While the internet is loaded with all the information you need to become a writer, there is definitely some benefit to reading a book to help you get started. There are several books that have guided me on my journey.
Here are some of the best books for new writers, including many of my personal favorites.
Why read a book?
For those who love reading, the joy of reading a book may be totally obvious. Reading is fun and relaxing!
But, for those who are busy or are simply not in the habit of reading, why should you invest in or read physical books?
There are lots of reasons!
- Books can help you relax and unwind. Business is stressful, life is stressful. Curling up with a good book is a great way to tune out the rest of the world for a few minutes, a break that your brain will enjoy.
- Reading can spur your imagination and help you find innovative solutions to problems. The act of reading can help your conscious mind stay focused, while your unconscious mind is hard at work looking for solutions to problems you might be facing. This is when the “ah-ha” moments show up!
- Books are great for reference. There are several books on this list that I have not read every word of, but I reference them all the time. They are essential to the day-to-day management and strategy of my business. Several of them are regularly on my desk, so I can look at them when I need to.
All that being said, if you want to be a freelance writer, I strongly encourage you to start a reading habit. For me, my habit is just 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening. As a busy mom, that’s all I really have time for, but at least it’s something.
Even just reading something different for just a few minutes a day can change your mindset, teach you something, and give you new ideas moving forward.
So, let’s dive in! Here are my personal favorite books in the areas of inspiration, business, and writing.
Best books for beginning writers
There are several books that I have enjoyed that are about the craft of writing, rather than the “business” of being a writer. Here are my favorites:
On Writing (A Memoir of the Craft), by Stephen King
I will be honest, I listened to this one on audiobook and found it absolutely fascinating to learn more about the writing process of such a prolific author. He also gets into some technical writing tips and tricks, which are super useful.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
This is one of the best books I have ever read, ever. The message in the book is that you need to take any large and overwhelming task “bird by bird”, meaning one step at a time.
I think we can all feel overwhelmed sometimes and even though I probably read this book 10 years ago, I still think about taking things “bird by bird” when life gets too overwhelming. I also love Anne’s writing style and aspire to be as awesome of a writer as she is one day.
Best books for freelance writers
Most of the books about writing on my bookshelf are not so much about the craft of writing, but about how to get clients and grow a writing business. A few books that I reference often are:
The Freelance Content Marketing Writer, by Jennifer Goforth Gregory
This book changed my writing career. Before I read this book, I thought the only place to find writing jobs was on job boards. While this is a fine place to start, this book taught me that the real money in the writing industry is found in reaching out to clients directly.
This is one of the books that is almost always on my desk. I reference it all the time.
The information in this book also informed a lot of the content in my course, Freelance Writing for the RD, where I walk RDs through my method of reaching out to clients and growing your writing business.
The Writer’s Market is a classic reference that every writer should have on hand, especially if you are looking to get a book or article published in a more traditional way. It not only has great information about what to charge and how to talk to agents and publishers, but it also has actual contact info so you can reach out directly.
The only thing is that it is updated annually, so if you want to get the latest edition you would have to purchase it once a year. The library might have it too if you just need to look up a quick email address and don’t need access to the whole book.
White Papers for Dummies, by Gordon Graham
White papers are persuasive marketing papers that companies use to talk about how their product can solve the problems of their customers. These are high-value, highly researched pieces that writers can create for top dollar. If you are interested in getting into this profitable market as a writer, this book is a great place to start.
Best business books
I also enjoy reading business and inspirational books. While knowing the basics of starting a writing business is obviously important, a lot of general business principles can help my growth as a business owner as well.
A few inspirational/business books I have loved include:
I probably need to read this book 100 more times. Chris Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator who details all of his tips and tricks in this book. I learned so much from reading this about how to get what you want when talking to clients (or even other people in general).
There are so many techniques you can use to negotiate a better deal for yourself, I think this should be required reading for every RD.
4-Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferris
This book and the accompanying podcast was the reason why I knew there was a way out of the hospital basement as an RD. I used to sit in the basement with one of my coworkers and dream about a 4-hour work week.
While I definitely work more than 4 hours, this book still inspired me to dream bigger and create a career I love!
Profit First, by Mike Michalowicz
As you start to make money, you need a way to organize your business finances, so they work for the business and for you. This book outlines exactly how you should organize your business income to optimize your profits and grow your business. It is exactly how I personally handle my business finances.
The 12-Week Year, by Michael Lennington
When we are making plans for our business, it is easy to be too ambitious. This book helps you break down important business tasks into 12-week chunks, which is really about as far as most people can plan ahead anyway.
You are a Badass: How to stop doubting your greatness and live an awesome life, by Jen Sincero.
One of my team members gifted this to me and it is amazing. It is so inspirational and helps you reconnect with the things you KNOW are true about YOU. You are amazing, you are worthy, and you can do this. Definitely a great read if you are struggling with your mindset around writing or business.
Atomic Habits, by James Clear
This is my next read. I have listened to several podcasts with the author, but haven’t read the book yet. I’ll report back when I do!
I hope you enjoyed my list of favorite books. What are your favorites?
*This post contains affiliate links. I will make a small commission if you purchase one of these books through my link.