Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holiday Gift Ideas for Flat Broke Writers

You’re a writer, the holidays are creeping up and your bank account is so empty, it echoes. Being a participant in involuntary simplicity doesn’t mean your friends and family go gift-free. You have the skills and savvy to make their holidays brighter without setting your stocking on fire.

For everyone
Throw down some words. We’ve all had non-writing friends and relatives ask what we do for a living, and when we say “Write,” they always ask “Did you write a book? Have you met Stephen King yet?” Ha ha, Grandma.  But actually seeing something you’ve written gets the message across, and it’s a gift from the heart. Pen a lovely poem, sarcastic haiku or even a bit of flash fiction starring your father and that Dodge Charger he gave up when you were born. It could be the nudge he needs to forgive you for existing, and if that doesn’t express the holiday sentiment, nothing else does. Extra points if you print something out and frame it. People love frames.

For readers and writers
When you write, your first go-to move for gifts usually involves books. It's easy to drop fifty bucks (if you have the cash) on a couple of hardcovers at the bookstore, but you can trump that with the wonder of the Internet. We live in a glorious world of free ebooks, digital entertainment as far as the eye can see. We’re not talking piracy, either, because that’s wrong and an erudite grizzly bear will smack you in the face with a rolled-up newspaper filled with bologna if you do it. Every major book selling site offers freebies, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, All Romance, etc., and don’t forget classic sites like OpenCulture and Project Gutenberg.

It works best if the giftee shares a home with you, so you can download books to a reader on a shared computer or their personal ereader. If they know how to manage data transfers, you can save the goodies to a flash drive and wrap it in some snazzy paper to make your gift look even cooler. When giving free ebooks, don’t focus on scoring their favorite authors, although you’ll occasionally find one or two offering freebies. You’ll have better luck matching them up with new reads and fresh voices in the same style or genre they already enjoy. You may introduce them to a new favorite author or two, and they’ll buy more books. Yay! Everyone wins!

For writers

Don’t worry about the taxidermied rabbits dressed like Pride & Prejudice characters that you just spied on eBay; the best thing you can give writers is attention. Designate a “Pimp Day” for each of your writer friends and publicize their work. Give them a lovely Amazon review, tweet their book links, splash their book covers on Pinterest, talk them up on Goodreads and Facebook. If some of your friends don’t have books, pimp out what they do have! Comment on their blogs, share their articles, and let the world know how talented they are. Your gift will distract them from obsessing over their inboxes and drinking wine in the morning. Helpful hint: tell them about their Pimp Day first, so they have something for you to promote, and only do one Pimp Day a week on all your social media outlets so you don’t overwhelm your own readers. We all crave attention, but no one wants to be the spammy coal in the bottom of the stocking.