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Bookstore for Writers

Listed below are some of the most useful reference books for authors and writers. Learn to write better and sell what you write with guides to writing, book publishers, literary agents, publishing law, book contracts, and book proposals.

thesaurusOfPhrases.gif Roget's Thesaurus of Phrases
by Barbara Ann Kipfer (July 2001)
superThesaurus.gif Roget's Super Thesaurus
by Marc McCutcheon (August 2004)
americanHeritageDictionary.gif The American Heritage Dictionary
of the English Language 4th edition (January 15, 2000)
chicagoManualOfStyle.gif Chicago Manual of Style
15th edition (August 1, 2003)
writersMarket2006.gif 2006 Writer's Market
by Kathrny S. Brogan
novelWritersMarket2006.gif 2006 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market
by Lauren Mosko

Writing Fiction

Writing Nonfiction

Bookshelf Basics for Writers

Writer Info


Books About Writing Fiction

The Elements of Storytelling for Writers How to Write Compelling Fiction - Lynn Hightower, the 1994 Shamus Award winner for Best First Novel. says "Peter Rubie itemizes the elements of storytelling with a clarity and panache that make it a must for writers. This book will make you laugh, it will make you think, and, best of all, it will make you a better writer."
What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter, is a book for writers who like to learn by doing. This excellent tool is packed with over 300 exercises to help writers sharpen their skills in areas such as beginnings, perspective, plot, style, and even that loathesome activity, rewriting. Each exercise includes an objective and samples showing how other student writers completed the exercise. Many of these exercises can also be used as a jumping off point when you're stuck -- pick one and before you know it, you're writing again.
How To Write A Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey, is an excellent introduction to the art of novel writing. It covers all the basics: creating characters, viewpoint, conflict, climax, dialogue, and more. And rest assured, it isn't a dry, boring grammar class you have to endure. You won't have to diagram a single sentence - I promise. No, this book is laced with examples and step-by-step advice that will help you understand and apply the principles discussed. In fact, I liked it so much, that I bought the sequel when it came out.
How To Write A Damn Good Novel II by James N. Frey, is the second installment in this useful series. This book takes a more in-depth look at techniques you can use to improve your fiction. Learn about the fictive dream and how to induce it in your readers. Find out how to create characters your readers will care about. Chapter 8: The Seven Deadly Mistakes, is a must-read.
Writing the Novel, from Plot to Print by Lawrence Block, has been out for some time, and on my bookshelf for nearly as long. This nuts and bolts guide will walk you through the process of getting that first novel down on paper (or into your computer). Author Lawrence Block is very candid and reassuring - you'll find motivation and guidance in this book, but no false promises.
Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Albert Zuckerman. Talk about commercial advice, this book is chock-a-block with it. It should be: it's written by an agent. If you're most concerned about the "art" in your writing, skip this book. If you have big dreams and a commercial bent, it's a worthwhile read.
Successful Scriptwriting by Jurgen Wolff & Kerry Cox is a book that I picked up when I was considering having a go at a Deep Space Nine script. I never did write that script because I decided to resist the temptation to take the focus away from my other writing pursuits. Nonetheless, this book is packed with advice about how to write and pitch scripts for television shows and the movies, injcluding sitcoms, series, and movies-of-the-week. This title combines both commercial and craft advice to help you write that your script AND sell it.

Books About Writing Nonfiction

The Magazine Article: How to think it, plan it, write it by Peter Jacobi, isn't a book I would have picked up on my own. Fortunately, it was given to me. If you want to learn about quality (let me say that again - quality) article writing, this is THE book. I turn to it every now and again when I need a dose of inspiration. Using the techniques explained in these pages, you can take the most mundane excited about it, and produce a piece of writing that reflects your energy. One more thing: this book is substantive. You will not be reading the whole thing in one sitting. Your mind would just explode from information overload.
The 30-Minute Writer: How To Write & Sell Short Pieces by Connie Emerson. This is a favorite of mine because it looks that modern excuse of the time squeeze straight in the eye and blows it to pieces. This gem contains no less than thirteen different types of marketable writing that you can produce in about half an hour. Each type comes with a blueprint that lays out the suggested structure and helps you on your way. I tried out several new forms of writing because of this book. And yes, I sold some of the results.
Writing Successful Self Help and How To Books Midwest Book Review says: "From producing a salable proposal to negotiating permissions, preparing a manuscript, and assessing a market, this reference book provides an editor's view of what works - and what doesn't."
The Art of Creative Nonfiction A pioneer in the writing and teaching of nonfiction presents a practical guide to composing creative nonfiction that covers the entire process--from initial psychological preparation to marketing a finished piece.
The Copyright, Permission and Libel Handbook A Step-By-Step Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers. 

Writers Bookshelf Basics and Useful References

The Writer's Market comes out every year from Writer's Digest. This is a good place to find niche publications (book publishers and magazines) and to seek out new markets for your work. I buy one every couple of years, but not every year. You can order the edition that comes with a CD or the paperback (cheaper)!
Writer's Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents, 1999-2000 : Who They Are! What They Want! And How to Win Them Over! is the latest in a pretty good series of Market Guides from Jeff Herman.. Most notably, it includes agents, while the Writer's Digest makes you purchase a separate book if you want those. It focuses on books, not magazines.
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White should hold a place of honor on every writer's bookshelf. I have several editions on mine. This thin book, which first appeared in 1959, provides succinct and accurate advice on language usage, form, and style, and will prove valuable for anyone who puts pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard). A special section points out the proper use of commonly misused words - such as farther and further.
On Writing Well by William Zinsser, is nothing short of a classic. The book grew out of a course on writing nonfiction that the author created and taught at Yale and has gone through multiple editions. The language is more formal than most of the other books mentioned here, but formality isn't always a bad thing, especially when it's laced with humour as it is here. And within these pages, you'll find practical analyses of what makes good writing, and how to get started producing your own - and a much more affordable writing course than if you'd paid the tuition to attend it in person. This book belongs on any shelf of serious reference works for writers.
How To Write A Book Proposal by Michael Larsen is a decent overview of the proposal process integral to the sale of nonifiction books. You'll find out what elements need to be included in your proposal, how to organize it, and how to pack your proposal with the stuff that makes an acquisitions editor want it. I used this book in crafting the proposal for my book "Get Certified and Get Ahead" (McGraw-Hill, March 1998)
The New York Public Library Desk Reference is so thick that it would make a good doorstop if you could bare to part with it long enough. This tome contains the answers to the questions that reference librarians get asked most often.Want to know the time difference between New York City and Sydney, Australia? It's in here. So are major holidays around the world, shops bell signals, birth stones, real estate terms, how to calculate your net worth, basic mathmatical forumlas, and even a breakdown of the marks used by proofreaders. Oh, and did I mention, animal first aid, wedding ettiquette, information on the world's major religions, and (you get the picture).

Books About the Writing Life

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creative Writing Step-by-step guidelines, Valuable Tips, Down-to-earth advice for the beginning writer. Tells you how to start writing and how to get past writer's block.
The Grammatically Correct Handbook A Lively and Unorthodox Review of Common English, for the Linguistically Challenged. says "it's so much fun to read, you'll never forget good grammar again."
1999 Writer's Market Where and How to Sell What You Write. This book lists over 4,200 buyers for your writing and tells you who's buying what.
1999 Guide to Literary Agents A guide to 500 Literary Agents. 
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published This guide tells novices how to improve their chances of getting published.
Handbook of Publishing Law A guide to all aspects of a book publishing contract.
Nonfiction Book Proposals Read the table of contents (on our more information web page) even if you don't buy the book. Its a quick guide to writing a book proposal.
Write the Perfect Book Proposal Examines 10 diverse book proposals that were bought by publishers and describes why they worked.
Writer's Guide to Book Publishers and Literary Agents Who to contact at major publishers.

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