Books to Read Before Writing a Book

Writing is a craft. Like any craft, it needs honing. This comes with practice, of course. However, a little help with instructions is always valuable. If you are writing a book or planning to write one, you might be wondering how to get quick and relevant help.

The good news is:

As people who are in the business of publishing, we can help.

Manakin Press believes in nurturing fresh talent, and we encourage people to write. Our aim is to find the next bright star in the horizon. Our editors give special attention to first-time writers and guide them through the publishing process.

However, there’s a catch:

There is only so much we can work with. While it is our job to help you clean up your writing, it does make a difference if you already have a decently written piece.

This is why we try to help our future-authors so the chances of their rejection is reduced. We already have intensive instructions for document formatting when submitting a manuscript to us.

But there’s more.

We also want to help you write a book well.

You will find several resources online, and several books written on this subject. Some of these are obviously better than the others. Here is a list of books that we at Manakin Press recommend for writers.

#1 The Elements Of Style by William Strunk and EB White
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Anyone who is literate can write. The difference between writing a letter and writing a book is that the latter needs to be written in a way that a stranger would want to read it.

In short…

Write in a manner that is correct & proper, clear, and concise.

In today’s world of tweets, not many people have the time or inclination to read. That is why your writing needs to compel them to read.

Want to know how to learn to write compellingly? Then read on…

The answer is…study ‘The Elements of Style’!

This classic might be considered the bible when it comes to writing a book. It comes highly recommended by authors Dorothy Parker and Stephen King.

Here’s why…

This book explains the common principles of writing, correct punctuation and grammar, matters of form, and the importance of concise writing.

It is a great resource for any kind of writing, whether fiction, nonfiction, or blogs. Through this book, you will learn how to improve your writing in form and style. You will find your narration will become much more efficient.

Some critics feel that its teachings and style are antiquated. It is also a prescriptive book for writing in general rather than writing a book. However, the fact remains that if you follow the rules it lays down, it will result in crisper prose.

Bottom line?

Read this book over and over again so you know the rules. Once you know them, you can decide how to break them!

#2 Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
blog cov. ritual

So you have studied the technicalities of book writing with Elements of Style.

Now what?

You now need to start writing.

Writing like any other craft becomes easier with practice. You might not publish the very first draft you write.


The more you refine the book you are writing, the more likely you are to succeed in publishing it and selling it.

“I tried”, you say. “but I froze when I looked at the blank paper/screen/page!”

You know what?

So did every other author who wrote a book before you! Every writer has faced the dreaded writer’s block.

And what’s more?

They have survived to talk about it.

Daily Rituals is a book that takes down the experience of 161 artists. It talks about their working habits, their schedules, and what some of the writers in the list did to keep the words flowing.

Bottom line?

The book is about finding a routine that works for you and sticking to it. The more faithfully you follow it, the more consistently you will write.

#3 On Writing Well by William Zinsser
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Now you have a routine planned, and your writing basics are taken care of. You know the technicalities of writing a book. However, you want your work of nonfiction to sound less like a formal journal and more like an easy conversation.

How do you do that?

On Writing Well is the book that will tell you how to do that. What kind of a writer you are, and what medium you use to disseminate your written word become irrelevant. This book will teach you how to make your writing sing.

This book talks about technical principles as well as what ideas should be included in your writing. He, too, talks about the need to trim down words and how to do so effectively. He also explains the different needs of different forms of non-fiction writing.

Bottom Line?

This book helps you turn your technical skill into a craft.

#4 Bird By Bird: Some Instructions On Writing And Life by Anne Lamott
blog cov. bird –Once you know what you are going to write about, it should be a simple enough process, right?


Sometimes, having too much to share results in nothing ever getting shared. What do you start with? Where do you begin?

At that point, you have to stop and take Anne Lamott’s father’s advice.

“Write it Bird by Bird…”

This is a unique ‘instructional’ book in that the instructions come in form of anecdotes and stories from the writer’s own experiences.

Bottom Line?

Writing can be a lonely job. With Bird by Bird, you will always have a companion who will not only guide you but give you support when writing a book may seem too overwhelming.

#5 On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King
blog cov. writingA number of these books talk about knowing what words to keep and what to remove. The art of editing, that is. However, it is also important to know what content to keep and what to remove.

How do you decide that when you’re writing your book?

On Writing is a book that might not give you step by step instructions on how to do that.


It will take you on a journey with the author who will show you snippets of his life. Then he will show you how those snippets gave him fodder for his stories. He will demonstrate the ‘what if?’ that has given birth to so many of his novels.

Bottom Line?

A real-time edited short story that Stephen King has included, to show you how to trim your first draft into something usable.

Bonus #6 The Dictionary!
blog cov. dictionaryWords are the main weapon in any writer’s arsenal. An average person may have a vocabulary of up to 10,000 words. A college educated person might know up to 80,000. The more words you know, the better you can express yourself.

How do you build up your arsenal? Your vocabulary?

You read.

The more you read, the more words you will discover.

And guess what?

The dictionary will be your best friend along this quest!

You will find words you don’t know and the dictionary will help you decode them.

It is this dictionary that will tell you the difference between ‘lying supine’ and ‘lying prostrate’. It will help you distinguish between ‘grinning’, ‘smiling’, ‘smirking’, and ‘beaming’. It will help you economise words by finding the appropriate word instead of trying to explain with many.

“He stormed out.”, instead of “he left the room angrily.”

See the difference?

Bottom Line?

The right words matter. Express yourself better, and with more clarity.

Writing a book is like any other endeavour. You need to have the discipline, the routine, the words, and most of all, the technique. While these books may not make a writer out of everyone, they do provide enough help for the average writer to become good.

We at Manakin Press will work with good and make it better!