November 30, 2010

Books for Writers - Part I

Every writer deserves at least one new book about the craft for the holidays.  This week, I'm offering a few suggestions for books about writing and publishing in general. Next week I'll share books geared toward the fantasy writer.

Editor Betsy Lerner brings an insider's perspective on what makes writers tick and then shows us how a publishing house really works. If you write, you want this book.
PART I deals with the writing psyche. Witty, insightful, and illuminating, sometimes painfully so.  
PART II covers the publication process, from the time you get an agent to the day your book comes into the world. Straightforward and sobering. 

You're probably wondering how this book ended up on a fantasy writer's shelf. Easy. Beinhart's no-nonsense advice crosses genres and covers everything from scene construction to narrative drive to the four methods of creating characters. Filled with examples from well-known mysteries. A must-have if you write whodunits, and an excellent resource for everyone else.

Written in the late '30s and still timely. Brenda Ueland, an author knighted by the king of Norway, believes everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say.  I especially like Chapter X: Why Women who do too much housework should neglect it for their writing. Done!

I bought this book directly from the authors after their lively presentation at a local SCBWI conference.  Literary agent Arielle Eckstut and her co-author/husband, writer David Henry Sterry, have compiled an entertaining, comprehensive overview of how to become a successfully published author. One of the few books I've read that deals with the hard facts of contracts and royalties, as well as the reality of book launches and what it takes to keep a book "alive". Definitely worth adding to your collection.

NOTE: Per Mr. Sterry (see comments), there's a new, updated version of this above book, renamed THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR BOOK PUBLISHED. Check it out!

And last, but not least, two others I've mentioned in previous posts:
  by Renni Browne & Dave King
  by Sandra Scofield


  1. Great list, Kathryn. I just added Putting Your Passion Into Print to my holiday wish list.

    Funny tidbit: Larry Beinhart's How to Write a Mystery was the first how-to I read when I decided I wanted to try my hand at fiction. Just checked my reading journal, I finished it on March 9, 2001!

    Holy moly, this publishing thing is taking longer than I thought. :)

  2. VR: Yes it does, but you're on a roll now! ;-)

  3. "Why Women who do too much housework should neglect it for their writing." - Wiser words were never written. I'm looking into this one :)

  4. Stephanie: Considering that Ueland wrote this in 1938, it's really a radical idea!

  5. Wow, just when I thought I had more than enough writer's books on my shelf, along comes new (to me) titles. Although I did put Forest for the Trees on my wish list this year...Thanks for the heads up to more great reading :-)

  6. Kenda: I know what you mean! There's still a few on my Wish List, but I can't recommend what I haven't read.

  7. I've been looking for writing books, so I'm bookmarking this post! Thanks for such great summaries of why you liked them!

  8. Heidi: You're welcome. I think most people have already heard of the usual books by Stephen King, etc., so I thought I'd highlight a few others.

  9. thanks every so much. just wanted to make you aware of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Publilshed, the new edition to Putting Your Passion Into Print, it's %60 new material, social media, networking, e-books, print-on-demand, all that. thanks, David Henry Sterry

  10. David: Thanks for the update. I've amended my blog to include it.


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