50 Best Books For Aspiring Authors (Updated 2019)
Serious authors are serious readers. In fact, the vast majority of high achievers read voraciously. It's a trait we see documented over and over again. CEO's and Fortune 500 executives are often cited as reading at least a book a week. While best-selling authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Ryan Holiday read twice that many.
Reading is an essential part of the journey to greatness. If you're reading this right now, the chances are pretty good that you already know this. Maybe it was a book that changed your life. A book that introduced you to a different way of thinking: about success or spirituality or yourself. Maybe it was even one of my books that brought you here.
What matters now is the next step. Turning our idea or story or passion into a book. One that has the potential to reach and impact millions! I love helping people take on and achieve this particular goal. I've experienced the ways writing a book changed my life and now I have the pleasure of watching people just like you experience similar transformations.
Below you will find a power-packed list of book recommendations specifically for the person who is serious about writing their book. I've organized this list of 50 books into 5 main categories, each with 10 targeted recommendations that I have personally read and benefited from. The categories are:
- Writing Motivation
- Writing Habits
- Writing Technique
- Writing as a Career
- Book Marketing
I hope this list inspires you to begin (and finish!) your book. If one of these has helped you in a major way, or there is a book you would like others to know about, make sure to write it down in the comments below. Now let's jump right in!
Writing Motivation Recommended Books
- Successful Author Mindset by Joanna Penn
Big Idea: Your thoughts will be your biggest help or hindrance in your author career.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Identify the negative beliefs I had around my writing (such as perfectionism and imposter-syndrome) and begin to overcome them.
- Prosperity For Writers by Honoree Corder
Big Idea: Starving artists are a thing of the past.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Become more honest about the financial goals I have around my writing so that I could openly pursue them with full force.
- Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul by Jack Canfield
Big Idea: You, as a writer, are not alone in your struggle.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Realize that I am a part of a long line (and huge community) of like-minded people who are putting their ideas and stories out into the world.
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Big Idea: Writing, like life, sucks sometimes. But you only get to the best parts if you keep going.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Feel gratitude around the fact that I get to be alive and write (and how deeply those two intertwine).
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Big Idea: Resistance will do everything it can to keep you from writing your book. Don't let it win.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Recognize when I am letting myself fall prey to the enemies of my art (and how to battle them effectively!).
- Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg
Big Idea: Confidence and originality are a powerful combination.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Remember that my writing doesn't have to fit into anyone else's box so long as it truly reaches the reader.
- Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Big Idea: Vulnerability is the x-factor for success and happiness.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Go to places in my writing I never thought I would so I that could impact readers in a way I didn't think was possible.
- Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers by Jack Canfield
Big Idea: Success as a writer is possible.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Stay consistent with my writing schedule and practice because perseverance makes success inevitable.
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Idea: You already know what your next step is.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Trust my instincts as a writer and creative entrepreneur so that I could take more action towards my dreams.
- The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
Big Idea: Success is replicable.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Look for patterns of success in those I look up to and practice modeling them.
Writing Habits Recommended Books
- 5000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox
Big Idea: With the right system in place, we can write insanely more than we thought we were capable of producing.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Build systems around my creation so that I could get the most out of every single minute I dedicate to writing.
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
Big Idea: Small, consistent steps in the right direction will always take you further than big, infrequent leaps.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: See every action (especially the small ones) as votes: either for or against the life I want to live.
- The Miracle Morning for Writers by Hal Elrod
Big Idea: A disciplined morning is a successful writer's secret weapon.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Plan my mornings so that the writing I need to do always gets done.
- Writing Habit Mastery by Steve Scott
Big Idea: Distractions, both external and internal, are the biggest enemy of prolific writers.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Preemptively eliminate distractions so that my writing time and space can be a sanctuary of productivity.
- Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Big Idea: Fewer things better.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Create not-to-do lists so I can focus on the single priority that will have the greatest impact on my life.
- Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
Big Idea: My routine doesn't have to look like anyone else's.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Stop incorporating unhelpful practices into my routines simply because other "famous" authors do so.
- 2k To 10k by Rachel Aaron
Big Idea: The more work you do up front, the faster your writing will flow.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Begin the practice of regular self-evaluation to make my process (before and during writing) more efficient.
- Lifelong Writing Habit by Chris Fox
Big Idea: So much of what makes you a writer happens when you're not writing.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Think of my writing with a much wider and longer lens so that I could set not just word count goals, but legacy goals as well.
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Big Idea: A habit has 3 parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Use science to create the habits I want in my life (and break the ones I don't).
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
Big Idea: Concentration is a superpower in today's world.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Dedicate much more time to deep work (i.e. research and writing) and cut my shallow work by almost 80% (i.e. social media, email, etc.).
Writing Technique Recommended Books
- Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.
Big Idea: Good writing is concise.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Stop using 10 words to say something when it could have been said in 6.
- Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
Big Idea: Create what you want to consume.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Learn to use myself as my target audience and to trust my taste.
- Writing For The Soul by Jerry Jenkins
Big Idea: Patience is the key.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Instead of trying to wrestle my writing into submission, I should treat it like a friend I get to enjoy.
- How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis by Bryan Cohen
Big Idea: Most people won't read past your blurb, so make it incredible.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Recreate my blurbs so that readers can't pass my book up.
- The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
Big Idea: The best stories are modern retellings of timeless elements.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Build into my writing the pillars of great story-telling.
- How to Write Non-Fiction by Joanna Penn
Big Idea: You, right now, have a book inside you that could change the course of your life.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Write books that clearly help others achieve their goals, while also helping me achieve my own.
- Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker
Big Idea: Writing is about writing, not about thinking about writing.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Move faster through my outlines and into the actual "work" stage of writing.
- The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker
Big Idea: Archetypes are patterns to follow.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Stop trying to reinvent the wheel every time I start a new book.
- On Writing by Stephen King
Big Idea: Great books are rewritten.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Feel less intimidated by the revision process.
- Story Grid by Shawn Coyne
Big Idea: Any story can become a great story with the right elements.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Be more intentional about what I want to reader to feel, not just understand, as they read my work.
Writing as a Career Recommended Books
- Business For Authors by Joanna Penn
Big Idea: A book is only the starting point for a business.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Create logical income streams for customers to enjoy after they have finished my book.
- Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield
Big Idea: Our daily decisions are what make us amateur or professional.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Take my writing craft as seriously as a professional athlete or doctor takes theirs.
- Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller
Big Idea: Your customer, not your product, is the hero.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Reshape my entire messaging around what my ideal reader/customer needs and wants.
- How to Make a Living with Your Writing by Joanna Penn
Big Idea: Continual creation will ensure continual income.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Instead of thinking about only the next book I want to write, start thinking about everything I would like to create over the next 12-18 months and schedule it.
- Write To Market by Chris Fox
Big Idea: Write the thing people are already searching for.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Marry my own creative ambitions with the trends, and gaps, in the market so that I can write what I love and actually make money from it.
- Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
Big Idea: Be your own hero (which requires you to trust yourself).
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Have more confidence in my own creative and business endeavors so that I can take more action.
- Real Artists Don't Starve by Jeff Goins
Big Idea: Your network is your net worth as a creative.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Set aside time each month to intentionally connect with other writers and creators in my space.
- Self-Publisher's Legal Handbook by Helen Sedwick
Big Idea: Intellectual property is powerful and worth protecting.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Understand my rights as an authors, as well as my responsibilities to protect the work I create.
- Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn
Big Idea: You can control the process and create the book of your dreams.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Take advantage of the flexibility and creative freedom I have as my own publisher.
- Authorpreneur by Jesse Tevelow
Big Idea: Leverage what you have to get what you want.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: See my books as building blocks to the career and success I desire.
Book Marketing Recommended Books
- Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt
Big Idea: More books equals more sales (when done correctly).
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Double my publishing output by streamlining what and how I wrote.
- Launch To Market by Chris Fox
Big Idea: Give your book the best chance of succeeding by launching it right.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Think of my book launch in 30 day chunks, before and after the actual publication date, and schedule lots of activities for that period.
- How To Market A Book by Joanna Penn
Big Idea: There are levers you can pull to make your book sell, learn how they work.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Use the 80/20 principle to decide what marketing strategies are best for the kinds of readers I want to reach.
- The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk
Big Idea: Giving first is the best marketing strategy.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Worry less about tactics and more about intention. People are more than just numbers so my marketing should treat them as such.
- Iterate and Optimize by Sean Platt
Big Idea: Small, consistent improvements will drastically improve your sales.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Think of my book marketing as a series of tiny experiments. There are no failures, only more data to use in the future.
- Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday
Big Idea: Having a book sell for 100 years is much better than having it sell, then disappear, after 100 days.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Think long-term about the book's positioning. How can I get the book to do its own marketing through word-of-mouth?
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
Big Idea: 1,000 true fans is all you need to be successful.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Get incredibly specific about who I want to reach and what I want to create. I don't need the masses to like what I do in order to be massively successful.
- Smashwords Book Marketing Guide by Mark Coker
Big Idea: The internet allows us to market books in ways people haven't even thought of yet.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Look outside of "book-culture" to find marketing strategies that I could apply to my work (like the mobile app industry for example).
- Strangers To Superfans by David Gaughran
Big Idea: Take your customer (reader) through a journey they enjoy and want to continue.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Think beyond the book so that everything from the first email they read from me to the latest social media post all inch them towards becoming a true superfan.
- Six Figure Author by Chris Fox
Big Idea: Algorithms will sell your book for you if you treat them right.
The 1 Thing It Helped Me Do Better: Learn how to make tools and platforms like Amazon my marketing friend, rather than another marketing hurdle.
There you go! My list of the 50 best book recommendations for aspiring authors. Even though these are what helped me begin my journey, I still refer back to many of them every single year. Some even every single month. Your output will always be a product of your input so make sure you continually fill your mind and space with greatness.
Don't forget to leave a comment below telling me which book(s) have most helped you on your author journey!