Books For Writers

Each one of the books for writers listed here comes with my personal recommendation.


If you click on the photo of the cover, you will land on a page where you can order the book from your home. Check to be sure you are shopping in the currency you prefer. Each clickable graphic will tell you which currency to expect. If no currency is specified, you will be shopping in US$.

If you want to buy the book at your local bookstore, print out the page or write out the publishing information for the book you want.

Books For Writers
The Writer's Reference Center

No matter what you write, you need reference books...Books that will help you with the technicalities of your writing. 

The better your writing is, the lighter the load on your editor. I charge my better writers less because I do less for them.

Writing that is technically correct disappears into the background and allows your message to shine through.

Not only do the reference books below come with my recommendation, they are the books on my desktop within reach as I work on my own writing and the writing of others.



Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
If you want only one dictionary of American English, this is the one for you. Required by major universities, it is the standard most Americans recognize.

Keep your dicitonary updated. New words come into our language, meanings and even spellings change. If your dictionary is more than five years old, look for a newer edition.


Canadian Oxford Dictionary
If you want to write for the Canadian market, you need to know not only how we spell, but what we call things.

And if you are Canadian...
what can I say?

I began using this particular dictionary when I taught for the University of Saskatchewan.


Roget's International Thesaurus
After the dictionary, the thesaurus is the most important reference book at the word level.

If you've never used one before, you are in for a treat when you find yourself stuck for a word. Look up any word close to what you wish you could say, and presto!
...several choices lie before you.

Roget's is the classic.

Keep your thesaurus current because the English language keeps growing.


Elements of Style
a.k.a.Strunk and White
Value for money!

This little classic fits in your pocket along with the money you'll still have because it costs nearly nothing.

Lovingly called "Strunk and White" by generations of writers, it gives concise information on the most common writing errors.


Chicago Manual of Style
If you need more detail about usage, this is the most common style guide for American English.

The Chicago Manual of Style includes information on Canadian usage. Note that it is not 100% accurate.

That said, I own this reference book and use it regularly.


Eats, Shoots & Leaves
In a class of its own, Eats, Shoots & Leaves rocked the British publishing industry by selling 500,000 copies in its first year.

Amazing for a book on grammar!

I bought this book on-line immediately after hearing an interview with the author and I've never been sorry. She's both smart and funny. And she can write!

I'd buy this book just to read the section on commas, especially the page where she demonstrates how to use commas to take the reader on soaring flight.



There is one other category of reference books that requires much more explanation than this page allows for. If you want to know more about choosing a rhyming dictionary, click here.


Books For Writers
The Art Of Writing

The reference books above are like the scales in music. You need them, but they aren't a lot of fun. Well, all excpet for Eats, Shoots & Leaves, which is more fun than... You fill in the blank.

The books in this section help you to make your writing a work of art.

Don't skip this section because you write non-ficiton. These books apply to writers of both fiction and non-fiction. No matter what you write, you need compelling text.

Writing the Natural Way
When someone with a PhD in writing writes about writing it's worth paying attention. When the technique she teaches in the book is standard practice in writing classes all over the English-speaking world, the book moves to the must-have list.

I had been teaching writing for years, using Rico's methods before I found her book.

I've worked through the exercises in her book twice and use many of them regularly when I write. I started winning writing contests when I started writing the natural way.


Books For Writers
On The Business Of Writing

Many people write for the pure joy of personal expression.

Others want to write for money. If you are one of those who wants to see cash for your efforts, you will enjoy the books below.

The Well-Fed Writer
In a freelance writer's forum I visit regularly, this books gets more recommendations than any other.

Practical advice from someone who has made a good living from his writing, this may be the book that puts money in your pocket...
..and that's a good thing.


Writing With Power
Peter Elbow took me by the elbow and pointed me toward compelling writing that others would pay for. Most days since I first read his book, I recall his advice and his challenge.

To me, this book was not so much a how-to as a call to action. If you want inspiration to write for money, this is your book.


Books for Writers
On Self-Publishing

On a site for self-publishing writers it seems only fitting to give you something specific to self-publishing.

Not a self-publisher? You may still want the information offered here. Many principles important to self-publishing apply to other publishing as well.

Who knows? Once you learn about what it takes to self-publish and what you get out of it, you may decide to join the ranks of self-publishing authors.

The Self-Publishing Manual
Everything you could hope to know about self-publishing all in one book written by the king of self-publishers, Dan Poynter.

The section on marketing is important reading for any writer.

You know the book is doing a good job when it has gone through as many editions as this one has.

My copy is dog-eared and well-marked.


Other books for writers are reviewed here.
Click here for a selection of blank books.


Now you can 
do your own editing! 

Click here to learn how.


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