There are thousands if not millions of books written about writing and publishing. Here are a few I have read and found useful, some are new and some old. If they are old, please don’t let that deter you. Patricia Highsmith’s excellent book about writing suspense fiction was published in 1966 and is still relevant today. However, if you want a book about the indie publishing process or social media, check you are buying the latest edition as technology moves swiftly onwards.
Authors – memoir, autobiographies, biographies
On Writers and Writing by Margaret Atwood – on the role of the writer and interaction with the reader, including anecdotes from her life and references to other writers.
An Education by Lynn Barber – memoir by the British journalist, turned into the film of the same name.
Aspects of the Novel by EM Forster – considers people, plot, fantasy and rhythm, comparing the great novelists.
Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman – both a guide to writing, and a guide to the being a screenwriter in Hollywood, by the writer of ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, ‘All the President’s Men’ and ‘Marathon Man’.
On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – part-memoir, part-masterclass, a highly practical view of writing.
Giving up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel – a personal memoir, not about writing as such, but about the life that made her a double-Booker Prize winner.
Selected Diaries by Virginia Woolf – one of the best diaries in the English language; the minutiae of daily life, a window on her world.
On Writing by AL Kennedy – an insight into the nuts & bolts of a #writerslife, laughter, tears, hard work and deadlines.
The Woman of Substance: The Life and Books of Barbara Taylor Bradford by Piers Dudgeon – if you are a writer interested in how your real life sneaks into your own novels, you will be fascinated by this book.
Charlotte Brontë: A Life by Claire Harman – If you want to know how the masters write, this is a must-read, it sheds light on real life experiences which appear in the novels.
How to write
The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker – with examples from ancient myths to Hollywood films and TV soap operas, explains the seven archetypal themes that recur throughout every kind of story.
Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande – how to adopt a writer’s habits and frame of mind, how to read critically and overcome difficulty. A classic.
Bestseller: Secrets of Successful Writing by Celia Brayfield – author of the Eighties bestseller Pearls, Brayfield “The only formula I believe in is writing the best book you can.”
The Craft of Novel Writing by Dianne Doubtfire – a guide to writing a novel, step by step, starting with the question ‘why?’ and moving onto Theme, Viewpoint, Setting, Characterisation, Dialogue and Plot.
Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction by Patricia Highsmith – sensible, good humoured and practical advice from the writer of The Talented Mr Ripley.
The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall – breaks down the process of novel writing into a series of parts to be completed one at a time.
Crafting Your Plot: a 60 Minute Masterclass by Greg Mosse – clear and practical advice, discussion points and exercises; how to manage delay, how to use minor characters, understanding the final crescendo.
How to Write Realistic Dialogue by Jean Saunders – a practical guide including layout of dialogue, punctuation and creating credible speech for your characters.
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler – a classic ‘structure’ book for novelists and screenwriters explaining the character archetypes and each stage on the hero’s journey.
Writing Your First Novel: a 60 Minute Masterclass by Shelley Weiner – an introduction to the key elements to sort out before starting – character, setting, plot, viewpoint – and exercises to do as you go along.
Writing Short Stories: a 60 Minute Masterclass by Shelley Weiner – how to write a story rich in character and plot, in a limited number of words.
How Novels Work by John Mullan – a toolbox of writing techniques, starting with Beginnings – title, epigraph, prologue – right through Narrating, Genre, Voices, Structure and Style to Endings – epilogue, postscript, false endings.
The Indie Publishing Process
Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, and Why You Should by David Gaughran – excellent advice on the indie publishing process, especially algorithms, keywords and sales rank.
Successful Self-Publishing: How to Self-Publish and Market Your Book in Ebook and Print by Joanna Penn – an easy to understand explanation of the indie publishing process and some of the choices to make.
Self-Publishing on Amazon 2019 by Dr Andy Williams – a step-by-step hand-holding guide, importantly updated every year [so check you are buying the latest edition].
Using Social Media
Twitter for Writers by Rayne Hall – for the Twitter beginner.
Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors by Ian H Sutherland – specific marketing strategies, recommendations and the tools to use. Not for beginners.