Books for Authors | Resources for Writers

These titles and sources can help librarians serve their community’s writers across different skill levels, potential publishing paths, or genres.

Writing is three (or more!) skills in a trench coat. Grammar, structure, characterization, and tone are just some aspects writers consider when they work on a story. 

Communicating clearly and holding an audience’s interest is the goal regardless of whether that story takes the form of business communications, a family history, a memoir, a novel, a film, or a game. 

Additionally, the advent of viable, though not always straightforward, self-publishing options has made writing for publication an objective for an increasing number of people.

Patrons searching for titles to help with their writing may be looking for everything from plot ideas to publishing advice. Some may be focused on specific forms or genres, while others may be feeling their way through what they want to achieve with their words.

These titles and sources can help you serve your community’s writers across different skill levels, potential publishing paths, or genres.

Starred titles () are recommended for all library collections.


Ackerman, Angela and Becca Puglisi. The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Jobs, Vocations, and Careers (Writers Helping Writers). JADD. 2020. 320p. ISBN $18.99.

The cofounders of the popular site Writers Helping Writers offer this guide to occupations, which can help with character creation and plots grounded in professional realities. Each listing includes a summary of the work and qualifications typical of the job. Additional information on the type of person likely to be successful at the work is also provided. This book, the seventh in the series, also highlights common scenarios faced in the profession and ways those can serve a fictional plot. Jobs range from common ones, such as a teacher or paralegal, to positions like an ethical hacker, dream interpreter, or taxidermist. Other thesauruses from this eight-book series may also be in demand.

Bell, Matt. Refuse To Be Done: How To Write and Rewrite a Novel in Three Drafts. Soho. 2022. 168p. ISBN 9781641293419. $15.95.

Bell’s (In the House upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods) book gives writers a clear process from a blank page to final edit, plus the satisfaction of knowing when the project is complete. The practical, tactics-focused guide on getting it done step-by-step starts with getting words on the page and encourages writers to return to polish them later. A perfect title for writers who have struggled with momentum or fears about the quality of early drafts. 

Black, Sacha. 8 Steps To Side Characters: How to Craft Supporting Roles with Intention, Purpose, and Power (Better Writers). Atlas Black. 2021. 334p. ISBN $12.99.

Supporting characters can be essential to fleshing out a fictional world and helping to drive the plot forward. Black (13 Steps to Evil) helps writers identify where supporting characters are needed and find ways to make them three-dimensional. The book focuses on how to create characters with distinctive voices and backstories that readers care about. Black’s approach is funny, foul-mouthed, and leans toward conflict-driven narrative, as evidenced by how happy she is to also give advice on killing off those characters she helped readers create.

Cron, Lisa. Story Genius: How To Use Brain Science To Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere). Ten Speed. 2016. 288p. ISBN $15.99.

Cron offers (Wired for Story) practical advice and reassurance for writers who feel like they’re great at creating characters but worry about plots. This title helps writers break out of bad habits and avoid getting bogged down in details that don’t advance the plot. Cron’s advice can also aid writers with drafts that need streamlining and clarity to improve pacing.

Das, Kavita. Craft and Conscience: How To Write About Social Issues. Beacon. 2022. 344p. ISBN $18.95.

An essential primer for writers looking to address social issues in fiction or nonfiction projects. Das’s (Poignant Song) book features essays from well-known authors ranging from George Orwell to Imani Perry, as well as Das’s own perspective. She presents concrete suggestions for how writers can approach research and craft as they engage thoughtfully with their own motivations to examine a given issue. The book also emphasizes that, whether intentional or not, all writing is ultimately political.

Donovan, Bryn. 5,000 Writing Prompts: A Master List of Plot Ideas, Creative Exercises, and More. Munds Park. 2019. 453p. ISBN 9780996715256. $15.99.

With plot ideas and exercises broken down by genre (with more than 150 for each), Donovan’s (Master Lists for Writers) book serves writers where they are now and in areas they may choose to explore later. Romance, YA, historical fiction, general fiction, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, poetry, blogging, and journaling are just some of the genres included. Prompts include specific exercises around dialogue, character, and setting, and the book is an excellent resource for writers of all ages looking to explore their creativity or get out of a rut. An essential that will serve most patrons interested in writing.

Gay, Roxane. How To Be Heard. Harper. 256p. ISBN 9780062845931. $26.99.

The forthcoming title from Gay (The Selected Works of Audre Lorde) is a combination of practical advice and a pep talk in which she addresses common questions from aspiring and established writers. Her plentiful and great advice is focused on craft (how to write a short story) and attuned to the challenges of a writing life (how to handle criticism). She also includes a section on the business realities of writing for traditional publication. In addition to imparting useful information, Gay provides encouragement and permission to those who are just beginning to get comfortable with using their own voices.

Myers, Scott. The Protagonist’s Journey: An Introduction to Character- Driven Screenwriting and Storytelling. Palgrave Macmillan. 2022. 339p. ISBN $29.99.

Myers, who has written more than 30 projects for major Hollywood studios and runs the popular, helps writers understand where their story is going and how to get there by keeping them focused on character. While the structural tips are geared toward those interested in screenwriting, anyone working on page-turning commercial fiction will also benefit from his scene-by-scene approach. This book is also useful for writers who are good at building characters but struggle when creating plots.

Storr, Will. The Science of Storytelling: Why Stories Make Us Human and How To Tell Them Better. Abrams. 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781419747953. $16.

Award-winning journalist Storr (Selfie) explains how the brain responds to stories using a range of well-known examples across cultures and time, including Russian novels, ancient Greek drama, and Indigenous peoples’ folktales. The book is aimed at those who want to figure out how to hook an audience and then keep readers engaged. It also addresses how to craft plots, worldbuilding, and the perfect ending.

Syme, Becca and Susan Bischoff. Dear Writer, Are You Intuitive? Syme Group. 290p. ISBN 9781958349977. $14.99.

For writers who have tried structure-focused advice but found it failed to meet their needs, Syme (Better-Faster Academy; “QuitBooks for Writers” series) and Bischoff (The Story Toolkit) offer an approach that shows writers how to develop their intuition and learn how—and when—to apply it. Like most craft books aimed at (and by) self-published authors, this title, the last in a six-book series (after Dear Writer, You’re Doing It Right), focuses on storytelling and business decisions. It will serve self-published authors well. There are also sections about writerly instincts and patterns.

Weinstein, Lawrence. Grammar for a Full Life: How the Ways We Shape a Sentence Can Limit or Enlarge Us. Lexigraphic. 258p. ISBN 9781734692709. $17.95.

While beginning writers often become frustrated with the lack of a single, correct way to render most sentences in English, Weinstein (cofounder, Harvard Writing Center; Writing at the Threshold) helps his readers sidestep this problem by exploring what different grammatical solutions can convey. This book is as much about the philosophy of writing as it is about the mechanics. Recommended for readers who want to expand how they think about language, as opposed to those looking for quick solutions to grammatical challenges.


Bradshaw, Cheryl. Mastering Your Mystery: Write, Publish, and Profit with Your Mysteries & Thrillers (Mastering). Pixie. 2021. 301p. ISBN 9798710359617. $13.99.

Bradshaw (“Sloane Monroe” series), a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of mystery, thriller, and suspense books, walks potential authors through the process of creating, publishing, and marketing in those genres. While the writing advice is solid and focuses on how to deliver for genre readers who know what they like, this advice comprises only about a third of the book. The majority is dedicated to submitting and marketing strategies, making this title best suited for writers who are also considering self-publishing.

Rosenfelder, Mark. The Language Construction Kit. Yonagu. 2010. 270p. ISBN 9780984470006. $14.95.

Conlanging refers to the art of creating constructed languages such as Klingon, Dothraki, or the Elvish languages of The Lord of the Rings. These languages are often popular with writers working in fantasy settings. Renowned conlanger Rosenfelder (; Middle East Construction Kit) wrote this title, widely considered to be the best when it comes to developing a plausible language system for these purposes. While complex, it assumes no prior linguistics or conlanging knowledge and teaches readers about language families and writing systems, while helping them to create vocabularies and grammar. While sometimes challenging to follow, this title will likely entice interested patrons to return frequently for more on the subject. Recommended for libraries that have well-circulating science fiction and fantasy collections.

Waggoner, Tim. Writing in the Dark. Guide Dog. 2020. 236p. ISBN 9781947879195. $19.95.

This Bram Stoker Award–winning title helps writers address every aspect of good horror writing, starting with why the genre itself matters. Building plausible monsters, maintaining suspense, working with stylized language choices, and marketing horror writing are all addressed. Tips from successful horror writers such as Joe Hill, Ellen Datlow, and Yvette Tan round out the book and lend it further authority. An excellent appendix of launching points for plots and characters is also included.

York, Zoe. Romance Your Goals (Publishing How To). ZoYo. 2022. 142p. ISBN 9781989703700. $9.99.

The last book (after Romance Your Plan) in York’s craft and business “How To” three-part series is ideal for self-publishers in the romance genre who are writing to market. York is one of the many selfpublished romance authors who regularly hits the New York Times and USA Today best-seller lists and knows what she’s talking about. For anyone who needs a practical guide and a shot of confidence, but also useful to writers who have already self-published and are looking to level up. 


One Look & Reverse Dictionary

Reverse dictionaries like these are more than thesauruses; they allow writers to search for a word that’s just out of reach (or that they haven’t encountered before) by describing what the word represents. While it can take a few tries to find the needed language— depending on the complexity of what someone is looking for— these are incredibly helpful resources for people building vocabulary, writing about subjects that are less familiar to them, or just having trouble recalling an infrequently used word.


This is an online tool, available in free and paid models, that allows people to create and save maps for fictional worlds. Writers working in fantasy and science fiction may find being able to visualize their worlds quite helpful. This can also help authors include the map that is frequently found in fantasy novels. Also useful to roleplaying game authors and games masters.

Writing with Color This blog, run by a racially and religiously diverse group of moderators, provides Q&A–style writing advice (patrons can send in questions specific to their writing projects). The lists of resources related to racial, ethnic, and religious diversity help writers avoid racial stereotyping and offensive analogies in their descriptions of characters. An excellent jumping-off point for writers working outside of their personal experience.

750 Words

This is a site designed to help writers write 750 words a day using a point-based system that appeals to those who respond to gamification. Writers compete only with themselves. They also can tag their words by category and feelings while writing. The words written and the associated data can only be seen by the writer. Perfect for those who need external motivation but don’t want high pressure or external eyes on their work. By Racheline Maltese Racheline Maltese is an essayist, game writer, and award–winning romance novelist. 

Racheline Maltese is an essayist, game writer, and awardwinning romance novelist.

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