Ten Reference Books Every Writer Should Own

Ten Reference Books Every Writer Should Own

By Rachelle Indra

Every writer needs to brush up on their skills. I don’t care who you are … you need to be constantly learning.

But Lord knows most of us don’t have time to do last night’s dishes, let alone take a class on writing.

So here are a few reference books that every writer should have in their arsenal.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

My copy of this book is more lovingly tattered than my childhood Teddy Bear. It’s that important to me. There is no other writer that more perfectly describes the anguish of the editing and rewriting process. This is the book you need to read to feel less alone in the abyss of writer’s self-doubt.

On Writing by Stephan King

This is the quintessential book about writing for a reason. Don’t shy away from it because you’re not interested in the types of books the author writes. Reference books are very different, and this one is no exception. It’s half memoir on how he became the writer he is today, and half nitty-gritty “how to.”

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

I have watched the TED Talk this book is based on a hundred times. Seriously. This book is beautiful and uplifting for anyone who is creative, yet stuck in their fear of expressing it. Believe me, that’s all of us. You need this book.

The Emotional Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

This is the ultimate reference book. It’s not something you sit down and read, it’s a book you keep in your computer bag and reference every time you need to describe an emotion of any kind. Where had this book been for years? I don’t know any writer that doesn’t need a little boost when it comes to expressing emotions. Think it’s only for fiction writers? Think again; every copywriter needs to know how to speak to the feelings of others, so get it. Use it. Love it.

Scratch: Writers, Money, and The Art of Making a Living by Manjula Martin

I actually went to the reading Manjula Martin did for this book and it was fascinating. She has gathered together essays and interviews famous writers have given, talking about the not-so-glamorous side of being a writer – i.e. what all of us writers really want to know about. Any writer struggling to make money in this industry needs this book!

Words that sell by Richard Bayan

This is another great reference book for people who are in a rut with using the same words over and over. Yes, that means you. We all do it. This book has 6,000 words to replace the words you overuse all the time. Did I just use “word” too many times?

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition by Renni Browne and Dave King

I know this book says it’s for fiction writers but editing good writing is the same through all kinds of writing. And let’s be honest, it will be much more entertaining to brush up on your editing skills with fiction than copy. And if you think you don’t need a little brush up, well then, I can’t help you.

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

There are so many great books out there about writing great fiction, I have talked about a few of them here, but this book is different. This book is just about writing nonfiction, which as we all know, is no small task. Thankfully this is a tried a true book that has your back.

The copywriting Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guild to Writing Copy Well By Robert W. Bly

This is the comprehensive guild that every copywriter should have on their shelf, and a great place for any fledgling copywriter to start getting familiar with all the ins and outs of the industry. Get ready to dog-ear some pages.

642 things to write about by the San Francisco Writer’s Group and Po Bronson

I give this book to every writer I know. I give it out so often I have had a few people roll their eyes when they open it at Christmas and tell me that I already bought it for them. “Then why do you complain about not having anything to write about?” I often yell back.

Well, not yell.

Okay, yes. I yell.

Because it’s that important.

And that’s it! I highly recommend any and all of these books, but if you want a more bite-sized approach to improving your writing, go ahead and check out the Free Resource Library by clicking on that box below. It contains a guide about voice development as well as several other helpful downloads. Improve your craft, learn to write great emails, and take your website to the next level with the more than a dozen resources provided there. Go on, stop waiting!

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