First things first: know your craft. Develop your writing voice. Novelists, learn the ingredients that make up plot. Memoirists, learn fiction writing techniques to make your story compelling and universal. Here are some books to get you started.
Finding Your Writer’s Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction, by Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Wall.
Mixes creative inspiration with practical advice about craft. This book guides you on accessing your natural voice, using voice as a springboard to characters and for discovering the form of your story, and includes a breakthrough approach to revision. My all-time favorite writing book.
Immediate Fiction: A Complete Writing Course, by Jerry Cleaver.
Covers story craft in a simple formula, the creative process, self-editing, time management, and getting into print. Great book for those of us who write first drafts by the seat of our pants (pantsing).
Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel, by Lisa Cron.
Explains how the mind is wired for story. The author’s method of writing a novel is an alternative to pantsing and plotting.
Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need, by Blake Snyder.
Discusses the elements of a winning logline (what your story is about), and breaks down a screenplay into 15 “beats.” A great book for novelists, too.
Save the Cat! Strikes Back: More Trouble for Screenwriters to Get Into…and Out Of, by Blake Snyder.
If you followed Snyder’s method and your screenplay or novel still doesn’t hang together, this book covers trouble spots and how to fix them.
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need, by Jessica Brody.
Converts Snyder’s method of screenwriting into novel writing.
Writer’s Digest puts out many excellent books on writing.
Educate yourself on the nuts and bolts of self-publishing, from creation to marketing and beyond. These two books cover it all.
The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living, by Peter Bowerman.
From creating your book to marketing, building a cash-generating website to developing multiple income streams, getting your book into bookstores and maximizing ebook profits, this is the book to own if you’re pursuing self-publishing. Includes a timeline of what you need to do, and when.
IngramSpark Guide to Independent Publishing, by Brendan Clark.
Walks you through the book production process from start to finish, marketing your manuscript, getting the most out of your publishing budget, converting your physical book into digital e-book form, efficiently fulfill orders for your book and generating buzz beyond your local community of acquaintances.
Writer’s Platform Books
To sell your books, you need a platform. These two books cover the basics.
Create Your Writer Platform: The Key to Building an Audience, Selling More Books, and Finding Success as an Author, by Chuck Sambuchino.
Practical advice for increasing your visibility online, selling more books, and launching a successful writing career.
The Author Training Manual: A Comprehensive Guide to Writing Books That Sell, by Nina Amir.
A step-by-step guide to help you develop book ideas that sell. Follow the steps, and you’ll have a book proposal ready to submit to agents and publishers.
Treat your creative output like a business. That means being able to do what’s required as a solopreneur with focus, effectiveness, and efficiency. These books offer tips to increase your productivity.
Success Under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive When the Pressure’s on, by Sharon Melnick.
Her 50% rule will help you focus on what you can control, and let go of what is beyond your control.
The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype–and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More, by Michael Breus.
New evidence suggests that we work best if we follow our individual circadian rhythm. This book includes a short test to determine your type, and specific programs to make the best use of your particular rhythm in order to succeed. Especially helpful for writers: the best time to brainstorm or draft, and the best time to edit.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport.
Presents four rules for transforming your mind and habits to develop the skill of working deeply without distraction.