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Melanie Harlow’s Top Author Books

During this year’s Inkers Con we hosted a live Q&A session with one of our favorite bestselling authors, Melanie Harlow. Melanie has joined us for Inkers Con for three years and brings valuable craft and marketing advice each year.

We asked Melanie what her favorite author books she recommends. She had such an enthusiastic response we had to share these recommendations with you. It is clear these books have impacted Melanie’s career.

Write to Riches by Renee Rose*

Melanie Harlow: I keep it here on my desk. It’s a great book about abundance mindset for authors, and I really got a lot out of it. 

7 Figure Fiction: How to Use Universal Fantasy to SELL Your Books to ANYONE  by Theodora Taylor*

Melanie Harlow: That’s also a great book for getting better at recognizing what it is about your genre that makes it appealing on almost a subconscious level. I would recommend her book for learning more about what kinds of hooks and scenes and little fantasy things, not fantasy in terms of the genre, but like things you could add to your story to make it more marketable.

Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel by Lisa Cron

Melanie Harlow: So what I have learned is how to outline everything that brought those characters to that point right before the story starts. I am unable to outline anything further. I just have to get in and discover what happens. But I know exactly what brought them to that point. And all of that includes things like–and I highly recommend Lisa Cron’s Story Genius for more help with this–that includes like their origin story, the wound, their misbelief, all of that. I know exactly what it is. I know exactly what the arc needs to be, what the flaw is, or the weakness, and then the strength that they’re going to gain because of it.

Strangers To Superfans: A Marketing Guide to The Reader Journey by David Gaughran

Melanie Harlow: Strangers to Superfans changed my career. Everything transformed after I read Strangers to Superfans. That was the book that really made me think, Oh my God, I’m just writing it and then throwing it out there. And I’m not doing any planning. I’m not thinking about the marketing.

Writing Killer Cover Copy by Elana Johnson

Melanie Harlow: I love her so much. This is the most fabulous blurb writing resource out there. I stand by it. I love it. 

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein

Melanie Harlow: What I love about this one, is that he talks about how we can’t write books like the classics anymore. Readers will get bored. No one wants five pages of description anymore. They just don’t want it. The modern eye needs more white space on the page. There is also a hugely helpful chapter on how and when to use flashbacks. 

The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting by Jill Chamberlain 

Melanie Harlow: I really like the nutshell technique. This is kind of a plotting technique, and it didn’t solve my plotting problems, but it did help me with the setup. It did help me figure out what the hook would be. Like what’s going to make a a reader go, “I need to find out what happens next!” It really connects the dots between the critical components of story structure.

This is Marketing by Seth Godin

Melanie Harlow: My other marketing book that I really love is called This is Marketing by Seth Godin. It’s not author-specific, but it’s just a really great book to wrap your brain around marketing as a concept, and I do believe that it will help.

The Secrets of Story: Innovative Tools for Perfecting Your Fiction and Captivating Readers by Matt Bird 

The Secrets of Character: Writing a Hero Anyone Will Love by Matt Bird 

Melanie Harlow: I love both of these books. The author is Matt Bird. So the first one that he came out with is The Secrets of Story. And the next one was The Secrets of Character. He does talk a lot about screenwriting, but it’s very applicable to a novel. So both of these by Matt Bird Secrets of Stories, Secrets of Character are fantastic.

*Renee Rose, Theodora Taylor and Melanie Harlow were presenters at Inkers Con 2023.  These classes are still available to view.  

The upcoming 2024 conference offers dozens of brand new classes, Q&As, author discussions and more! Join us in Dallas or online!