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.
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 sites all pretty much do the same thing: allow you to import and show off your library. Site users discuss and review books.
Shelfari is owned by Amazon. They don’t have a promotional program, but I’ve heard you can have your Shelfari info feed into Amazon.com
All new authors should try out the GoodReads book review program. The readers promise GoodReads reviews in exchange for review copies. Always offer a few more than you think you want, in case some reviewer doesn’t follow through.
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.
GalleyCat (one of the top publishing blogs) has a list of blogs that review e-books.
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.
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 Writer
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.