Reference Books on Writing and Publishing

There are a lot of books published on book publishing. Unfortunately, like many books on other topics, the books vary greatly on the value of the content presented. We've assembled some of our favorite books on a variety of topics related to book publishing that we believe are worth reading.

Let us know what you think of our suggestions or recommend other books to add to our list.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition

by The University of Chicago Press Editorial Staff

Technologies may change, but the need for clear and accurate communication never goes out of style. That is why for more than one hundred years The Chicago Manual of Style has remained the definitive guide for anyone who works with books. In addition to grammar and usage, The Chicago Manual of Style has sections specifically related to the formatting and organization of books.

In the seven years since the previous edition debuted, we have seen an extraordinary evolution in the way we create and share knowledge. This seventeenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style has been prepared with an eye toward how we find, create, and cite information that readers are as likely to access from their pockets as from a bookshelf. It offers updated guidelines on electronic workflows and publication formats, tools for PDF annotation and citation management, web accessibility standards, and effective use of metadata, abstracts, and keywords. It recognizes the needs of those who are self-publishing or following open access or Creative Commons publishing models. The citation chapters reflect the ever-expanding universe of electronic sources—including social media posts and comments, private messages, and app content—and also offer updated guidelines on such issues as DOIs, time stamps, and e-book locators.

Other improvements are independent of technological change. The chapter on grammar and usage includes an expanded glossary of problematic words and phrases and a new section on syntax as well as updated guidance on gender-neutral pronouns and bias-free language. Key sections on punctuation and basic citation style have been reorganized and clarified. To facilitate navigation, headings and paragraph titles have been revised and clarified throughout. And the bibliography has been updated and expanded to include the latest and best resources available.

This edition continues to reflect expert insights gathered from Chicago’s own staff and from an advisory board of publishing experts from across the profession. It also includes suggestions inspired by emails, calls, and even tweets from readers. No matter how much the means of communication change, The Chicago Manual of Style remains the ultimate resource for those who care about getting the details right.

The Writer's Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages 

by Nancy Ellen Dodd

Just as surveyors use a compass to map the known world, The Writer’s Compass teaches writers to use their intuition as an internal compass to create their story map. This book simplifies Aristotle’s elements of good writing into easily applicable concepts. Each stage focuses on a major story weakness such as structure, characterization, and creating tension. Through thought-provoking questions, The Writer’s Compass trains the analytical side of the brain to be creative and to write the story the writer wants to tell—in 7 stages.

What's Your Book? A Step-by-Step Guide to Get You from Inspiration to Published Author

by Brooke Warner

What's Your Book? is an aspiring author’s go-to guide for getting from idea to publication. Brooke Warner is a publishing expert with thirteen years’ experience as an acquiring editor for major trade houses. In her book, she brings her unique understanding of book publishing (from the vantage point of coach, editor, and publisher) to each of the book's five chapters, which include understanding the art of becoming an author, getting over common hurdles, challenging counterproductive mindsets, building an author platform, and ultimately getting published. Brooke is known for her straightforward delivery, honest assessments, and compassionate touch with authors. What's Your Book? contains the inspiration and information every writer needs to publish their first or next book.

Journey of Memoir: The Three Stages of Memoir Writing

by Linda Joy Myers

Journey of Memoir --The Three Stages of Memoir Writing is a workshop in a book. Guiding you from your reasons to write a memoir, to how to begin, you will discover the answers to the questions you have about memoir writing. There are lessons on how to write a great scene; information on the difference between freewriting and outlining, and why you need both. Timeline and turning point exercises help you get started and create structure, and you'll learn what the narrative arc is and how to create plot in memoir.

Breaking Ground on Your Memoir: Craft, Inspiration, and Motivation for Memoir Writers

by Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Myers

In Breaking Ground on Your Memoir, Linda Joy Myers (President of the National Association of Memoir Writers) and Brooke Warner (Publisher of She Writes Press) present from the ground up—from basic to advanced—the craft and skills memoirists can draw upon to write a powerful and moving story, as well as inspiration to write, finish, and polish their own story. Full of rich insights and practical advice and strategies, Breaking Ground on Your Memoir offers all the tools writers need to write a powerful, publishable memoir.

Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers

by Judith Briles

Could you use a pick-me-up? A bit of inspiration or silliness? How about something to chew on or get you unstuck? In Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers, you will find all that and more.

Author Judith Briles favorite advice over the years to her many author clients is included ... think and write snappy, sassy and salty and surround yourself with cheerleaders for your vision, not distractors.

Writing with a bit of snap, always some sass and yes, there's salt in there.

The Elements of Style: 2017 Edition

by William Strunk Jr.

The Elements of Style is an American English writing style guide. It is one of the most influential and best-known prescriptive treatments of English grammar and usage in the United States. It originally detailed eight elementary rules of usage, ten elementary principles of composition, and "a few matters of form" as well as a list of commonly misused words and expressions. Updated editions of the paperback book are often required reading for American high school and college composition classes.

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

by William Zinsser

On Writing Well has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet.

Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental principles as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more than a million copies sold, this volume has stood the test of time and remains a valuable resource for writers and would-be writers.

Stein On Writing

by Sol Stein

A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies.

Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for all writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether they are newcomers or old hands, students or instructors, amateurs or professionals. As the always clear and direct Stein explains here, "This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions--how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place." With examples from bestsellers as well as from students' drafts, Stein offers detailed sections on characterization, dialogue, pacing, flashbacks, trimming away flabby wording, the so-called "triage" method of revision, using the techniques of fiction to enliven nonfiction, and more.

Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo

by Grant Faulkner

Every writer knows that as rewarding as the creative process is, it can often be a bumpy road. Have hope and keep at it! Designed to kick-start creativity, this handsome handbook from the executive director of National Novel Writing Month gathers a wide range of insights and advice for writers at any stage of their career. From tips about how to finally start that story to helpful ideas about what to do when the words just aren't quite coming out right, Pep Talks for Writers provides motivation, encouragement, and helpful exercises for writers of all stripes.

You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)

by Jeff Goins

Becoming a writer begins with a simple but important belief: You are a writer; you just need to write.

In You Are a Writer, Jeff Goins shares his own story of self-doubt and what it took for him to become a professional writer. He gives you practical steps to improve your writing, get published in magazines, and build a platform that puts you in charge.

This book is about what it takes to be a writer in the 21st Century. You will learn the importance of passion and discipline and how to show up every day to do the work.

You Are a Writer will help you fall back in love with writing and build an audience who shares your love. It’s about living the dream of a life dedicated to words.

How do we select a Book to be included on the Center for Book Publishing Resources page?

All of the books listed on this page have been reviewed by us and we have found that they provide excellent information about their subject matter.

If you have a book that you would like to have listed here, please contact us on our Feedback page. We will need a copy of the book to review. We prefer printed copies, but will accept other formats.