Columns > Published on December 7th, 2020

How to Shop for a Writer: the Holiday Edition

The holidays are approaching, and you’ve got a writer to shop for. Easy! If someone’s a writer, there’s a decent chance they’re also a reader. So you can just buy them some random book, right?


Well, not really. Unless you’ve got a good grasp of your recipient’s taste and buy something they’re really going to like, generic ‘first-middling-price-book-you-saw-at-the-store-that-had-an-okay-cover’ probably isn’t going to blow them away.

Of course, you could spend some time poring over book lists to try and come up with a better pick. If you know that your friend is a fan of The Shining and The Orphanage, for instance, checking out a best-of-horror list is probably a good bet for you. But what if you don't know your friend's favorite genre?

That's where this post comes in.

If you want some slightly more imaginative suggestions for your literary pal’s present, we’ve got the holiday gift guide of your dreams, featuring a baker’s dozen of picks to suit any budget, and any writer.

1. Writerly Jewelry - $6.50

Jewelry is always a reliable go-to option for a gift. Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like suggesting you don’t like the way someone dresses! If you’re gonna do that, you might as well do it with something as adorable as these pencil shaving earrings.

Get Pencil Shaving Earrings at Etsy


2. "The Day Job Survival Kit" - $10

Okay, so when I said this gift guide wasn’t going to be books, I technically was lying. But this book is worth making an exception to the rule. It’s filled with practical advice on how to balance your creative outlet with your day job, as well as words of encouragement for those who want to have a creative career but haven’t quite turned writing into their full time hustle yet. Whether they’re writing for an audience, or just doing it for themselves, there are plenty of pearls of wisdom in here. Pretty thoughtful!

Get The Day Job Survival Kit at Amazon


3. Literary Tea - $15

Ever wish you could siphon off a little artistic inspiration from one of the greats? That you could somehow convene with them spiritually? That you could imbibe a bit of their essence, and produce similarly amazing results?

Yeah, well, this won’t let you do that.

But the teas are pretty tasty, and, if you give one as a gift, you can probably write something like that in the card.

Get Literary Tea at Etsy


4. "Write Every Day" - $20

Okay, yes, I lied twice. The Day Job Survival Kit wasn’t the only exception to the no-book rule on this list. But, again, Write Every Day is still a worthy entrant. This book is designed to foster a daily writing habit, combining 3 minute, 30 minute, 3 hour, and 3 day exercises. Suitable for any writer regardless of genre, this workbook is a great way for them to up their craft and get writing on the regular — practice makes perfect, after all.

Get Write Every Day at Amazon


5. The Writer’s Toolbox - $20

If you’re sick to death of the writer in your life complaining about writer’s block, this is a (relatively) non passive-aggressive way of telling them. This little kit comes with an exercise book, cards, and spinner palettes to help you mix and match creative elements and spark big ideas.

Get The Writer's Toolbox at Amazon 


6. Author Domain - around $20 a year

If your tamed author has done their research on how to become a professional writer, they’ll doubtless already know that a good writer website is an essential first step to kick-starting their career. So why not save them some of the hassle by gifting them a domain in their name? Just make sure they know how to keep their online presence looking professional...

Search domain name availability at GoDaddy


7. A Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents - $20

Another one more suited for those who are set on becoming a professional writer, this handy-dandy annual guide is a great tool to find literary agents who might be interested in working with you. Just be sure to buy the most recent edition you can find, as this bad boy is updated annually!

Get Guide to Literary Agents 2020 at Amazon


8. Scribbler Writing Subscription Box - from $27 a month

This one’s the gift that keeps on giving (because it comes once a month). The Scribbler subscription box is a solid all-rounder, because there’s bound to be something within its mix of teaching tools, invites to virtual conferences, autographed novels, and hand-selected writing gifts that your recipient will love. You can even buy a one-off box for the holidays, if you’re not ready to commit to a year’s subscription.

Get a writing subscription box at Scribbler


9. Mug Warmer - $29

It’s a scientific fact that writers love hot drinks more than any other group.* It’s also a fact that they tend to take two sips of hot coffee, start working, become completely engrossed, and completely forget that cup of coffee ever existed. So an electric mug warmer is the perfect writing companion. It’ll keep a drink at the ideal temperature, no matter how long the writing session runs (although with all that caffeine in them, they’ll probably be writing faster than ever).

*citation needed

Get a mug warmer at Amazon


10. A Good Planner - $30

Writers are notoriously disorganized. If you want a chance of them making it to any of your plans in the New Year, it’s probably a wise idea to get them a good planner — ideally, a big one like the ones from Papier, so they have room to plan their writing, too. A nice blank notebook would work as well — they could try their hand at bullet journalling! Anything to get them to remember to pick up milk.

Get a planner at Papier


11. Ex-Libris - $35

This game comes with a pack of 100 cards, each providing the author, title, and a plot summary of a different novel. Your job? To write an opening or closing sentence for that description, and trick fellow players into believing yours is the real one. A great gift to bring out the writerly instinct in anyone, or their ruthless competitive streak — either works.

Get Ex-Libris at Amazon 


12. External Harddrive - $60

Sure, we all say we’re backing up our files regularly — but how many of us actually are? To avoid the absolute panic of losing an entire manuscript to a dead computer, consider buying your writer pal an external harddrive to store their work on. Yeah, it sounds pretty boring, but you can’t put a price on peace of mind (except you can, and that price is 60 bucks).

Get an external harddrive at Amazon


13. Typewriter Keyboard - $250

If you really feel like splurging, this keyboard is an awesome addition to any writer’s setup.  It’s bluetooth compatible, so you can use it with pretty much any device, the toggle arm doubles as scrolling or volume control — plus it makes that cool tchk tchk tchk tchk sound. Even if you’re not ready to commit to using a real typewriter for your first draft, you can still live your 1920s crime reporter/Angela Lansbury fantasy. Or rather, the writer you’re buying it for will. Because you’re totally not gonna just keep this for yourself.

Get a retro typewriter keyboard at Amazon

The most important thing to remember is that, when it comes to gift giving, it’s the thought that counts. But also, that if you upset a writer with a bad gift, they may name an irredeemably evil character after you, thus tarnishing your reputation in perpetuity. No pressure — and happy holiday shopping!

About the author

Emmanuel Nataf is a Founder at Reedsy, a marketplace and set of tools that allows authors and publishers to find top editorial, design and marketing talent. Over 3,000 books have been published using Reedsy's services.

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