Aaaah, it’s that glorious time of the year again, when we wrack our brains asking ourselves: What do I gift to my loved ones? What could I buy for my lovely clients and colleagues?
If you need to find a gift for an author, look no further. You want to spend between 10-120 Euros or USD? Then this is the only list you’ll need. Curated by Dr. Barbara Ellermeier, historical advisor for authors and the brain behind HowToWriteHistory.com.
The Ultimate Gift Guide For Everyone Who Writes (Or Works in Publishing)
Be informed: The Essential News Publication ($59/year)
Brimming with news from the publishing world, this fortnightly publication called “The Hot Sheet” is curated by publishing experts Jane Friedman and Porter Anderson. Both unearth the most recent book industry trends, and comment on them. Their paid newsletter delivers data – trends, graphs, numbers. But Jane and Porter always manage to put the numbers into perspective. They focus on long-term trends – not on the short-term, daily hype. And this is what makes this publication so worthwhile. “The Hot Sheet” is a lighthouse in a storm that cuts through the noise.
In addition to that, every “Hot Sheet” issue is full of opportunities for authors. Think: publishing deals, film deals, new publishing options for ebooks, brand new distribution opportunities, current ways of marketing your books, and little-known hints about where to pitch, and when.
These opportunities have been insanely useful for me and my author clients. One of my authors received a lucrative US two-book deal. Another received a very special Kindle First promotion in all (!) English-speaking countries. Yet another one pitched her manuscript — and they’re now talking about turning it into a film. Another author was shortlisted for a special screenwriting course. A few managed to set up their “Buy My Book” links in a more efficient way, so that they can regularly sell more books. Yet another earned an additional €16,000 in foreign rights … All this happened thanks to the hints and tips that were delivered by Jane Friedman and Porter Anderson, in The Hot Sheet.
Don’t get me wrong: You still have to do the work!
You have to send a great pitch.
You have to follow up.
And did I mention you need to follow up…?
It is still a lot of legwork. But Jane Friedman and Porter Anderson’s paid newsletter delivers all of these opportunities. You don’t have to spend hours and hours browsing the web, in order to find them for yourself. Fortnightly on Wednesdays, you’ll receive handpicked, handcurated information — always relevant. For traditionally published authors — and self-publishers as well — The Hot Sheet is an excellent resource for both understanding the direction in which publishing is going, and where to find current opportunities, so that you can make the most out of your career as an author.
Here are the most recent issues with their table of contents.
Write Faster: Dragon Dictation Software (~120 Euros/ ~$100)
Here is another tool which has helped me to increase my daily word count tremendously – Dragon Dictate is dictation software which allows you to speak instead of write. The app magically transforms your spoken words into written text. By experimenting, I was able to raise my daily word count from 200 to 2000 per morning. In addition to that, I try to edit 1000 to 2000 words during the evenings. I documented my Dragon Dictate experiments. Currently, I am writing a how-to book for writers who want to raise their daily word count. (If you’re interested in creating your personalised processes around dictation, combined with editing, then sign up here to get notified when my how-to guide is published.)
What does Dragon Dictate cost? I paid around 130 Euros — as I use the premium version, where am able to dictate both in English and German, with 2 different profiles.
If you only need the English version, the application comes cheaper and usually costs around ~70 Euros or ~$100.
Immerse Yourself In A New Setting, Fast: Materials For Authors (around 85 Euros)
Gift a treasure trove of reliable, fresh research materials. Want an author to start writing much earlier – simultaneously conducting research and writing their first scenes, so that they can publish their book sooner? Then meet the Material Dossiers. These are the resources, created by yours truly, for authors. As I am both a historian and an author myself, I view historical sources through the eyes of a novelist. I compose writing prompts combined with hand-selected historical background materials — so that you can start writing straightaway. The author can browse and plunder the material dossiers. They can furnish their books with in-depth historical details — without having to spend ages finding them.
Write More By Utilising Apps: Scrivener or Airstory (starting from around $40)
Scrivener. What I love about Scrivener is the word count. The biggest impact on dictating more words for me. The “Session Target” Bar measures your progress. It displays instantly, how many words you write. In real-time, it’ll display a red bar, which gradually moves to orange, yellow, greenish, until it ends with a bright green. Combined with the traffic light colours, you’ll see the exact word count of this session, and your overall word count in this document. Use this when typing by hand, and it’s mildly motivating… Use it when dictating, and you’ll feel ÜBER productive — eager to go on and on and on! The little word count monitor motivates me INSANELY to BEAT yesterday’s word count, and to improve at least a bit… Scrivener knowledge is widely available. If you want to gift a “quick start guide”: My author colleague Natasha Lester from Australia has perfected the way she works with this writing app. Her wisdom can be found in her blog posts or in her online course (it costs around 97 AUD).
Airstory is an internet-based writing app, created by copywriter Joanna Wiebe from copyhackers.com. Virtual index cards are its backbone — and that’s what I love about it. This means, at first you write drafts. Then, with one click, you transform paragraphs or single sentences into index cards. After that, you can shuffle these index cards around. As you can tag your index cards, I find it really easy to enter vast amounts of research materials, categorise them ( “1800s daily life”; “London in 1940”; “D-Day 1944 in France” etc.), and then find the relevant pieces of information, exactly when I need them. It’s a breeze. In one more step, I can turn the index cards into the draft of a chapter — or a writing prompt.
Inviting your editor (or another co-author) to collaborate on your texts is really easy. It’s also easy — using the Chrome extension of Airstory – to copy and paste research materials from Internet databases into your Airstory account. Copying and pasting from Google documents is also an option. And did I mention that you can directly publish from Airstory into WordPress and EPUB? Also a tremendously useful time-saver for anyone who writes. Pricing starts from $59.
Write More: The Book For Authors (~10 Euros or ~$15)
For every author who wants to understand his own rhythm of creating, Chris Bailey’s book will definitely help to up your game. Chris conducted experiments, and monitored when he waqualis able to write the most. He will lead you through a series of questions and experiments, so that you can recognise how you work at your best. By adapting a few of his processes, I was able to raise my daily word count from around 200 to 500 words — to at least 1000 words per morning. On good days, I can write 2000 words … without feeling exhausted. By reading this book, I understood that working longer hours essentially drains you, and makes you less productive the NEXT day. Working with Chris Bailey’s experiments has actually been fun for me. It is not yet another boring productivity book. Instead, it’s very hands-on and down-to-earth. Also, it is written with the outcome in mind: Chris Bailey’s goal for you is to raise your daily word count — which makes it an excellent gift for any writer.
“The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy” by Chris Bailey
Hardcover, 304 pages
Publisher: Crown Business 2016
Be inspired: A Subscription Box For Word Lovers (starting from $30)
Want curated boxes, full of brand-new books and gimmicks that will make the book lover’s heart sing? PageHabit has you covered. Currently, they curate different kinds of boxes. Among them are …
Just cause: Paper GoodiesSSSS ($20 and up)
Speaking of subscriptions: Most writers I know are also stationery lovers … right? CRATEJOY offers boxes, brimming with paper goodies, beautiful clips, colourful washi tape etc. All those paper goodies that will make a writer go weak at the knees. Choose to gift a single box, or give a monthly, quarterly or year-long subscription.
Capture IDEAS: Journals For Plotting Your Book (15+ Euros)
So many authors start writing their stories writing by hand. Show me an author who isn’t addicted to collecting journals and blank books! If you gift something like that, you can’t go wrong. Currently, I am addicted to scribbling into paper blanks created by LEUCHTTURM (that’s German for “lighthouse”), created near my hometown in Europe. They come with a perfect binding. The paper is thick enough, so that the ink doesn’t bleed through to the next page — this is important, right? And they come in lots of different colours. Perfect German quality. 🙂
Take A Break: Customised Mugs Or Cups From Etsy ($10+)
Most authors are also coffee addicts. Or tea addicts, right? As C.S. Lewis said: “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
A customised mug is the perfect gift for anyone who writes. These are 2 samples that I created for one of my research clients. On Etsy, you’ll find many sellers who produce customised products. I ordered with this shop. Sunny was really nice and helpful, so I can definitely recommend ordering at her Etsy shop or via her website. The golden and black mug was around 20 Euros. (Be sure to order early, so that there’s enough time to create the product.)
Gift A Career Change: How Do I Find An Agent? (starting from $25+)
This is a question I get asked multiple times per week — if you want to get a *traditional* publishing deal, you definitely need a literary agent by your side. The best ways to strategically plan how to find a literary agent are the following:
1. Jane of JaneFriedman.com regularly offers webinars about this topic in collaboration with Writers Digest: Highly recommended. (~ $80) Browse her classes here.
2. In-person events in the UK that I recommend are the workshops with literary agent Juliet Mushens. Check her Twitter feed, where she regularly announces new workshops in London/England.
3. And do I have a book recommendation, you ask? Indeed I have. “The Guide to Literary Agents 2018. The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published” by Cris Freese. Paperback: 336 pages. Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books; 27th edition, 2017, ISBN-13: 978-1440352669
Webinar, workshop or book: Each of them is the perfect gift for an author seeking a literary agent. Giving this, you could really change someone’s career.
Enjoy browsing the gift options, and selecting the perfect author gift. Maybe you’ll also find something for yourself? Just sayin’.
Have a story-worthy day,