Every December we put together a gift-giving list for writers for those of you wanting to pick up a little something for critique partners & book buds, or to source ideas for your personal Holiday Wish List.
This year, we’re doing this early. Quite early. Why, you ask?
Supply Chain Issues
You may have heard whispers about paper shortages, printers being backed up with orders, and delivery snags. Well, this isn’t some sort of urban legend. Unfortunately, the pandemic has caused havoc with the supply chain and word is, we all need to brace for some challenges as the holidays ramp up. (If you’d like to read more about this problem, Jane Friedman talks about the supply chain issues that may impact writers this Christmas and Writers in the Storm looks at strategies for authors to work through these challenges.)
By posting our list early, we’re hoping you’ll get a jump on ordering print books for the holidays and won’t be affected by any supply chain problems. Let’s dig in!
Angela & Becca’s Book Recommendations
When it comes to suggesting books as gifts, the hard part is narrowing it down. But over the years we’ve come across some real gems you may want to pick up. (May contains affiliate links because heck, they help pay the bills.)
Books to Help Writers Grow Their Creative Skills
Luckily there’s a ton of great books out there to help us strengthen our writing skills. Personally I am a fan of ones that tackle a specific topic and explore it in depth. If you’re like me, check these out.
Blueprint for a Book is written by one of the smartest women I know – Jennie Nash. She’s helped thousands of writers craft powerful fiction using her blueprint method. Jennie drills down to what makes a story meaningful and shows writers how to bring key elements together to build a solid foundation. The result? Writers know what to write and why, and can focus on delivering a story hardwired to create an emotional impact.
The Anatomy of Prose is a terrific book if you feel your storytelling is solid but maybe your writing isn’t quite as strong as it could be at the sentence level. Add a ton of ideas to your writerly bag of tricks and laugh as you do so as Sacha’s bawdy humor is legendary. And tippity-tip, while you’re picking up this book, snag her Heroes and Villain books, too.
On Writing really doesn’t need a summary from me because, well, it’s Stephen King. That’s really all that needs to be said. I loved this book because it shows where his life experiences and fiction collides, and it’s full of good, writerly advice to carry with you. A staple for all writers.
Boundless Creativity is for writers wanting to let go of self-doubt, impostor’s syndrome, and just move forward and create. This book takes a holistic approach to writing, and I don’t think you can read it and not come away unchanged. It will help you get in touch with why you need to create and show you how to let go of the mental blocks holding you back.
Writing Your Story’s Theme is one on my pick-it-up list. K.M. Weiland is a master of writing craft and all her books are an auto-buy. Theme is something that can seem like an afterthought for some writers, not something to think too hard about. And as Katie herself states, “Theme is the heart, the meaning, the point. Nothing that important should be overlooked.” My gut says if you want to level up your fiction, you should read this book.
The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles (Vol 1) released in October and the response to it has been huge (don’t tell The Emotion Thesaurus, but some have said this may be their favorite guide yet). So if you want to write conflict that targets your character’s soft spots and creates an impact, this is the book for you. In addition to master-level advice on leveraging conflict and tension, it showcases over 100 conflict scenarios and supplies endless possibilities for adapting each.
Now might also be a good time to complete your collection if you’re missing any of our show-don’t-tell thesaurus guides. So if your bookshelf needs a rainbow to spruce it up, or you want to be a writer friend’s superhero, you can find all our books here, in print, digital, and PDF.
Books to Help with the Business Side
Becca and I have four businesses between us, and most days, I’m not sure how we juggle them all. I do know we’d be a twitching mess if not for our need to consume education wherever we can. Here are some of our favorite reads.
Start with Why is all about the power of authenticity and how to inspire others, and it’s an amazing book. Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, success means building connections with readers and influencers that are meaningful and genuine. People love a good read, but it’s an author’s authenticity and passion for what they do that converts readers into fans.
Drive is all about understanding what motivates people. It may be I got more from this book as I work with others and knowing what makes them happy and productive is key to retaining good help, but I also came to understand more about myself and how to be happier & more self-motivated. This can be a tough business and motivation must come from within.
Author Branding is a great how-to book that helps writers define their brand and use social media to showcase it effectively. So, if the whole idea of putting yourself out there gives you hives, pick up this book. It’s easy to understand and is filled with great advice and helpful tips.
Wide for the Win: I’ll round things off and suggest a read that looks at going WIDE with your books, leveraging all platforms for selling your book rather than focusing exclusively on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. Mark Leslie Lefebvre has vast experience at all levels of publishing and knows a ton on selling fiction for a living, so you may wish to add this book to your bookshelf.
Books to Help Writers Flex Their Marketing Muscles
The 1-Page Marketing Plan is aimed at business owners, but here’s a secret…your writing is a business. Sometimes looking outside the publishing industry can lead to a fresh perspective and deeper insight into marketing in general. While I used this more for our SaaS business, you might find it helpful to go through this book and create a 1-page marketing plan to identify important components like identifying your audience, messaging, and what you want to accomplish.
Copywriting Secrets is a great primer on understanding how certain language choices will lead to stronger sales. There wasn’t a lot here I didn’t know (but I read a lot of marketing books), but this one has great coverage, so it’s a good all-in-one source. Just remember to always be authentic and use your best judgment. If your sales copy feels blatant or manipulative, people will notice.
Newsletter Ninja is another one on my “to buy” list, because it’s one I see referred over and over. And sure, I know some say email is dead and it’s all about TikTok, Facebook, and the Gram, but you can’t argue with the intimacy of a personal readership. Email subscribers are often the people most invested in what you write, so you want to cultivate those relationships. The key is knowing your readers well and generating engagement, so I look forward to upping my game in the newsletter arena with this book.
What Books Are on Your Wish List?
Is there a book you’ve heard good things about, and you’re hoping it will end up in your hot little hands this holiday season? Let us know in the comments so we can check it out!