In my “How to Write a Book” blog series, I have given this instruction repeatedly. If you want to write well, writers MUST read.

Writers Must Read

In short, writers should read everything they can get their hands on, but starting with your own bookshelf is the most cost effective place to begin.

I encourage you to especially read books in the genre of story you are writing. Chances are you are already a fan of this genre and own a book or two you may use for reference. Regardless if the book is “good” or “bad”, you will see what works, what doesn’t work, and techniques of writing you can adapt as your own. While you are reading, consider the various points of view (POV), but be sure to include a couple of stories in the point of view you are writing and decide which you prefer.

PLEASE send me an email or a message and let me know which book off your TBR (to-be-read) pile you choose and why you picked it.

My Book Recommendations Writers Must Read

This is an unusual post, but these book recommendations get thrown to my coaching clients in a far less organized manner. Here, you can search the topic and find my recommendation. What is really fun is some of these recommendations are authored by friends of mine whose success I have watched first hand. These are the folks I am eager to learn from (and you should be, too).

I’ve provided some commentary for my choices, but others speak for themselves. Again, if you end up reading any of these I would LOVE to know.

FREE Writing Foundations Worksheet!

Set the foundations of your writing with Dacia M Arnold’s Writing Foundations Worksheet for FREE! These pages come directly from her “Book Drafting Journal” Available HERE

Read Books on Craft

On Writing by Stephen King This book is implied required reading for all writers. You can go through your whole life and not read it, but just know most of us have.

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder This book is about structuring your screenplay for film, but it sets a solid foundation and understanding of plot structure that works and why it works.

Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody Same exact concept as Snyder’s book, but specifically spelled out for novel writing to include where in your novel each beat should take place. I particularly like her storyline example breakdowns.

On Writers and Writing by Margaret Atwood She’s the god-mother of dystopian writing and has been publishing poems, essays, and novels for over half a century.

Writers MUST Read Handy Guides

The Book Drafting Journal by Dacia M Arnold (me). I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug the workbook at least once in this post. An All-In-One place to keep your novel idea with embedded building blocks to blast you through your writing process.

Porcelain Prompts by Melissa Koons and Thomas A Fowler Silly collections of various topics to get your creative blood flowing.

Writers MUST Read For the Creative Spirit

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert This was recommended to me by a trusted friend and ad hoc mentor (whether he agrees to it or not) at my very first writing conference. I rarely reread books, but this one is an annual read for me.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron Stuck in your writing? Following along in this book with the prompts and daily assignments will for sure get you unstuck. This is also a great tool to establish a consistent writing routine.

Writers MUST Read on the Business of Writing

I always say, “Writing the book is the easiest part of writing a book.” There is so much more that goes into getting your story out to the world. These are the books I directly attribute to being my keys of not just book success, but business success. These are the books I recommend the most because writers at any level can benefit from them.

Intuitive Editing by Tiffany Yates Martin This book stays by my computer and is the most recommended book to my clients.

The Business of Short Stories by Shannon Lawrence is a book I was asked to beta read before publication. It walks you step by step from crafting to selling and marketing your writing. So good.

Your Super Sticky BUZZ Book Marketing Plan by Polly Letofsky is my marketing bible.

Profit First by Mike Michalowicz is for anyone who truly wants to make a living publishing books (or in any business really). I recommend this book to every single person I know who has a personal income stream outside their regular job. This book was how I was able to leave my regular job.

We Should All Be Millionaires by Rachel Rodgers resonated with me at the time I read it and I recommend it to women entrepreneurs. 

General Good Reading

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series is the perfect example of detailed 1st person point of view. To this point, Stephen King’s Fairy Tale is as well.

SA Crosby’s Razorblade Tears is an example of when head-hopping third person POV works.

David R Slayton’s White Trash Warlock Series is a great example of how the author uses their unique voice to exemplify the story.

The Classics

When you have the opportunity, read the classic novels in your chosen genre. If you don’t know your genre, this post might point you in the right direction.

How to Get Books

If you are new to the literary world, you might be wondering what authors think of how their books are acquired.

The Right Way to Get a Book:

  • Buy online from a big box store. There is NOTHING wrong with doing this regardless if its Amazon or Barnes and Noble. This is where the majority of our sales come from anyway.
  • Buy from your local indy bookstore. Authors LOVE to support indy bookstores. Sometimes we rent shelf space or place our books on consignment JUST to get them in there. Ordering from an independent book store helps keep small businesses alive and gives your local authors a place to highlight their work.
  • Directly from the author at a signing. We want to meet you and give you a free autograph with the purchase of our book. Many authors offer autographed copies of their books through their author website
  • Discount book stores are great to keep the author from having to buy back their unsold copies of books.
  • Second hand. If the goal is to save money, this might be a great option for you when you can find real treasures. We are happy when our stories are shared and passed around to friends and family to enjoy.
  • YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY!!! Authors LOVE libraries. It’s where many of us got our first taste of literature. It is free for you to read to your heart’s content, and libraries often get discounts on books they order from the publisher. If your library does not have a copy of a book you want, request it.

NOTE: Anything to keep books out of the landfills makes an author happy.  And another note: If you do not acquire a book by purchasing it directly from a bookstore, consider “repaying” that author by leaving them a review online. You can post the same review on sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads even if you purchased the book elsewhere or it was a gift. Leaving reviews is the single best way of getting the word out about the books you enjoy and helps authors almost as much as purchasing the book directly.

The Wrong Way to Get a Book:

  • “Free Book” websites. Just like movies can be pirated online and watched for free, there are pirating sites that do not compensate the author for distribution. You can be fined for downloading material from these.
  • Returning books for a refund after you’ve read the entire book. DO NOT DO THIS, even if you hated the book. The point is, you consumed the book good or bad. If you start it and decide it’s not for you, then by all means, stop reading and return it. Authors have to pay for the books returned. These are most often digital ebooks and audiobooks. If you received these for free through a subscription, the author still has to pay back the retail value of the return and loses money.

More Recommendations

I read widely and love sharing stories I love with others, no matter the genre or subject. I am on Goodreads also and have a goal of reading 50 books this year. Reach out and let me know what you’re reading and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram so we can talk books!

More “How to Write a Book” Posts

How to Write a Book- Determining Genre

Knowing what genre your story is will help you research any nuances of plot structure that are consistent with reader trends.

How to Write a Book- Setting Writing Goals

I encourage writers of all caliber to establish goals in their writing. If nothing else, being held accountable to yourself based on actionable and measurable goals makes you more likely to achieve them.

How to Write a Book: Where to Start

A lot of writing advice will contradict itself, which tells us there is no one prescribed way to write a book.

Want to See what a Book Coach can do for you?

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