Friday, December 9, 2016

Ten Gifts Your Author Friend will Actually Appreciate

So last year I wrote a post about Post Holiday Gifts for Authors. Partially because after the holidays, people have gift cards to run through and partially because… I forgot to do anything with it before that.

Not this year. I’m here with another collection of things you can get for the authors, aspiring authors, and other book-creating people (Editors, formatters, etc.) who might be in your life.

Or, you know, you could get them for your favorite author, too. *cough cough*

(I feel compelled to note this: I link to products on Amazon through this article, and they go through my Affiliate Account. No extra charge for you, but I do make a small percentage of what you spend if you buy them through these links.)

10: Pens
If there’s one thig that authorial types are always lacking, but never getting, it’s pens. It’s an interesting and stubborn approach most authors and editors seem to take to pens. We never have them, because they go missing. We let someone borrow them at some event, we hand one to our friend at a writer’s group because, being an author, they don’t have one either, we use them to stir our coffee (I’m very guilty of this.). Whatever reason, we don’t have them, but we know we just bought two dozen. So we refuse to buy more on principle… even though we’re the only ones paying for it.

These lovely Z-Grip retractable pens would be a good choice. Plus they come in lots of colors, which is always a must for me.

9: Whiteboard
Whiteboards are surprisingly useful little things for anyone who works from home, really. They’re a quick way to have a to-do list every day without running through reams of paper every year. They can be a place for a calendar. Writers can use them for quick plot sketches or brainstorming. Editors can mark down things to come back to without filling up the manuscript with comments that have to be deleted. It’s awesome, and I actually love giving them as gifts to my authorial friends. It’s not something most people get for themselves, but they use the hell out of it once they have it.

This is the one I have. It hangs up in my bedroom so I can add my to-do list first thing when I get up. And, in line with my love of colored pens… a colored marker set. Dry erase markers are also very appreciated if you have a teacher in your life. Trust me on this one. A pack of dry erase markers for a teacher will be received very well.

8: A Mug
Writers, even if they don’t drink coffee, pretty much all have a hot beverage of choice, and we pretty much all have a slightly unhealthy devotion to whatever that beverage is. Me personally, I collect mugs. I have a bit of a problem, actually. I have to be very careful in thrift stores because I’ll just buy all the mugs. But I have one in particular that I, as a writer, adore.

This little number sits on my desk when it’s really time to buckle down. It’s seen the start of books and intense edits and tight deadlines, and it just sits there and holds my java, ready for whatever is to come with its inspiring message.

7: Flash Drive 
This is another one that most authors have—or had—and like. But it’s like pens—they go missing, or we just break them and never buy a new one for whatever reason. Then we kick ourselves—and throw things—when our files corrupt and we don’t have a backup…

… like I don’t because I haven’t used my flash drive in months. Whoops.

This is a nice affordable one with lots of storage. One this size can last an author a long time, since Word documents are so very tiny, so for ten bucks you can get them something they can use for years and year… as long as they don’t lose it in the first week.

6: Timer
One of the hazards anyone working from home faces is time management. Some authors I know (Or have heard of.) are incredibly good at it. Nora Roberts, for example, works four hours, takes an hour lunch, and works for more hours. That’s sort of the ideal for most authors, or something close to it. 6+ hours every day, barring things like holidays and emergencies. However, we tend to be… well, we suck at it, by and large. Sometimes a day of work is 15 hours not moving from the chair because the writing just sounds really good. Other days—and far more often than the former—it’s half an hour staring at blank page before giving up and watching cake decorating tutorials on Youtube.

Not that I would ever… I mean, I wouldn’t… Okay once. Or twice. Or more.

It’s why timers come in handy. Now, Google has a timer that pops up if you just search “Timer.” Most phones and tablets have a timer/stopwatch app, or you can download one. Even my flip phone has one, I think. But there’s something to be said for having an external one. You’re not having to involve the internet for anything, which cuts back the risk of falling into Facebook… or those damned cake tutorials.

It doesn’t need to be fancy. This is a basic model that can either count down (For working specific times.) or count up (Just to keep track.). And that’s all it really needs to be.

5: An Excuse to Read
Authors pretty universally love reading, but we just don’t make the time for it. This is your chance to help us remember the joy of reading. Buy your author or editor or whoever a new book from an author they love. That might just be the spark that convinces them to crack open a book and actually read.

I can’t really recommend a book to you, since I don’t know your friend, but scan their bookshelves, get them talking about books, and see who comes up. Or find out which books they’ve lost over the years. But get them a nice, relatively risk-free book and they might very well take the time to tear the words off the page.

4: A Plant
Your lovely author friend or family member likely spends a lot of time sitting in the same place looking at the same things and breathing the same air that’s been in there with them for the past several months. You’re not going to convince them to stop all that sitting very easily, but you can maybe help clean the air up and get something exciting to look at.

Buy them a plant. I would personally recommend going to your local nursery and getting something that can thrive inside in your area… possibly with minimal care, depending on the temperament of your friend. But if you want to order online, you can get this Peace Lily for under $20.

3: Address Labels
This is especially prevalent if your author runs a lot of giveaways or has one of those publishers that still insists on snail mail (I have one of them. It’s slightly annoying to deal with.). They’re constantly writing addresses on things.

While you can’t fix the whole problem—the address things are being sent to—you can make the return address easy with address labels. Now, you’ll need to know the address they do all their businessy things through, which might not be their home address. This is when asking someone in the know might be good. But you can even get customized labels on Amazon, which was kind of a shock for me. These ones are super-affordable, and should last quite a while.

2: Healthy Snacks
If you love your author enough to buy them a gift in the first place, you probably hope they’re healthy and all that stuff. Unfortunately, a lot of us just aren’t healthy at all. Or not as healthy as we should be. When you’re working a tight deadline, is it easier to make a proper lunch, or throw down half a bag of Cheetos and call it good? It’s the latter, if you couldn’t guess. Snacking works the same way. We grab what’s easy, and that tends to be something shelf stable and about as natural as a drag queen’s breast plate.

Enter this thing that I’ve recently discovered: snack care packages. You can order them on Amazon, and can even get them delivered on a recurring schedule if you want to really shell out the money. They’ve got things like granola bars, dried fruit, and low fat chips, all individually packaged. Most of them are enough to last for an average month.

Now, it’s the most expensive thing on this list, but it’s still not bank-breaking. But maybe save this for an author close to you instead of just an acquaintance. I’m dropping my recommendation for this one in particular, but there are a lot of different options out there. And keep the link so you can send it to them if they want to keep getting it delivered. Or just stick it inside the card with your gift. Easy-peasy.

1: Planner
As authors, we can handle the “putting words together” part. You don’t get into this if you don’t have some kind of grasp on that. What we—and I imagine a lot of other artistic types—struggle with the most is organization and planning. Time management. Motivation. All those pesky things that get in the way of “putting words together.”

There’s a reason this is the number one thing on the list, and a reason that so many of these entries seem to touch on organization and things like that instead of passion. I’ve never met a truly passionless writer. We all love writing. It’s the other crap that kills us.

A yearly planner can really help with that. And there’s even one specifically for authors floating around out there: The 2017 AuthorLife Planner. It’s brilliant and it really lays things out step by step. And it does arrive before Christmas, if you get it today. (That would be 12/9).

So hopefully this is something that can help you out. A little look into the gifts an author will appreciate. And before Christmas this time, which is a pleasant change for me.

I really hope, if nothing else, this was an enjoyable read. Maybe useful. And more than that, I hope you have an awesome rest of your day,

Voss

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