- Ariel Mendez
3 Books To Read That Will Instantly Improve Your Writing
Updated: Feb 1
I teach self-publishing courses and often get asked, "How do I write a good story?" Such a big question! I think all writers are asking themselves this question, including myself. Since I focus on children's literature, here are the three books that I recommend to all children's book authors to improve their writing:
WRITING PICTURE BOOKS Revised and Expanded Edition by Ann Whitford Paul
This book was written by an experienced children's book author with over 20 traditionally published titles under her belt. I first read her book in 2019; it was incredibly helpful because I read the book as I simultaneously revised a picture book manuscript. I learned so much about the revision process, I highly recommend it to readers that are in the process of revising their own manuscripts! I had the pleasure of meeting Ann at the 2020 SCBWI Winter Conference (before the pandemic shut everything down). She helped me edit the first page of my picture book, which was awesome!
In this book, Anne talks about not only writing an excellent children's book but also teaches on publishing, querying, and rejection. It's encouraging to know even seasoned authors like Ann face rejection.
THE MAGIC WORDS: WRITING GREAT BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS by Cheryl B. Klein
As Writing Picture Books was written by an experienced children's book author, The Magic Words was written by an experienced editor. I love that this book brings an editor's point of view! Why is that valuable? Editors are picking what manuscripts are being acquired, they edit the books to the taste of the market or the publishing house, they are involved in the entire process even book cover design and jacket copy. Cheryl brings all of these perspectives and more to the book The Magic Words. Additionally, she talks about books for older audiences, not just picture books which I tend to focus on in my classes.
DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community by Gabriela Pereira
I started getting serious about writing picture books in 2017. I wrote several manuscripts and looked for writers to connect with. In the meantime, I kept sharing my drafts with my husband who is not much of a picture book reader (other than to our kid's at bedtime). He picked up on my passion for kidlit and gifted me this book, DIY MFA, which I am so incredibly grateful that he did! This book truly helped me start my writing career; I was at a point where I felt a bit lost and disoriented with my writing and publishing intentions; this book helped me find my way. After reading the book, I immediately joined a writing community (SCBWI) and found other unpublished writers like myself to connect with. I found traditionally published authors who mentored me. I discovered classes, eventually teaching them myself (a result of the community I was building). Eventually, this all set me on the path that I am on today.
Here is an extra book for those writers interested in writing for older audiences...
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I really appreciated this book. Yes, we all know Stephen King as the King of horror and scary books. And yes, this book dives deep into the craft of writing and how to improve your writing. What I found most refreshing about this book is that Stephen King shares so much of his own personal journey, his struggles as a teacher, as a father, as a man, and as a writer. I love that it wasn't meteoric rise to fame, which is what most authors are secretly hoping for. I found solace in his story, like I wasn't alone.
I reference these books on a regular basis. I don't think anyone is ever too advanced to improve their writing or learn more about the craft. No matter what, these books will help you with your writing and publishing journey!
As always, I wish you the best in your writing endeavors! Was this helpful? If you want more articles and resources like these, join my email list to receive my free Self-Publishing From Start To Finish Guide.