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Insider’s Guides to Navigating 3 Online Resources for Writers

In our May/June 2018 issue of Writer's Digest, check out our annual 101 Best Websites for Writers! Here, in this online exclusive, we take a deep dive into three handy online resources for writers.
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In our May/June 2018 issue of Writer's Digest, check out our annual 101 Best Websites for Writers! Here, in this online exclusive, we take a deep dive into three handy online resources for writers.

Insider's Guide: DIY MFA (diymfa.com)

After earning writer and speaker Gabriela Pereira earned a traditional Master of Fine Arts from The New School, she created DIY MFA to help writers get “knowledge without the college.” The site now operates with the help of a team of columnists and digital specialists to provide resources on writing, reading and community—the three main tenets of an MFA, according to Pereira. Here, she shares her advice for getting the most out of her site.

Her No. 1 tip for newcomers? “Sign up for the Starter Kit. [It’s] a free mini-course with companion worksheets delivered straight to your inbox. While you’ll find places to sign for it across the website, the easiest way to do it is by going to com/join.”

The podcast is where it’s at. “[DIY MFA’s] biggest, best-kept secret is the podcast, “DIY MFA Radio,” a weekly show where I interview authors—from debuts to bestsellers—about the craft techniques they use in their books. We’ve had some incredible authors on the show: Delia Ephron, Charlaine Harris, John Sandford, Lisa Gardner, Robin Cook, CJ Box, Jane Yolen, Guy Kawasaki … and the list goes on! Browse the podcast archive at DIYMFA.com/listen.”

The most common writer concerns she hears about? “Motivation and confidence are the two biggies. When writers email me, their questions usually boil down to one of these. The best way to build up both motivation and confidence is to just start writing. We created the Writer Igniter app (com/WriterIgniter) to harness the power of play, but also to get writers cranking out those words. The app is the writing version of a Las Vegas slot machine—randomly-generated writing prompts consist of a character, a situation, a prop and a setting, with over 1 million possible combinations! Writing begets motivation. And the more you write, the more your confidence builds.”

Find your tribe. “Our private Facebook group is open to email subscribers. The members of this group are kind, supportive, but also not afraid to challenge each other and help each other grow. And at more than 3,000 strong, I’m often surprised by how intimate and warm it feels. This group isn’t mentioned on the website, and with good reason: We want to limit membership to writers who are most committed to the DIY MFA mindset, which is why writers only get access to it if they sign up via the Starter Kit.”

[Don't miss Gabriela Pereira at the Writer's Digest Annual Conference, August 10-12, 2018!]

Insider’s Guide: Write Nonfiction NOW! (writenonfictionnow.com)

Bestselling author and book coach Nina Amir founded National Nonfiction Writing Month—or, as Amir prefers, WNFIN (for Write Nonfiction in November)—to provide a home base for nonfiction writers who want to participate in the November writing challenge alongside their novel-writing friends. In addition to hosting WNFIN, her blog Write Nonfiction NOW! offers countless blog posts and a wealth of paid services and courses. These are her best practices for getting started:

“I've recently added a 'Start Here' page for new visitors [writenonfictionnow.com/start-here], where I suggest visitors get on my mailing list. The page also links to my writer's productivity assessment and a handful of my most popular posts.”

Participate, participate, participate. “[Writers] can definitely comment on blog posts and I'd love it if they did! They can also check out the WNFIN Challenge Facebook page, where they will find other nonfiction writers and a stream of current posts from the site. And if they join the Nonfiction Writers' University, they become part of a community of nonfiction writers who meet regularly for live events and have a private Facebook group.”

“The best-kept secret is the breadth of information contained in the blog posts. They cover every aspect of writing, publishing and earning a living from nonfiction work, from writing articles to publishing books to monetizing your work. Additionally, there is a focus on writing for change (producing transformational books) and on personal development for writers that some people miss. Search “writing for change,’ ‘transformational book,’ ‘author of change’ or ‘authoring change’ to get started with posts on those topics.”

More Insider’s Guides for 101 Best Websites

Insider’s Guide: Reedsy (reedsy.com)

Founded by a team of four in 2014, Reedsy aims to help indie authors create beautiful books by connecting them with publishing experts, vast writing resources, a valuable selection of free courses, videos from Reedsy pros and more. Co-founder and CEO Emmanuel Nataf shares his tips on making the most of the offerings:

Get schooled. “We create a lot of educational content for authors. From free online courses to webinars to how-to articles, there’s a lot of great stuff we put out every week that’s designed to help you better understand how to write, publish and market books.”

One of the site’s hidden gems? “We have a pretty amazing—yet not so advertised—free book production tool that allows you to create a beautifully typeset book in a matter of seconds.”

If you think you might be interested in hiring an editor, designer or marketer, there’s an extensive database available through Reedsy. Be specific: “We have hundreds of editors, designers and marketers who have worked for major publishers—but not all of them are perfect for the book you’re writing. When you’re searching for a professional, know exactly what kind of service you need (“Do you want a developmental edit or a copy edit?”) and indicate your book’s genre to identify a collaborator who will get what you’re trying to do.”

They’ll help you navigate the most misunderstood aspect of indie publishing: book marketing. “There’s a lot of basic marketing work that the author can (and should) organize themselves long before a book’s release date: setting up a website, building a mailing list and engaging with author and reader communities. We offer a free online course in basic book marketing that teaches authors where to get started. Book marketers can really help you move the needle with your book sales, but they work best when all your basics are already in place.”

Got questions? Reedsy’s team is quick to respond to comments and questions left on the site: “We can always message an experienced editor, designer or marketer to get the best answer for you. And of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel: We’ve got a bunch of exciting videos in the pipeline!”

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The 6 Key Components of an Online Author Platform

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