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Holiday Gift Ideas for Writers: 2020 Edition

And…here we are, right back in the holiday season. It’s weird. I remember writing my annual Holiday Gift Guide last year. And I vaguely remember the start of 2020. But March through, well, today has been a bit of a blur. Do you think we can redo this year once, you know, *gestures wildly* all this is behind us?

Even if we’re not mentally prepared for it, we may as well get started with our shopping. I mean, your Favorite Writer can’t pen their next novel or secure a big byline without t-shirts and memberships and books and whatnot. Gotta supply them with all the stuff they need to succeed! Or, at least, help them to procrastinate!

To that end, here are some of my favorite writing-related gifts.

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Subscriptions Aplenty, Subscriptions Galore!

If you’re not a writer, you may not be aware that there are LOADS of newsletters and podcasts and courses available to teach us freelancers how to do our jobs. And they all cost money. Though some (er, many) aren’t worth a dime, I can personally vouch that the following are really useful and a worthwhile investment:

  • Freelance Success: This site bills itself as “The Ultimate Resource for Established, Professional Non-Fiction Writers.” An annual membership includes access to the very active online forums, the Freelance Success weekly newsletter, and tons of handy resource documents. (Fee is $100/year)
  • The Writers’ Co-Op: Hosted by freelance writers Jenni Gritters and Wudan Yan, TWC is a podcast that offers advice on anything and everything related to the business of freelancing. The podcast is free, but a paid Patreon subscription will get your Favorite Writer loads of bonus content, including worksheets to supplement each episode. (Fee ranges from $3/mo to $120/mo, with varying benefits at each level.)
  • Opportunities of the Week: This newsletter is a must for those trying to figure out where to pitch stories. Sonia Weiser sends out a newsletter twice a week with loads of resources and pitch calls from editors all over the world. Bonus: It’s only $3/month.

If you’re more into giving print over digital, hook your Favorite Writer up with a subscription to The Writer, Writer’s Digest, or Poets & Writers. All three magazines are chock full of excellent articles on the craft and business of writing.

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Support Indie Bookstores!

Bookstores have been hit hard by the pandemic, with some reporting revenue losses of 80% or more. Give some love to your Favorite Writer AND Favorite Bookstore by purchasing a gift card to a local shop. Or, send your Favorite Writer a digital gift card from, which allocates a percentage of all sales to indie bookstores around the country.

Many independent bookstores also have great gift shops with a wide assortment of writing- and reading-related gear. NYC’s Strand sells a 1,000-piece Classic Paperbacks puzzle. Raven Bookstore in Kansas sells stickers asking “What would Susan Sontag / Toni Morrison / Joan Didion / Angela Davis do?” Portland’s Powell’s has a whole slate of “Read Rise Resist” gear, from pins and patches to tote bags and mugs.

If you’d rather supply your Favorite Writer with an ongoing selection of books, get them a subscription to the Strand’s quarterly Book Hookup. Or check out The Fantastic Strangelings Book Club, which includes a monthly book selected by author Jenny Lawson, owner of San Antonio’s Nowhere Bookshop. Or, fill out this form and send it off to L.A.’s The Last Bookstore; tell them how much you want to spend and what types of books you’re looking for, and they’ll curate a bundle for you to give to your Favorite Writer. (Or keep for yourself.) (No judgement.)

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Dress Your Favorite Writer!

Writers have a lot to think about: character arcs, subplots, pitches, editors, how the hell they’re ever going to make enough to pay the rent… They can’t worry about silly things like clothing. You, then, must help them look halfway decent.

Hook them up with an awesome outfit from Out of Print clothing, a company that sells items based on famous books by famous authors. So if your Favorite Writer loves, say, Edgar Allan Poe, you can get them some Poe-themed t-shirts, socks, and even boxers! No pants, unfortunately, but that’s fine. It’s not like any of us are leaving the house anytime soon…

Hopefully, by this time next year your Favorite Writer will have had all the success they could ask for thanks to your kindhearted, thoughtful gifts. (Be sure to include a note with your present that says, “You’re welcome.”)

Happy shopping!

Writer, reader, mommy. Just trying to figure out this thing called life. Pub. in Boston Globe, Washington Post, Greatist / / Twitter: @sebejer

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