Some websites and books you might find handy…
For insights on writing, art, and publishing, see Steven Pressfield’s blog, especially the “Writing Wednesdays” and “What It Takes” series.
For some helpful articles about developmental editing—when it’s useful, how it works—see Alan Rinzler’s blog, The Book Deal, and check out his articles in the “Ask the Editor” category. Then hang around for a while and just keep reading.
For information on trends in digital publishing, see Digital Book World.
For more information about editorial matters in general, see the website of the Editorial Freelancers Association.
If you’ve seen some of these books recommended elsewhere, there’s a reason for that. A few classics:
- On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction — William Zinsser
- The Writer’s Art — James J. Kilpatrick
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life — Anne Lamott
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft — Stephen King
“Writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things we can keep out of it that shouldn’t be there.”
“I have a theory about writing. The theory goes to this effect: The chief difference between good writing and better writing may be measured by the number of imperceptible hesitations the reader experiences as he goes along.”
“What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work … is to quiet the voices in my head. First there’s the vinegar-lipped Reader Lady, who says primly, ‘Well, that’s not very interesting, is it?’…
Quieting these voices is at least half the battle I fight daily. But this is better than it used to be. It used to be 87 percent.”
“I want to suggest that to write to your best abilities, it behooves you to construct your own toolbox and then build up enough muscle so you can carry it with you. Then, instead of looking at a hard job and getting discouraged, you will perhaps seize the correct tool and get immediately to work.”
A couple of books you might not be familiar with:
- Writing to Learn — William Zinsser
- The Elements of Expression — Arthur Plotnik
“Writing organizes and clarifies our thoughts. Writing is how we think our way into a subject and make it our own. Writing enables us to find out what we know—and what we don’t know—about whatever we’re trying to learn. Putting an idea into written words is like defrosting the windshield: The idea, so vague out there in the murk, slowly begins to gather itself into a sensible shape.”
“Although I’ve tried to pick up where the often-stern Elements of Style … leaves off, this is no pedantic treatise. I’ve written The Elements of Expression to give pleasure, drawing on all levels of expressiveness. Along the way, however, it might prod you to think about language; to break out of generic patterns; to choose more expressive words from known and near-known vocabularies; and to arrange words in more stimulating ways.”
For learning how to write a nonfiction book proposal:
- Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 Proposals That Sold and Why — Jeff Herman and Deborah M. Adams
“A sample chapter is considered an addendum to a book proposal, but you should never view it as an afterthought. A good sample chapter gives you an important opportunity to further persuade an editor and to sell your idea. It proves that you can deliver and shows how your idea will translate into a book.”
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