100 books like Techniques of the Selling Writer

By Dwight V. Swain,

Here are 100 books that Techniques of the Selling Writer fans have personally recommended if you like Techniques of the Selling Writer. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Robert B. Marks Author Of Re: Apotheosis

From my list on writing for new (and even established) fiction writers.

Who am I?

Writing is in my blood – my grandmother wrote poetry, my mother writes novels, and over the last twenty-plus years I’ve written just about everything (and now I teach writing at my local university). I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember. While my fiction career may be newly revived, I spent over 20 years as a pop culture commentator, poking at the minutia of the stories I love. I think stories may be one of the most important things in our culture – they inspire us, they brighten our day, they bring us to tears, and sometimes when we are lost they show us the way.

Robert's book list on writing for new (and even established) fiction writers

Robert B. Marks Why did Robert love this book?

This will be one of my more controversial picks – there are plenty of people who disagree with Campbell as a folklorist, a mythographer, and with his depiction of the Hero’s Journey. But, what is important about Campbell is his exploration of why the elements that appear in stories have the impact they do on our psyche, and how they fit together. One may not agree with all of Campbell’s conclusions, but I don’t think there’s a writer out there who won’t benefit from his exploration of the subject. I know I did.

By Joseph Campbell,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Hero with a Thousand Faces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joseph Campbell's classic cross-cultural study of the hero's journey has inspired millions and opened up new areas of research and exploration. Originally published in 1949, the book hit the New York Times best-seller list in 1988 when it became the subject of The Power of Myth, a PBS television special. The first popular work to combine the spiritual and psychological insights of modern psychoanalysis with the archetypes of world mythology, the book creates a roadmap for navigating the frustrating path of contemporary life. Examining heroic myths in the light of modern psychology, it considers not only the patterns and stages…


Book cover of The Emotion Thesaurus

Cara Bristol Author Of Naughty Words for Nice Writers: A Romance Novel Thesaurus

From my list on reference and writing for romance authors.

Who am I?

After writing more than sixty romance novels, I can sometimes find myself at a loss for words, unable to think of the right word or find myself using the same ones. Having a good thesaurus is invaluable. I use my own thesaurus, Naughty Words for Nice Writers, all the time. I wrote it as a survival guide—it was the book I needed that didn’t exist when I started writing romance. Besides Naughty Words, the thesauri/reference books I’m recommending are tools I couldn’t live without. 

Cara's book list on reference and writing for romance authors

Cara Bristol Why did Cara love this book?

Romance is all about feelings. The highs. The lows. The dejection and the joys. But you need to “show” and not “tell” how your characters are feeling.

To do that, you use gestures, dialogue, facial expressions, internal sensations, and thoughts. The Emotion Thesaurus provides all that and more. There are more than 130 entries to help writers show emotion. This is a fantastic book for all novel genres. If I could only keep one reference book (other than mine), this would be it!

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 The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers

Max Griffin Author Of Timekeepers

From my list on writing fiction.

Who am I?

A dozen years ago, I decided to publish short stories. I figured it’d be easy. After all, I’d published textbooks and countless research papers. It turned out I was wrong. Writing fiction is hard. My stories read like my math publications, but without the math. Then I had the good fortune to join a writing group that included experienced, published authors. Their guidance taught me the basics of the craft. I supplemented their mentorship by reading books on writing. It was like going to graduate school all over again. This list of books is the distillation of those dozen years of learning. I’m still learning. I expect I’ll never quit.

Max's book list on writing fiction

Max Griffin Why did Max love this book?

I’m a mathematician. Mathematicians start with basic ideas—axioms and definitions—and use logic to deduce magical things called theorems. When I decided I wanted to write fiction, I looked for books on writing. I found lots of good books, but they left my mathematical brain unsatisfied. Then I found Gardner’s book. Gardner’s genius is that he provides a theory of fiction, a framework for understanding what makes writing come alive. Reading Gardner, I saw at once the difference between, say, Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King. They’re both geniuses, to be sure, but King’s writing draws you into his fictional worlds in ways Poe’s never does. The underlying theory, the fictional dream, makes all the difference. The fictional dream is the secret to compelling writing.

By John Gardner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Fiction as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic guide, from the renowned novelist and professor, has helped transform generations of aspiring writers into masterful writers—and will continue to do so for many years to come.  
 
John Gardner was almost as famous as a teacher of creative writing as he was for his own works. In this practical, instructive handbook, based on the courses and seminars that he gave, he explains, simply and cogently, the principles and techniques of good writing. Gardner’s lessons, exemplified with detailed excerpts from classic works of literature, sweep across a complete range of topics—from the nature of aesthetics to the shape of…


Book cover of Scene of the Crime: A Writer's Guide to Crime Scene Investigation

Max Griffin Author Of Timekeepers

From my list on writing fiction.

Who am I?

A dozen years ago, I decided to publish short stories. I figured it’d be easy. After all, I’d published textbooks and countless research papers. It turned out I was wrong. Writing fiction is hard. My stories read like my math publications, but without the math. Then I had the good fortune to join a writing group that included experienced, published authors. Their guidance taught me the basics of the craft. I supplemented their mentorship by reading books on writing. It was like going to graduate school all over again. This list of books is the distillation of those dozen years of learning. I’m still learning. I expect I’ll never quit.

Max's book list on writing fiction

Max Griffin Why did Max love this book?

I love both science fiction and mysteries, so naturally I’ve written novels that combine the two. I know enough science to realize how annoying it is when an author gets a simple thing wrong, like confusing a measure of distance (ahem, a parsec) with a unit of time. When I needed to write about a detective investigating a crime scene, I knew I needed better background than watching Lenny on Law and Order. That’s where this book comes in. Wingate is a former cop and CSI investigator in addition to having a PhD in English, and provides detailed and practical notes, drawn from personal experience, on the scene of the crime. Besides pointing out an excellent reference, the point of this recommendation is to do the research and get the details right no matter the genre.

By Anne Wingate,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Scene of the Crime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Provides information on how evidence is measured, collected, identified, and analyzed, the timetable of activity at a crime scene, and technical terms and professional techniques used.


Book cover of Strait Over Tackle: a Flip-Flop Detective Novel

Frank Zafiro Author Of The Last Horseman

From my list on action with thrills that could really happen.

Who am I?

I was a cop for twenty years. And while I always saw True Crime as a busman’s holiday, I loved crime fiction all along. Eventually my own writing took me there, as well. I love how crime fiction, much like good science fiction, explores the nature of human behavior in a way that isn’t as prevalent in other genres. As a result, I’ve read widely in the field, always gravitating toward the darker and grittier entries. The lone wolf protagonists who either live by a code or undergo a fascinating change within the book or series has also been my focus.

Frank's book list on action with thrills that could really happen

Frank Zafiro Why did Frank love this book?

I loved The Rockford Files TV show, and Sam Strait reminds me a little of Jim Rockford. I love how there’s a lightness to this book (and its sequels) but it still contains an edgy and compelling mystery.

The dialogue is fun, as are the “rules” Sam Strait lives by… the first of which is to never live anywhere you can’t wear flip-flops, thus the moniker of The Flip-Flop Detective series.

Of all five books I’ve chosen, this is the lightest fare and an excellent palate cleanser between Stark or Quinnell without entirely leaving the genre. Conway writes some darker books as well – PI and police procedurals – but Sam Strait is the most fun.

By Colin Conway,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strait Over Tackle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rule #1 - Only be where flip-flops can be worn.

Former deputy Sam Strait lives his life by a particular set of rules. They provide him freedom to do the things he wants where he wants with whom he wants. For a single man in his mid-thirties, things couldn’t get any better. Then why isn’t he happier?

When Sam returns home for the summer, he discovers a stranger dead in his boat. With cops and reporters crawling over his property, gone are the usual plans of soaking up the sun and whiling away the days in the arms of a…


Book cover of The List

Sue-Ellen Pashley Author Of The Rise

From my list on dystopian books with watery issues.

Who am I?

As an author who, in my ‘other’ life, has studied psychology and social work, I love to write about the impact of change on individuals and communities – what do my characters grieve, what relationships become important to them, what are the roles or goals that motivate them now and what do they need to do to survive, both individually and in their new society. And I love to be able to write about a place – a location – that I know well, hence the Sunshine Coast Hinterland as a setting for The Rise. I hope you enjoy the books that I’ve recommended as much as I have!

Sue-Ellen's book list on dystopian books with watery issues

Sue-Ellen Pashley Why did Sue-Ellen love this book?

This is one of those books I thought about long after I’d finished reading. Through human greed and global warming, the resulting decimation of the planet means food and water are rationed for survival…but so are words. Noa, the leader of the community, believes that words and how they were used, led to the downfall of humanity so allows people to only use a list of specific words. Except for the wordsmiths, who are allowed to know them all. 

As an author whose life is all about words, this was a really interesting book to read – what does it do to a society when ideas, thoughts, creativity are stifled by lack of words? And when everything is rationed – water, food, words, enjoyment – what does that do to a community?

By Patricia Forde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The List as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver in an award winning dystopian story about the dangers of censorship and how far we will go in the pursuit of freedom.

What if you were only allowed to speak 500 words?

The city of Ark is the last safe place on Earth: the polar ice caps have melted and flooded everything, leaving few survivors. To make sure humans do not make the same mistakes, Ark's leader John Noa decrees everyone in Ark must speak List, a language of only 500 words. Language is to blame for mankind's destruction, John Noa says, as politicians and…


Book cover of A Tale of Two Castles

Allison K. Hymas Author Of The Explorer's Code

From my list on mysteries the reader can solve by themselves.

Who am I?

I am a fan and a creator of puzzles. As a child, I created twisty scavenger hunts for my younger siblings, full of codes and clues. As a reader, I get frustrated with mysteries that hide clues or use knowledge that no reader would have so no one reading can possibly solve the story before the truth comes out. So, today, as a writer, I create stories that can be solved by the reader before the end. I entertain myself by solving puzzles and researching codes in my free time. I wish you the best of luck solving these books!

Allison's book list on mysteries the reader can solve by themselves

Allison K. Hymas Why did Allison love this book?

Dragons, castles, fairy tales, and mystery…this book has all my favorite things! We follow Elodie, a young actress (or mansioner) who becomes apprenticed to Sherlock Holmes in Dragon form. That alone was enough to hook me; I love seeing the mystery play out, and it is solvable, though in, perhaps, a different way than other mystery stories. My favorite thing about this book, though, is how it turns classic fairy tale tropes on their head. From this story, I learn not to assume and that villains can come in all different forms.

By Gail Carson Levine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Tale of Two Castles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Mysteries abound, especially in two castles...Elodie journeys to the town of Two Castles to become a mansioner-an actress-but the master of the troupe turns her away. The only one who will take Elodie in is Meenore, a dragon who happens to be a brilliant detective. To crack Meenore's newest case, Elodie goes undercover on a dangerous mission within an ogre's castle. There, disguised as a kitchen maid, Elodie plays the role of a lifetime, pitted against a foe intent on murder.


Book cover of The Real Boy

Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson Author Of The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow

From my list on middle grade books to fall into.

Who am I?

We have been writing middle-grade and children’s picture book reviews on Fairday’s Blog for about 12 years. We started our book blog when we began our journey to publish The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow. In attending book shows, like the BEA, The Children’s Book Fair, various writing conferences, and book events, we were able to meet and interview many of the authors whose books we reviewed. It has been fascinating and fun to get the scoop on the story behind their stories and understand the books on a deeper level. We’ve read and reviewed many books on our path to publishing the Fairday Morrow books, and it’s been amazing connecting with readers and authors all over the globe and sharing our stories.

Jessica's book list on middle grade books to fall into

Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson Why did Jessica love this book?

I absolutely loved this book! Anne Ursu has a brilliant way with words. The Real Boy was the second book I picked up by this author- Breadcrumbs was the first, and I was hooked on Ursu’s unique and genuine style of storytelling. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves stories that tie in legends and whisk you off on a magical adventure.

By Anne Ursu, Erin McGuire (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Real Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

National Book Award Longlist * Bank Street Children's Book Committee Best Book of the Year

"Beautifully written and elegantly structured, this fantasy is as real as it gets."—Franny Billingsley, author of Chime

The Real Boy, Anne Ursu's follow-up to her widely acclaimed and beloved middle grade fantasy Breadcrumbs, is a spellbinding tale of the power we all wield, great and small.

On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy named Oscar. Oscar is a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the village, and spends his days in…


Book cover of The Hollow Girl

Candace Robinson Author Of The Bone Valley

From my list on fantasy romance with a taste of darkness.

Who am I?

I’ve been intrigued with dark fantasy ever since I was a child, whether it was watching horror movies or fantasy with dark aspects such as Return to Oz or Legend. Growing up, I started reading dark fantasy pretty young, starting with Goosebumps or Scary Stories, and the style stuck with me through my adulthood, so much so that I started writing the genre myself.

Candace's book list on fantasy romance with a taste of darkness

Candace Robinson Why did Candace love this book?

I’m a fan of revenge stories, so when I picked up The Hollow Girl, I didn’t know it would be as addicting as it was. The romance in this one was super sweet, but boy does the rest get dark, and oh how I relished in all of it. There are some very unpleasant things that go down, but seeing the main character grow and deal with these in the way she did had me rooting for her. And the witchy things were just plain awesome!

By Hillary Monahan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hollow Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

For fans of Asylum, Anna Dressed in Blood, and The Haunting of Sunshine Girl comes a new feminist horror novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Mary: The Summoning.
 
Five boys attacked her.
Now they must repay her with their blood and flesh.
 
Bethan is the apprentice to a green healer named Drina in a clan of Welsh Romanies. Her life is happy and ordered and modest, as required by Roma custom, except for one thing: Silas, the son of the chieftain, has been secretly harassing her.
 
One night, Silas and his friends brutally assault Bethan and a…


Book cover of The Hand of the Sun King

Richard Swan Author Of The Tyranny of Faith

From my list on mentor/apprentice relationships.

Who am I?

As writers, one of the things that most commonly unites us is how quickly we are able to point to our favourite teacher from school—almost always our literature teacher. These people instilled in us a love of reading, and encouraged us to explore and hone the craft of writing. I’m always drawn to, and fascinated by, the idea of how certain individuals can impact our lives, this butterfly effect of personal connection. Sometimes these relationships can have very complex dynamics; other times these mentors won’t even know the impact they have had on us. In this list, I have selected five works that I have read recently and which I think examine these relationships masterfully.

Richard's book list on mentor/apprentice relationships

Richard Swan Why did Richard love this book?

A beautifully written novel of a young man torn between two worlds.

Wen Alder is schooled from infancy both in the Imperial arts and (secretly) in the arcane tribal ways of his grandmother. Both are paths to magic ability, the former sanctioned, the latter very much illegal.

There are no prophetic heroes here; just the story of an angsty and foolish young man trying to find his way through competing heritages.

By J.T. Greathouse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hand of the Sun King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A captivating epic of conflicted loyalties and dangerous ambition' Anthony Ryan, New York Times bestselling author

'Brilliantly told and immediately engrossing, filled with magic, mistakes, and their merciless consequences' Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter

'An exciting new voice in epic fantasy' SFX

'This is one of the best debuts I've ever read' Novel Notions

My name is Wen Alder. My name is Foolish Cur.

All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: my father's, whose family trace their roots back to the right hand of the Emperor. My mother's, whose family want to bring the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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