Two questions get fired at me often:How can I become a better writer?What books do you recommend I read to get better at marketing my business?My answer to the first question is: write. Write every day and don’t worry too much if what you write is sometimes crap. You’ll get better.Write. Edit. Improve. Repeat.And read everything you can get your hands on, good and bad.
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Two questions get fired at me often:
- How can I become a better writer?
- What books do you recommend I read to get better at marketing my business?
My answer to the first question is: write. Write every day and don’t worry too much if what you write is sometimes crap. You’ll get better.
Write. Edit. Improve. Repeat.
And read everything you can get your hands on, good and bad.
Which brings me to my answer to the second question: everything.
But as we’re only on this planet for a limited time, I’ll narrow it down for you. What follows isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. I’ll miss out books others would consider vital, and include books people might raise their eyebrows at.
These, though, are all books that continue to help me become a better writer and marketer.
1. A Technique For Producing Ideas by James Webb Young
If you struggle with creativity or you think you’re no good at coming up with ideas, this is the book for you. It’s only 48 pages long, yet it contains everything you need to make sure you’re never short of ideas.
2. Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins
Another classic, and probably one of the first books ever written on advertising. This, too, is a tiny book — only 87 pages long. It was first published in 1923 and the principles it contains are still valid today because human nature hasn’t changed.
3. Commonsense Direct & Digital Marketing by Drayton Bird
This book has been considered to be the marketing bible by pretty much every successful advertising and marketing professional. Buy it and keep it on your desk and refer to it often.
My copy (signed by Drayton) lives on my desk, not my bookshelf.
“Drayton Bird knows more about direct marketing than anyone else alive.” ~ David Ogilvy
4. Marketing Insights and Outrages by Drayton Bird
Also by Drayton, this is well worth reading. It’s a collection of some of the articles he wrote for Marketing Magazine and they contain wit, wisdom, and some cracking ideas.
If you want to avoid marketing idiocy and make as much money as possible from your business, reading this book will help you on your way. Plus it’ll make you laugh.
5. How To Sell A Crapload Of Books by Tim Vanderhey & Naren Aryal
My writer crush, Ann Sheybani, recommended this book and it’s a corker. Does exactly what it says on the tin. If you want to sell a crapload of books, this tome will help you do so — if you do as you’re told.
6. Atomic Habits by James Clear
Good writing is a habit, first and foremost. And the thing most of my clients and authors-in-training struggle with is sitting down to write regularly. If you don’t sit down to write regularly — preferably every day — you will struggle to write a book and you’ll find it hard to improve as a writer.
James Clear’s magnificent book is a great read and it’s full of practical advice on how to improve your habits. It’s worked wonders for me.
Bloody fantastic book.
7. Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples
Another classic advertising book that lives on my desk, not my bookshelf. Marketing should have one objective and one objective only: to get people to do something. Whether that’s buy from you, click a link, download a thing, or book a call — it shouldn’t be there just to fill space. Whatever you want people to do, read this book. It’ll show you how to improve your results.
8. Everything by Terry Pratchett
Yep, I want you to read non-fiction, too. Terry Pratchett isn’t to everyone’s taste, I know, but those people who don’t like him are simply wrong. (Kidding. Maybe.) Even if you’re not a fan of fantasy, read some of his books anyway.
Sir Terry was a magnificent writer and studying his turns of phrase will help you to become a better writer yourself. If you want to write word pictures instead of boring prose, this will help you.
9. Wired For Story by Lisa Cron
Want to tell better stories? (I hope so, because stories are the keys to people’s hearts and wallets.) Read this. Lisa Cron sets out exactly what you need to include for a successful story, and shows you how to write it. Stories aren’t just for fiction; they’re essential for sales.
10. A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles
Another novel. This one is exquisite and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a book in which very little dramatic happens, yet the writer keeps you hooked from start to finish. Read and learn.
11. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
Another must-read for anyone who’s afraid — which is almost everyone. One of the most terrifying things in the world is putting your writing out there for other people to see. What if they judge you? What if they hate you? What if — worst of all — they don’t notice you at all? This is one of the most significant books I’ve ever read.
12. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
Oh, I do love Seth Godin! Purple Cow is fantastic both in content and stature: it’s a tiny read crammed with ideas on how you can stand out from the crowd.
13. Words That Sell by Richard Bayan
Another book I refer to often, this one is crammed full of — surprise! — words that sell. Which is crucial if you want to write stuff that sells your books and your products and services.
I’m sure I’ll create many more lists in the future, but if you’re wondering what you can read right now to improve your writing and marketing, start with this one.
And if you want a book that’ll walk you through how to write your book step by tiny beetle step, you can grab a copy of mine: How The Hell Do You Write A Book? ⬇⬇
Start Writing Your Book Today
If you want to learn more about how to write, self-publish, and market a book for your business, snaffle yourself a copy of How The Hell Do You Write A Book? Then check out the blog and podcast for more articles and guides. If you want a little (or a lot) more help, find out how you can work with me.
Vicky Fraser is the founder of Moxie Books and author of How The Hell Do You Write A Book and Business For Superheroes. She helps business owners write life-changing books, connect with readers and new customers, and grow their businesses. When she’s not doing that, she’s hanging from a trapeze by her feet.