The 10 Free Resources Every Writer Needs

Photo courtesy of DeclanTM

By Maria Schneider of

The Web is abundant with free guides, resources and, of course, advice for writers. The fact is, there’s so much out there that it’s difficult to sift through the clutter to find what might actually be helpful.

So we’ve done the work for you. Here are the 10 essential online resources that you will bookmark and turn to again and again in your writing career. And the very best part—they’re all free.

1. U.S. Copyright Office

This is the spot to quench your copyright concerns and even register your work for a copyright.

2. Merriam-Webster

This is the most reliable online dictionary and it’s also the house standard for many magazines and publishers. There’s also a handy thesaurus so you can find just the right word.


Timely information on writers’ rights, including the quickly changing landscape of electronic rights courtesy of the American Association of Journalists and Authors.

4. Purdue University Online Writing Lab

If you’re a little fuzzy on passive tense or your commas are out of control, check out the OWL brought to you by Purdue.

5. Folio Literary Management

Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting published, with explanations of every step along the way from writing a book to acceptance (not rejection—think positive!)

6. Agent Query

An indispensable free resource for finding a literary agent. They also offer a handy query tracker.

7. Duotrope’s digest

This site offers a searchable database of 2300 current poetry and fiction markets.

8. Shaw Guides

A comprehensive listing of writers conferences, searchable by location, date and genre.

9. Elements of Style

The classic writing style guide by William Strunk, Jr. is now freely available online. Even if you studied it in college, read it again, you’ll take away something new that will refresh your writing.

10. Poets & Writers

The website of the venerable writing journal provides the most comprehensive guide to writing contests and grants.

If you know about more great, free online resources, please share with your fellow writers here in the comments section.

Maria Schneider is the former editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. Find more of her tips and articles on writing and publishing at

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30 Responses to “The 10 Free Resources Every Writer Needs”

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  1. Thank you for sharing this list. This is great!

  2. Trevor says:

    Great list.

    Why do you suggest Merriam-Webster instead of

  3. Hi Trevor,
    I recommend Merriam-Webster because it’s the house dictionary of many publications. I find it to be the most reliable, but I’m sure others here may have different opinions. Thanks for reading.

  4. Thank you for sharing these 10 free resources. The main one is the copyright as I never want people to try and steal my content and never have to pay for it. There are just too many people that will not give you credit for your own content.

  5. joylene says:

    Gosh, it feels like my birthday. Thanks, Maria. These are an excellent gift.

  6. Joanne says:

    Thank you for this great list, Maria. I tried to access query (#6 on the list) and I get a “forbidden/you don’t have access to this site”. I’m trying not to take this personally…anyone else having trouble with this one? The handy query tracker sounds helpful.

  7. Hi Joanne,
    I just check on Query Tracker—their site must be down. Hopefully it’s only temporary.

    I also recommend
    Be sure to check them out too!

  8. I happen to be reading “Elements of Style” right now, for the second time.

    The OWL has great tutorials, I agree.

    By the way – to the editors of WritetoDone – the byline which alerts us to who the guest poster is, looks much better now.

  9. Maria

    Fantastic resources. Another item to be added to this list is a book titled “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. Possible one of the best books written on writing nonfiction- of course Elements of style is an all time classic. :) Thanks for sharing.


  10. Kaylee Mason says:

    I would also include Wikipedia. It’s always my first stop for research on any subject.

  11. Arif says:

    For the wannabe poets who are reading this, it’s the best rhyming dictionary on the planet. By the way, is a darn-good dictionary as well as a great phrase-finder too.

  12. Dennis says:

    looking forward to reading…….

  13. Julie Roads says:

    HI Mary – I just found you via your article on CopyBlogger – I’m HOOKED – just signed up for both of your blogs’ subscriptions. So glad to have found you…Julie

  14. Excellent list, though I question the inclusion of the U.S. Copyright Office. Every writer should know that it is not necessary to register a work with the Copyright Office, and that, in fact, you hold the copyright the moment you write a piece.

  15. Your article very interesting, I have introduced a lot of friends look at this article, the content of the articles there will be a lot of attractive people to appreciate, I have to thank you such an article.

  16. Movies says:

    Thanks, very good

  17. What a useful list! Every beginning writer needs to bookmark this. I’m about to Retweet.

  18. Excellent info! Thank you so much!

  19. Very good list! I’ll bookmark this. Thanks!

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