Today’s guest post is by Jeanna Bray.
Apart from your desire to be an author and determination on this thorny path, what makes a successful writer? According to veterans of the industry, it’s lots of reading, writing, and a supportive community. The sites from today’s selection can provide you with all the three. So, without further ado and in no particular order, let me introduce 18 worthy websites for writers:
This site is a watchdog community organized by the Alliance of Independent Authors and aiming to protect self-publishing writers from untrustworthy publishers. The site has a collection of reviews on various publishers, with rating scores ranging from “excellent” to “watchdog advisory.” The authors themselves report dishonest publishers and regularly update their base. However, the site’s usefulness isn’t restricted to that.
There is also a blog with loads of advice on self-publishing (obviously!), audiobook creation, inspiration, and everything that can be interesting to an indie author.
Joel Friedlander is a graphic designer with an extensive background in book design and advertising. His site is a treasure-trove of articles on book marketing, self-publishing, and, of course, book design, including book covers, typography basics, and text layout.
His series “E-book cover design awards” is particularly instructive, since every nominated book cover is dissected with respect to genre aesthetics, intended audience, and all the minute details that can make a difference between a bestseller and obscure title no one notices. Even if you don’t create covers yourself, it’s always good to know what to look for when you outsource the task to a designer.
Apart from valuable advice, Friedlander shares free book cover templates, book launch toolkit, and media kit for authors to optimize the marketing of your book.
Typos are the worst. I have yet to meet a writer who after endless rounds of editing, sweating over every word, and rearranging sentences, could be 100 percent sure their text was absolutely typo-free. Because it never is. Authors are notorious for their typo blindness because, by the third draft, they know the text like the back of their hand, and familiarization handicaps your ability to pick out mistakes. That’s why we need editors—or at least editing services that will comb their text for misspelled words and other pesky oopsies.
Paper Help is a service that specializes in writing and editing of all sorts of papers, mostly academic, but if you need a second pair of eyes to go through your manuscript before its debut, it can be a nice lower-costing compromise between literary editor and doing it yourself.
Of course, to make your editing less of a struggle, it’s better to make fewer mistakes in the first place. That’s why one has to have a go-to place for all things grammar. Mignon Fogarty’s blog is just the right sort of resource for that.
Grammar Girl is a section on the Quick and Dirty Tips portal devoted to everything that a writer needs to know about spelling and grammar. Moreover, here you can read your daily dose of nicely summed-up linguistic wisdom building your competency bit by bit and having lots of fun in the process. From what is the correct plural form for “Mr.” or “Ms.” to ways of showing sarcasm in texts—I bet you don’t know everything.
Okay, with grammar off the table, you still need to edit your drafts with regard to consistency, adverbs, repetition, readability, useless filler-words, etc. Here is where AutoCrit comes in. This is a word processor for manuscripts with editing features and guidance based on real-world publishing standards. AutoCrit analyzes your text and gives recommendations on how to improve it in areas that are often problematic, such as poor dialogue, use of adverbs, and relying on clichés. This tool has subscription plans with more robust professional features, but they also offer a free option with essentials that every author needs.
Plus, the site has a collection of articles with tips about the craft and the business of writing, from adding depth to your characters to DIY proofreading techniques.
Janice Hardy, a teen-fantasy novelist and a founder of the site, with the help of fellow writers and guest contributors, amassed more than 2,500 articles on fiction writing. They deal with every stage of penning a novel—from brainstorming ideas and developing a story to self-publishing your finished opus. There is also advice on motivation and productivity, together with inspiring success stories. Quite a curriculum!
Starting in 2020, the creators of the website plan to organize workshops where they will introduce some practice to go with the theory. Still, the scope of the material on the website is impressive as is. Moreover, it is comprehensively organized by relevant topics, making Fiction University a true writing encyclopedia and a go-to place for anyone who is starting their writing career or simply wishes to improve their skills.
You know what makes you a better writer? More writing. This simple site has just one goal, and that is helping you to build a good habit of writing every day.
You have probably heard about the technique called “morning pages.” Morning pages are three pages of text (or 750 words) that you write, preferably in the morning, to get everything distracting out of your head and shift focus on putting thoughts into words. With gamification devices like badges and competitiveness (via anonymous statistics), 750 words encourages you to stick to a schedule and write those pages every day. It’s minimalistic and private—no one will see your work but you.
Marketing strategy is often overlooked by self-publishing authors, but even the best books don’t sell themselves. This website has some tips on how to prepare the launch and promote your book when it’s already out and about. The blog section is full of detailed how-to guides on working with beta readers, coming up with promotion strategy, boosting sales via various social media channels, partnering up with influencers and more.
Build Book Buzz has just the right ratio of figures and statistics vs. insider tips on how to build an online presence and where to find readers who love writing reviews.
With writing games and exercises galore, Language Is a Virus makes a perfect playground for words enthusiasts. It never fails to spark imagination and get your creative juices flowing. From the prompt of the day greeting you on the homepage to avant-garde techniques of Jack Kerouac and Salvador Dali, this website is committed to getting you writing. Poem visualization, surrealistic word definitions, generating reverse poetry from your text, or adding your line to a never-ending story by thousands of other writers—not one bizarrely mesmerizing activity here will leave you indifferent. So next time you feel blocked, don’t waste your time—head here straight away.
Six-Word Memoirs is a charming little project with a big goal. It aims to inspire the participants to get to the essence of who they are and what matters most. To do that, they have to answer some pretty existential questions in six worlds—no more, no less.
This can be quite a challenge even for experienced writers who think they are very good with words. Sci-fi and fantasy stories in six words, seismic shifts in six words, your personal paradise in six words—a nice exercise in eloquence and one of the best writer’s block remedies I’ve seen.
This Medium-based community with a telltale name is a diverse resource for writers by writers. A piece of advice on any situation under the sun, from writer’s block to existential crisis and burnout … including the advice to take online advice with a pinch of salt (very meta). Everything is specifically tailored for a fellow writer like yourself.
There are also some secrets of the craft shared here, from where it is best to share your writing to why digression can sometimes be a boon for your story. Anyone with something to say can submit a post, and the community is quite diverse and supportive.
At first glance, this blog seems geared more toward bloggers and freelancers, yet it has much to offer to anyone whose livelihood depends on their writing talent. How to come up with great titles, how to find a critic to improve your text, how to self-publish your book, how to market it, how to hire freelance editor, how to prevent burnout, and other secrets of the craft.
In the tools section, there are ebooks and courses for writing professionals and some handy tools, such as editing apps, invoicing software, marketplaces, and communities for freelance writers.
For those of you who have long been creating content for a living but never dipped your toes into long-form prose, this is a perfect boot camp. Award-winning author K. M. Weiland, in bite-sized blog posts, tells how to create a compelling character with a story arc, what mistakes authors most often make, how to make readers love every page of your novel, and why even movies falling short of our expectations is always due to a bad writing problem.
If for some reason a blog is not your preferred format, there are instructional ebooks, vlogs, and a podcast.
In her blog, podcast, free email writing course, a workbook on writing, and a plethora of articles, Kristen Kieffer shares her own experience as an author and helps other aspiring novelists to avoid mistakes that she made while writing her first book.
From fighting self-doubt and finding inspiration to the subtleties of writing intimate and fighting scenes, Kristen gives actionable and straightforward advice that any writer can use, whichever genre they write in.
If you want to find a ghostwriting job or are just curious to know more about this particular specialization, Association of Ghostwriters has answers to your questions. Although it has paid membership plans, lots of valuable information is free for grabs. For example, the blog section offers advice on writing that may come in handy for any writer, ghost or no ghost.
How to write a memoir, what to do when your work on a big project slows down, and why ghostwriting might be an intermediate step between freelancing and getting a good publishing deal on your own book, the Association of Ghostwriters has it covered.
NaNoWriMo (an acronymic for National Novel-Writing Month) is an epic creative-writing event in which participants work toward writing a 50,000-word novel within thirty days of November. Although professional writers are ambiguous about this marathon, it can work for some authors who understand how speed drafts fit into the entire writing process and need a kick to get them writing.
The NaNoWriMo website was created especially for the event. Here you can track your progress, set milestones, and get pep talks and support from other writers in an ever-growing community. There are online and offline events that help you finish your novel. Whether you are a seasoned writer or an enthusiastic beginner, NaNoWriMo has something for you: inspirational posts year-round, a company of fellow contestants, tips, tools, resources, and encouragement. Just remember, if your word count is lower and you don’t get that badge, you are still a writer. It’s only a game!
Every writer needs feedback to improve, and it’s always better when this feedback is detailed, informed, and comes from someone who knows what they are talking about. Better still if you get this feedback before you publish your work and start receiving bad reviews from underwhelmed readers. That’s what beta-readers and writing workshops are for.
At Scribophile you will find a supportive community of writers like yourself. Here, they are willing to give you feedback to improve your writing with their critique instead of tearing you down. If you are still tentative, there are writing tutorials and publishing tips available without even signing in. Do clichés and passive voice actually have a place in your prose? How to start writing poetry if you’ve never done it before? Come and have a look.
Mark Dawson is an author who makes a living by self-publishing. On Self Publishing Formula, he shares his journey with other writers who want to take this path. Blog posts with valuable tips, resources, and guides are available for everyone, and there are courses you can subscribe to (either free, paid, or limited-access). Moreover, together with James Blatch, Mark cohosts a weekly free podcast interviewing best-selling indie authors, successful debutants from traditional publishing, and industry insiders to shed light on the process of publishing and promoting a book independently.
What blogs or websites do you find helpful for your writing? Have you benefited from any on this list? Share in the comments.
Jeanna Bray is a writer and a tutor, passionate about art and poetry. Like many people, she dreams to publish a book sometime, but for now she helps other people to do that. Connect with Jeanna on Twitter and Medium.