Sunday, December 11, 2011

Find the Perfect Gift for a Writer--No Matter Your Budget!

Are you looking for a gift for a writer? Trying to find the perfect something in your price range? Or would you like someone to FINALLY get you the right present, something that acknowledges who you are as a writer, and not just someone who happens to wear socks?

If your answer to any of these questions is “yes,” here are my tips and a list of some great gifts by price range. If you’re the writer, you might want to tell that special someone about this post and your thoughts on it. You could even print it, attach it to your refrigerator, and circle your favorite in red ink with arrows pointing to it. It’s not subtle, but it should do the trick.

And now here it is. (All prices are current for December 11th, 2011 and may change at any time):

A Writer's Wish List


1    Time to write!

If your spouse is a writer and you have kids, just getting the kids out of the house can be very helpful. Give the writer a coupon booklet with ten coupons good for one hour of time at home alone to write. Also throw in coupons for five undisturbed baths, five massages, and five hour-long trips to the library.

2   Cards

Diana Greenwood suggests sympathy cards for rejections. I think inspirational cards that show your support could be a great gift. Just print up cards with things like “You know who I believe in? You!” “You’re amazing in all the write ways,” and “The only thing you can’t edit…is a blank page. Keep on writing! I believe in you.” Hold onto the cards and give them out when your writer needs encouragement and support
3   Books on Writing or Publishing

I would particularly recommend ones that provide inspiration. Here are a few that could be great if the writer doesn’t already have them:

Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius in You:  by Ray Bradbury  ($7.99 from Amazon)

o The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. This was recommended by my Facebook friend, Deborah Blake Dempsey, although I know several other writers who love this book. ($11.55 new in paperback or used for $2.84 and up with $3.99 for shipping from Amazon)

o The Writer’s Retreat Kit: A Guide for Creative Exploration and Personal Expression by Judy Reeves ($19.95 new from Amazon, but starting at $3.99 plus $3.99 shipping new from an Amazon seller.)

o Time to Write: Professional Writers Reveal How to Fit Writing Into Your Busy Life by Kelly L. Stone ($11.01 new from Amazon or $0.01 plus $3.99 used from an Amazon reseller)

o The Writer’s Workout: 366 Tips, Tasks & Techniques from Your Writing Career Coach by Christina Katz ($12.63 in paperback and $9.99 on Kindle from Amazon)

o Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, edited by Jack Canfield ($10.17 new and $4 and up used from Amazon)

o The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley—recommended by Deborah Blake Dempsey, who says, “This is a good one for jump starting the creative juices or for someone stuck in their writing.” ($10.47 new from Amazon or $5.30 plus $3.99 shipping new from an Amazon reseller)

4    Autobiographies of Famous Writers

Two that I've enjoyed are On Writing by Stephen King ($10.88 for the latest edition new, although older used version may be available for less)  and Rewrites: A Memoirby Neil Simon ($1.30 plus $3.99 new from an Amazon reseller).

5   Books that Reaffirm the Magic of Stories

Novels like Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart ($8.79) and, Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series (starting with The Eyre Affair, $10.88 new or used for $3.79 including Super Saver shipping) , or my own soon to be released, Toren the Teller’s Tale.

6   Writing Materials

Pens, paper, sticky notes, notebooks, or a journal (for those writers who like journaling) can be nice presents. Writer Deborah Blake Dempsey says, “The Sharpie Pen. It doesn't bleed through paper. You can write, sketch or doodle your way through writer's block. I can't get enough of it and, for a writer, it's a great gift. Oh, and if a journal is given along with the pens . . . perfection.” I know that writer Lisa Yee is particularly fond of Pilot G-2 pens. After having tried them, they’re now my pen of choice too. I prefer the ones with black ink. For an author doing book signings, a fancy pen might be good. I like metallic gel pens, particularly gold.

7   Tea

My Facebook friend, Jackie Garlick-Pynaert, wrote, “Good tea. Inspirational-flavoured tea, like Green Kamboucha, Higgens and Clarke chai, or white pomegranate. Writers need their tea!” (I’m guessing this is a UK company. I wasn’t able to find it in the USA, although Trader Joe’s, Revolution Tea, and Bentley’s seem to offer similar flavors.)

8    Dark Chocolate

When I worked as an editorial cartoonist, dark chocolate helped me continue working well into the night. My favorite is Max Brenner, which has shops in New York City as well as online, but dark Dove chocolate Dove will also do.

9    A Wrist Rest

My friend, Amy Lynn Spitzley, suggested “Some sort of a wrist brace!” 3M has gel wrist rest that can be used to help support your wrist when you use a mouse. It’s just $8 from Amazon and eligible for free Super Saver Shipping.


10   Board Games

Writers usually love words, so a word-based game could make a nice presents. Here are some of my favorites:

o Taboo ($16.99 from Toys R Us)

o Banangrams ($14.95 from Amazon and most other places it’s sold)

o Scattergories ($16.99 from Toys R Us)

o Scrabble ($8.99 from Toys R Us)

11   T-Shirts for Writers

I like this "The Book Was Better" one from Think Geek ($16.99-19.999) :

Think Geek also has tees inspired by certain books, like Alice in Wonderland, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and The Princess Bride. Or if your writer is a NaNoWriMo 2011 winner, let them know how proud you are of them with an official NaNoWriMo winner’s tee for $25.

12   Writing-Themed Handmade Jewelry and More

Etsy, the handmade arts-and-crafts store, has a huge selection of jewelry and other fun stuff for writers. Just type “writer” into its search engine and see what you get. It can be overwhelming, so you might want to enter the name of a favorite book or something from a favorite genre instead. For example, when I typed in “science fiction” and limited the list to just jewelry, I found this adorable I, Robot necklace for $14 plus $4 shipping. 

13   A Special Edition of a Favorite Children's Book

It could be a first or hardcover edition, an illustrated edition for a book that isn’t normally illustrated, like The Hobbit, or a signed copy. Ask the writer what his or her favorite childhood book was, and start looking for it on Amazon, Ebay, or

14   Writer's Digest

A one-year subscription costs $19.95, and it's worth it.

15   Coffee

If your writer is also a coffee addict, a favorite brand in a writing related mug, like this one (which I designed) from CafĂ© Press. The front shows a hound dog typing away in pajamas and bunny slippers, and the back reads, “Do not disturb: Writer at work.”   ($15 plus shipping, coffee not included. Posters and tees with the same design also available):


16   Membership in a Writers’ Organization

Membership to the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) costs $85 for the first year, $74 a year after that. There are numerous benefits you can find out about here:

17   A One-Day Writers’ Event

My local SCBWI group has events all year round with prices starting at free for members and $60 for non-members.

18   A Good Printer

There are many models for under $100, so don’t make your writer suffer with a printer that just doesn’t work. The Canon Pixma MG5320 wireless all-in-one printer seems like a good one. ($99.99 from Amazon)

19   Scrivener

Scrivener is a different kind of word-processing program designed specifically for the way writers think, with places for storyboarding, character information, and much more. There are videos online to help explain how everything works. Scrivener is available as a download for Windows ($40) and Mac ($45). What’s more, if you’re a recent NaNoWriMo winner, you can get Scrivener for half that (check the NaNoWriMo site for details).

20   Dragon Naturally Speaking

Dragon is speech-to-text software, which is great if you don’t type very fast or have a problem typing a lot. Get the latest version that will work with the writer’s current computer system, and look for it when it’s on sale. The version I use is 11.5 Premium, which works reasonably well with Windows 7. (The advantage of Premium is that it will also read my words back to me, which helps with editing.) The current home edition of Dragon is now on sale for $74.99 here. Also, get a good headset, preferably a USB one. I’m pretty pleased with my Sennheiser headset. It’s a fairly expensive set I bought on sale, but there are much cheaper ones like the Sennheiser single-sided voice-recognition headset

21   An E-Book Reader

Prices for black-and-white models start at $79 for the Kindle and $99 for the Nook.

22   Back Support Cushion

Diana Greenwood suggested a “super-duper back pillow for support at the desk chair, because we all know that there is no chair that can help with cramming when on a deadline.” I haven’t been able to find a good one yet, but here’s one option: Kensington memory foam backrest ($31.24 from Amazon)

$100 AND UP

23   A Writers’ Conference or Writers' Retreat

I’ve been to many SCBWI conferences, and although they can be pricey, most attendees would say they’re well-worth it. Try to find a good conference for the writer’s genre in your area, so you can at least save on airfare and maybe the cost of the hotel. Of if you’re getting this for your spouse, perhaps you’d like to join him or her? My husband did this once, and because conference attendees were given a discount, it ended up being a relatively affordable family vacation.

24   A Good Ergonomic Chair

These are usually over $100, but I was surprised to find what seems like a decent one for just $59.99 from Office Depot. Staples also has some nice-looking chairs on sale starting at $49.99, including a well-reviewed high-back office chair for $69.99.

25   Kindle Fire—So much more than an e-reader, the Kindle Fire is Amazon’s tablet, priced at $199.

Needless to say, I want one.

26   Nook Tablet

Also so much more than an e-reader, the latest Barnes & Noble Nook can even stream TV and movies from Netflix and Hulu! It costs $249, and needless to say, I want one of these too.

27   The iPad

$500 and up, the iPad is the tablet all other tablets are measured against.

28   A New Laptop

If your writer is struggling with an old computer, he or she really needs a new laptop. I’m very happy with the Acer Aspire I have, and I know many people love the fancier Toshiba Satellite laptops. I’ve heard good things about Apple’s laptops, too, although they do cost significantly more. My recommendation is to figure out how much you’d be willing to pay, check Amazon, ZD Net, and CNet for reviews, and then compare prices at sites like Right now they’re showing one of the latest Acer Aspire laptops at the top of the page. It’s $479.99 from Amazon (the screen is kind of small, but it’s light and has many other nice features).

And that's my list. There should be something here for every writer and for every budget.

What about you? Is there something you'd particularly like from this list or something else I left out? Leave your comments below. I look forward to reading what you think. Thanks!  


Conda V. Douglas said...

Great ideas Shevi! Here's a really inexpensive gift that myself and my writer friends enjoy: Take small enough to hold in your hand smooth white round stones (driveway decorative stones work well) and write an inspirational word in permanent marker on each: IMAGINE, DREAM, CREATE or something personal to that writer. If you're artistic, you can decorate the stone as well. I love to roll mine in my hand while thinking.

Kathleen said...

You can also find great gifts like the T-shirt from Cafe Press that reads: Careful or you'll end up in my novel.
Some good ideas here. Thanks.

Shevi said...

Great ideas, Conda and Kathleen! Thanks!

Deborah Blake Dempsey said...

This is a fabulous list Shevi. A definite keeper list. There were a number of items I never even thought of. I especially love the coffee cup and the coupon book.

Jan Markley said...

Great list! It covers everything. I never thought of asking for a membership to an organization or tuition towards a writers' conference! Also love the suggestions for tea, chocolate and the list of books!

Shevi said...

Thanks, Deborah! Thanks, Jan!