Writing, Marketing, and Publishing Resources

Janet Grant

Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

What’s new in the writing, marketing and publishing section of your bookshelves? I’ve found it’s helpful for us to share with one another the writer’s toolbox each of you have assembled that’s helped you grow as a writer who aims to have a long and productive career.

To get us started, I’m proffering this nowhere-near inclusive list of publishing resources:

Publishing Resources

Writing Tools

  1. The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White
  2. Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark
  3. On Writing Well by William Zinsser
  4. Getting the Words Right: 39 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Theodore A. Rees Cheney
  5. Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite by June Casagrande
  6. Woe is I by Patricia O’Conner
  7. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
  8. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  9. Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
  10. On Writing by Stephen King
  11. The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

Fiction Tools

  1. Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
  2. Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
  3. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
  4. Writing and Selling the Christian Novel by Penelope J. Stokes
  5. The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes: (And How to Avoid Them) by Jack M. Bickham
  6. The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life by Noah Lukeman
  7. Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French
  8. The Dance of Character and Plot by DiAnn Mills
  9. The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and Exercises by James Scott Bell
  10. Revisions & Self-Editing (Write Great Fiction) by James Scott Bell

Basic Reference Tools

  1. The Chicago Manual of Style by the University of Chicago Press Editorial Staff
  2. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary by Merriam-Webster
  3. Beginning Writer’s Answer Book edited by Jane Friedman
  4.  Christian Writer’s Manual of Style by Bob Hudson & Shelley Townsend
  5. Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Allen
  6. The Flip Dictionary by Barbara Ann Kipfer
  7. Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary by Jean Claude Corbeil
  8. The Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale

Publishing Books

These titles help you to understand how publishing works and how to get your books published.

  1. The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters by Wendy Burt
  2. The Art of the Book Proposal by Eric Maisel
  3. Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript by Chuck Sambuchino
  4. Literary Market Place by Karen Hallard and Mitra Purkayastha
  5. Christian Writer’s Market Guide by Steve Laube and Jerry Jenkins
  6. The Inside Scoop by Janet Kobobel Grant and Wendy Lawton (I couldn’t resist)
  7. How Do I Decide: Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing by Rachelle Gardner (I REALLY couldn’t resist)

Marketing Books

  1. Publicize Your Book by Jacqueline Deval
  2. Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul by Susan Harrow
  3. Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl
  4. Platform by Michael Hyatt

What tools have served you well? Both books and online mentions are welcomed.

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14 Responses

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  1. Great lists, Janet. Thanks!
    * The tools I use most are the Holy Bible and Strong’s Bible Concordance. Old school, I guess.

  2. Angela Carlisle says:

    The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi is a rather impressive resource. I find it is also helpful for fiction writing to keep a good Baby Names book on hand.

    I usually use Merriam Webster Online for my dictionary/thesaurus reference; it’s quicker than paging through the paper copy (easier to carry around too!).

    Blogs like this one have been invaluable in helping me prepare (mentally and tangibly) for the world of publishing.

    The blog Novel Writing Help offers a lot of good advice for beginning fiction writers. I’m not sure if it’s still active, but there’s a wealth of information in the older posts.

  3. I just finished “Ghost Writing” by Cecil Murphey. I don’t plan to ghost write myself, but he offers broader how-to advice. His writing style alone inspires me. He’s a master of the simple story.

  4. CJ Myerly says:

    I just did a blog post on some of my favorite resources. The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi is the book I use the most. For plotting I reference How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method and The Story Equation by Susan May Warren. Then there’s Romance-ology 101 by Julie Lessman.

    And for grammar– Say What? by C.S. Lakin

    I could go on and on. 🙂

  5. One good resource for pacing, plotting and character development is the commentaries often found on movie DVDs.
    * They can sometimes reveal surprises; for instance, the 1984 Robert Redford film “The Natural”, based on Bernard Malamud’s novel of the same name, changed the ending to one that was upbeat and triumphant. In the novel, Roy Hobbs strikes out in his last at-bat, and in keeping with Malamud’s sternly moralistic theme reaps the bitter harvest of his penchant for bad choices.
    * This would have been a terrible mistake for the film, as its audience was quite different from that of the book, which had been published 32 years previous. Malamud’s Hobbs was a tragic hero, in the classical sense; his failings were largely internal, and would have been difficult to bring to the screen without making the erstwhile hero something of a cad…and more importantly, someone with whom the audience could not have readily identified. (I mean, do you want to spend two hours watching Robert Redford as the bad guy?)
    * In the film, the story’s changed from Malamud’s richly mythological arc to a simpler tale of redemption, the atonement for a youthful mistake coming to fruition at the end, where all the cards, moral and physical, are on the table.
    * Added to that is the audience that existed in 1984, compared to the book’s 1952 readers. The film was produced during Ronald Reagan’s ‘Morning In America’, while the book was released during a thoroughly nasty little non-war in Korea (‘police action’, remember?).Malamud’s readers well remembered World War Two, and for them the ‘just deserts’ of the ending would have been both fitting and satisfying. The movie’s viewers were still trying to bury Viet Nam, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and a recently stagnant economy; they wanted (and needed) heroes.
    * I hope you’ll pardon this digression, but the point is that we can find some truly unexpected insights on these commentary tracks, and they can give the writer significant pause for thought,

  6. Carol Ashby says:

    Janet, I have many that I like.
    Anything by James Scott Bell is worthwhile
    Browne and King’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers (you mentioned this) is a must-have that’s worth rereading at least once a year just to refresh your memory.
    *Kathy Ide’s Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors provides an excellent summary of many rules on proper usage with examples and a reference into the exact location in the Chicago Manual of Style if you want more info.
    *Diane Hacker’s A Pocket Style Manual is a small spiralbound that is something my kids used in English classes. It puts many rules at your fingertips, including the proper formatting for references using MLA, APA, and Chicago styles both in-text and as footnotes/bibliography.
    *Three sets of five e-books by Rayne Hall (Writer’s Craft Power Packs) on topics ranging from Writing Deep Point of View: Professional Techniques for Fiction Writers (possibly the best discussion of this I’ve found) to Writing Vivid Dialogue, Writing Fight Scenes, Euphonics for Writers (the effect of how words sound) and Getting Book Reviews. They are also available individually, but the price break for the 5-backs is excellent.
    *Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch’s APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book. I picked up this treasure at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference last year. It’s the best resource I’ve found that summarizes it all. The author and entrepreneur sections are just as valuable for the person wanting to traditionally publish.
    *WordPress for Dummies and Facebook for Dummies are excellent resources for maximizing a WordPress blog, running your own website with WordPress as your CMS, and using Facebook as an author.

    • Carol Ashby says:

      Forgot to mention Allan and Barbara Pease’s The Definitive Book of Body Language. Good resource for fiction writers and a fascinating look at what the body language of the people you know means. How body language varies in different cultures is discussed as well.

  7. What a super list of resources, Janet! I’ve read some of these, have others in my TBR pile, and can tell by some of your titles that there are more books I need to read.
    *I cut my teeth in fiction writing via Susan May Warren. I’ve especially found these books very helpful:
    How to Write a Brilliant Novel
    Advanced Brilliant Writing
    The Story Equation: How to Plot and Write a Brilliant Story with One Powerful Question
    *She has a way of breaking down the art of story telling into practical, easy-to-understand ways for story writing.

  8. Janet,

    Great list of writing resources. Thank you. I wanted to add two more titles that I wrote:
    Book Proposals That Sell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success. It has over 130 Five Star Amazon reviews–and I have slashed the price from $15 to $8 and bought all the remaining copies of the book. get it at the BOOKPROPOSALSTHATSELL.com
    Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams is another book that has helped many people which I wrote several years ago: jumpstartdreams.com

    Finally I’m working on a mini-book that will be out early next year on 10 Publishing Myths. I’ll be teaching on this topic in October in Indiana.


  9. Jerusha Agen says:

    Terrific recommendations, Janet. Thank you! I’m glad you included your own, The Inside Scoop, as it truly belongs on this list. I’m referencing and reading it like my publishing bible–so helpful!

  10. I’ve read – and own – many of the books you mention, but seldom go back to them. I’ve found more helpful information at writers conferences and blogs like this one.

  11. Mary Kay Moody says:

    Have many of the books on your list, Janet. And will certainly pick up a few more. Great list. The books by James Scott Bell, Zinzer, Brown & King, the dictionaries, and market guides get a lot of use here. And Donald Maass. Lots of repeat business there.

    I’d add a book that might appear unrelated but opens new perspectives especially in the proposal and marketing side: MADE TO STICK by Chip & Dan Heath. Another I’ve found very helpful: Angela Hunt’s series: Writing Lessons from the Front. Includes some ideas I’ve never heard/seen anywhere else.

    I’ll second Carol’s suggestion: Kathy Ide’s Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. Handy little reference and easy to find what you need.