Are You Ready to Write The Next Blockbuster Bestselling Book?
The best way to get better at writing is actually sitting down and writing. Unfortunately, most of us get stuck because we have a flurry of inspiration, followed by a long dry spell, or writer’s block.
Sound like you? I have good news. You can sit down and read about writing to shake it off, and get back to work. It can make your writing process easier, smoother, more simple, and with less roadblocks. But as always, I recommend action over consumption. Read some, then write some. Every day.
These books will make you a better writer, if you also do the exercises the authors recommend. There’s no guarantee that you will be a New York Times Bestseller, but you will end up better than you started.
Here is a list of the nine best books on writing, and how they can help you in all your writing efforts. It includes both the best of all time, and some recent updates from 2019 that are absolutely essential to the health of your writing.
1. WRITE TO MARKET: Deliver a Book that Sells, by Chris Fox
How it can help you: I recommend you read this book (multiple times) before you even start writing your book. The exercises at the end of each chapter will show you how to pick a genre that you love, that has an eager audience waiting to buy your book!
Most first time authors write the story they love, without asking anyone, or doing any research to see if there’s already an audience built in for stories like that. If you only want to write a book for yourself, that’s totally acceptable. But if you want people to buy your book, and read it, then make sure you know what markets already exist before you try to reinvent the wheel… or the book in this case.
2. 2K TO 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love, by Rachel Aaron
How it can help you: This is NOT a manual on how to type faster; it’s a blueprint on how to set yourself up for success with some tried and true techniques by an award winning, bestselling author who actually writes over 10,000 words per day!
Part guide on cutting out distractions, part guide on setting up your story so it writes itself, and part inspirational book about only writing what you love (since that’s the stuff your audience wants to read), this has a lot of really good advice for planning a successful writing career. Full disclosure, I personally write much faster after reading this and implementing the techniques, but as a part-time writer I still can’t do 10k per day.
3. KEEP GOING: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad, by Austin Kleon
How it can help you: I fell in love with Austin Kleon’s tiny little bite-sized books back when he released his NYT Bestseller “Steal Like An Artist.” This new addition to the 2-minute read series is a great motivator, and inspiration finder when you just don’t feel like writing, and when you do.
This book is perfect for taking a brief time out, finding some gold, and getting right back into your own writing. It also has a message you will hear from every professional author, which is: don’t forget to be human. Sitting down and writing is great, but you can’t write from experience if you don’t have any experience. So get out there and explore the world, and then come back and write about it.
4. THE 15-MINUTE WRITER: How To Write Your Book In Only 15 Minutes A Day, by Jennifer Blanchard
How it can help you: This book is a really quick read, with the main premise that you can get a book written if you invest only 15 minutes per day. Just committing, and sitting down to write for 15 minutes will both consistently create more content for your book, but also allow you to have a short, achievable goal that you know you can accomplish.
Once you have actually sat down for 15 minutes to write, you will often go for a longer stretch. This is a great book if you’re busy, have family duties, other full time work, procrastinate, or just can’t seem to find the time to write. Since I fit into all those categories, this book really helped me commit to my writing and build it into my life as an engrained habit, without sacrificing my success or time with my family, or at work.
5. ON WRITING, by Stephen King
How it can help you: Both a memoir of one of the most successful authors of all time, as well as a motivational guide for readers, this book will help you become a better writer. Stephen King reveals how he’s been able to crank out multiple bestselling books every year, and how you can learn to incorporate the habits, and writing strategies into your life, as well.
This book is very honest, and makes no guarantees about your own success. But it does reveal the secrets of a very successful writer, who also has time for his family (and isn’t nearly as quirky, or weird as you would think, if you’ve read his work!)
6. YOU ARE A WRITER (So Start Acting Like One), by Jeff Goins
How it can help you: This is good inspiration for any writer, especially for anyone who intends to crank out a full-length novel, which takes a lot of dedication, and persistence. This is partly about your journey from being obsolete, to finding what you have to say and writing it down.
If you’re going from wanting to be a writer to actually being a writer, this is a good source of tips, and tactics on betting on yourself, staying motivated, building an author platform, and branding yourself. While it’s intended for freelance and blog writers, the motivational aspect applies to all novelists, PLUS once you find out that writing means having to market your work as well, you will discover you need these side skills to help sell your books.
7. THE AUTHOR STARTUP: A Radical Approach To Rapidly Writing and Self-Publishing Your Book On Amazon, by Ray Brehm
How it can help you: Most of us get caught up in making our book perfect, and spend years (literally) mulling over trivial details that most readers don’t care about. This book has an action plan inside that you can follow to get maximum results for minimum effort.
It’s not about shortcuts, this is about how you can work a lot less by working on the right things. It’s especially good for people who intend to practice a strategy known as ‘rapid release,’ where you invest a lot of time writing quickly, and releasing books back to back to build momentum.
8. HOW TO SELF-PROMOTE (without being a jerk), by Bruce Kasanoff
How it can help you: A perfect resource for authors who are reluctant to market themselves, and also for authors who are marketing themselves poorly by spamming audiences who aren’t interested.
This book will teach you how to be more genuine in your marketing efforts. The major takeaways are that you are here to be of service to people, not to shout at them and demand they buy your book. Also of note is that you can start marketing yourself, and your work before you even publish! So even if you’re still writing your first book, then this is a good one for right now.
9. STORY: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert McKee
How it can help you: Your readers also watch movies, so more and more they expect the books they read to follow the same act structure, contain the same character arcs, and have the gripping tension and quick cutaways from scene to scene that a movie would have. This book teachers you to make your writing cinematic.
If you want your book to read like a movie, then “Story” is an absolute must for your library. As a bonus, if your book is already written like a movie, it’s more likely to become a movie when it sells like gangbusters.
There Are Plenty More Great Books Out There
Note that this partial book list is designed for authors intending to write novels, including: Young Adult, middle grade, thrillers, fantasy, epic adventures, romance, and all sorts of fun stuff like that. But every one of these books would work well for non-fiction, screenwriting, playwriting, or even just writing up a blog post.
This list is not complete, and I hope to post up a follow up soon with even more great books for writers!
Did I Miss Anything?
I read about 150 books per year (1/3 of that I listen to on audible, to be fair,) so if you have a great recommendation, please leave it below in the comments! Also include how the book helped you in your writing journey.
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