When people find out I’m an author, they typically want to know what kind of books I write. However, just as often, I come across people who’ve been working on a story or book themselves. Not all of these people want or intend to publish their works, but some of them do and need some guidance on how to get past whatever obstacle they’ve reached in the book creation process.
For some, it’s finishing the work in the first place. For others, it’s how to approach the publishing process. Still others have completed a book and even published it, but have no idea how to sell it.
As such, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite and/or recommended books to help you budding authors write a good book and get it into the hands of readers. This is not a complete list, by any means. But in a world that loves to overwhelm new writers with too much information, it’s a place to begin.
Writing and Story Craft
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print. This is a great book on craft that goes into pretty much all the rookie writing mistakes that novelists make. They cover showing vs. telling, good exposition, nailing point of view, beats, good dialogue, and much more. If you want to be a decent writer, read this book at least once. It’s a screaming deal at $2.99.
On Writing by Stephen King. This book comes highly recommended by many fiction authors I know, both newbie and successful. Part memoir and part sage advice, this tome is on my list for reading. Otherwise I’d say more.
Your First Novel by. Another book recommended by a few people in my writing group. This one’s good for those earlier in the publishing process, as it offers advice on crafting a good book and knowing what agents are looking for. It’s geared toward those looking to get published through traditional means, which is why I didn’t read it. However, I know many of you seek a traditional deal and it’s important to know what the traditional houses are looking for.
Self-Publishing and Marketing
Write. Publish. Repeat. by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt. In my opinion, the best book ever written on self-publishing and book marketing. Why? It over-delivers on content even for a regularly priced How-To e-book, much less one for $5.99. More importantly, the book explains all the important aspects of how to make a career as an author, from the writing process to the various modes of publishing to the intricacies of marketing. The marketing section is chock full of time-honored strategies. Most importantly, this book offers what I’ve found to be the most realistic, bullshit-free look at what self-publishing is really like. If you plan to go indie and you’re interesting in making a living as an author, read this book.
How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn. Joanna Penn is a well-known indie author of thriller books as well as a self-publishing guru. She’s one of the first experts I go to when I need advice. Her website has tons of useful articles as well as classes and workshops, and she has a weekly podcast that’s invaluable. Although her writing style and the type of advice she offers differs greatly from that of Write. Publish. Repeat., I’ve found her advice to be as realistic and useful as theirs. Like Platt and Truant, Joanna Penn is primarily an author who loves to write and to help others, rather than an information marketer hoping to make a bundle off inexperienced authors.
Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl. Despite this book being published in 2013, which is old enough to be considered outdated in the world of book publishing and marketing, “Your First 1000 Copies” still holds up well in 2016. This is because the content in based on marketing principles rather than fads or tactics that change quickly. The author’s entire system is based on connecting with and helping/serving your readers and can be tailored to your individual circumstances. A quick, easy read with important advice, and a good book to pick up when you’ve just published (or are close to publishing) your first book.
Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran. Gaughran is a numbers guy, and this book does a good job explaining the how the Amazon algorithms work (e.g. sales rank, bestseller lists, hot new releases, also-boughts). This book can be worth it just for that, although he does provide his own brand of other advice on marketing techniques such as offering free books, KDP Select, running sales, advertising, etc. This is a very useful book, but better for authors who already have at least one book published, and ideal to read again when you have a few more books under your belt.
What about you? Do you have any books that made a difference for you in your journey to become a published author? Please share the book and author, and what you got from the book.
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Joanna Penn’s website — chock full of information on self-publishing
Self-Publishing Podcast with Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and Dave Wright (plus some of their other podcasts)