Holiday Gifts for Freelance Writers: 10 Book Recommendations for the Writers in Your Life

books for writers

Every year I put out a call for recommendations for gifts for freelance writers and every year a flurry of representatives send me recommendations for gifts having nothing to do with writers or writing at all. So this year, I’m taking matters into my own hands by recommending my favorite books for writers. Mind you, not every book here is a book about writing, but all of them benefit freelance writers.

Full disclosure: A couple of the books on this list were sent to me to review, and I give my honest review here. However, most of the books on this list come from my own library and the recommendations are unsolicited.

10 Book Recommendations for the Writers in Your Life

Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
by Lynne Truss

The most entertaining book ever written about punctuation, Truss discusses punctuation with humor so the reader is never bored.

If you or someone is apostrophically challenged and uses “your” in place of “you’re,” or “itses” when she should be “it’s’ing,” do put a copy of this book under the tree.

On Writing

On Writing
by Stephen King

I’ve read “On Writing” at least a half dozen times and it never fails to inspire me.

Stephen King takes us through his early beginnings and writing career, and includes some dark periods of his life such as his struggles with addiction and the car crash that almost took his life. However, this is no mere autobiography. King only brings up these instances to discuss how they shaped him as a writer and made him who he is today. Though geared more towards fiction writers, writers of non-fiction will also appreciate giving “On Writing” a read.

Undress for Success

Undress for Success: The Naked Truth about Making Money at Home

by Kate Lister and Tom Harnish

Don’t quit your day job before reading “Undress for Success.” This practical guide to working at home gives you all the tools you need to succeed and many things to consider before taking the plunge.

Lister and Harnish don’t sugarcoat the work-from-home lifestyle. They’ve been doing it for several decades and take you through the pros and cons. From office essentials to navigating the job boards, “Undress for Success” is a must-read for anyone looking to leave corporate America behind.

Crush It!Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion

by Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk uses his no-nonsense style to discuss starting a business and rocking it to success. If there’s one thing that shines through in “Crush It!”, it’s Vaynerchuk’s passion. The passion that took @garyvee from being a simple video blogger and online wine merchant to a mega-successful entrepreneur.

He even offers some ideas he feels would be worthwhile to explore but doesn’t have the time to do so himself. “Crush It!” isn’t a book about writing or becoming a successful writer, it’s about becoming a success with your own business, something all freelancers strive to do.

The New Writer's Handbook Volume 2

The New Writer’s Handbook: Volume 2: A Practical Anthology of Best Advice for Your Craft and Career (New Writer’s Handbook: A Practical Anthology of Best Advice for Your Craft & Career)

Friend of FWJ, Erik Hare, recommended I read both volumes of “The New Writer’s Handbook.” Though that review was lost in the Great Server Crash of 2009, I’m giving them another recommendation here because they’re that good.

Both handbooks contain an essential collection of readings assembled to inspire and motivate. These aren’t mere essays, they’re required reading. With sections on querying, creativity, and marketing, every single freelance writer can benefit from these useful guides.

Content Rich

Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web

by Jon Wuebben

To be honest, I was hesitant to review “Content Rich” because I thought it would be another spammy “make money with SEO” book. The truth is, Jon Wuebben knows his stuff and offers excellent, practical advice for anyone wishing to succeed as a web writer.

Whether you’re copywriting, writing content for a site, or looking to create your own blogs and websites, you’ll find “Content Rich” useful.

On Writing Well

On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

by William Zinsser

An oldie but a goodie, my copy of “On Writing Well” was a Christmas gift from my mom over a decade ago. It’s dog-eared, worn, and still relevant today. Zinsser teaches without pontificating. His tone is informal and down to earth as he walks us through the non-fiction writing process.

This isn’t a book about succeeding as a writer or finding work. It’s all about how to be a good writer. Every time I find myself slipping up and forgetting my rules, I turn back to “On Writing Well.” There’s a reason this book sold millions of copies.


ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income

by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett

I wanted to read “ProBlogger” because the authors are friends of mine. I keep it around as a reference because it’s the best book I’ve read thus far about blogging for a living. If you want to earn a successful living as a professional blogger, this is the one book you should read.

Written by a couple of the best in the business, “ProBlogger” takes you through all the steps; from building a blog, to bringing in traffic, to monetizing your blog and much more.

Well Fed Writer

The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less

by Peter Bowerman

I like to refer to the “Well Fed Writer” as the freelance writer’s Bible. Now in its second edition, “Well Fed Writer” discusses Bowerman’s success as a writer and how you can follow the same path.

The book promises “financial self-sufficiency as a commercial freelancer in six months or less” and it’s up to you whether or not you wish to take Bowerman up on his challenge. Want to earn $125 an hour? Put this book on the top of your Santa list and learn how.

Cluetrain Manifesto

The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual 10th Anniversary Edition

by Ric Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls & David Weinberger

I read somewhere that the ” ‘Cluetrain Manifesto’ is a business book for people who don’t like business books,” and I think that sums it up nicely. This isn’t a book about writing, but a book about doing business at this point in time. It discusses how the Internet is bringing relationships and conversation back into business and anyone wishing to succeed as a freelance writer should be interested in learning how. Though ten years old, “The Cluetrain Manifesto” is still an interesting read for anyone starting a business, and yes, that includes a freelance writing business.







10 responses
  1. Debra Bacon Avatar

    Great for anytime! Thanks for the list and reviews.

  2. Heath Avatar

    King’s “On Writing” is one of the best books out there for improving your writing (besides Elements of Style). I finished it up literally 2 weeks ago, and it really changed. Although it really deals with fiction writing, the main point I got was write what you are passionate about. Whether or not you are a fan of King or not (I’m not really), you have to admit he knows his stuff.

  3. Lucy Smith Avatar

    When I tell people I’m a copywriter and proofreader, they almost always ask me if I’ve read Eats, Shoots and Leaves. I thought it was a great read, one of those ones that, as you read, you find yourself nodding like one of those toy dogs in cars 🙂

  4. --Deb Avatar

    I haven’t read all of them, but I’ve read about half and loved them. Great list–now (knowing how much I liked the ones I HAVE read) I need to check out the other five…

  5. Gwynneth Avatar

    Glad to see King’s book out there. I’ve read a couple of “why I write” books and his was the most common sense, down to earth item I found.

  6. Thursday Bram Avatar

    All great books. Another one of my favorites is Anne Lamott’s “Bird By Bird.”

  7. Violetz Avatar

    That’s a great list. Thanks! I started to read your Network since a few weeks now, and I have being working at home since 4 years. Most of the information presented are pretty close to reality.

  8. Kate Lister Avatar

    Great list Deb. I just ordered several that I hadn’t read. One addition I’d offer is Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan. It was a transformative read for me. The title really says what it’s about–using words to paint scenes.

  9. Lisa Street Rogers Avatar

    Love this list! I’ve read a few and it was the second read through of Peter Bowerman’s book, The Well-Fed Writer, that made me take the leap. One I might add is Francine Prose’s How to Read Like a Writer.

    1. Noemi Tasarra-Twigg Avatar
      Noemi Tasarra-Twigg

      Glad to hear that, Lisa. And, thanks for the recommendation.
      Happy holidays!

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