Links: Tools of the Trade

Sites to help you get your work noticed.

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Aerogramme Writer’s Studio
I only recently discovered this site, and have been hitting it as much as possible. I found it with a search for short-story contests; they’ve got a pretty lengthy guide to contests in 2017, which also provided a number of short-story markets where I might submit in the future. Definitely check this one out.

AgentQuery offers one of the largest searchable database of literary agents on the web—a treasure trove of reputable, established literary agents seeking writers just like you. And it’s free (not because there’s a catch, but simply because not enough things in this world are free).

Association of Authors’ Representatives
A nonprofit professional organization of over 400 agents who work with both book authors and playwrights. Members must meet the highest standards and subscribe to a Canon of Ethics (which includes no reading fees!). I use this site all the time — not all agents are listed here. Just because an agent isn’t listed doesn’t mean they’re not trustworthy; however, membership in the AAR guarantees a certain amount of honesty. Plus AAR listings offer helpful information on member agents, such as what types of work they represent and how to contact them.

Association of Writers and Writing Programs
From their “About” page: “AWP provides support, advocacy, resources, and community to nearly 50,000 writers, 550 college and university creative writing programs, and 150 writers’ conferences and centers. Our mission is to foster literary achievement, advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, and serve the makers, teachers, students, and readers of contemporary writing.” Membership-based, but their site has a number of useful tools for casual visitors, such as a search program to help find conferences, university programs and contests. They also offer their own major event each Spring with over 15,000 attendees. More than just a conference.

Authors Publish Magazine
From their “About” statement: “We’re dedicated to helping authors build their writing careers. We send you reviews of publishers accepting submissions, and articles to help you become a successful, published, author. Everything is free and delivered via email.” Newsletters are sent in an e-mail format. Lots of helpful info.

Black Holes
A list that charts average response times on paying markets. Mostly geared toward science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Check before you submit so you know what kind of wait time to expect. And don’t forget to report your own results!

Blog Ideas Generator
I’ve seen ideas similar to this concept in joke memes on social media, like fantasy name generator, and pirate name generator (Arrrr!). This one might actually be useful. Run out of ideas for your blog? Try it out. Web-based. Also sales and marketing tools available on the site. Free for a basic account.

Creative Jobs for English Majors — Helpful statistics on writing careers like Authors/Writers, Editors, and Journalistic Reporters. Maryville University is probably looking to enroll paying students; but this information is useful whether or not you enroll. (Thanks, Grace!)

Critters Workshop
This site began life as Critters, an on-line workshop/critique group for serious Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror writers, then grew up into a set of workshops for every other kind of artistic endeavor. What that means is… A bunch of writers (or artists, or creators) get together, review each others’ work, and tell the creator how they felt about their piece. The ultimate goal of Critters is to help improve your craft, not only by having your work dissected by other members, but also by learning to dissect your own work (by, of course, dissecting others). The value of the latter is often overlooked by beginners. There’s no charge to get involved, other than a commitment of your time; check out the site for details.

From their website: “Duotrope is an established, award-winning resource for writers and artists. We help you save time finding publishers for your work, so you can focus on creating. Our market listings are up to date and full of information you won’t find elsewhere. We also offer submission trackers, custom searches, deadline calendars, statistical reports, and extensive interviews.” Site offers a free trial, but there is a membership fee. Seems worth it! They also offer a free Twitter feed of calls for submissions.

Every Writer
A hodge-podge of links and listings of magazines seeking submissions in many markets. Not all pay; some links lead to defunct magazines, but most I surfed were valid. Lots to see if you click around.

Freelancer’s Ultimate Guide — A lot of good information for someone looking to go full-time with their writing, specifically in the free-lance world. How-tos, cheat-sheets, ups/downs, setting prices and more. Note that this blog post is on the Website Planet site, where most everything is either a fee-based service or focused on driving you to use one of their fee-based services. That said, Website Planet’s services might just be the very thing you’ve been looking for. And if there is one article on writing, there may be others–if you’re willing to explore and dig. Good luck!

(From their “About” page) FundsforWriters is an online resource for writers. You can be a thirty-year veteran or a part-time wannabe, but here at FundsforWriters (FFW), we consider you a writer none-the-less. We emphasize finding money to make writing a realistic career. Of course, you’d write anyway. That’s the way of a writer. Other websites provide guidance on how to write, how to query, how to format manuscripts, and so on. We give you direction on the funding streams. We focus on markets, competitions, awards, grants, publishers, agents, and jobs for your writing abilities, with motivation chucked in.

Grammarly — There’s a lot on this site for writers of all kinds. Blog posts on grammar, style, punctuation, professionalism, technical devices and more; a grammar handbook with helpful tips on grammar, punctuation, mechanics, techniques, and style; a plagarism checker; a grammar checker; and more. Some is free; some is premium (which I presume is fee-based). Very helpful resource.

The (Submission) Grinder — The Grinder is a submission tracker and market database for writers of fiction and poetry (non-fiction writers, we would love to hear what you need!). Use our extensive and powerful search engine to find a home for your work. We hope the site is useful as it is, but we are also still actively developing new features. We believe the value of our product lies in its availability and as such The Grinder is and always will be free to all users for all features.

Hampton Roads Writers: Where Characters Connect
This Southeast Virginia group offers a number of resources for new and experienced writers. Show and Grow gatherings, regular workshops and annual conferences combine with their online resources into a useful networking asset. I’ve been a member for several years and though I haven’t availed myself of their reguular resources as much as I should have, I always attend the conferences. With hundreds of attendees from all over the country, best-selling authors headlining the plenary sessions, and helpful breakout sessions–not to mention the contests and opportunities for critique and agent pitch sessions–it’s money well spent.

Hemingway Editor
A writing tool that edits for you — not just grammar and punctuation. HE highlights adverbs, passive voice, dense sentences where meaning is unclear, and more. Free for use in the web-based interface; fee to purchase desktop version. Free upgrades.

How to Deconstruct Back Cover Copy to Write Your Own Blurb
If you’ve tried to write your own 2- to 3-paragraph synopsis in a query letter, you know just how hard it can be to boil your entire novel down to a few meaningful and captivating lines. This page offers excellent advice with doodles and outlines on exactly what it says: using examples of books you already know to show how blurb-writing is done. Part of the Better Novel Project, on whose page you’ll finds lots more useful stuff.

Insecure Writers Support Group
Their mission statement: “The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a website media business with affiliates to enhance our service to visitors. We are a home for writers in all stages; from unpublished to bestsellers. Our goal is to offer assistance and guidance. We want to help writers overcome their insecurities, and by offering encouragement we are creating a community of support.” Blog, monthly newsletter featuring articles from names in the industry, Facebook page, their own Twitter Pitch Party (#IWSGPit), an online community of writers, free guides and articles on the site, and much more.

Just Publishing Advice
Here you’ll find a whole collection of helpful information about self-publishing, writing, editing, marketing, and everything else a writer needs to know. Articles on grammar, blogging, making money at writing, how-to guides, and so much more are included. It’s all free, and it’s all quite useful. Easy to get lost here.

Luminary Writer’s Database
From their “About” page: “The Writer’s Database is a site for writers to keep track of the titles they’ve written, the markets to which they submit, and the status of each submission. It is designed to help writers manage the business of writing.” You have to sign up to have an account, but there is no charge to do so. Offers other tools, as well, like a blog, widget tools, a market search tool, a word count tracker, and a variety of editing services (*not* free).

Manuscript Wish List — Interviews, helpful hints, and other useful information from and about editors and agents. Also includes agent and/or editor listings updated by the agents/editors themselves and a searchable database where writers can enter the genre and target audience to find agents looking for that specific market. Very cool tool.

The Masters Review
This is also listed on the “Contests” links page; it’s hard to know where to put this, because they offer so much. Their website header says “A platform for emerging writers,” and on the “About” page, it says they are “an online and in print publication celebrating new and emerging writers. We are on the lookout for the best new talent with hopes of publishing stories from writers who will continue to produce great work. We offer critical essays, book reviews by debut authors, contest deadlines, submissions info, and interviews with established authors, all with the hopes of bridging the gap between new and established writers.” Worth bookmarking, or subscribing.

The Most Popular Twitter Pitch Parties
This is a blog that I’ll list on the Blogs page separately in a future upload; but I wanted to put it here, too, because this particular entry lists the most popular Twitter Pitch Parties for writers. What the heck’s a pitch party, you ask? Pitch parties are Twitter events where writers are allowed (nay encouraged) to pitch their manuscript in 280 characters or less. Agents and publishing industry peeps scour Twitter on the day of the pitch and if they “heart” (like) your pitch, you get to query them! There’s more to it, of course. Slush Pile Story’s post gives you some helpful links and tips.

The Muse Writers Center
The Muse Center is a hub of learning activity for local Southeast Virginia residents. Classes range from beginning poetry, fiction and non-fiction to finding and querying an agent to beginning and advanced use of Scrivener software. The Muse also offers gatherings where writers can mingle and network, collaborate, share ideas and encouragement, or just hang out. If you’re a writer in the Hampton Roads area, there’s bound to be something here for you.

Mystery Writers of America
The premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. MWA is dedicated to promoting higher regard for crime writing and recognition and respect for those who write within the genre. The organization provides scholarships for writers, sponsors MWA Literacy programs, sponsors symposia and conferences, presents the Edgar® Awards, and conducts other activities to further a better appreciation and higher regard for crime writing.

Noise Generators
I don’t know about you, but I can’t write in total silence, nor can I write with music playing in the background (especially if there are lyrics in the music). The alternative? Sound generators. There are a number of these out there to create a large variety of background sound to help boost your productivity. Here are a few:
Hipster — Without an account, I can’t see much about this generator, but they do offer a free public demo. Several levels of membership, plus a members-only area.
Noisli — This looks interesting; offers a number of different types of sounds for various purposes, as well as color-changing screen colors for chromotherapy, and a newsletter with other productivity hacks.
MyNoise —  — this is the one I use; can be customized and if you donate, you get special features not available to the free users, such as special noise tracks, the ability to run two tracks at once, and access to hidden pages.

One Look Dictionary Search
Type in a word, site brings up a whole list of dictionaries you can consult. Also offers resources for word origin, similar words, usage examples, popular adjectives, rhymes and more.

One Stop for Writers
One Stop is a library with a collection of references materials on the craft, as well as “one-of-a-kind story and character planning resources” to help writers elevate their work. The librarians are Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman, co-authors of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels, and Lee Powell, creator of Scrivener for Windows, etc. Site resources include all sorts of thesaurus (thesauruses? thesauri?) such as one for emotions, one for character motivations, positive and negative traits, weather, physical features, and a whole lot more. You’ll also find help with story maps, timelines, worldbuilding, idea generators, and much more. One Stop also offers tutorials and lessons, and subscribers can even set up their own workspace on the site. Free registration includes a sampling of all the site has to offer, but for more robust access, you’ll want to subscribe. Plans include 1-month, 6-month, or a full year.

Not only does QueryTracker have a large online databse of agents; they also offer a wealth of tools for the querying writer. Keep track of who you sent what to, and when, and whether those wait times have expired. You don’t have to pay to use the service; but premium membership isn’t all that expensive, and well worth the price. I got my membership for a birthday present and use it all the time to track my queries and set alerts for when deadlines approach. The Tracker will even send you an e-mail reminder! There’s lots to see here. Check it out!

Wow. What an amazing site. Blog posts on topics of interest and most useful to writers of all sorts, FREE e-mail based learning courses, and FREE webinars. The site also includes directories on contests, 200+ short story ideas and writing prompts, book review blogs, book promotion sites, literary magazines, and over 100 creative writing exercises for fiction writers. If it’s industry professionals you’re looking for, Reedsy contracts with editors, designers, publicity experts, marketing consultants and much more. Request a quote online for any service you need. Reedsy is funded in part by the European Union, and has participated in campaigns that raised money to help fund projects like promoting education for girls in Africa and Asia. There’s a lot to see here. Check them out.

The Review Review
No, that’s not a typo. This is a helpful resource for writers who want to submit to magazines. Hosts a search function with great filters to help you find markets targeted to your work. Offers interviews with editors that give inside information, as well as tips and advice. Well worth a bookmark.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
Founded in 1965, SFWA is an organization for published authors and industry professionals in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, and related genres. SFWA membership is open to authors, artists and other industry professionals, including graphic novelists. SFWA is also the organization that presents the prestigious Nebula Award. Resources, blogs, publications, and more.

Science Fiction Space Technology Terms — Only one of a small collection of pages on NASA’s website to help writers get the details correct. This one defines terms often used in science fiction, and how to use them in plausible ways. Other links found on this site include a list of sci-fi particles, early sci-fi spacecraft, space stations in sci-fi, and more.

The Silver Pen — An IRS recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization that encourages and fosters creative writing careers by providing peer review workshops and discussion forums. Four online magazines are listed as Silver Pen publications, accessible through their site. Blogs, links and letters available even if you don’t join, but lots more if you do. Free, though they do accept donations.

Sonar — A manuscript and submissions tracking tool. Downloadable, not web-based. Free to download and use. Written in Net 2.0. Stores file in an XML format. Add markets, works, submissions, etc. Use alongside other databases. Sort, resize, filter. Automatic daily backups.

Twitter Pitch Parties — Author Christine Kohler talks about how to ace a pitch during Twitter’s Pitch Party.

WorldAnvil — This is an amazing worldbuilding tool that has already been in use by Role Playing Gamers, and will soon be available in a version with tools specialized for writers of fantasy and sci-fi. Build maps, develop characters, keep timelines along with all the settings, cultural details and other research on your WorldAnvil account in a complete World Bible. Put as little or as much as you wish of your writing on the site in various groups—Beta Readers or Patreon supporters, for example. The site is available to anyone with a free account; however, patrons get access to more resources. Writer’s tools aren’t available yet (as of 10-29-18), but you’ll want to keep track and join as soon as they are.

Worldbuilding Stack Exchange — WSE is “a question and answer site for writers/artists using science, geography and culture to construct imaginary worlds and settings. A place to ask questions of other writers/readers about worldbuilding details. Anyone can ask/answer a question. Best answers are voted up and “rise to the top” of the list. Categories immediately visible on the site include science-based, reality-check, biology, society, technology, magic, planets, creature-design, warfare, and science-fiction. More are available. Questions make sense in a fictional worldbuilding context, and answers I viewed were helpful. Great resource for fiction writers, especially those constructing sci-fi or fantasy worlds, but could also be helpful for other genres.

Writer Beware! — Their mission, as stated on their website, is “to track, expose, and raise awareness of the prevalence of fraud and other questionable activities in and around the publishing industry.” Their extensive database includes warnings and cautionary information on contests, editors and assessment services, literary agents, self-publishing, small presses, vanity/subsidy publishers, vanity anthologies, and writers’ services, as well as a lot of other information writers can utilize to keep their work —and their wallets — safe from scammers. Also includes a blog, suggestions for legal recourse, and much more.

Writer’s Digest
No list of links for writers would be complete without this one. Writer’s Digest is a go-to source for all kinds of resources–contests, conferences and pitch sessions, exercises to improve your skill, free downloads, a guide to literary agents, training and workshops, networking, and more. They also offer a magazine with even more goodies. You might want to bookmark this one; it’s constantly evolving and adding content.

Writer’s Guidelines Database
I’m still playing with this one. It offers several ways to search writers markets, along with links to pages of interest. Run by Writers Write, whose main page also has some intriguing links and resources. This page is ad-based.

Writing Careers: The Business Behind Becoming an Author
Suggested to me by a young aspiring author and shared here with gratitude. The page offers several blog posts to help new (and even not-so-new) writers improve their craft, find an agent or decide where to self-publish, discusses the education needed for a writing career and so much more. Ad based, but you do not need to pay to read the material. I might just check these links out myself! Thanks, Alisha!

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