Paying Back, 2015 Edition

December 18, 2015

Every year around the holidays I donate a few bucks to various online services and sites that I use heavily and that mostly offer their services for free. I also write this post in order to encourage others to donate also, if they can afford to. Here’s where I sent my hard-earned cash this time around:

Wikimedia Foundation

I use Wikipedia heavily whenever I need to look something up as it relates to my writing. I wouldn’t be surprised if I accessed close to 1000 listings on there in the course of 2015. Although not specifically a writing resource, most writers I know lean heavily on it as well.

Codex Writers

This is an invaluable resource and I spend a lot of my time at conventions and other writerly gatherings proselytizing fellow authors. Anyone who graduated a pro-level workshop like Clarion or Viable Paradise, or sold at least one short story to a SFWA-qualifying venue is eligible to join. Highly recommended!

The Submission Grinder

Free and easy-to-use tool to track your submissions, learn about new and active short story markets, and get estimates on how quickly editors at each venue are responding to submissions. The Grinder continues to grow and they’re 100% committed to providing their service free to all writers. They’re also publishing fiction at the Grinder’s parent site Diabolical Plots (full disclosure: a story of mine will appear there next year), as well as The Long List anthology of Hugo-nominated and near-miss stories from last year. David Steffen does a ton of work to benefit the community. In addition to a donation for his operating expenses, I’d encourage those of you nominating to consider his site for a Hugo nomination next year under Best Fanzine or Best Fan Writer categories.

Locus Magazine

This is not really a donation since I get the magazine in return for my money, but I subscribed mostly to support their efforts. Locus has been around for a long time and a ton of work goes into covering the SF/F publishing word the way they do. As an author and editor I truly have a vested interest in their success, and buying a subscription is one small way to ensure their continued existence.

Happy holidays!



Paying Back, 2014 Edition

December 23, 2014

This is my annual post about supporting the free Internet resources that you find especially useful. Despite them being–well–free, websites cost a lot to run, both in terms of paying for hardware, hosting and bandwidth, and especially in terms of the endless hours of time the webmasters are volunteering.

Because of this, I donate a bit of money each December to the sites I’ve used the most over the course of the previous year. The list of writing-related sites isn’t really different from the last time around:

* Codex Writers

This is a community of neo-pro writers. It’s not open to the public, but anyone who has made a professional sale or has attended a pro-level writing workshop (such as Viable Paradise, Clarion, etc.) qualifies for membership and should apply. I find the forum incredibly useful and visit it on the daily basis.

* The Submission Grinder

This free alternative to Duotrope launched when DT ceased to offer a free membership option and asked its members for $50-60 a year for the service. Submissions Grinder works just as well, at least for the speculative fiction markets that interest me, and while I feel $50 is too much for the way I use a site like this, I’m happy to donate the same $20 a year I used to give to Duotrope. For those of you who might not already be familiar with DT and Grinder, they’re wiki-type services that help writers track their submissions as well as provide a database of fiction markets.

* Absolute Write

I haven’t spent as much time on the Absolute Write forums this year, but they deserve support for both providing excellent forums for write0r-folk, and for being vocal advocates against disreputable publishers, agents, and anyone else who might choose to prey upon ill-informed or new authors.

Of course, it’s also important to support authors and editors and everyone else involved in creating the fiction you like to read. To that end, please consider doing some of the following:

* Subscribe to magazines you enjoy reading, even ones you can read online for free.
* Support Kickstarter and other crowdfunding projects by your favorite creators.
* Buy their books, music, comics, or whatever else you enjoy.
* Take a moment to write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other site where you might buy books. It will cost you nothing, but is actually very helpful to authors and publishers.