A Writer’s Toolbox (Part 2)

This is a three-part post.

The first focuses on software and websites that offer Software as a Service. The second is focused on people, the third on building a WordPress site.

People and Groups

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, (SFWA)
runs a semi-annual mentoring program. I was fortunate to have a mentor for the first 3 months of 2023. It’s not just for members (I’m an Associate Member, the lowest level), and anyone can apply, not just science fiction  or fantasy writers. (There’s a large romance community within SFWA).

I used to be a member of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA), but it didn’t compare to the SFWA, so I’ve let that lapse. I know next to nothing about the Society of Authors, perhaps someone here knows about them? I understand that they’re a good ally.

Brandon Sanderson is one of the best-known active fantasy authors. He was also a lecturer at Brigham Young University. All of his lectures are on YouTube. It’s a lot, but if you have time, they can be very informative.

Writing Excuses is a podcast I mentioned elsewhere. It was created by the aforementioned Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal (current President of the SFWA) among others and is in season 18. Each episode is about 15 minutes long. it’s fun and informative, and develops a real sense of community as you listen to it. If you wish, there’s writing prompts at the end of each lesson. I found seasons 6-13 to be very beneficial.

Janice Hardy runs a website called Fiction University. They dissect craft, focussing on what does and doesn’t work. They also occasionally post writing prompts where you can post your effort for feedback. 

Need some motivation to write, or at least an external goal?

Jane Friedman‘s newsletter is considered a must-read in the publishing world, and it’s free.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is a free challenge to join, every November. You’ll be assigned a team, based on geography, and you’ll each be challenged to complete 50,000 words in one month (Making the goal isn’t as important as attempting). Of note, participants often get real discounts on software like Scrivener, Plottr, Atticus, etc. If you’re looking to form a writing group that’s all local to you, this can be a great way to find writers.

They’ve also added Camp NaNoWriMo, a July run of the same program.

As you get further in your writing career, you might want to pay attention to the following sites. 

Victoria Strauss’ Writers Beware (sponsored by the SFWA) helps writers avoid scammers trying to separate you from your money. 

The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) is a very helpful organisation (I’m a member) that vets service suppliers (like editors) and will also give you advice on any publishing contract you’re offered. When Disney started underpaying writers, and withholding royalties, ALLi and SFWA were on the front line raising awareness in the media and hiring lawyers to pressure Disney into honouring its contractual obligations.

At some point, you’re probably going to want to build a newsletter so you have some form of direct link to your fans (they subscribe to it). There are many newsletter delivery services that offer a free option if your newsletter is below a certain number of subscribers (usually 1,000).. Mailerlite, Convertkit, and Mailchimp are the ones usually recommended. If you have money to burn, Constant Contact is great (I used it for a client). A friend swears by Email Octopus, but I’d never heard of it.

BookFunnel will help you find readers for your newsletter, and help give them a digital gift. BookFunnel works well with most if not all of the newsletter services mentioned above.

Draft2Digital and its subsidiary, Books2Read are very helpful in distributing and selling books, if you self-publish.

Additions from friends in the writing community:

As well as Email Octopus, my friend recommends “a great book on newsletters, Newsletter Ninja by Tammi LaBrecque.”

David Gaughran has an email list, a series of classes on advertising and many books on creating a fan base, and how to work with Amazon, Bookbub, etc, and overall thoughts on marketing. 

The annual Inkers Conference ( both virtual and in person). This is a writing conference that provides tons of topics like craft, marketing, etc. You can then watch all the sessions at your leisure for three years post event as they are all filmed and posted. This is also a very active community on facebook. You will also get invited to some free one-off sessions.

The Editorial Freelancers Association is where you can search for a professional editor.

That’s it for Part 2. Go to Part 1. Go to Part 3.