Author Topic: How do writers find books on writing?  (Read 823 times)  

Offline Diana Kimpton

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 31
  • UK
    • View Profile
    • dianakimpton.co.uk
How do writers find books on writing?
« on: June 11, 2018, 02:26:04 AM »
As you are all my target market for my book about plotting, I'd love to know where you find out about the writing books you buy. Personal recommendation? Amazon? Goodreads? Other places? To start off the thread - I usually rely on Amazon and recommendations from other writers. I don't find browsing bricks and mortar bookshops very helpful as they have such a limited selection.


Author of more than 40 books and several scripts. Writes for adults as well as children.
Diana Kimpton | website

Offline Simon Haynes

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1743
  • Gender: Male
  • Perth, Australia
  • Born in the UK, raised in Spain, now Australian
    • View Profile
    • Home page
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2018, 03:01:00 AM »
Back in the day I'd just search Amazon for books on writing. We're talking ten years ago at least.

Nowadays, I'm more likely to buy after seeing a title mentioned around the place. (I don't buy books on writing any more, just on ams ads and the like. But your question applies to non-fic too.)

By the way, I would think most authors here have already written and published their work, so perhaps not the target market you might think. Doesn't mean we can't all use a refresher, but I would target sites where people discuss writing their first novel. (Nanowrimo, fan fic perhaps, author feedback sites, that kind of thing.)

Here, it'd be like selling driving lessons to people who own a car ;-)



Also yWriter novel writing software & SalesScanner, a free KDP/Google/Smashwords/Createspace sales analyser for PC. (Mac soon)

Offline VanessaC

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 322
  • Gender: Female
  • UK
    • View Profile
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2018, 03:46:30 AM »
Nowadays I tend to go by word of mouth, often through blogs / websites of writers whose work I really like, or recommendations on these boards.  I may be unusual, but I don't think I've ever browsed Amazon for a book on writing and bought one without it being recommended. (I don't buy books in "real" shops anymore.)  Often the author also has a lot of free content - blogs, videos, etc - so you can try before you buy, which I like as it gives me a chance to see if that author's style is going to resonate with me. :)

Offline Boyd

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2124
    • View Profile
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2018, 04:07:31 AM »
For something like this, I'd use word of mouth. There's a lot of books on the craft that are outdated and not kept up to date after publication (I know, I know). So finding something current and relevant I do the "who wants to be a millionaire" thing. I ask the audience & phone a friend.

Offline elalond

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 608
    • View Profile
    • Ela Lond's web page
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2018, 08:25:30 AM »
Via browsing on Amazon and by recommendation. Nowadays, after owning +20 books on writing, is mostly by recommendation.

Offline Jim Johnson

  • Status: Edgar Allan Poe
  • *******
  • Posts: 6509
  • Gender: Male
  • Alexandria, VA
  • Storyteller and Cat Minion
    • View Profile
    • Ineti Press
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2018, 08:28:12 AM »
Same way I'd find books on anything--word of mouth, recommendations, searching Amazon, shameless plugs by the author on messageboards, etc.

Offline munboy

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 159
    • View Profile
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2018, 08:31:56 AM »
There are so many books on writing out there and most of them nonsense. The best way to find books on writing is ask other writers. They're bound to have some good ones to offer up.






(PS. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont.)

Online L_Loryn

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 327
    • View Profile
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2018, 08:43:13 AM »
I agree with what Simon said-- target people who are working on their first novel and/or a younger audience. Nanowrimo, wattpad, small writing groups, etc.

I don't read books on writing. To me it's like reading books on drawing: at the end of the day, you're just going to have to break out and do it yourself. No one's "method" is going to work exactly for you, so unless you just like reading about writing theory, there's no point.

Offline Kessie Carroll

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 475
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • K.M. Carroll's Blog
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2018, 08:51:09 AM »
I found Rayne Hall after a feature on Romance Writers University, and I found James Scott Bell after frequenting The Kill Zone blog, where he posts every week. So ... blogs all the way. :-D
K.M. Carroll | blog | facebook | twitter

Online DCRWrites

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 187
  • Gender: Male
  • Wentworth Hall, Tellus of Sol
  • A writer writes
    • View Profile
    • Welcome to Yesterday's Tomorrow
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2018, 09:11:34 AM »
I look up.

I have 20 books on writing on the shelf directly above my monitor, and about the same number buried in boxes that I haven't got to since the move. There's a mix between reference books for my freelance work and various books on the craft of fiction.

I generally don't buy new ones anymore except under very specific circumstances. For example the last book on writing I bought was Chuck Wendig's "The Kick-Ass Writer;" I follow Chuck Wendig on Twitter, and sometimes read his blog. When I bought the book, it was less as a guide to writing, and more for the fact that I genuinely enjoy his writing style, especially when he talks about writing. I bought it for pleasure, not for study.

Welcome to the worlds outside my window
Dave Robinson | Blog | Twitter

Offline ameliasmith

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 985
    • View Profile
    • My website
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2018, 09:54:05 AM »
Recommendation threads pop up on here every so often, and on Facebook groups like 20Booksto50k. I follow a few people on Goodreads, too, and if several of them enthusiastically recommend a writing book I'll check it out. I also used to regularly (and still do occasionally) check out the relevant part of the new books shelves at my local library (around 810-812 in the Dewey Decimal system, I think).

At this point I've really read more books on writing than I ever need to, but I'm often tempted by new ones. The latest new one I'm picking my way through is John McPhee's 4th Draft.

Amelia Smith | My Website

Online PiiaBre

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 113
  • Gender: Female
  • Finland
  • The Turtle Moves
    • View Profile
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2018, 11:53:36 AM »
Hi Diana, I bought your book. I like your approach to plotting :)

Offline EllieDee

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 285
  • Gender: Female
  • Drifting around Europe
  • Dreaming about the future...
    • View Profile
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2018, 01:46:08 PM »
I used to go to my local library, which was really quite big, and browse.  Found some great books on writing that way that I probably would have overlooked otherwise, for instance ones that are technically geared to mystery writers.  However, the principles of good storytelling are pretty much universal.   :)

Offline she-la-ti-da

  • Status: Edgar Allan Poe
  • *******
  • Posts: 6602
  • in the bunker
    • View Profile
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2018, 02:31:17 PM »
I'm not your target audience, because I don't plot. :D  Most writers here probably have read more writing books than they can remember (I know I have, in the 40+ years I've been studying the craft), so I agree that finding a place where newer writers hang out and becoming a part of that community might be more helpful.

If I were to feel a need for another writing book, I'd see what other writers say helps them, or do a web search for something on a particular topic. That's how I find most stuff I need, really.
Queen of Procrasti Nation

Genres: speculative fiction under main pen name.




Offline Diana Kimpton

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 31
  • UK
    • View Profile
    • dianakimpton.co.uk
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2018, 02:14:22 AM »
Thanks for all your replies. I'll follow up the places you recommend and get on with finding reviewers, new writers and blogs.


Author of more than 40 books and several scripts. Writes for adults as well as children.
Diana Kimpton | website

Offline Al Stevens

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2187
    • View Profile
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2018, 05:14:53 AM »
There seem to be no shortage of writing books that teach plotting and outlining. And, of course, many books address the innards and dos and don'ts of writing--the old saws about show don't tell, active voice, and so on--without regard to how a writer plans the plot.

I usually look for books that discuss what we call "pantsing" but there aren't many. It seems that writers on writing can readily describe the procedural steps of building and following outlines, but letting your imagination write the book from a cold start is a more abstract process and not only difficult to describe but a different process from writer to writer. Finding such books on seat-of-pants writing is usually a matter of looking for writing books from writers who have confessed publicly to being pantsers.

That said, I recently got this one and find it quite helpful:


Offline Simon Haynes

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1743
  • Gender: Male
  • Perth, Australia
  • Born in the UK, raised in Spain, now Australian
    • View Profile
    • Home page
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2018, 07:03:08 AM »
There seem to be no shortage of writing books that teach plotting and outlining. And, of course, many books address the innards and dos and don'ts of writing--the old saws about show don't tell, active voice, and so on--without regard to how a writer plans the plot.

I usually look for books that discuss what we call "pantsing" but there aren't many. It seems that writers on writing can readily describe the procedural steps of building and following outlines, but letting your imagination write the book from a cold start is a more abstract process and not only difficult to describe but a different process from writer to writer. Finding such books on seat-of-pants writing is usually a matter of looking for writing books from writers who have confessed publicly to being pantsers.



I use a hybrid method these days, and it works for me in most cases. I must confess than I'm writing my latest by the seat of my pants, but that's because I have several subplots and a large cast of characters which I'm switching between, and plotting something like that often takes longer than writing the thing. I know what each set of characters wants, so I just have to make sure all the other characters are blocking each other - intentionally or not.

Also, my latest is out-and-out comedy, where laughs are important. I write vastly better humour when I just let things flow.

The previous four novels were all carefully plotted.


Also yWriter novel writing software & SalesScanner, a free KDP/Google/Smashwords/Createspace sales analyser for PC. (Mac soon)

Offline Nick Marsden

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 392
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Nick Marsden Author
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2018, 07:13:45 AM »
I don't remember how I found it, I think I was just browsing on Amazon, but I'm glad I bought and read "How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method" by Randall Ingermanson. I'm using the method now for my current WIP and it makes writing so much less of a slog than it used to be. I love how characters are developed simultaneously with the plot.

Unfortunately, I haven't read a book on more detailed aspects of craft (dialogue, action scenes, etc.) in a long time. There's just too many free tips floating around on the internet (like the Writer's Digest website) for me to find value in a book on those subjects.

Epic Fantasy Author
Nick Marsden | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

Offline TromboneAl

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2927
  • Name IRL: Al Macy
    • View Profile
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2018, 06:20:46 PM »
I have 77 books on my how-to-write  shelf:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/30180169-al-macy?shelf=how-to-write



Laboriously typed on my tablet.


Al Macy | Web Site | Facebook | Twitter

Online OnlyTheGrotesqueKnow

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 95
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2018, 06:31:20 PM »
It's a saturated market. Everyone wants to sell you tips on how to write, sometimes I fell that I'm a steak thrown into a pack of hungry dogs. There is not shortage of people trying to sell courses, books, blogs, secret tips, etc. Saying that I usually have two books on writing going at any one time with a chapter a week for each as the norm. I typically take suggestions from other writers or go for classics before the explosion of the ebook. I tend to find the tips to be more craft and less shine.
To be broken is to be singularly beautiful. Only the shattered are unique in a world of plastic. Scars are the tribal marks of the forgotten, they are how we know our own.

Offline Diana Kimpton

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 31
  • UK
    • View Profile
    • dianakimpton.co.uk
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2018, 06:22:50 AM »
I'm glad I bought and read "How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method" by Randall Ingermanson.

If you're enjoying the book, you may find the software that goes with it useful. I used Snowflake Pro successfully when I was working on There Must Be Horses although I've gone back to numbered lists in Word now.


Author of more than 40 books and several scripts. Writes for adults as well as children.
Diana Kimpton | website

Offline Diana Kimpton

  • Status: Dr. Seuss
  • *
  • Posts: 31
  • UK
    • View Profile
    • dianakimpton.co.uk
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2018, 06:30:24 AM »

I use a hybrid method these days, and it works for me in most cases. I must confess than I'm writing my latest by the seat of my pants, but that's because I have several subplots and a large cast of characters which I'm switching between, and plotting something like that often takes longer than writing the thing. I know what each set of characters wants, so I just have to make sure all the other characters are blocking each other - intentionally or not.

Also, my latest is out-and-out comedy, where laughs are important. I write vastly better humour when I just let things flow.

The previous four novels were all carefully plotted.

Different stories often need different approaches. I always start with an outline when I'm writing comedy, but the funny details usually come in during the actual writing and I'm always happy to change things if I spot a way to make the story funnier or better. A plot is only a route for the writing journey - it's not fixed in stone and you can always decide to go a different way.


Author of more than 40 books and several scripts. Writes for adults as well as children.
Diana Kimpton | website

Offline Nick Marsden

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 392
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Nick Marsden Author
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2018, 07:23:18 PM »
If you're enjoying the book, you may find the software that goes with it useful. I used Snowflake Pro successfully when I was working on There Must Be Horses although I've gone back to numbered lists in Word now.

I created a Snowflake-based template for Scrivener. I love it.

Epic Fantasy Author
Nick Marsden | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

Offline ParkerAvrile

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 455
    • View Profile
    • Parker Avrile's Steamy Gay ROmance
Re: How do writers find books on writing?
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2018, 07:53:09 PM »
Writers I respect who also write writing books. It's not a large category. There's that one Stephen King book everyone's read. There's the amazingly brilliant and accessible Lawrence Block. There's Romancing the Beat. Really... How many books on writing do you need before it becomes procrastination anyway?

Most really terrific writers are not writing books how to write/sell books. They don't... that's just... not what they're about? I'm thinking my answer is not helpful but it's honest? I want some evidence the person has sold a book or screenplay for real money if they're going to presume to tell me what to do. I already know how to sell for OK money...
« Last Edit: June 16, 2018, 07:55:13 PM by ParkerAvrile »
Visit my website for free reads & giveaways for lovers of steamy m/m romance https://parkeravrile.wordpress.com/blog/