writing – Stephen King
Although I am not a Stephen King fan I found this book full of useful insights and it’s interesting to see the path he took to world-wide success – definitely well worth a read. Check it out here.*
Sometimes The Magic Works – Terry Brooks
“If you don’t think there is magic in writing, you probably won’t write anything magical” says Terry Brooks. This book offers a rare and wonderful opportunity to peer into the mind of (and learn from) one of fantasy fiction’s pre-eminent authors. Good for non-fantasy readers as well. Check it out here.*
Self-Editing For Fiction Writers
This is the best book I’ve read so far on editing – I read it in one sitting. It offers really straight-forward, simple to follow advice, examples to enable you to test your understanding and check-lists for future reference. This will help you become a great self-editor and should help reduce your editing bill. A good one to add to your library. Check it out here.*
And Finally………. More Gift Ideas
If you are interested in getting desk items, or other writing paraphernalia check out the great gift collection I put together previously – it’s packed with more great ideas for gifts for writers. Check it out here…
*In the interest of total transparency: I am an affiliate of some of the companies or products I’ve mentioned above (as indicated by a *). What that means is that should you purchase those items I will be paid a small commission for referring you. This doesn’t add to the cost for you at all – the supplier just shares some of their profit with me. I haven’t chosen the products based upon my affiliations, more often than not I choose an item and then see if it has an affiliate programme, if it does I join, if not then I cover the product anyway. This is how I fund my blog – (hosting, images, and all the myriad of products I use to keep this blog alive). I depend on my reputation so would never recommend something I didn’t think was totally awesome. Thanks for clicking.