Welcome to the world of book building. I was a blogger for five years before I worked up the courage to try novel length pieces. I wish I’d tried sooner. One of the biggest hurdles to writers breaking into the industry is the sheer volume of options and opinions that are in constant evolution. Where to begin? Do I look for agents or publishers or hybrids or *gulp* just do it all myself?
This page holds a selection of puzzle pieces for you to try on for size. Where ever you are in your journey as a writer, one of these resources will get you to the next level.
Sit down, relax, and explore the resources that helped me get going. Because everyone learns in a different way, I’ve got audio, video, social media, and reading materials lined up. In-person options are finally here again for you extroverted networkers out there.
And please reach out if you’ve got questions, found another to add to this list, or just want to chat writing. It’s a lonely job but an industry full of encouraging, enthusiastic, fun folks who lift each other up. My personal philosophy is that the world can’t have too many books in it. It’s not a competition, it’s a community.
Every single day.
Tools of the Trade
- ProWritingAid (affiliate link)
No one writes a perfect sentence the first time through. When it comes to edits, you can’t have too many tools in your toolbox. You can run anything through PWA from emails to novels, and depending on your needs, will really drill down into your grammar and style and help you polish it. They offer a week for free so you can try it out.
- Amazon Kindle Unlimited (affiliate link)
If you write books, you read books. It’s that simple. I was never a fan of ebooks until I started making them, and now they are a large part of both my research and my relaxation time. This service puts all the books at your fingertips without creating an avalanche in your living room. Try it free for two months.
I use this writing tool for everything, novels to notes. I write my books directly into it and export them in different formats, depending on the project. I learned the system as I went, as it’s easy to search each “how to” step, but you could also set aside some time and enjoy their “Literature & Latte” tutorials. They offer a free 30 day trial.
- I write in Scrivener and love it, but there are alternatives: Novlr, Plotti, or The Novel Factory. You can always use Word or Google Docs, too. Evernote integrates with them. yWriter works with Windows and Ulysses works with Mac.
- I use ProWritingAid and love it, but there are alternatives: Grammarly, Autocrat, or Hemingway Editor.
- Cover Design: Reedsy.com, fiverr.com, Thumbtack, etc have professionals who can do any of these author tasks for you, including ghostwrite your book! **insert totally conflicted opinions here**
- Formatting: Vellum only works with Mac. Atticus works with both. Draft2Digital and Smashwords merged this March and hopefully will continue the free formatting service in addition to distribution.
- Marketing: k-Lytics or Publisher Rocket. See powerhouse Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur or Derek Doepker.
- Newsletters: MailerLite, Mailchimp, or ConvertKit. See powerhouse Nick Stephenson at Your First 10K Readers and Newsletter Ninja Tammi Labrecque.
- Author Website: WordPress.org (WP.com is the free version, WP.org is the paid) or Wix. Some just want a landing page (free in your newsletter software) and others want to build an online store with Shopify or WooCommerce.
- Find Beta readers: Scribophile or the Facebook Group below…
- Find someone to critique your manuscript and do the same in turn: Critique Circle
- Shelf Awareness Pro: industry news, reviews, job posts, etc. focused on US independent bookstores
- Fiction University: Janice Hardy’s writer’s tips on craft, events, news, and more
- BookReporter.com: weekly industry update packed with info
- Publisher’s Marketplace: so. much. Try not to get overwhelmed in here.
- Independent Publisher: for independent publishers, booksellers, and authors that covers the latest trends in the publishing industry
- Publishing Trends: news, opinions, and stats in the changing world of book publishing
- Publisher’s Weekly: full of international industry info and BookLifeReport is dedicated to all things self-publishing
- Career Authors: “write. sell. repeat.” Craft, marketing, publishing, genre specific, and news categories
- The Hot Sheet: is the paid subscription for Jane Friedman’s market analysis, industry news, author earnings, trending topics, but she has a couple of free newsletters too
- FFS Media: Claire Taylor. She podcasts with Bryan Cohen and works holistically and her newsletter/blog (they are more and more the same thing) is authentic.
- Baker’s Dozen: Lisa Poisso, editor and story coach, with a dozen hot tips
- Your favorite authors should have a newsletter you can sign up for and will almost always respond if you reply to them with a personal comment or question!
- Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, by Mignon Fogarty
Grammar Girl is produced weekly from the United States and, at less than ten minutes to half an hour, delivers quick relief from those random burning questions. Is it ‘flaunt’ or ‘flout’? Why do X and O stand for hugs and kisses? From punctuation to style to spelling, you never know what’s coming next.
- I Should Be Writing, by Mur Lafferty
Mur serves her podcasts from North Carolina. This one runs fifteen minutes or less and discusses the bumps in the road faced by all writers. Another podcast, Ditch Diggers, co-hosted with Matt Wallace, is real talk (read: adult language) about getting your work done and the bills paid and runs a half to a full hour.
- Writing Class Radio, Allison Langer and Andrea Askowitz
An invitation into a writing classroom where you can grow as a writer through storytelling, these ladies come to you from the United States and pack each episode with discussions on true, personal stories they love. Equal parts “heart” and “art”: the truth in a story and the craft of writing, writing class is where we tell our truth.
- Writing Excuses, by multiple hosts
This podcast comes out each Sunday from the United States and runs between 15-25 minutes per episode because, in their words, “you’re in a hurry and we’re not that smart!” A fast-paced tutorial for writers by writers, topics range from publishing to world-building so you can become a better fiction writer.
- Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach, by Ann Kroeker
Content from a writing coach, Ann’s podcast brings you solid resources and the inspiration to become more curious, experimental, creative, and productive in your craft. At three episodes per month, produced from the United States, you get bite-sized boosts in fifteen minutes or less.
- Helping Writers Become Authors, by Kim M Weiland
Kim’s podcast is produced from Nebraska and contains practical advice for writers. Each episode runs twenty minutes or so and addresses topics like characters, POVs, scenes, structure, discipline, and common writer mistakes.
- The Creative Penn, by Joanna Penn
Full of interviews, information, and inspiration, Joanna delivers her knowledge from the UK each Monday. Her hour-long podcasts are packed with “How To” episodes, from pitching your book to writing fight scenes, and her intriguing guests help out.
- The Prolific Writer, by Ryan Pelton
Write often, write fast, and write well. A podcast that helps you get it written. This weekly dose of practicality talks about processes and strategies for writing, publishing, and marketing your books by interviewing the most prolific writers in the industry. Learn tips, tricks, and trends in the publishing world.
- The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity and Neuroscience, by Kelton Reid
From Colorado, Kelton studies the habits, habitats, and brains of a wide spectrum of renowned writers to learn their secrets of productivity and creativity. In each weekly episode, you will spend a half to full hour discovering a myriad of ways to avoid writer’s block and keep the ink flowing.
- Create If Writing, by Kirsten Oliphant
Kirsten is a mom of five podcasting from Texas. With two episodes a month that run about half an hour each, she brings you inspirational interviews, practical “how-to”s, and killer platform building “without being smarmy”. Her podcasts help writers, bloggers, and creatives grow online.
- Writer Unboxed, by a variety of contributors, including bestselling authors and industry professionals.
Dedicated to publishing empowering, positive, and provocative ideas about the craft and business of fiction. WU is known for its robust comment section, where the conversation further evolves with the input of community members.
- The Write Practice, founder Joe Bunting lives in Atlanta, Georgia
Practical, relevant, focused, intentional, this blog helps you get words down and practice your craft every day for the rest of your life.
- NaNoWriMo, various contributors
Yes, National Novel Writing Month is supposedly held in November, but they have writing events all year long. A fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing, you won’t find a bigger, more enthusiastic community that insists…you can do it!
Reporting and consulting on the publishing industry, you’ll see Jane appear at writing conferences and teach about the industry in places like the Writers Circle. Amidst rapid change in the industry, writers need clear and honest guidance to make the best choices for their careers.
- Writers Digest, various contributors
Writers helping writers improve their craft, achieve their goals and recognize their dreams—since 1920. This blog covers a lot of territory and it’s worth digging deeper to find something you are particularly curious about.
- The Creative Penn, by Joanna Penn
Worth listing again. Writing, self-publishing, book marketing, making a living with your writing. She helps get you from “writer” to “author entrepreneur”.
Ignore their advertising and take advantage of their knowledge. When you are ready to hire your first editor, you’ll find a good one at Reedsy.com.
- Writer Beware, SFWA
Avoid scams! Lists of sham and bogus and otherwise heinous crimes against authors.
- David Gaughran
The Irishman personally responsible for every wild leap of faith I’ve made so far in Indie publishing. He’s fun, he’s funny, he’s smart. Browse him up.
- The Book Doctors, Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry
This wacky married couple is dedicated to helping writers get their books published. Successfully. Known for their “Pitchapalooza” event and frequent guests at writerly events, they are a fun way to get expert advice on the author endeavor.
- Alexa Donne
Short sassy boot camp videos that cover a range of topics. Tell me how you feel after this particular episode because Alexa burst EVERY SINGLE bubble I had. In a great way. She’s just downright fun to watch, but don’t let it stop you from picking up your pen and writing when she’s done.
- Abbie Emmons
One smart cookie, one book out and more on the way, Abbie is a sunshiny cup of encouraging explanations for all the things.
- Master Classes… really!
Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates. Be still my heart. Pricey but personal, private and at your own pace. If you’d like to hear it from the top, they are here to teach it to you.
- TED Talks are a source of informed inspiration from leaders in the industry.
- Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula is pricey, intense, current, and covers all the brass tacks.
- The Indie Author Mindset, Adam Croft
For authors who choose to self publish, a wealth of community knowledge.
- 20Booksto50K, Michael Anderle
For self-publishing authors looking to expand, grow, and make a full time well-paid profession from their books. “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
- Wide for the Win, Erin Wright
A group for indie and hybrid authors who are WIDE (ie, not KU exclusive) and want to find other authors to talk shop with.
- Friends & Fiction, Mary Kay Andrews, Mary Alice Monroe, Patti Callahan Henry, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Kristin Harmel
Like a FB Book Club, because writers are always readers, am I right? “We discuss books, writing, and invite fabulous authors to join us. All while highlighting one independent bookstore each week.”
- Writers Helping Writers, Cathrine Agnes Simone
An international, very active, friendly, peer-to-peer advice/support group.
- Ask a Book Editor
Writing a book? Have a question? Ask an Editor! Post questions you have about the writing process and have them answered by an editor.
- 10 Minute Novelists Group
An international group devoted to helping time-crunched writers develop the habit of writing, learn the craft, and build their careers in small increments of time. Fun features like Tuesday #BuddyDay and Wednesday #AuthorHappiness chats.
- Beta Readers and Critique Partners
This group is about helping each other to be better writers. You can offer to be a member’s beta reader/critic partner, but never as a paid service. This site is FREE only.
- Calls for Submissions (Poetry, Fiction, Art)
An easier and more effective group for calls, all in one easy-to-follow place. If you’re looking for publication opportunities, it’s worth looking into. (There are also places like Submittable/Submishmash)
- Word Nerds Unite, Gabriela Pereira at DIY MFA
A do-it-yourself alternative to a masters in writing, part virtual writing retreats, and part motivating fun rolled into one.
Communities & Events
- San Diego Writer’s Ink, my local watering hole for classes, events, and camaraderie.
- MeetUp, to find your local writing groups meeting in cafes.
- Writer’s Relief, to find local writing groups that meet in libraries (contact yours, this list isn’t complete).
- San Diego Writers and Editors Guild, a support group that serves professionals as well as novices. They run the gamut of every type and genre: poets and playwrights; novelists and storytellers; journalists; biographers; and writers of fables. A collaborative partner in the larger San Diego writing community.
- Authors Guild Foundation provides advocacy efforts and valuable resources for America’s working writers, including legal advice, networking community, and industry news. They sponsor great webinars and you don’t have to be a member to watch! Sign up for their newsletter to be in the loop.
- Since covid, some conferences, festivals, and author events have become available to global audiences online. Sometimes, you can watch recordings free on YouTube. But if you’re looking for an excuse to travel, Google up a writer’s retreat and treat yourself.
- Support your local bookstores ❤️