Guest Post: Free Tools for the Frugal Writer

The following post comes to us from Bob Evenhouse over at Part-Time Novel.  He gives us several great websites for writers that can’t be missed!  Enjoy!

As a writer, I’ve discovered that there are a thousand different tools at my fingertips. Most these tools boast the ability to take a writing vagabond like myself and transform them into a pristine publishing and money-making machine. Now, if you are like me, you might not have the piles of cash to pour into a hundred applications or software let alone enough time to utilize all of them. So this post is for those writers who are strapped for cash but, still harbor an insatiable desire to publish a novel one day.

One of my favorite sites is This is a writer’s wonderland. If you are a budding author sitting on several short stories, I recommend you visit this site – pronto. It’s a way to locate periodicals both in print and on the web as well as agents, journals, and other places where your work could land. This site is for novelists, poets, and short story aficionados. Duotrope lists expected response times from each magazine, journal, website, or anthology and lets you know if they are open to receiving submissions.

This is not all that Duotrope offers. You can sign in and create an account, which does not generate any spam emails by the by, and allows you to keep track of your submissions so you can know if it an appropriate time has frame has elapsed to follow-up on your submission. If you utilize any one of these sites I heartily endorse this one.

Writer’s Market and Writer’s Digest offer a lot of information for writers, possibly the most of any writing site. One thing they don’t offer, however, is free help. HiWrite is a site run by William Cane (pen name of Michael Christian) who gathers a lot of content for the writer desiring publication. He even graciously lists his email for contact and gives you a way through his spam filter. As I plan on putting together my own submissions and query letters, I plan to reach out to him.

Here is my favorite writing toy Word Frequency Counter. Simply drop your text in, hit submit, and gawk at often you use ‘that’ every five hundred words! This will help you see how often you use certain words and encourage you to diversify your vocabulary. When I feel a piece is particularly boring I paste the text here and, usually, I see a lack diversity in my vocabulary confirming my suspicions.

I write in a variety of genres, most especially, historical, fantasy, and science fiction. Thus, I find a site like  tremendouslyuseful. Why use it? – Because you may need to include some Romanian in your next book. I know I do.  Hello = Buna ziua. Or, if you are writing some far flung tale that you need basic greetings in another language.

A writers group is invaluable to the writing experience. They can help you hone your work, find your writer’s voice, and be painfully honest when you need it. My friends and I formed the Weaklings, a tribute to C.S Lewis and Tolkien’s Inklings, nearly five years ago. We even made the local newspaper in Grand Rapids, MI.

But what happens when life rushes on? What happens when your writer friends move or become busy with children and work conflicts? You can try to keep up through email, but it is difficult. Writers, at least most writers I know, need constant encouragement from others to continue on the hard lonely road. This is why I recommend Great Writing a writer’s forum.

Some of you may not be inclined to send work out into the wide world for anyone to poach. It’s also hard not to be defensive in a forum atmosphere because of the emotion-less mode of the medium. However, as I you peruse some of the articles you will find the response, kind, reflective, and constructive. Why not try it? Who knows, you may find a writing comrade.

These are just a sampling of sites you can use to improve your writing. Are there any you would recommend?

Keep Writing.



Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

10 thoughts on “Guest Post: Free Tools for the Frugal Writer

  1. Great advice on the blog here, and thanks for the links. Im from Grand Rapids and I think I recall reading the article about the group in the press.

  2. I have used Duotrope for years. Verily, it rocks.

    Though it is a free site, it would be more precise to note it’s supported by donations. For those on tight budgets, I suggest the first time you place a story with a paying market, at least part of the proceeds go to keeping the site up.

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