Books You Should Read If You Want to Publish a Book

If you’re wondering what books you should read to advance your authorship dreams then you’re in the right place. These are my top five pics for laser-focused, practical advice for everything from finding your story to deciding what type of publishing to pursue.

5 Books You Should Read If You Want to Publish a Book. If you're wondering what books you should read to advance your authorship dreams then you're in the right place. These are my top five book recommendations.

Books you should read if you want to publish a book

I’ve arranged my “books you should read” recommendations into a bit of a road map: figuring out what to write, outlining and drafting, deciding whether to self-publish or pursue traditional publishing, collaborating with other writers and influencers and getting book reviews. It’s the publishing journey if you will. The actual writing, that’s up to you.


The Creative Compass: Writing Your Way from Inspiration to Publication

This book could be for the writer who isn’t exactly sure HOW to write a book. Yes, it’s that practical. It could also be for the writer who has an idealistic outlook on what writing and publishing will be like. Kind of a reality check without being a jerk about it.

When it comes to writing, we can develop our skills and boost our talent through thoughtful practice…. By continuing to write, we build stamina and patience, eventually exceeding our own standards to the extend that we can raise them.

The Creative Compass (117)

What I learned: every idea starts with passion, meets with discouragement and must be battled with persistence. When writing the most important thing is to find a way to keep going despite the hard work, stress, lack of confidence and insecurity.

DREAM, DRAFT, DEVELOP, REFINE, SHARE

I spent a lot of time in the last third of the book. I underlined, wrote notes, even wrote “Amen!” beside especially good quotes (“If a sentence expresses an essential idea, advances plot, reveals character, or conveys relevant sensory detail that contributes to emotional effect or atmosphere then it’s probably worth keeping…. If not—snip, snip” Amen! [175]).

Read my full review of the Creative Compass.

Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days

Even if you don’t call yourself a writer you might want to write a book. There are so many stories waiting to be told and, who knows, you might be the person to tell it.

What’s great about author Denise Jaden’s latest book Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days is she makes you feel like digging out the story deep inside you is possible. And the 30 days thing? Bonus.

I’ve wanted to write a book for a while now, maybe forever. As a kid I drafted a 100-page Choose Your Own Adventure of twin girls who get lost in Mexico while trying to find an orphanage (scary part—I experienced this trip IRL 10 years later with a friend…) and for the last two years I have felt like it’s time to try for real.

And I have. Tried that is. But I keep getting stuck and I have never known why. Fast Fiction tells me why: I didn’t know how to write a book. I didn’t plan it beforehand, I just sat down at the computer and expected it to come together. After reading Jaden’s book I finally get it. I do have a book in me I just didn’t have the tools to dig it out.

Read my full review of Fast Fiction.

How Do I Decide? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing (A Field Guide for Authors)

Although the title aptly summarizes the six chapters, I wanted to add it’s not just for those wondering which method of publishing to pursue. This book works to change the question from “Which one should I choose?” to “How can I utilize these tools best to support my goals?”

I loved Rachelle Gardner’s straightforward approach to this complex question. She spends time analysing the pros and cons for both traditional publishing and self-publishing. As well she works to dispel common self-publishing myths and makes it crystal clear that self-publishing should not be an excuse to publish poor writing.

This short read is packed with material and is perfect for people who aren’t quite sure where to start with publishing, people who want to understand all the different publishing options, and people looking for credible resources to get started.

Did I mention chapter six is all about resources? In my opinion, this is where the real value of this book comes in. It lists further information on self-publishing, how to get an agent, where to look for editors, reputable book cover designers and more.

Read my full review of How Do I Decide?.

Creative Collaborations: How to Form Lasting and Lucrative Partnerships without Being Smarmy

The Internet says collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something. OK, that makes sense. And Kirsten Oliphant says it’s like roller derby. I had to think about this for a bit because I don’t know anything about roller derby but I think I get it: you stop being a lone wolf and instead become a teammate. You work with others to achieve a common goal.

That sounds nice in theory, but isn’t setting up creative collaborations with your competitors risky?

The risks: You could get burned, you could have your work stolen, you could be let down. All of this could happen when you work with others.

However, there are also potential benefits:

  • You could grow strategic partnerships that bring you further than you could go on your own
  • Also, you could make new friends
  • Another possibility is you could join a tribe where you feel encouraged, strengthened and inspired to keep moving forward

Throughout Creative Collaborations, Oliphant overviews different types of collaborations, builds an argument for why we need creative collaborations, teaches the difference between good and bad collaborations, cautions about legal implications when collaborating, and gives tips for creating life-changing collaborations. If you’re wondering how collaborations can change your business (and maybe your life), you will love this book.

Read my full review of Creative Collaborations.

How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career (HowToDoItFrugally Series for Writers) (Volume 3)

Why you need reviews (I’m borrowing from the book’s argument here, but I hold it as well):

Reviews are platform builders

Regardless of negative or positive, stars or lattes, reviews give you the chance to be a better writer, learn more about your genre, and know your target reader better.

Reviews are resources for endorsements

Blurbs, praise, bullets, whatever. Need some nice quotes? You can get them with book reviews!

Reviews can be networking tools

Both getting and giving reviews gives you contacts with editors of review journals, contacts with other reviewers who are potential reviewers of your books, contacts with other authors who need quotations for their books or referrals.

Once you’re convinced you should get book reviews, then you’re ready for the rest of the book. It walks you through alllllllllllllll the things you need to think through and plan for. It’s a lot, but they payoff is worth it. Not only that, but once you have the reviews the fun is not over! You can reap the benefits of past reviews for years to come.

If it’s time to do marketing, get this book.

Read my full review of How to Get Great Book Reviews.

These are my top five books you should read

All five of these books you should read recommendations are quick and practical with a ton of actionable advice. The big idea is you’ll read through them and then apply what you learn. My hope is you’ll move the needle forward as a result of reading these books.

5 Books You Should Read if You Want to Publish a Book. If you're wondering what books you should read to advance your authorship dreams then you're in the right place. These are my top five pics for laser-focused, practical advice for everything from finding your story to deciding what type of publishing to pursue.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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Set the Page on Fire: Secrets of Successful Writers

Do you want to set the page on fire? Write as fast as you can and clean it up later. At least, that’s what author Steve O’Keefe says, and I tend to trust someone who has 25 years’ experience teaching writing and publishing and has written several textbooks.

Set the Page on Fire: Secrets of Successful Writers

Set the Page on Fire review

I love writing craft books. I also wanted to learn what Steve O’Keefe thought the secret to success is. Turns out it’s not so secret as I thought: writers write.

If you can put words on paper or screen and convey meaning with those words—and everyone who has language can do this—you’ve got talent. Are there some folks who are just better alphabet stringers and word slingers than others? Yes, but not because they are more talented. It’s because they’re more practiced, more authentic, more careful.

Set the Page on Fire, 28

But maybe that is a secret. So many wannabe writers talk about writing, think about writing, read about writing, and study writing…but don’t write. Other writers manage to finish their tasks but spend a lot of time staring at the blank page. So how does one set the page on fire?

O’Keefe challenges writers to make time for writing and spend that time writing. No matter how terrible it is. Even if all you write is “I don’t know what to write,” over and over. Write and keep writing and you’ll see the page set fire.

There are some interesting creative exercises throughout Set the Page on Fire to help writers get into the fire-writing zone, which I’m excited to try out.

Here are a few examples

  • Write a 50-word description on what your moon looks like
  • Keep a fake book filled with phrases and quotes you come across and love. “Collecting a writer’s best lines … can impart an understanding of an author’s technique that will inform your own writing” (52)
  • Learn to recognize “the writer’s warm-up”
  • Making up words to get into the writing mind

Although I don’t do a lot of creative writing I think these exercises will be good for my writing.

One point O’Keefe makes throughout the book is everyone has something to say and everybody is valuable.

At a writing conference I was reminded of this idea as I spoke with a woman who wants to publish a book of poems she has written over the past 25 years. She wrote them as a way of working through past trauma and wants to help others walking through a similar situation by giving words to their pain.

I thought it was such an incredible reminder of the power of words. Sometimes your writing can give vocabulary to others who are feeling a thing but don’t have the words. You give them the words and help them identify their experience. You help them name it. Your writing means something and is important. So write.

Set the Page on Fire: Secrets of Successful Writers Synopsis

Discover the Tricks and Tools of the Pros

Successful writers write, rather than just think about writing, talk about writing, or plan what they’ll write when they get a cabin in the woods. Yet even accomplished writers sometimes get “blocked,” losing access to their in-the-zone writing mind. Steve O’Keefe offers proven techniques and practices for jump-starting stalled ideas, honed during his many years of working in virtually every aspect of publishing. His innovative, often unconventional exercises will get you writing and accessing your own unique voice — a voice the world wants to read! Containing a career’s worth of writing and publishing savvy, as well as the advice of expert authors gleaned from hundreds of interviews, Set the Page on Fire is the kind of nuts-and-bolts coaching and encouragement invaluable to novice and veteran writers alike.

Set the Page on Fire: Secrets of Successful Writers by Steve O’Keefe was published on June 11, 2019.

Do you want to set the page on fire? Write as fast as you can and clean it up later. At least, that's what author Steve O'Keefe says, and I tend to trust someone who has 25 years' experience teaching writing and publishing and has written several textbooks.

Other Writing Book Reviews

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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A War and A Wedding by Melissa Service

Let’s say you’re an average teenager who has no time for ancient prophecies like a war and a wedding. If so, then you’re exactly like Ellyce Jensen. It’s pure fiction, quite literally out of a book.

Would you feel the same about the legends when your fantasy-writing father up and disappears, leaving behind cryptic instructions and a dangerous scavenger hunt?

A War and A Wedding by Melissa Service

A War and A Wedding review

I don’t spend a lot of time reading YA fantasy but I loved the idea of going on an adventure with Ellyce. And putting together anagrams and trying to decode secret messages? Even better. I spent most of my energy trying to figure out who Ellyce should trust and keep track of which clue meant what and why it mattered.


“Language is the bedrock of any civilization,” Lamad instructed. “When the meanings of words change and language breaks down, so does society. Look at any of your history books—they all tell the same story. A nation’s rise to greatness and its crashing destructive fall all occurs around language. When language becomes corrupt, the decline begins.”

A War and A Wedding

Mostly, I guessed wrong. Which is awesome because I love being surprised at the end.

In A War and A Wedding (A War and A Wedding, book 1), Melissa Service weaves mysterious messages and helpful, yet confusing, messengers into Ellyce Jensen’s frightening journey. She wants to find her father but the closer she comes to discovering his hiding place, the more dangerous things become.

I loved this first book in the A War and A Wedding series but it’s best to keep in mind it’s the FIRST book. Just when things are starting to make sense…we must wait for book two. Arg! I must have book two!!!

A War and A Wedding Synopsis

The week before her seventeenth birthday, Ellyce Jensen’s father disappeared.

Forty-five days later she discovers the jagged, haphazardly scrawled note he left behind. Revealing that the ancient prophecies he wrote about were true, Thomas’ note urged her to find Derek–someone she’d never heard of before. As Ellyce battles against the people she thought she could trust–and the supernatural forces sent to stop her, she soon learns…this is only the beginning.

There will be a WAR.
There will be a WEDDING.
Lines will be drawn.
Choose for yourself…whom you will serve.

Melissa Service’s A War and A Wedding releases June 21, 2019.

Let's say you're an average teenager who has no time for ancient prophecies like A War and A Wedding. If so, then you're exactly like Ellyce Jensen. It's pure fiction, quite literally out of a book.

Other book reviews

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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How to Write a Book | 4 Steps to Get Started

If you want to know how to write a book you’re in the right place. If you want to write a book but don’t know what to do next, you’re in the right place. And if you know you need a solid plan in order to write your book then I’m your biggest fan.

is it time to write your book

So you’ve decided to write a book

For better or worse, I’m results-driven more than idea-driven. I love finishing. Therefore, when a great idea comes up, the first thing I do is break it down into smaller pieces and figure out how to make it happen. I know this approach isn’t as exciting as allowing adrenaline to fuel your writing passion. But what’s the goal here, to feel good or to finish writing your book?

Over the years I’ve helped organizations and individuals publish many, many pieces (articles, books, magazines and more) on deadline. Which is more difficult than you may think.

More often than not the writing part of the process comes down to four steps:

  • Find your why
  • Choose your theme
  • Find your genre
  • Schedule writing time

Do you want the worksheets that go with this training?

I’ve created worksheets to complement this training, available for download. This is a free resource but it’s part of my resource library and you’ll need a password. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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Now, on to the training.


How to write a book

Step one: Find your why

Think about why you want to write a book and also why you’re the right person to do it. If you take a few minutes to figure out your why you may find you have many reasons. Try and choose a main (primary) reason. This primary why will help you create the rest of your book-writing (and marketing) plan.

Here are examples of possible why’s:

  • Build an audience or platform
  • Be known as an authority in your area
  • Make money
  • Tell an important story people need to hear

There are no wrong answers here. One person’s why isn’t morally superior to another’s why. Be honest and figure out the primary reason behind why you want to write a book. Write it down. This will help keep you motivated when it stops being fun and starts being hard work.

Step two: Choose your theme

The next step is choosing your book’s theme. Every story has a theme—an overarching point. In her book Story Sparks, author Denise Jaden asks writers to review seven simple themes and choose the one that they’d most like to read a book about.

  1. Love
  2. Faith
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Trust
  5. Survival
  6. Honour
  7. Acceptance

From here, once you have a focus word, you can take it deeper. Instead of “love” your theme may become “love conquers all” or “love comes at a price.” Find that driving point behind your story an write it down. This will help you develop your story line and characters down the road.

Step three: Find your genre

This step is super practical. You need to know which genre your book fits into so you know what your word count should be. Because, yes, there are rules and the word count change based on your genre.

In general, the main objections I hear to this step are around following the rules or choosing just one genre. Trust me when I say, in general you should follow the rules. Please. For everyone’s sake. Also, this step will help you SO MUCH with step four.

Once you know your genre then you’ll have a word count range for your book. If you’re at this stage, check out the genre/word count list I’ve curated. (Psst it’s also in the worksheets in my resource library).

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Step four: create a writing schedule

Once you know what genre your book is you’ll know more or less how many words you need to write. See? Super practical! Your next step is decide when you want to complete your first draft. This can be arbitrary but it should be realistic. Once you have a date in mind, work backwards, breaking your word count goals into months and then days.

A few things to keep in mind

First, figure out how many words per day you can write. It’s different for everyone so learn what works best for you and build your schedule around it.

Second, build a realistic writing schedule. To write a book you need blocks of focused time. How much do you have available? What do you need to put in place to protect it?

Third, create strategies so you stick to your schedule. There will be days you don’t feel like writing. Find ways to write anyway.

When creating a writing schedule make sure to answer these questions:

  • What’s your deadline for finishing your first draft?
  • How many words is your book going to be?
  • Break it down, how many days per week are you going to write?
  • How many words can you write per day?
  • How many words per day do you need to write to meet your deadline?

If you want more on this, check out my training on creating a writing schedule.

If you want to write a book but don’t know what to do next, you’re in the right place. This workbook will guide you through the four steps you need to take BEFORE you start writing.

if you want to write a book, following these four steps will help you accomplish your goal

I work as a project manager for my day job, which often looks like bossing people around and saying no to things. In reality, a project manager brings big ideas to life and organizes tasks in a way that makes it possible for the team to get things done. This role helps people prioritize and keeps an eye on the big picture. It’s a thankless job but an important one, nonetheless.

When I first took on this role it took me a while to realize most people don’t think like I do. Motivated by enthusiasm and emotion, people tend to dive into exciting tasks without thinking about how it will go or when it should end. Then, when it becomes cumbersome and less fun…and other projects come up…it gets put aside, unfinished.

The people I’ve met at my workshops and speaking events are much the same. They get a great idea for a book and dive into writing with little (or no) regard to when they want to finish or how long it’s going to be. And then, when the project becomes messy or other ideas crop up…the great idea gets left behind on the hard drive, unfinished.

My goal is to help more people finish their big, exciting projects by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable and realistic steps. I hope this training has helped you! Please let me know how you fare.

By the way, my next live iteration of this workshop is June 13 to 15, 2019 at Write Canada.

LIST LOVE Introduction to List Building

These days I’m too busy for “just in case learning” so just in time resources like Jennifer Maker’s List Love is PERFECT for my busy schedule.

LIST LOVE Introduction to List Building

List Love: Introduction to List Building

Because I’m obsessed with all things platform, growing my email list is something I’m focusing on. Sure, social media vanity metrics feel good and make my friends jealous but when push comes to shove I know my time is better spent elsewhere.

In less than 12 months, craft blogger Jennifer Maker grew her email list to 20,000 subscribers. At the time she didn’t know she was doing anything extraordinary but when her friends and fellow bloggers started asking her for her secrets she knew she was on to something. That’s where this short (free) ebook came from: her willingness to share what works for her with her community.

Because I’m not really into crafting I haven’t heard of this maven before this year but I’m so glad I have now! I’ve read two of her ebooks and taken one of her courses and am impressed with her openness to share her tactics, metrics and strategies.

I hope when I start publishing books I can be just like Jennifer Maker.

By the way, did I mention this awesome little ebook is free? Grab your copy with my affiliate link here and if you purchase anything from then I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It’s an excellent, quick read and I know you’ll take something away you can implement today.

These days I'm too busy for "just in case learning" so resources like Jennifer Maker's List Love is PERFECT for my busy schedule.

List Love By Jennifer Maker Synopsis

So you’ve heard you need a mailing list for your blog, but you’re not sure how to start one? Or maybe you already have a mailing list, but you’re really struggling to get people to sign up for it? 

I can help!

I grew my mailing list to 20,000 subscribers in less than a year on a new blog domain. My mailing list alone was responsible for earning more than $12,000 on my very first product launch, less than a year after launching my blog. And it’s earned me thousands of dollars in affiliate revenue in my first year as well! Best of all, I have built a solid audience of devoted fans that I can connect with at any time without worrying about social media algorithms.

My LIST LOVE mini e-book is the perfect introduction to list building. It’s packed with real information and helpful tips, including real-life examples from my blog and my mailing list.

In this FREE e-book, you’ll learn:

  • Why you need a mailing list for your blog
  • Why it’s so important to start your mailing list as soon as you can
  • How a mailing list can have a tremendous impact on your blog’s success and earning potential
  • Why emailing your people is so powerful
  • How to sign up for the best mail service for your needs
  • How to get started building your list

PLUS you’ll see real results from my mailing list that have earned me significant income in my first year of blogging!

Get the free ebook here.


Other Email-Related Posts

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required