Just to be clear this is not my list of the best books for writers released in 2013. This is my list of the best books I read this year. Looking at the list I realise that I prefer technical books about methods and process, nuts and bolts, rather than motivational books and those that talk in terms of art. Please keep that in mind as you go through my choices.
Sitting down to write this made me think about the way publishing has changed in the past few years. Even in the first decade of the 21st Century, a list of books released in a particular year was important because you might only have a short window of opportunity to get your hands on the book before it went out of print, was stripped and returned or otherwise vanished from the shelves of your local bookstore. It didn’t always happen but sometimes there was a good chance of it. In this, the Age of the E-book, it is easier to get your hands on most books.
Having said that, let’s lead off with the only one of my recommendations that is not available as a cheap e-book. Trial and Error by Jack Woodford is still my go-to book on the subject of writing as a career. Woodford wrote in the era of the pulps and the slicks but most all of his advice is still as relevant today as it was back in the 30s. Woodford made his living at the typewriter and the book is not only a fascinating insight into a bygone era, it is a manual for an age when pulp style productivity is coming back into fashion among writers. The book is funny, cynical and wise. I learned how to write novels from the chapter on the subject and I have pretty much followed his method exactly for all of the 30 books I have completed since.
I first read 2000 to 10000 by Rachel Aaron last year but I re-read it a couple of times this year. To be perfectly honest, I don’t actually have much interest in writing 10000 words a day– I have built a career based on extreme laziness and writing 3000 words a day. Doing that regularly over the long term lets you build up a surprisingly huge backlist. Where Aaron’s book really scores is the advice on organisation and editing. The mechanical process of prepping to write 10000 words a day will serve you well at whatever length you want to write. Her advice on motivation is sound and her methods for revising are absolutely excellent. If you want to learn to use your writing time more efficiently, this is the book for you.
Next up Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley, quite simply the best book about how to plot a novel I have ever read. It is short. There is not a word wasted. The method described is not for everyone but it will work. You can tell this book was written by someone who had really wrestled with the process of plotting a genre novel efficiently. She is also someone that gets that outlines are not set in stone and sometimes plots need to change and evolve on the fly and she sets out excellent methods for dealing with this.
How to Format Your Novel For Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords and CreateSpace in One Afternoon by Ed Ditto is a book I reviewed quite recently so for more details I shall simple point you in the direction of my previous post. If you are an indie author, a Mac owner and a Scrivener user you should own a copy of this book. If you are a Mac owner who wants to be an indie author get yourself a copy of Scrivener and this book and you will be all set to produce e-books in every format and print books too. That is all I am going to say on this subject.
I read Write, Publish, Repeat by Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant last week on the recommendation of David Gaughran’s fine blog I am glad I did. This is a handbook for survival in the indie publishing age. It deals with all the issues you are likely to encounter. It is superb on the subject of marketing and it is also very funny.
While I am here I will give an honourable mention to David’s excellent Let’s Get Visible, an excellent primer on e-book marketing.
Anyway, that’s the list of books for writers I found most useful and entertaining this year. You should be able to pick all of them except the Woodford as a package for around 20 bucks.