Recommended Reading for Fiction Writers

Posted May 14, 2015 by Amanda Shofner in Self-Publishing / 6 Comments

When I shared my schedule — and how I plan to write 20k words per week — you may have noticed that I built time for reading.

The result is reading more writing-as-a-business and writing-as-a-craft books than I did the last couple years combined. Rather than profile each of them individually (my brain whimpers at the thought), I’ll summarize my thoughts — and let you know which books you should pick up!

If you only read a few books off this list, my picks are Structuring Your Novel, Gotta Read It!, and Write. Publish. Repeat. (And all links go to Goodreads!)

structuringyournovelStructuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

This was the first book I read on structure that just clicked and I got it. I follow K.M. Weiland’s blog (and frequently share her advice), but it’s worth purchasing the book — you’ll get so much more out of it.

For a while, I avoided structure because it was synonymous with plotting and outlining for me (it’s not) and although I knew I should do those things, I wasn’t interested. So wrong! Structuring Your Novel is a book I’ll be coming back to again and again.

How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon.com by Penny Sansvieri

I found a lot of this advice easier to implement for non-fiction writers than fiction writers, but it’s still a good lesson on keywords. Much of this advice was not new to me, as I’ve heard it (either from Penny herself or elsewhere) already.

Sometimes it’s worth the reminder, though.

Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland

After Structuring Your Novel, I knew I had to pick up K.M. Weiland’s other book. While I wasn’t as in awe of Outlining as I was Structuring — K.M. Weiland’s outlining is pretty intense, and rather intimidating — I still found this to be a good writing-as-a-craft book.

I may never be a huge outliner, but there are lots of good points here I’ll incorporate into my own writing.

Gotta Read It! — Five Simple Steps to a Fiction Pitch That Sells by Libbie Hawker

After listening to Libbie Hawker on the Self-Publishing Podcast, I knew I had to pick this one up. Even better, it’s only 99 cents.

The reason Gotta Read It is so awesome? It’ll help you write a kick-ass synopsis. After reading this, I rewrote the synopsis for Elusive Memories and was pleased with my results. I’ll probably write all my synopses based on these five steps.

And yes, you don’t have to plan to pitch a book to an agent to get value from this one. Product descriptions work just as well.

Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

The Self-Publishing Podcast has kept me company at work, and it was only natural that I ended up reading their book. Much of it isn’t new if you’ve listened to their podcast, but it does skip a lot of their banter. And while I love their banter… in a book, it works.

I’d recommend this for new writers or unpublished authors. These guys (and David Wright) have given me so many good marketing ideas — and in some ways, have revitalized my writing-as-a-business.

Story Engineering by Larry Brooksstoryengineering

This is the most recent book I read, and while Larry Brooks has some great ideas, it was difficult to get into his writing style. At times, it seems like he wrote around a topic so much that eventually I lost the point of what he was trying to say.

That said, the six core competencies were an interesting way of looking at writing, and I liked his notion that even pantsers are planning stories — they just do it in drafts. That structure is non-negotiable, but that doesn’t mean your writing will be formulaic.

Definitely pick this one up, but make sure you have a basic understanding of story structure first. (Might I suggest Structuring Your Novel?)

Read any good books for fiction writers lately? Share with me — I’m always looking for new recommendations!

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6 responses to “Recommended Reading for Fiction Writers

  1. Dustin Morley

    I started Story Engineering a while ago and have had trouble getting into it – I’ve put it down and moved on to a different book several times already. Structuring Your Novel also didn’t really click with me, but I’ll have to give it another try at some point.

    My must reads are as follows:

    On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King
    Book Architecture – Stuart Horwitz

    I also recommend:

    Blueprint Your Bestseller – Stuart Horwitz
    The 50 First Pages – Jeff Gerke
    How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead – Ariel Gore

    • I totally understand about Story Engineering, Dustin. Great material, tough reading.

      The SPP guys recommend On Writing all the time (or, they did a lot in the beginning of their podcast — wonder what they’d recommend now). I plan on checking out Book Architecture, and Blueprint Your Bestseller sounds familiar, so I must have heard it on a podcast at some point.

      Thanks! 🙂

  2. Just added Structuring Your Novel to my TBR list! I hadn’t heard of that one before. Structure is where I always went horribly, horribly wrong back in my fiction-writing NaNoWriMo days. Who knows, maybe this will be the book that brings me back to novel writing!

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