8 Killer Author Resources for New and Seasoned Writers
I’m not sure I’ll ever really know how to write a book.
Obviously, I must know something about book-writing, having written more than half a dozen and published one so far, but if you’re a writer too, I bet you know what I mean. Every new project feels like the first project all over again. Any time I sit down to write a first draft I find myself saying “...Shit, I think I forgot how to write a book.”
Thankfully, when I run into that feeling, I have a few tricks up my sleeve: Author resources that have changed the game for me time and time again. Let’s look at eight badass author resources that I have used throughout my writing career so far.
Finding Author Resources That Work For You
Here’s my disclaimer when it comes to author resources—and writing advice in general. No solution works for everyone. You may take a look at some of these resources and find them completely unhelpful. On the flip side, your god-sent resource might be completely unhelpful to me.
It’s like the “plotter vs. pantser” debate, in a lot of ways. What’s the best way to write a book? *insert shrug here*
As long as the writing methods you use and the author resources you explore help you to write a book, congratulations, they’re the right methods and resources for you. If you need more help finding awesome resources tailor-made to your writing style, explore the depths of the internet! I’d also recommend connecting with other writers on social media—ones who have similar writing styles or personalities to yours—and seeing what resources they swear by.
Tl;dr: This list of resources might not work for you, but after years of searching and trial and error and digesting every scrap of writing, querying, and publishing info I could find, these are the resources that have helped me most.
Let’s dive in.
As a writer who makes zero-to-nearly-zero dollars a year from my writing, I am a gigantic fan of free resources. There are a ton of books and courses and masterclasses and YouTube channels like Brandon Sanderson's that give great info about writing and publishing, but the resources I have always leaned on are good old-fashioned blog posts. Here are some of the top blogs I used throughout my early writing days and querying days. Honestly, even eight years into my writing journey, I still use a lot of these resources to this day.
Helping Writers Become Authors is a blog run by kickass self-pub author, K.M. Weiland. If you’re looking for a ton of information on craft—story structure, character building, plot analysis—this is an awesome resource.
I found this blog in a low moment back somewhere around 2015. I had just written and queried my first attempt at a novel to resounding rejections. I was heartbroken. In that low moment, I realized that being a good writer in school didn’t necessarily translate to writing good books—not yet, at least.
Once I accepted that I had no fucking idea how to write a novel, I put my nose to the grindstone to learn. This blog helped me learn the building blocks of great storytelling and character building. I don’t always use the advice I learned here these days, but still, you have to understand the rules of the novel-writing craft before you can break them confidently and successfully. This is where I learned those rules.
Are you a bit sensitive and in need of some skin-thickening tough love before you really hit the ground querying, submitting, or self-pubbing your project? Perfect. You’ll love this blog.
Terribleminds is a blog run by sci-fi/fantasy author, Chuck Wendig. The archive contains random posts about Chuck’s life and the adventures of the baby foxes in his backyard every spring, but it also has a ton of gold when it comes to writing advice.
Sure, there are some prescriptive, craft-based posts (which are great), but my favorite Terribleminds posts are the more philosophical ones about what it means to be a writer, especially in the traditional publishing world.
In one post about staying strong during the querying process, Wendig says, “Harden the fuck up, Care Bear.” This line is the definition of tough love, and I took it to heart during my querying process, even making these words my cell phone wallpaper throughout my stay in the query trenches.
In short, if you want some advice on the industry, craft, and writer’s mindset (and you don’t mind strong language), check out Terribleminds.
Where are my Encanto fans? In publishing, querying and being on sub is a bit like Bruno—we don’t talk about querying.
As a result, it’s damn difficult for new writers to really figure out what the heck they’re supposed to do when querying their first novel. How do you research agents? How should you format your query letter? What does the publishing and agenting process even look like? The industry is so opaque that sometimes it can feel like you’re stumbling around in the dark.
Nathan Bransford’s self-titled blog might just be your flashlight!
As a former agent and current author in both the trad- and self-pub camps, Nathan Bransford’s experience gives him the ability to provide incredible advice and insights at multiple stages in your writing and publishing journey. His query letter template helped me shape my query letters from my second attempt at querying on until I ended up landing my agent in 2017.
No matter what kind of writer you are or what stage you are at in your career, I’m pretty sure The Write Life has about nine hundred posts tailor-made for you.
The other resources I’ve listed here mostly focus on fiction-writing resources for querying, craft, and mindset. The Write Life has posts on those subjects, but also has posts related to marketing, freelancing, and more.
If you’re looking for information and advice that covers a broad range of experiences, you’ll get it here. The Write Life’s posts are written by guest authors. As a result, you can get literally hundreds of perspectives on writing-related topics, which can help you zero in on the advice that works best for you and your writing methods specifically.
Blogs and advice are great, but there’s more to author resources than informational resources. That’s why I wanted to include some of my favorite tools here, too! I might not use the blogs I listed every single day, but I literally use the four tools I’m about to cover daily in my writing life.
God, I fucking love Canva. If you’re a self-pub author or a trad-pub author who doesn’t have a billion bestsellers under your belt, you’re going to need to do a lot of online promotion yourself on social media. I know, I know, I hate it too. But in this day and age, there is literally no way to escape it—some trad publishers actually try to include social media requirements for their authors in their contracts.
I use Canva for any and all graphics and promo visuals I need for my Instagram and Twitter feeds. You can make graphics to announce book news and sales, request reviews, share cover reveals, and more.
As a non-visually-artistic person, I would never be able to make all the graphics I need to fulfill my social media needs without Canva (or a similar tool). Canva does have a free option, but it’s pretty limited. I did spring for the paid version, initially just for the months surrounding my book launch, but I used it so much that I ended up just budgeting in the cost moving forward.
Remember all that stuff I said about having to be on social media as an author? Yessss well, what if you’re an author who also has a day job? If this is your situation, you don’t have the time and space to post on social media all the time?
The ability to pre-draft posts and schedule them using a tool like Hootsuite has been so helpful for me in my writing journey. I first found Hootsuite when I was participating in the Twitter pitch contest PitMad back in 2016 to try to get an agent. I knew I needed to post at regular intervals throughout the day to hopefully catch the eye of an agent scrolling the feed, but as a person with a full-time day job, I knew I couldn’t be on Twitter all day.
If you’re trying to squeeze in two full-ass careers right now, a social media scheduling tool will save you from tearing your hair out, I promise.
I am a plotter. That means I like to plan out my world, characters, and story before I start drafting. I use Microsoft OneNote for all of this.
I’ve written a whole post about how I use OneNote as a home for my story bible. The Cliff’s Notes version is: OneNote (or a similar planning tool) gives you the ability to create folders and subfolders for all the different elements of your story and world.
You can then reference this material easily while drafting. In other words, say goodbye to scrolling aimlessly through your Word doc searching for whether this one side character’s eyes were blue or green: You can find that info in your “character data” folder in OneNote, if you play your cards right.
This tool is a new addition to my kit, and I love it. Brain.FM is a music app, sort of. You set a timer and select an intent (like Creative Flow, Deep Work, or Guided Sleep). The app then plays soundscape-type music tailored to that purpose for a set amount of time.
I use this app most for writing sprints. I’ll set the timer for 30 mins, then let the music focus my brain and guide my writing process, and when the music stops I know my sprint is over. I also use Brain.FM to sleep. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, but I legitimately feel like I sleep better the nights I use that “Deep Sleep” or “Guided Sleep” setting on this thing.
Using Author Resources to Maximum Effect
You’re armed with these new resources…. Now what? Go forth and create, obviously!
Writing is an intimidating task: The blank page is terrifying, and there’s always at least ninety-seven points in the process where you’re pretty sure what you’re writing is the worst thing that’s ever been written.
Sharing your work is even worse! You face rejection every step of the way from querying to reviews.
Hopefully, these resources can help you gain the confidence you need to weather the rejections, judgment, and impostor syndrome that lines the path of every writer’s journey. I know they helped me!
What are some of your favorite writer resources? Chat with me on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok @mjkuhnbooks!