Future is Fiction Communications

Building Platforms for Brilliant People

sites for writers

Web Sites for Writers

If you just want a quick resource to create a random plot for your short story or novel, check out my random plot generator. Similarly, my pal Joel has created an iPhone app for writers called the Brainstormer.

Occasionally I write about the process of writing.

Book Marketing

Traditionally, books are promoted to review sites where the book is offered for free to a reviewer. These kinds of publicity campaigns are often preferred because they have credibility. However, often it helps just to pay a little to spread awareness that the book even exists. If you are paying to put your book out there, that is marketing.

KDP Select to Get in Kindle Unlimited

Kindle Unlimted is a program where readers can pay a monthly fee to have unlimited access to a huge repository of ebooks for no additional cost. KDP Select is the program for authors to allow their books to be available in the Kindle Unlimited library. After joining KDP Select, you can’t do any other giveaways so long as your book is locked into this program, because Amazon is setting this up as an exclusive relationship with authors. Because the ebooks are provided for free, authors are instead paid a nominal fee, around $0.0045 per page read. This includes those who read your book by being gifted it from a friend who uses the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

Other benefits to the KDP Select program:

  • Kindle Countdown Deals. If you’re willing to run a limited-time promo selling your book priced between $2.99 and $9.99, you get 70% of the royalties.
  • Every 90 days you can offer your book free for 5 days.

If your book is on Kobo, you should know that they have a program similar to KDP Select but it isn’t exclusive. With Kobo Plus, enrolled books get paid for minutes consumed.

Get Reviews for New Books

I haven’t tried Book Bub yet but my research has suggested their Featured Book promo is highly recommended for authors in various genres. For example, here’s what one redditor had to say:

when they feature your book in a category to those several-hundred-thousand to a million or more readers of that category, your book is the ONLY book those readers see that day for that category. I had a feature for a Free book on Saturday and had over 35k downloads across all the retailers that day.

Pestomonkey on Reddit

On the other hand, authors were less enthusiastic about their New Releases for Less promo, because the offering doesn’t match what the audience is looking for. The books are not discounted enough for their audience, which is there specifically for discounted books. This author puts it well:

It’s a bargain book list with an emphasis on high quality curated backlist titles. Readers want proven quality books for free or 99c. They don’t want to take a punt on new and unproven titles at full price.

The subscriber numbers are huge (see here https://www.bookbub.com/partners/new_releases_for_less_pricing ) but conversion just isn’t the same as the featured deals.


I’ve also heard BookBub is extremely selective so it is not an option for all.

Book Sirens is an email list sent to readers. Authors pay to be included. This is for advanced reader copies, so if you want to use this service do it before your book comes out or just after publication. The pay structure is a flat fee per book ($2) downloaded, so the cost depends on how successful the promotion is. There is payment another option for authors who put out numerous books per year. Some complications for books available already via Kindle Unlimited.

Hidden Gems pricing.

At least one author has recommended Hidden Gems as their favorite source for review promos. I haven’t tried it because their website seems very focused on romance, even though they do offer options to specify genre. Also, they book well in advance, so look into this one before the book is finished. However, though it’s an ARCs program, they do accept already published books. Their payment plan as of April 2024:

Your $20 deposit is also a flat fee that covers your first 1-10 readers. Additional readers are $3 each up to 140 which is equivalent to our MAX option. The MAX option is a flat $400 and means we’ll send the book to all the readers that reserve a copy.

Shelf Awareness is an email list that goes out to 645,000 readers, including 37,000 publishing professionals. If your book is yet to launch, you may buy an advertisement from their Pre-Order Blast. Note that trades only care about what is forthcoming, so this is only available to books that are forthcoming. It’s published on the final Wednesday of the month, and your book must be at most three days away from publication at that time. Shelf Awareness also accepts pre-publication galleys for potential review. Here are the guidelines for 2024.

I used to recommend the GoodReads giveaway program. However, they now charge authors $99 just to give their books away for free. Additionally, much of the quality user base fled GoodReads after they were purchased by Amazon. The program used to be considered a review exchange, but since many reviewers don’t bother to follow through it is now marketed as a “giveaway” rather than a review program. Not only does this mean readers are don’t feel obligated to write a review, many are just signing up to get a freebie. I’ve heard authors report that using the program led many participants to put the digital book on their TBR (to be read) list, but not necessarily an increase in reviews.

LibraryThing has a book giveaway program for authors. And it’s free to sign up, unlike GoodReads! This program is available in the first six months of the book’s release. You can’t give away books that are freely available to the public elsewhere. LibraryThing provides a list of names and contact details—addresses for physical books, emails for ebooks, you/your publisher must send the actual books. In their words:

The LibraryThing Early Reviewers program (“ER”) helps publishers and authors generate buzz and reviews for new and forthcoming books. You provide the books, and we match you with readers eager to review them. We also promote your books to the close to 100,000 members of Early Reviewers, the more than 1 million recipients of LibraryThing’s monthly newsletter, and through our social-media channels.

Voracious Readers Only is $30 a month to connect with their reviewers but the first month is free.

Discount Book Promo Sites

Just a reminder that the KDP program requires exclusivity, so providing freebies elsewhere could get your books kicked out of Kindle Unlimited for breach of contract.

These sites are not focused on reviews or interviews, instead they simply link to books that are currently free or on sale. Because of authors pay to be included, consider them more of a marketing ploy than publicity.

FreeBooksy offers numerous promotional email options for authors who are offering their book for free or for discount. This includes promotions for: book series, genre/theme listicles, Amazon ads, giveaways to boost email lists, and promo stacks. Promo stacks put together several discount promo sites, but I am not aware if this provides a better value or just saves time. Their basic giveaway is priced depending on the genre and the size of the email list it reaches. For example, their literary fiction list costs $60 to reach 305,000 readers.



How to Get Around KDP’s Contract Limitations for Giveaways

Amazon’s contract rules prevent giving away more than 30% of your book. So you can offer a shortened sample of your book on many of these sites.

Since Kindle Unlimited is for ebooks, you can give away print copies of the book.

If the book is not yet published, you can give away digital ARCs. This is a good excuse to remind those you offer advances to that it’s urgent to claim them quickly.

Getting Published

Duotrope allows you to search a huge database of poetry and fiction publications (both online and print).  There are a lot of fantastic filters like payscale, genre, length, and simultaneous submissions. It’s like everything you dreamed Poet’s & Writer’s Market would become online. Did I mention it’s free?

Agent Query is a site for those looking to find an agent. I haven’t used it personally, but it’s described as “The Internet’s most trusted database of literary agents” which sounds like something a lot of writers could use. If any one has experience with this site, drop me a note and let me know if it worked out for you.

Writer’s Relief is a boutique agency to which you can outsource the nuisance of researching where to submit your finished work. I emphasize researching though they also edit submissions, write your query letter and offer general coaching. If you have money to burn and you have spent more time than you would like to admit not sending in your stuff Writer’s Relief may be for you.

Digital Publishing and New Media

These are sites that specialize in bringing your content to the world, but in some way focus on new media: either they’re putting the glossy good look on a mobile upload or they integrate multimedia or otherwise bring something new to the publishing concept. If you’re thinking of self-publishing, these sites may be of use to you.

I truly believe the revolution in publishing won’t blow up until distribution and marketing can be crowd sourced. Until then, most readers will still rely on Amazon and Barnes & Noble to tell them about the next-big-thing in books. That’s why I’m so excited about WeBook, a crowd sourced publishing platform. You submit one page, and if it does well, you’re invited to submit five pages, then fifty. All along you get feedback from literary agents and other publishing professionals.

I see Plympton‘s name all over the place. They partner with DailyLit (a site to get your five-minute literary fix delivered to your inbox daily). They’ve partnered with Amazon. Their mission: to bring back serial fiction. They pay their authors, so their books aren’t free. But they are a bargain at one to three bucks.

Another crowd sourced take on distribution is Juke Pop Serials. They pay 2 cents per word for the first 3,500 words and following that the top thirty chapters of the month receive additional cash prizes. If you’re thinking of submitting serial fiction, they recommend 1500 to 2500 words per chapter.

Humble Bundle is not a publisher, but they are doing something new. You know how Amazon bundles books you like together, so you can get them for a slight discount? Well Humble Bundle takes that to eleven: you name your own price on ten fantastic e-books, then decide what percentage goes to charity, the authors, and the company. Even better the e-books work on all devices and are DRM-free. This isn’t really an opportunity for all authors at this point, because their bundles feature coveted books. Still it’s a step in the right direction and a model we should all support.

Issuu is for those who want to create their own magazine, catalog or newspaper online. Designed to work well on mobile devices. They make their money from advertising and premium accounts. The premium accounts let you remove their logo and editorial suggestions.

FeedBooks is an e-books retailer. They don’t pay authors for books at this time but if you’re willing to give it away in order to build an audience you may be able to become part of their original authors series.

Hundreds of other crowdsourcing sites have popped up since Kickstarter burst onto the scene—including Pubslush specifically for writers. However with crowdfunding you have to get full funding for your entire project, or you get no money at all. That’s why I love Patreon. It allows patrons to fund creators they love with small payments on a regular basis. Great for serial fiction and comics.

I’m interested in how publishers can embrace the digital future with animated e-books. I think one of the best publishers tackling this is Moving Tales.

If you want to self-publish your audiobook, there is a program to do so with Spotify called Findaway Voices. If your book is already traditionally published, make sure you have the rights to create an audiobook before you proceed.

Book Review Blogs and Lists

In the Book Blogger Directory blogs are separated by genre and sorted alphabetically.

Authors Database is exactly what it says on the tin: a list of authors with links back to their books. It’s free to enter your name.

Step-By-Step Self-Publishing has a long list of book review blogs, presumably all of which consider self-published books. The site sells the list as a book.

Indie View’s Book Reviewer List These sites claim to review a book once a week…they must read faster than I do!

Author U is Judith Brile’s book marketing network. Make sure you go to .org, the .com is some spammy site, not the right one.

The Book Blogger List has only active blogs, reviewers who are inactive for two months are reviewed. The list is shorter but long on details about each blog described.

Kate Tilton’s list of book bloggers.

Mandy Bole’s has a list of book reviewers on Pinterest.

Choosy Bookworm lists discount (at or under $4.99) and free ebooks that have at least eight good reviews on Amazon.

YA Book Blog Directory is, as you would expect, a long list of blogs that review young adult books.

Authonomy is the reading and writing forum hosted by Harper Collins. I’m not that familiar with their offerings, but at least they don’t restrict people to talking about Harper Collins books.

Story Cartel Free review copies for honest book reviews.

World Literary Cafe has many resources for writers and readers, including forum pages to connect authors with reviewers.

Amazon’s rankings of top reviewers.

GalleyCat (one of the top publishing blogs) has a list of blogs that review e-books.

Social Networks for Writers

I know from the name that you think SheWrites is a site for Shewish Rituals, but it’s actually for women who write. Go figure.

Backspace is an online writer’s resource. It costs a Ben Franklin to get regular access to their forums, but they do offer a five-day free trial. Also check out their articles.

My favorite social network for authors is Protagonize.com. In fact, i spend so much time there I was a featured author after only three months on the site. Then again, I am a social media consultant so YMMV. Protagonize is a place for you to upload your story and get feedback and criticism from fellow writers. Their strong suit is collaborative writing.

The Writers, Agents, Editors Network is a social network for writers and those in the publishing industry. What sets this site apart from others like it is that there are so many agents here, offering advice and giving you a glimpse into what sorts of manuscripts they’re looking for. They run contests on drafting queries, something every author will need to master if they seek publication.

Another social network for writers is ABC Tales. Since the death of urbis.com, as far as I can tell this is the best social network for writers to post their projects if they are looking for criticism.

Red Room is probably the most popular social network for published writers. While I don’t know how actively readers pursue this site, it’s worth the time of any writer to set up a profile here at least.

Also check out the Author Social Media Support Group. They support each other (read: upvote) on various social networks. Naturally they don’t want to upvote just anybody, so you have to be invited to join in. Get to know them on Twitter to earn your invite.

Social Networks for Readers

These are what you call “social categorizing” websites, focused specifically on cataloging the books you have read. These sites all pretty much do the same thing: allow you to import, discuss and show off your library. Site users discuss and review books. If you want to leave GoodReads, note that most of these sites make it easy to import your existing GoodReads library.

GoodReads is the oldest and largest social network for writers. It hasn’t changed or developed much since it was bought by Amazon, so it feels a bit old fashioned compared to some of the other options.

LibraryThing is one of the oldest, still-existing options for social book cataloging. Thus it’s not as pretty a site as some of the others, but at least has withstood the test of time.

StoryGraph seems to be the current leading alternative to GoodReads. Readers claim the recommendations are much more accurate, based on readers having extensive tagging capabilities. They create charts and graphs that show you how much you’re reading in particular “moods.” They also offer content warnings, “up next queue,” ability to mark books as DNF, and a private reading journal.

Hardcover.app is another book discovery site. They aim to challenge Goodreads, which many believe has fallen in quality since being bought by Amazon.

Oku is another competitor to GoodReads. Like Hardcover, they’re focused on an app experience. Use the app to see stats on your reading habits, create custom collections (similar to “Shelves” in GoodReads), and write/read reviews.

Have you heard of the Fediverse? These are the new direction for social media, that strives to create social spaces that aren’t tied to corporate monoliths. Bookwyrm is a federated site to “talk about books, track your reading, and find out what your friends are reading, on your own terms.”

Software for Writers

MS Word is not bad if you’re writing a document that’s less than fifty pages long. But when you get into the thick of 150 pages of a story, the limitations of a standard word processor become a burden. At that point you’ll want something that has advanced search and organization options like screenplay formatting, index cards, notes, and a scratch pad. Here are the two programs I recommend.

Writers Cafe is available for Window, Apple and Linux. It’s $40.

Scrivener is originally designed for Apple but is now also available for Windows. There’s an unsupported Linux version. This is the software I use. My favorite feature is the split screen that allows you to edit two parts of the document at once. You can use Scrivener for years and still discover new features. Software how has a good write up on how to use Scrivener if you’re curious.

Writing Tools

Autocrit.com provides automated criticism. It’s like the Space Odyssey 2000 version of Spell check. Just paste your writing into the box and it will point out all sorts interesting things like overused words and clichés. For 47 dollars a year it will even tell you where you have issues with pacing and readability…though I’m not convinced a computer can do these things well, the free options I’ve tried were  impressive.

WriteRhymes.com is a good tool for those who want to write songs or poetry. As you type into the web box, hit the alt-key when you need a rhyme and this tool will show you a list of rhyming words.

Need writing motivation? Try this: 100 words written, a fresh kitten for your screen. Or increase the challenge to hit a word count of 200, 500, or 1,000 words before you get that precious, precious kitten.

If you’re a NaNoWriMo participant or just someone who gets motivated by keeping track of your word count progress, Writertopia has a simple word count progress meter to show your word count as you type. They also have a little badge that will update your site with an appropriate cartoon as your word count increases.

Financial Assistance for Writers

My friend Ellen McBarnette of the Berkeley California Writers Club shared this list of grants for writers experiencing financial hardship. If you know of others let me know.

Jobs for Writers

While you may find editing, writing and publishing jobs on regular job boards, many popular trade magazines and media sites have job boards of their own. Here are some worth checking out.

MediaBistro Publishing Jobs List

Publishers Weekly Job Zone

Association of American Publisher’s Book Jobs Site

Publishers Marketplace Job Board

I’ve also written a number of helpful articles on marketing, publicity, social media and writing.