Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Most Helpful Websites For Writers

I can’t take the credit for compiling this list of the Most Helpful Websites for Authors. It forms part of a post on the Global English Editing blog, which was sent to me this last week.

But having read through even a small number of the 120 recommended websites, it should be bookmarked on every writer’s computer. The resources listed here are fascinating, and useful, although they could be a gift to the procrastinators among us!

The sites are listed in categories, to make searching easier, and I’ve picked out just one honourable mention in each.

Helpful Tips on Writing

The first is on the Writers Unboxed site, in this case to a blog written by our own Susan Spann, about the nitty gritty of making sure your contract has a reversion clause that means you can actually get your rights back if and when the book goes out of print.

General Resources For Writers

This blog on Author Media is about the seven ways author websites can irritate readers, and what to do about it. Read and inwardly digest. The Author Media site concentrates on online publishing and marketing, and has a library of WordPress plug-ins to help boost your site’s performance.

Be A Successful Freelance Writer

Cathy’s Comps And Calls blog is about opportunities for freelance writers, including competitions, calls for submissions with deadlines, and calls for submissions with no known deadlines. She publishes a list at the start of every month.

Publishing Your Work

Helping Writers Become Authors is a blog that specialises in teaching writers how to structure their stories to make them more saleable. This is a link to a piece about 15 places to find your next beta reader.


Jon Morrow’s Boost Blog Traffic blog is aimed to help bloggers get their voice heard in an over-saturated marketplace. This particular link goes to a blog about creative places for opt-in forms that will supercharge your sign-ups.

Grammar Tips

Daily Grammar has 488 lessons, as well as grammar tips and exercises.

Writing Groups

The 1st 10 pages site offers writers the chance to anonymously post the first ten pages of their work to receive ‘honest critique from established literary voices. This link goes to a bonus blog analysing the first ten pages of the movie PAN and asking why it didn’t live up to its premise.

Authors To Follow

Doesn’t seem fair to single out any one of the great writers listed, including JK Rowling, Nicholas Sparks and Stephen King, but they are all worth inspecting.

Writers As Business Owners

Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn website is one I’m familiar with. Joanna is a wonderful resource for established or newbie authors hoping for advice on all things connected to the business of writing.

Literary Agents

There are no individual agents listed or recommended, although there are links to associations or sites where you can log your queries or find out how long you might be expected to wait for a response. I found this Pub Rants blog very interesting on The #1 Reason We Only Requested 216 Sample Materials in 2015.

Writing Associations

Of the associations listed, I’m in International Thriller Writers so can recommend them. And it’s free to join!

Protect Yourself

This sounds like the kind of heading Charlie Fox would be very interested in, but there is no advice about how to wrestle a potential publisher to the ground and put a lock on them here. Of those listed, I’d mention the Society of Authors, who provide invaluable contract advice for authors.

Jobs And Marketplaces

I can’t give any particular recommendations in this section, as I haven’t used any of the resources mentioned, but it’s a list of places to find freelance or writing work, so worth checking out if you are in the freelance game.

Fun For Writers

Of these, I have always loved The Bulwer-Lytton contest for the worst opening lines, named in honour of that wordsmith extraordinaire, Edward Bulwer-Lytton:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” — Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

Do you have any useful websites you’ve discovered on your literary travels? Ones you keep returning to? For myself, I’d add this Random Name Generator website. Always useful if you want to pick a name for a character who’s going to do something nasty.

This week’s Word of the Week is undine, or ondine, which means a category of elemental beings associated with water, which includes limnads, mermaids, naiades, nymphs, and nereides. They are usually portrayed as female and although they resemble humans they lack a soul, so to achieve immortality they must acquire one by marrying a human. Of course if the man is unfaithful to the undine, he’ll die.


  1. Lovely stuff, Zoë, thanks!

    As for reversion clauses, I would go so far as to recommend putting in a specific duration of the contract/licensing, because today (with e-books and print on demand) publishers can keep books "in print" forever with little or no cost to them. I've heard respected authors recommend 10 years. That's not to say that the contract can't be extended at that point, if both parties agree, but that gives the author the ability to recover the rights to publish their work elsewhere if they're unhappy with the current publisher.

    I'm awakened most nights by my ondine, and usually can't get back to sleep until I arise and pay homage to the nearest standing body of water (the W.C.).

    1. Hi EvKa. Slightly more information than required about standing over the nearest body of water ... but thank you anyway!

      Yes, either limited-time licences, or having the digital rights revert as soon as the book goes physically out of print is preferable.

    2. Actually, I sit. Less likelihood of missing the body of water in the dark... Yes, I know, TMI.

      As for "physically out of print," that's no longer a useful limiting factor on a contract, because the publisher can legally claim that it's physically available via print-on-demand, even though they're not physically printing in the normal fashion or trying to get the book into bookstores, etc. As technology changes, businesses (of course, writing IS a business) have to change or they'll get their tail caught in the slamming door...

    3. It seems to this objective observer, Zoë, that a certain commenter's obsession with "reversion" is tied to fears of reverting from his soulless online status to ondine, and facing risks of the sort certain US Presidential Candidates now confront with their "ads." Just a thought.

      Thanks for the terrific bibliography.

    4. Hi EvKa. You're right, a lot of publishers are tending to use POD forms of printing, rather than holding large stocks of printed books.

      I shall be very careful to keep my tail out of any doors, slamming or no.

      And yeah, my friend, TMI ... Definitely TMI ...

    5. I'm sure I don't know what you mean, Jeff ... :-)

    6. This subject objects to your observation, sir, and I'm reverting to a sense of revulsion at any thought of being associated with any aspect of US Presidential Candidates. But thanks for thinking. It's the next best thing to waving your arms when the vultures are circling...

    7. Did you have any particular US Presidential Candidate in mind, EvKa ...?

    8. Heh. A surfeit of choices... It's like being surrounded by two or three families of skunks, nowhere to run.

    9. I feel you're being a little unfair ... to the skunks. A friend had a de-scented one as a pet when she was a child, and even named her first son after him!

    10. Oh, well, de-scented, sure. If you were to remove the tongues from all of the Presidential candidates I wouldn't mind them nearly so much either...

  2. Thank you Zoe, posted it forward to my writers group!

  3. Thanks Zoe, I can use these!! And I have been advising an aspiring author. After I send him this, he won't need me anymore!!!

    BTW, anyone who wants to hear a undine sing, can find one here:

    1. Thanks, Annamaria. Loved the video - sublime singing.

      And I'm sure it will take a lot more than a list of useful resources to render you obsolete, m'dear!

  4. Great links, Zoë - and thank you for the shout-out :) I just became a regular part of the Writer Unboxed team this past month, and I'm delighted to be on board with such an amazing group of writers--both there AND here!

    A lot of the links you listed are on my regular reads list, and I can't wait to check out the others!

    1. Some of them were new to me, too, Susan. Lots of fascinating reading material. Good luck with your new Unboxed venture.

  5. Super useful and informative Zoe, thanks! I'm becoming a Writer Unboxed reader Susan and so good to see you there!

    1. You're welcome, Cara. I shall be returning to lots of these sites again in the future.