Kane Gilmour

International Bestselling Author of The Crypt of Dracula

The Top Ten Books Every Writer Should Own

Just a quick post here before I get the next review up.

It occurred to me that while working on RESURRECT, I read a lot of good books on writing and a lot of bad books. A lot of what I learned is obsolete now too.

Still, for those looking for some good information on writing, the world of getting an agent or publisher, and self-publishing, these are the places to go. My totally subjective list of the 10 books every author (published, self-published, or pre-published) should own:

1. Stephen King: On Writing

If you won’t take advice from the top dog, who will you take advice from? Uncle Stevie’s book is part autobiographical, part “here’s how to write”, and all entertaining. He lays out the simple ground rules in the no-nonsense tone for which he’s become famous.

2. David Morrell: The Successful Novelist

Thrillmaster Morrell goes in depth on aspects of the business and the craft, where King’s book gives you the broader strokes. Taken together, the two books pretty much tell you everything you need about crafting story.

3 & 4. Writer’s Digest: Writer’s Market/Guide to Literary Agents

WD puts out the agents book and a Writer’s Market every year. Get the current ones. These books are more than just listings of publishers and agents. They are full of all kinds of useful things.

5. Steven Pressfield: The War of Art

King and Morrell tell you how to craft a tale and WD tells you where to sell it. Pressfield tells you how to get off your ass and write the book in the first place. This little volume is essential reading for anyone in any creative art.

6. Lynne Truss: Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Some writers, even professionals who have been at it forever, are still mystified by the simplest part of our written language: punctuation. Lynne Truss lays out the rules and manages to make it an engaging and funny read too.

7. William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White: The Elements of Style

All you need to know about grammar in 85 simple pages.

8. Sheree Bykofsky & Jennifer Basye Sander: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published

I bought the second edition in 2000. Obviously the landscape of publishing has changed significantly in the last 11 years, but I’m going to assume that the current edition of the book is equally good, and even if it isn’t, you could get the 2nd edition and just take things with a grain of salt, knowing that they might have changed a bit. This book is excellent for providing some general knowledge on the things that go on in the publishing world and for introducing the newbie author to the ways things go in traditional publishing.

9. Chuck Sambuchino: Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript

This one has all your formatting question answers for every kind of submission: book manuscript, query letters, proposals, the lot. Chuck’s with WD and so he should know. Any other book on formatting isn’t going to cut the mustard. This one gives you everything you need with full page examples. Unless you are writing all kinds of stuff, both fiction and non-fiction, you’ll only need a few pages of this book, but you should have it on your shelf.

10. J.A. Konrath: The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing (Everything a Writer Needs to Know)

Joe Konrath is the man. The book is a collection of posts from his blog for a few years. It’s the size of four or five novels in length. It covers everything. My only complaint with the book is that it ends around the time of the recent e-book and self-publishing explosion. No doubt Konrath will put out another book on the subject. What you need to do is read this book and then start reading his blog on a daily basis. The whole world of publishing is changing and Konrath is the man with his finger on the pulse, who is willing to show you how the sausage gets made. Really, out of everything on this list, you could probably get by with just Konrath’s book and his blog. The contents of the book are still in the blog, but for a couple of clams you can have the contents of his blog on your Kindle. He also deleted the redundant or completely obsolete posts from the last 5 years before putting the book together. He even made a nice hyperlinked table of contents for you in the front of the e-book and organized posts by topic. Wasn’t that thoughtful of him?


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  1. Amy

    Greetings. I wandered over here after reading your comments at Murderati.
    I had given up on Stephen King, but I forgave him after reading “On Writing.”
    “The Elements of Style,” however, brings back memories of my high school English teacher, Mr. B. He sure kicked my butt.
    By the way, I couldn’t find the missing comma in your “Editing Services” section. I’ll blame it on a coffee-less morning. But I do question one grammatical choice. 🙂

  2. Kane

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for checking out the site. The missing comma is there but there’s more than one bad grammatical choice on that page too! I’m gonna revamp the whole thing as I search for more freelance editing clients. (I’ve got a lull at the moment.)

    Keep checking back–I’ll have more stuff on writing and editing as well as reviews and an interview with Jeremy Robinson soon. My first novel should be available this summer, as well.


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