Before You Self-Publish, Read These

know the rulesWriting is a craft, and like any craft, you must hone and perfect your skills before you can achieve greatness. In writing, it is wise to learn from some of the best writers out there. Just because you’ve chosen to self-publish and don’t have to query agents and sell to publishing houses, doesn’t mean that you can skimp out on quality. Choose to self-publish your very best work, and allow these authors to help you in the process.

Here are the very best books to read before you self-publish

Elements of Style, Strunk & White

This book is a must-have for everyone, not just writers. Strunk & White make grammar and punctuation simple in Elements of Style. From comma rules to basic sentence structure, Stunk & White have your back. Consider it a crash course on the English language. 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott Widely considered one of the very best books on writing, Lamott teaches us about writing, creativity, and, as the title would imply, life itself. A favorite quote from Bird by Bird is, “One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.”

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King

Take it from the king (yes, pun-intended) of horror himself: “you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” King addresses how writing isn’t easy, and it can definitely be scary. But if you put in the work, you can create something truly beautiful.

The Writing Life, Annie Dillard

Dillard’s work, though convoluted and confusing at times, is a must-read for writers. Dillard uses language in so captivating a way, to read her work is to be wooed, to fall in love with language all over again. In The Writing Life, Dillard perfectly captures what it is to be a writer. Frustrating though it can be, the writing life is a good life.

Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern 

Stern’s Making Shapely Fiction is the fiction writer’s Elements of Style. This book is all about the technicalities of creative writing, not just writing in general. The book teaches the reader what works in fiction and what doesn’t work.

Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir, William Zinsser

Though Zinsser’s Inventing the Truth is about memoir, the lessons can be applied to writing as a whole. Within this collection, memoirists discuss their journey, how their work impacted their family and friends, and how they, ultimately, had to create the truth. In whatever you write, create your truth.

Have a favorite instructional book that wasn’t on this list? Comment yours below!