Writerly Resources

So many of us want to be a writer when we grow up. That was certainly the case for me. As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer.

Over the last five years, I’ve had the extreme privilege of being able to pursue this dream more or less full-time. But a life-time of living, working and academia taught me many bad writing habits that had to be undone. Cue learning how to write all over again, but this time with a focus on how to tell an interesting made-up story.

Here are some of my favourite resources for each step along the way. (I’m going to be building this list over time, so please come back to check it out occasionally.)

Also, please note: this page is full of affiliate links. I only ever include tried and tested favourites on my lists. And, when you click to them through my site, I earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.

General

Several authors have so much to share, I cannot catalogue their advice based on one topic.

No list of generalists is complete without the succinct and amusing James Scott Bell (JSB). JSB has written numerous craft books on topics including story structure, dialogue, conflict, writing life. JSB is also the teacher of the linked “great course”. Many of JSB’s examples come from classic films such as Casablanca and the Maltese Falcon.

James Scott Bell

Lisa Cron’s Story Genius presents a scientifically-backed approach that aligns with what readers’ brains crave, with a step-by-step process for developing a detailed novel blueprint, from the initial idea to a fully realized first draft. This method ensures your story has the depth, urgency, and richness of a polished final draft.

Lisa Cron

Donald Maass’s “Writing the Breakout Novel” provides practical advice on how to establish a compelling sense of time and place, create memorable, larger-than-life characters, and maintain high narrative tension throughout your story. Maass shows how to weave subplots, explore universal themes, and develop an inspired premise that sets your novel apart.

Donald Maass

Outlining

I know, I know. The debate between pantsing and plotting rages on. I “pants-ed” A Mercy of Widows. Ne-ver again. Nope. Can’t do it. Sure, I loved waking up, opening up the laptop, and writing-down whatever garden path presented itself that day. But that romantic experience only lasted for the first draft. Later, I learned the value of a roadmap – when I revised my story a gazillion flipping times. Revisions required: chiselling off the excess, the repetition, the irrelevant, and adding sense, theme, plot. It was brutal, and I nearly quit so many times. So, I’m a reformed panster who tries to enjoy the benefits of both plotting and pantsing.

Here are some favourite outlining books. (Some of the following are affiliate links. I’ve tried to make them obvious. If you choose to buy an item I’ve linked, I earn a small commission from Amazon at no additional cost to you.)

KM Weiland has books and courses out on several key skills for writing fiction: outlining, novel structure, character arcs, archetypes. KM also posts her content regularly on YouTube, and offers several worthwhile courses through platforms like Udemy. (I tend to buy the Udemy courses during that platform’s frequent sales.)

KM Weiland

I first encountered HR D’Costa in a writers summit hosted by Daniel David Wallace (also highly recommended). Most of HR’s examples relate to film rather than novels. It’s easier to watch films to understand her references than it is to read all the corresponding books.

HR D’Costa

I was so fortunate to see Jennie Nash speak early on in my writing journey at a Women’s Fiction Writing Association (WFWA) retreat. I learned so much that weekend, much of which continues to inform my process

Jennie Nash

Authorpreneur Books

My journey as an authorpreneur has been a bit of a rollercoaster! When I launched my debut novel, I made a ton of rookie mistakes. I didn’t give enough lead time for ARCs and build-up, my advertising budget was laughably small, and I didn’t have a strategy to speak of. Reviews? Libraries? Clueless!

But hey, every mistake is a lesson, right? Here are some fantastic resources that helped me turn things around. Dive in, and avoid the sinkholes I stumbled into!

Feel as if success as a fiction author is as elusive as trying to catch a unicorn? Discover strategies to save time, money, and sell more books! In Catch the Unicorn, book marketing expert Denis Caron shares his experience to help you build a successful author business. Through Jane’s fictional story, you’ll learn proven methods to get your book noticed, target readers, maximize your marketing budget, and avoid common pitfalls.

Catch the Unicorn, Denis Caron

Julie Broad’s “Self-Promote and Succeed” offers practical advice to use your book to build an author brand. While the book is geared towards nonfiction authors, many of the marketing skills translate well to the fiction world. Broad shows how to position your author brand, optimize marketing strategies, and leverage your book for thought leadership. She often distributes her books for free through her website and subscription services like Everand.

Julie Broad (Book Launchers)

No list about the “business of writing” is complete without reference to Jane Friedman, the go-to author of the Hot Sheet (up to date news about the publishing industry). I had the very good fortune of benefitting from Friedman’s insights and guidance at a multi-day WFWA workshop in 2022. Friedman’s linked free newsletter is also very worthwhile.

Jane Friedman

Self-Publishing Success

One day I sought “scrivener tutorial” on YouTube and came across Michael LaRonn of Author Level Up. Michael’s YouTube channel is replete with information, covering everything from writing craft to author estate planning. This indie author is an inspiration, having written something like 90 (!!) novels so far. I’m happy to learn from his experience.

Here’s a link to Michael’s Youtube channel: https://authorlevelup.com/videos/

Michael LaRonn

Mark Leslie Lefebvre is a seasoned author and book industry expert with a career spanning writing, publishing, and bookselling. He offers valuable advice to writers, emphasizing the importance of understanding the book market, leveraging multiple publishing platforms, and building a strong author brand. Lefebvre encourages authors to blend traditional and indie publishing strategies, focus on reader engagement, and continually adapt to the evolving literary landscape.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre

Joanna Penn’s offers practical guide for writers ready to transform their passion into a thriving business. Drawing on her experience as a former business consultant and successful author, Penn offers strategies for monetizing creativity, managing a team, understanding customers, and navigating sales and marketing. With insights on financial management and long-term planning, Penn also offers a long-running podcast with up-to-date news and advice.

Joanna Penn

Email Subscribers

Building an email subscriber list is an absolute must for any author, and I can think of so many reasons why. Social media platforms come and go, but we “own” our email lists, giving us a stable, direct line to our readers. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of direct engagement—receiving emails and messages from readers who’ve enjoyed my books or newsletters is such a joy. This kind of feedback is a lifeline in the often soul-less world of online advertising.

Having a growing list of readers who love my work means I can reach out for beta-readers and advanced reviews for future books. Plus, the give-and-take with readers helps me understand what they like and what they want, so I can deliver stories that truly resonate. It’s all about building a community and keeping that personal connection strong!

David Gaughran’s “Starting from Zero” is a free course tailored for authors aiming to build their platform and boost book sales. It covers essential topics like setting up an author website, growing an email list, and leveraging social media for organic reach. The course also delves into effective advertising on platforms like Facebook and Amazon, providing actionable steps to enhance your author business. Practical advice to help authors achieve long-term success.

For more information, you can visit David Gaughran’s website.

David Gaughan

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