December 1, 2015

The Ultimate Gift Guide for Writers — 2015 Edition

Snowman holding gift with text: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Writers

Did everyone survive the big shopping days of Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday? Me? I’m a lazy bum and did most of my shopping online. No crowds for me.

Obviously, I’m not a shopaholic, so I usually need help knowing what gifts to buy for people. That means it’s time to start thinking about what we might want for writerly gifts this year. *smile* With that in mind, I updated my Ultimate Gift Guide for Writers, and I included lots of links because, once again…lazy bum.

If you’re a writer, this might help you give suggestions to family or friends. Or you can direct your family to this post for ideas. Something on this list is bound to please every writer out there.

Stocking Stuffers

For Writers Who Outline

  • Note (index) cards
  • Notebooks (many writers prefer plain spiral or steno pads over fancy, leather-bound books—those are too pretty to use *smile*)
  • Ugly writing journal (so we’re not tempted to “save” it) (suggested by Daniel Swensen)
  • Corkboard
  • Pushpins
  • Whiteboard
  • Dry erase markers and eraser

Technology Helpers

  • Programs like Scrivener (Windows and Mac) for organizing and word processing
  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking (options at Amazon) for voice recognition-driven writing (suggested by Kyla Rucci)
  • Latest version of favorite word processing program
  • Software for self-publishing (image editing, ebook formatting, etc.)
  • Flash drive or external hard drive for backups
  • Typing program (learn to type faster!)
  • More memory for computer
  • Bigger hard drive for computer
  • Wireless/ergonomic keyboard or mouse
  • Virtual keyboard for mobile use
  • Mini voice recorder
  • Software for self-publishing (Adobe Photoshop for graphics, Jutoh for formatting, etc.)

Big Ticket Items

  • New computer/laptop
  • Bigger/second computer monitor
  • Printer (or printer ink)
  • eReader or eTablet (Kindle/Kindle Fire, iPad, Android tablet, etc.)
  • Ergonomic desk chair
  • Website/blog hosting, upgrades, or design (Note: I use and recommend TechSurgeons for great service, and no, they don’t have an affiliate program, just lots of happy customers. *smile*)
  • Registration fee for writing conference or workshop (like for the Desert Dreams conference, which takes place in Scottsdale, Arizona when the weather here is perfect *grin*)
  • Membership fee for a writing group (like RWA—which is open worldwide)
  • Cover design, editing, or formatting costs for self-published authors

Writing Craft and Publishing-Related Books & Tools

Writing and Publishing-Related Workshops

Miscellaneous Suggestions

  • Gift basket full of writing-related ideas (pens, notebooks, special beverage and glass, inspirational items or quotes, etc.) (suggested by Theresa Miller)
  • Gift cards for books (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.)
  • Gift cards for office supply stores
  • Fun reader/writer-type gifts (“Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel” mug, “gifts for writers,” The Literary Gift CompanyWriters Helping Writers gift guide on Pinterest, etc.)
  • Canisters of favorite coffee or hot chocolate (suggested by Angela Quarles)
  • Tea or other writing beverage (suggested by Daniel Swensen)
  • Totem for a muse (figurine, stuffed animal, etc.) (suggested by Lisa Hall-Wilson)
  • Magnetic poetry kit (available in tons of specialized themes—from Shakespeare or passion to cat or bacon lover)
  • Literary action figures
  • High-quality printer paper for queries/submissions (suggested by Christy Farmer)
  • Printer ink (suggested by Shain Brown)
  • Subscription to music source (Pandora, Spotify, etc.)
  • Premium level of online service (Dropbox for automatic backups, Amazon Prime for free shipping/lending library, etc.)
  • Entry fee for a writing contest
  • Massage gift certificates (suggested by Julie Glover)
  • Back or foot massager (suggested by Gene Lempp)
  • Comfort clothes (robe and fuzzy slippers) (suggested by Brooklyn Ann)
  • Writing time (anything from babysitting to a writers’ retreat)
  • Housecleaning services (especially during deadlines) (suggested by April Bradley)
  • And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my own books for those who want entertainment. *grin* (I don’t have a shop set up for it yet, but if anyone wants autographed print copies, let me know.)

What did I miss? What other writing craft or publishing-related books do you recommend? Do you have suggestions for other items to add to the list? Which things would you most like to receive? Is there anything on the list you wouldn’t want? Will you brave the store crowds this year?

(Note: Some links on my blog are referral or affiliate links.)

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Tamara LeBlanc
Tamara LeBlanc

You didn’t miss a single thing! What a GREAT list of wonderfully necessary items.
Love it, Jami!
And I’m with you, crowds = unhappy Tamara 🙂


Shah Wharton

Superb list which I’ve just shared everywhere! 🙂


Jami, this is such a great list… but I have a small amendment. You mention voice recorders, and I can’t stress how awesome these are, but if writers are looking for a cheaper alternative to buy themselves, there are some great USB voice recorders for around $20 USD. They have a high-powered mic that can pick things up clearly, are easily pocket-sized, and can store up to 500 hours of recording. Plus, bonus, it’s a USB drive that you can store back ups on (at the risk of having less space for recordings, but there are few author that aren’t going to just delete the file after they transcribe anyway. 🙂


What a great list! I am personally hoping for a copy of Scrivner. I currently use he free version of yWriter but I’m not really happy with it. As for the kindle, I use mine regularly to send what I’ve been writing to my wife to review. I also the free program Balabolka to read back what I’ve written to me so that I can ensure the flow is clean and catch missing or repeated words.

Emerald O'Brien
Emerald O'Brien

Such a helpful post! Very cool!
Thanks, Jami!
P.S. Things didn’t get as crazy here in Canada over the holiday weekend.


How about Cathy Yardley’s books “Rock Your Plot” and “Rock Your Revisions”? Both (and more) are available at Amazon. Also, her Full Time Fiction forum ( will be open again in January. It’s not a free forum, but it already has serious writers.

Great list, Jami! Thanks for all the work you put into this.


Betsy Eliot

Great List. You gave me some ideas for my son, a teacher, too. Thanks, Jami.

Elizabeth Harmon

Love your suggestions! Another great writing book…and so affordable it could count as a stocking stuffer, is James Scott Bell’s “The Art of War For Writers.” It’s a wonderful little book designed to be read one little chapter per day. I’ve read it several times and always discover something new. A keeper!


Oh my goodness, this list is awesome! I may just print it off and hand it to my husband, who asked me for my Christmas list! Going to share on my Facebook author page (Leta Hawk, if anyone is so inclined to check it out).


What a great list! 😀
I picked up Dragon naturally speaking a few months ago, and it would be the best thing since sliced bread, if what I wanted to do over the weekend was slice 3,000 pieces of bread. So Wonderful!!
If you are thinking of getting it for christmas, go to the nuance website and look around, don’t buy.
The next week my amazon and goodreads ads were heavy with nuance software offers… and I got the naturally speaking professional version for half price.

Serena Yung
Serena Yung

Interestingly, I did buy stuff during the Black Friday – Cyber Monday period (well, precisely speaking, it was on last Wed and Sunday). They aren’t strictly related to writing, but–I bought myself Pokemon manga! I rarely get to read, let alone buy, comic books, so it’s super exciting. The drawings are magnificent, so beautiful and cute! Though I’m not going to emulate the manga/ anime drawing style for my characters, it’s still very nice and is sort of some emotional/intellectual stimulation for my visual artist side, haha. I need that stimulation to help myself draw better and better pictures for my book covers. Reading the comics makes me think about character development (CD) too, and how people could see CD differently. Many people might say that the main human character in these comics is a flat character, but if you look at it in a different way, he’s a round character. 😀 Oh and though I got Photoshop sometime last year, not this year, it is indeed a useful piece of self-publishing software! I’m now practicing making book covers, and yay I finally understand how to use the CreateSpace book cover template! There were some little quirks that confused me like how photos using a different resolution won’t conform to the image size you set them, argh. And I recently bought a pen tablet, so that helps me color and manipulate things on Photoshop much more easily—this arrived somewhere in the beginning of November, so it might not count as…  — Read More »


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