The best books for indie authors working to improve their craft

Valerie Howard Author Of Deep Blue Sea
By Valerie Howard

Who am I?

I have been a published indie author since 2011, and I enjoy reading and studying the craft to make my work the best it can be. I have a passion for indie authors and indie publishing, and I love the flexibility this type of authorship gives me while I homeschool my two young boys, run a non-profit organization, and volunteer at my church.

I wrote...

Deep Blue Sea

By Valerie Howard,

Book cover of Deep Blue Sea

What is my book about?

Jamie Walker has a secret. And she'll do anything to keep it that way. Her missing cousin's cold case has been reopened at the worst time. And by the worst person: a hotshot detective from New York striving to close his 100th case. As the detective gets closer and closer to uncovering the truth of what happened all those years ago, Jamie will go to any lengths to make sure this dusty mystery is one he'll never solve.

Plagued by her guilty conscience, Jamie searches for forgiveness, finding an unlikely ally in a pastor she interviews for her magazine's monthly cover article. Will Pastor Byron Mitchell let Jamie in on the key to lifelong peace before her dark past drags her to drown in the depths of despair?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You'll Ever Need

Why did I love this book?

This book teaches the secrets of storytelling and story structure from a popular screenplay perspective. When I start a new novel, this is the first book I reach for every time. It teaches how to keep your story engaging to readers and how to best structure the overall plot so your story flows beautifully throughout and ends with satisfaction.

By Jessica Brody,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Save the Cat! Writes a Novel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first novel-writing guide from the best-selling Save the Cat! story-structure series, which reveals the 15 essential plot points needed to make any novel a success.

Novelist Jessica Brody presents a comprehensive story-structure guide for novelists that applies the famed Save the Cat! screenwriting methodology to the world of novel writing. Revealing the 15 "beats" (plot points) that comprise a successful story--from the opening image to the finale--this book lays out the Ten Story Genres (Monster in the House; Whydunit; Dude with a Problem) alongside quirky, original insights (Save the Cat; Shard of Glass) to help novelists craft a plot…

Structuring Your Novel

By K.M. Weiland,

Book cover of Structuring Your Novel

Why did I love this book?

I can never read too many books about how to structure the overall plot of a novel because I’m a by-the-book plotter. K.M. Weiland brilliantly explains in a down-to-earth way how to make your story work so you are never confused about which plot points should go where in your story, no matter if you plot to the nth degree or like to see where the story takes you with minimal planning.

By K.M. Weiland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Structuring Your Novel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is Structure the Hidden Foundation of All Successful Stories?

Why do some stories work and others don’t? The answer is structure. In this award-winning guide from the author of the acclaimed Outlining Your Novel, you will learn the universal underpinnings that guarantee powerful plot and character arcs. An understanding of proper story and scene structure will show you how to perfectly time your story’s major events and will provide you with an unerring standard against which to evaluate your novel’s pacing and progression. Structuring Your Novel will show you:

How to determine the best techniques for empowering your unique and…

Book cover of Scene & Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)

Why did I love this book?

This book gets down to the nitty-gritty of planning your novel and explains the difference between scenes (where the action happens), and sequels (where the reactions happen). Great for meticulous planners and haphazard pantsers alike, this book will help any writer learn some tried and true techniques to organize their story in a professional way.

By Jack M. Bickham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Scene & Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Craft your fiction with scene-by-scene flow, logic and readability.

An imprisoned man receives an unexpected caller, after which "everything changed..."

And the reader is hooked. But whether or not readers will stay on for the entire wild ride will depend on how well the writer structures the story, scene by scene.

This book is your game plan for success. Using dozens of examples from his own work - including Dropshot,Tiebreaker and other popular novels - Jack M. Bickham will guide you in building a sturdy framework for your novel, whatever its form or length. You'll learn how to:

   • "worry"…

The Emotion Thesaurus

By Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi,

Book cover of The Emotion Thesaurus

Why did I love this book?

All writers can be tempted to use tired cliches, but this best-seller helps your characters express themselves in a whole new way. Organized by emotion, the authors list many different examples of how a character can express their feelings with body language or internal sensations. Cross-referenced for extended research, this book is an absolute must-have for any aspiring author.

By Angela Ackerman, Becca Puglisi,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Emotion Thesaurus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling Emotion Thesaurus, often hailed as “the gold standard for writers” and credited with transforming how writers craft emotion, has now been expanded to include 55 new entries! 

One of the biggest struggles for writers is how to convey emotion to readers in a unique and compelling way. When showing our characters’ feelings, we often use the first idea that comes to mind, and they end up smiling, nodding, and frowning too much. 

If you need inspiration for creating characters’ emotional responses that are personalized and evocative, this ultimate show-don’t-tell guide for emotion can help. It includes:

Body language…

Book cover of Book Cover Design Secrets You Can Use to Sell More Books

Why did I love this book?

When indie authors make their own book covers, most of them are awful. This book by Derek Murphy walks authors through the tips and tricks to make a book cover so professional no one would ever guess you made them yourself. Once I read this book and took the advice contained in it, my book covers blossomed, and no one can tell I didn’t pay a professional designer a single penny!

By Derek Murphy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Book Cover Design Secrets You Can Use to Sell More Books as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The best book marketing is a great cover.

Want to double book sales and cut your marketing budget in half? Through rigorous testing and market research, Derek Murphy has discovered what colors, fonts, images and themes connect with readers from each specific genre. Improving your book cover even a little can make a huge impact on your book's success. Discover how to make your cover stand out and capture readers' heads and hearts.

The #1 thing authors get wrong...
Self-publishing and indie authors are at a huge disadvantage, but not for what you'd expect. Trad pubbed authors don't get a…

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