CopperCon Panel: Author Resources in the Digital Age

Links discussed at the Author Resources in the Digital Age panel, August 10 at CopperCon
(Also visit the website of my co-panelist, Jamie Wyman, for her favorite links)

Research Resources

Building a better internet search
http://www.google.com/advanced_search
They’ve buried this pretty deeply, so here’s a direct link. Google now searches very broadly, using a Boolean OR between all your search terms, so enclosing exact terms in quotation marks is a quick tip to narrow your results.
Selecting keywords
http://www.crlsresearchguide.org/02_Listing_Key_Words.asp
Getting back to basics now. In my day job as a reference librarian I help people search for information, and it’s surprising how many people struggle to build an effective search string. Here’s a little refresher on choosing effective keywords.
Evaluating websites
https://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/Evaluate.html
More basics. A lot of this stuff is common knowledge (and some of what’s on this website is a bit outdated) but it’s still a good refresher. Keep your BS meter tuned up while online.
Building a better library search
http://www.medzilla.com/zms/articles?id=search-cv-hints
Most libraries have upgraded their catalog software to a more Google-like search tool, but a few still use that Boolean logic I mentioned above. Here’s an overview (which explains why searching for “He’s Just Not That Into You” sometimes doesn’t work).
Library databases
More reasons to love the library: Most libraries subscribe to databases like Science in Context and Health & Wellness Resource Center, and these databases contain full-text articles from magazines and journals you’d normally have to pay for. You don’t have to settle for just the free stuff Google gives you!

Writing Resources

Grammar Girl
http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl
Grammar Girl is awesome. Look up topics such as lay vs. lie and affect vs. effect. Your writing will look better when you get it right, and you’ll impress copyeditors.
World Wide Words
http://www.worldwidewords.org/
Also awesome. This is a little harder to use for specific topics but you may trip across story ideas, and it’s definitely relevant if you’re checking on the background of a word or phrase and how it was used in history. Besides, it’s cool.

Writing news and the business of writing

Victoria Strauss on Twitter
http://twitter.com/VictoriaStrauss
I cancelled my subscription to the SFWA Bulletin years ago because I was getting more relevant and timely information about publishing from Victoria Strauss. Also, she’s an editor at:
Writer Beware
http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/
Scams abound in the publishing world. Learn about them and avoid them.

Market Research

Ralan’s Webstravaganza
http://www.ralan.com/
A pretty comprehensive directory of publishers, focusing on the SF/F/H fields.
Duotrope
http://duotrope.com/
This is now a subscription service, but you can find partial listings from their website if you Google the publisher/magazine name.
Preditors & Editors
http://pred-ed.com/
Another directory of book publishers, magazines, agents, and more, with a focus on reporting any shady dealings.

Publishing and self-publishing

SFWA Resources For Authors
http://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/information-center/
Lots of info, even if you’re not a SFWA member. Tips about contracts, copyright, self publishing, vanity presses, and more.
Word Tips
http://word.tips.net
If you do choose to self-publish through KDP or Smashwords, you’ll need to do some pretty advanced formatting of your Word document. Here are some tips.
Royalty-free art from Dreamstime
http://www.dreamstime.com/
Professional art is crucial for self-publishers. Here’s a source I used for low-cost art. Royalty-free means you don’t have to pay the artist a royalty for every copy of your book sold, up to a point. Be sure to read the terms to know what rights you’re buying.
Paint.NET
http://www.getpaint.net/
Whether you’re designing your own book cover or creating promotional materials, try this free but very powerful graphics editing software.
VistaPrint
http://www.vistaprint.com
Where everyone gets those free business cards (but be prepared for steep shipping costs). Also good for promotional materials like rack cards. They often have sales, so keep an eye out and you won’t have to pay full price.

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