Suggested Reading For Writers – August 2014 Edition

I’m off to nurse my throat infection today, spending some quality time drinking tea and staying warm. With that in mind, I figured I’d throw out a grab-bag of recommended reading for writers from elsewhere on the internet. Two of the links below are on the list of things I wish every writer read before they started their career, while the other two are interesting ideas that really change the way you approach either the craft or the community of writing.

A Definition of Author Platform (Jane Friedman)

The internet irreversibly changed the nature of writing and, as a result, the nature of writing advice.It became truly noticeable about five years ago, where suddenly new writers would ask as many questions about blogging and promoting their work as they would getting their work published, with Author Platform replacing the publishing deal as the thing every writer was chasing.

Jane Friedman breaks down the idea of Author Platform into its component parts and really looks at what it is and why it’s useful. Along the way, it actually serves as one of the most useful advice columns about Platform that I’ve come across, in addition to providing an effective definition. For my money, this is one of three things all aspiring writers should be required to read before they set out on their careers, simply because it’ll help them make smarter business decisions.

Unasked For Advice to Writers About Money (John Scalzi)

This is basically finance 101 for writers and freelance types. Which is useful, because the vast majority of financial advice out there in the world is predicated upon assumptions like “regular paycheques” and the success of things like “giving up your daily lattes.”

Scalzi talks about the realities of the writing life from the POV of someone who treats it like the business it is. The second of the three things all writers should be required to read before they set out on their careers (along with the first post on this list, and a copy of Jeff VanderMeer’s Booklife).

Four Principles of Puppetry with Mary Robinette Kowal (Writing Excuses)

There is good writing advice and then there is great writing advice and then there is the kind of writing advice that quietly rewrites everything you thought you knew about writing and makes you look at the process anew. That’s pretty much the effect of listening to this episode of Writing Excuses.

If you’re a writer, go spend fifteen minutes listening to this.

Go Beyond Simple Networking and Organise a Mastermind Group (Lifehacker.com)

Earlier this year, I sent this through to my writing group and suggested we start instituting the approach, largely ’cause we’d started out as a short-story critique group and people had slowly stopped writing short-stories and started writing other things instead. And truthfully, it feels a tad naff at first, trying to formalise this kind of process, but it’s really proven by be useful sitting down once a fortnight and setting plans.

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