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If you are embarking upon a writing career or perhaps you’ve already started, there are certain tools you’ll need for your new profession. Just like a hairdresser needs his own scissors or a carpenter needs his own tools, a writer needs his own books.

Forget the ‘How to write’ books and the ‘Make money from writing’ bibles. These are real books that will help you no matter what genre you write. Whether you’re preparing to write horror, erotica, science fiction, mainstream fiction or essays, all writers need the same basic reference books:

1. Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus.
Invaluable for all your writing work. Your PCs may include a spell-checker but there’s no substitute for the real thing. If you are carrying out a lot of interviews you may feel that a pocket-sized copy would be also be a must.

2. Book of Quotations
Even if you don’t usually use quotations in your work it is a good way to get you point across or reiterate your thoughts.

3. A Book of historic Calendar dates
The births, deaths and anniversaries of famous people. What happened on what day, etc. A book like this is a godsend for those who write articles. If you’re writing about an anniversary of an event, you’ll need to know when it is in advance so that you can submit your idea (most professional magazines/publications work at least four issues ahead).

4. The Penguin Rhyming Dictionary
For the poets among us, and also invaluable for competition entrants.

5. The Writer's Handbook
Brought out and updated every year this handbook really is a must. It covers address of all professional UK magazines (even the obscure ones), UK book publishers, Poetry magazines, US book publishers, Newspapers, Agents, Foundations and societies, Prizes and Awards and advice on the business side for writers. Cost: Approx. £13.

6. The Macmillan Encyclopaedia
A large encyclopaedia may be cumbersome and slightly expensive but will prove invaluable when it comes to quickly checking your facts. Cost: Approx. £30.00

7. The Bible,/b>
Even for those non-religious The Bible is a good tool for checking quotations and passages.

8. The Writer’s Companion
A guide to being published. Gives a wealth of advice for the established and novice alike on all aspects of writing and being published. Costs: Approx. £15.

9. A book written by your favourite author
Just to inspire you to do as well as him - Not for copying!

10. The Small Press Guide
A yearly updates book with all names, addresses and vital information about small press magazines (current market notes and payment information written by the editors of the publications.) Costs: Approx. £10.


1. Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus. Price: Approx. £20-£25
HarperCollins Publishers, P.O. Box, Glasgow G4 0NB UK
2. Book of Quotations
Available from many publishers, take a look in your local bookstore for a wide range.
3. Book of Calendar Dates
Available from many publishers, take a look in your local bookstore for a wide range.
4. The Penguin Rhyming Dictionary by Rosalind Ferguson Price: £7.99
Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane, London W8 5TZ UK
5. The Writers Handbook. Price: £12.99
Macmillan Publishers, 25 Ecclestone Place, London SW1W 9NF.
6. The Macmillan Encyclopedia. Price: £29.99
Macmillan Publishers, 25 Ecclestone Place, London SW1W 9NF.
7. The Bible, widely available in bookstores.
8. The Writers Companion
Macmillan Publishers, 25 Ecclestone Place, London SW1W 9NF.
9. Your favourite book
10. The Small Press Guide. Price: £9.99
Writers’ Bookshop, Remus House, Coltsfoot Drive, Woodston, Peterborough PE2 9JX.