I have read a LOT of books over the last few years about writing and marketing for authors. And no matter if you are self published or traditionally published, as an author, you need to know about both.
I have been thinking a lot lately about what books every writer should have on their bookshelves (and have READ them), if they want to make a career out of their writing. So I am about to give you my three recommendations.
1) On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
This was published in 2000 and has since become one of the most recommended ‘must reads’ to every writer. And for good reason.
The book is basically a small memoir focusing on King’s ‘writing/career’ experiences and a mini guide book for those who want to be writers. The career memoir is fascinating and the tips he gives in his writing guide are basically what you will hear or read anywhere else. But he tells you what works for him and ways you can make it ‘work for you’.
He does give you the ‘rules’ – follow the Chicago Manual of Style, grammar rules and cut back on passive voice – but then gives you leave to break them if it will help push the story along. King’s main message in this book is that the Story is King and that the writer should never put themselves above writing the story the way it wants to be written.
If the plot draws the reader along by being unconventional and breaking every writing rule in the book, then go with it. If the plot wants to be fast paced and action driven, then go with it. If the plot becomes mired in pages of description and then collapses in a prose stumbling heap, then cut it out and go back and redo it.
If you are willing to put in the work by reading a lot and creating routines to write a lot, then you are on your way to being a consistent and successful writer.
And that leads us onto my next book.
2) Write. Publish. Repeat. The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self Publishing Success by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant with David Wright.
This is the book for writers to read if they want to make a living off of their writing. The authors host a Podcast called the Self Publishing Podcast where they and other indie authors talk about their experiences with writing, publishing and the marketing strategies that need to make it all run. This book is an offshoot of this show.
The title itself tells you the basics of what you need to be able to get on the road to making a career of writing.
The steps you need are:
1) Write the work,
2) Publish it,
3) Go to Step 1
There is a lot more to the book than just this. They go in depth into how this works for them and other successful writers and how you can get this working for yourself. They go into marketing strategies, writing routines and creating product funnels. They talk about websites, blogs, email lists, and at all points in the book they give constant warning that this will take a lot of hard work and persistence.
And now onto my final suggestion.
3) Your First 1000 Copies – The Step by Step Guide to Marketing your Book by Tim Grahl
This is the book you need to read if you want to build up your author brand, your author platform and your fan base. Not only does Tim detail what needs to be on your author website, he tells you about delivering value, content and how to create that all important email list.
His motto is to be ‘Relentlessly Helpful’ and Tim Grahl does that himself in spades. Tim Grahl is a professional book marketer and has helped many successful authors build and keep their fan base (Dan Pink, Hugh Howey, Michael Bunker etc). And the email list is key to making this happen. He gives you a system to build your platform and create content, get outreach and then gain permission by having people want to be on your email list. And remember that your email list is your number one marketing tool. Every writer should be focusing on building one. Anyone who has followed Tim Grahl for a while will know that is his number one recommendation to any budding career builders. And email list is a direct link to your fans and you should never give that up.
So there are the three books that I would recommend to any budding, career minded writers. Those are the three that I have gotten the most out of and have enjoyed reading. If you disagree with my choice or want to recommend any other books, please tell me in the comments below.