The Do’s and Don’ts of Shopping for Writers

Doctor Who journal

Riversong’s Journal, from Doctor Who. The perfect gift for a writer who is also a fan of the television series.

Despite what you may think, writers are some of the easiest people to shop for. Want to know why? Because we usually want books, whether they are in hard copy or electronic format.

Last year, my wife purchased me a Kindle Touch from Amazon. I don’t need the latest Kindle Paperwhite. But you can always buy me a few books off my wishlist.

First, let me say that owning an e-reader does not preclude wanting hardcover books. It just makes me more selective about what books I want in hardcover. Some books — coffee-table books, for example — are always going to be in hardcover. I am also very fond of my Easton Press collection of science fiction novels.

But what do you get for a writer besides books, most of which are likely to be read and forgotten in a month’s time. How can you make an impact all year long with the proverbial “gift that keeps on giving”?

To help you navigate the myriad selections available when shopping for writers, I’ve compiled a quick little list of do’s and don’ts. These helpful tips will keep the writer in your life inspired throughout the coming year.

  • DO ask (or check the wishlist) for favorite authors. If your writer has all the latest books by his or her favorite author, consider something related to that author (a coffee mug with Mark Twain’s picture, for example). Or if you have a lot of cash, maybe a rare first edition!
  • DON’T give your writer e-books for a Kindle if they have a Barnes & Noble NOOK (or Kobo, or Sony Reader, or…). It’s possible to convert those files, but it can be a pain in the butt. Do your research and purchase accordingly.
  • DO find your writer fun writing accessories (pens, blank journals, index cards). These make great stocking stuffers.
  • DON’T give books that promise to “make you a better writer.” First of all, those books are almost always crap. Second, you’re sending a subtle message that you don’t think your writer is very good.
  • DO look for books that focus on publishing. One of the best presents my wife received from her brother was the annual Writer’s Market. When he gave it to her, he said, “I think you’re ready.” Talk about inspiring!

Everyone is different. And everything I’ve said here may not apply to the particular writer in your life. But I hope you will consider some of what I’ve said and use it as a springboard for new and creative gifts.

Kevin Wohler is a copywriter and novelist living in Lawrence, Kansas. During the day, he works at a digital marketing agency in the Kansas City area. When time remains, he likes to tell stories of the weird and bizarre. And sometimes, he writes them down for others to read.

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