Last Minute Gifts for Writers - Virtual Style

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring...oh wait, you are stirring?

Panicking perhaps? What on earth do you get your favorite writer that won't involve you traipsing off to the mall with the rest of the last-minute hordes? 

Good thing that I'm here to give you a few tips on the best virtual gifts that will make your writing friends sing with joy, joy, joy!

For the Writer in Progress

Evernote ($24.99-$$49.99 year): Evernote Basic is an excellent free tool that will help your writing friend stay organized. One can easily add articles and notes from anywhere on the Web. It's a fantastic way to keep track of research. Add a yearly subscription, however, and you are giving them an even greater opportunity to be productive. They can email notes directly to Evernote, save .pdf documents and even turn notes into presentations. 

Novelize ($45 year): Does your writer want the ability to write from anywhere? Perhaps you bought them a Chromebook and didn't realize that they can't download software. In comes Novelize, a great online alternative to downloadable writing tools. You can write in a safe, secure environment, track daily and monthly progress, manage notes and easily export. It's one of the best online writing services I've found. 

Grammarly ($139.95 year): I did an extensive review of this great service earlier this year. Pricing is still on the high-end but if your writer friend tells great stories but is grammatically challenged (and they may not even realize how much so until they try Grammarly), the subscription is worth the price.

Ulysses ($9.99 one-time purchase --half price if you buy before Xmas): If your writer is a Mac or iPad devotee, get them a gift card to the iTunes store (not the Apple store!!) and tell them to check out Ulysses, a beautiful, distraction-free writing app just for them.

Writers Digest Shop (you choose how much $$): Books galore about the writing craft and profession. Honestly, you can't go wrong with a gift certificate to this place. There is a book for every writer in progress here!

For the Writer Building a Social Media Platform

Buffer ($10 month or $102 year): I tell everyone I know about the fabulousness of Buffer. The free tool is good for the casual user but if your writer is actively working to beef up the way they deliver content, the premium version is the way to go. You'll give them the ability to add specific RSS feeds to monitor, up to 200 scheduled posts and 12 social profiles vs. the 5 of the free version. THIS is the gift I wish someone would give me! 

ManageFlitter ($12 month): ManageFlitter is a tool that is crucial to building a quality following on Twitter. The free version is barely worth it, but the paid version gives your writer friend access to a slew of great options for finding and culling the right individuals to follow and to unfollow. This is the tool that has enabled me to quickly grow my following to 15K people--the right people--an audience who will be more apt to care about the things I tweet. 

For the Writer Taking the Next Big Step

Publishers Marketplace ($25 month): Not cheap but an amazing resource for an author looking for an agent. Sure, there are several free sites out there to help connect you to agents who might be a fit for your book but if you want to get a sense of the deals that are happening and which agent is actually making the right sales to editors, Publisher's Marketplace should be on your writer's radar. With the subscription comes the daily email on the deals that have been made, which is fascinating and useful in itself. 

And last, but definitely not least, consider a Grub Gift Certificate (you choose the amount): This is the Grub Daily blog, I know, so, of course we want to toot our own horn, right? But take it from me, someone who truly believes that Grub Street is a game-changer for authors. I would not be the writer I am today without Grub. Give the writer you love the gift of a class and you will be giving them something even more priceless, a new path forward.

Merry Christmas!

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About the Author

Crystal King is a 30-year marketing, social media and communications veteran, freelance writer and Pushcart-nominated poet. She is the author of the FEAST OF SORROW, about the ancient Roman gourmand, Apicius, and THE CHEF'S SECRET about the famous Renaissance chef Bartolomeo Scappi. Currently Crystal works as a social media professor for HubSpot, a leading provider of Inbound marketing software. Crystal has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet writing center. A former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in Critical and Creative Thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in media res. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at her website:

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