Top 100 Books for Freelance Writers

278153_stack_of_books.jpg( — In honor of Freelance Writers Appreciation Week 2009, here is a list of my top 100 books for freelance writers. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the books out there for freelancers (despite how exhausting it may or may not have been to compile), but it’s a place to start.

Get ‘em new, get ‘em used, get ‘em from the library — just get ‘em!

Your Freelance Writing Business

  1. The Well-Fed Writer
  2. The Well-Fed Writer: Back for Seconds
  3. How to Start a Home-Based Writing Business, 5th (Home-Based Business Series)
  4. The Street Smart Writer: Self Defense Against Sharks and Scams in the Writing World
  5. The ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing: A Professional Guide to the Business, for Nonfiction Writers of All Experience Levels
  6. My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire
  7. The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube
  8. Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs
  9. Starting Your Career As a Freelance Writer
  10. Secrets of a Freelance Writer, Third Edition: How to Make 00,000 a Year or More
  11. Start & Run a Copywriting Business

Marketing Your Business

  1. Guerrilla Marketing for Writers: 100 Weapons to Help You Sell Your Work
  2. Get Content. Get Customers. How to use content marketing to deliver relevant, valuable, and compelling information that turns prospects into buyers
  3. Website Marketing Makeover
  4. Influence: Science and Practice (5th Edition)
  5. Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged
  6. Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back, Foreword by Guy Kawasaki
  7. I’m on LinkedIn–Now What??? (Second Edition): A Guide to Getting the Most Out of LinkedIn
  8. Cashing in on Article Writing: Internet Marketing to GO!
  9. Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive
  10. The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly
  11. Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day
  12. Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, Revised Edition
  13. Marketing to the Social Web: How Digital Customer Communities Build Your Business

Writing Online

  1. ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income
  2. The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging
  3. Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web
  4. Killer Web Content: Make the Sale, Deliver the Service, Build the Brand
  5. The Definitive Guide to Making Money Online With Your Writing
  6. Publish and Prosper: Blogging for Your Business
  7. No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog
  8. The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right
  9. The Design of Sites: Patterns for Creating Winning Web Sites (2nd Edition)


  1. Writing for Magazines: A Beginner’s Guide
  2. Writer’s Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing
  3. The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success
  4. Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments
  5. 2009 Writer’s Market Deluxe (Writer’s Market Online)
  6. Magazines: A Complete Guide to the Industry
  7. The Magazine from Cover to Cover


  1. How to Write a Book Proposal
  2. Author 101 Bestselling Book Proposals: The Insider’s Guide to Selling Your Work
  3. Book Proposals That Sell: 21 SECRETS TO SPEED YOUR SUCCESS
  4. Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript
  5. Inside Book Publishing
  6. The Book Publishing Industry, Second Edition
  7. This Business of Books: A Complete Overview of the Industry from Concept Through Sales
  8. 2009 Writer’s Market Deluxe (Writer’s Market Online)
  9. No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days
  10. Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go

Query Letters

  1. Writer’s Guide to Queries, Pitches & Proposals
  2. How to Write Irresistible Query Letters
  3. The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock: The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Selling More Work Faster
  4. The Writers Digest Guide To Query Letters
  5. Making the Perfect Pitch: How To Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye
  6. Your Novel Proposal: From Creation to Contract — The Complete Guide to Writing Query Letters, Synopses and Proposals for Agents and Editors
  7. QUERY LETTERS THAT WORKED! Real queries that landed $2K+ writing assignments
  8. Give ‘Em What They Want
  9. Cover Letters, Follow-Ups, Queries and Book Proposals: Samples with Templates
  10. Writer’s Guide to Book Proposals: Templates, Query Letters, and Free Media Publicity


  1. Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps: Build the Buzz and Sell the Sizzle
  2. Copywriting: Successful Writing for Design, Advertising and Marketing
  3. The Copywriter’s Handbook, Third Edition: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells
  4. Teach Yourself Copywriting
  5. Basics Advertising: Copywriting
  6. Write to Sell: The Ultimate Guide to Great Copywriting
  7. Copywriting for the Electronic Media: A Practical Guide
  8. How to Write Great Copy: Learn the Unwritten Rules of Copywriting
  9. Web Copy That Sells: The Revolutionary Formula for Creating Killer Copy Every Time
  10. Writing Copy for Dummies


  1. Between the Lines: Master the Subtle Elements of Fiction Writing
  2. Bullies, Bastards And Bitches: How To Write The Bad Guys Of Fiction
  3. How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author
  4. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print
  5. Writing the Breakout Novel
  6. Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook
  7. The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
  8. Writing Dialogue
  9. Dynamic Characters: How to Create Personalities That Keep Readers Captivated
  10. The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)
  11. Plot & Structure: Techniques And Exercises For Crafting A Plot That Grips Readers From Start To Finish
  12. Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints

Good Writing

  1. Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English, Second Edition
  2. Getting the Words Right: 39 Ways to Improve Your Writing
  3. The Elements of Style
  4. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
  5. Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
  6. Writing Skills Problem Solver: 101 Ready-to-Use Writing Process Activities for Correcting the Most Common Errors
  7. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace
  8. Simple & Direct
  9. The Classic Guide to Better Writing: Step-by-Step Techniques and Exercises to Write Simply, Clearly and Correctly
  10. Rhetorical Grammar: Grammatical Choices, Rhetorical Effects (5th Edition)

General Editing

  1. The Fine Art of Copyediting
  2. Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do
  3. Copyediting & Proofreading For Dummies
  4. The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications
  5. The McGraw-Hill Desk Reference for Editors, Writers, and Proofreaders(with CD-ROM)
  6. The Chicago Manual of Style


  1. Patent, Copyright & Trademark: An Intellectual Property Desk Reference
  2. The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers
  3. Digital Copyright

Did I miss a book you just love? E-mail me the title and author, and I’ll add it to the next iteration of this list.

NOTE: You’ll notice, if you add it all up, that the total is 101; that’s because Writer’s Market is listed under both books and magazines. How could I pick just one category for that must-have resource?

Contents Copyright © 2006-2014 Kristen King

(image: Judith P. Abrahamsen)

37 thoughts on “Top 100 Books for Freelance Writers”

  1. I am amazed at this looooooooooong list! I agree with Deb… it must have taken forever to do this.

    Wow, I don’t have most of these. I do have: Problogger, The Chicago Manual of Style, The Elements of Style, The Street-Smart Writer, Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer, The Copywriter’s Handbook, The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters that Rock, The Writer’s Market (although my copy is 2007).

    Some I have (and love) that I don’t see here are:

    *Freelancing for Newspapers, by Sue Fagalde Lick (Anyone interested in writing for newspapers will love this one.)
    *Grammar Girl, by Mignon Fogarty (This is so entertaining and the grammar and usage tricks and tips that are in here are so easy to learn and remember–I loved it! I just finished it, so I’ll be reviewing it sometime soon.) ;-)
    *The Associated Press Stylebook (FULLY REVISED AND UPDATED)

    Great stuff here, Kristen. Thanks for all the hard work you put into it–I’m going to give it a stumble and a couple of different ones caught my eye.


    Michele´s last blog post..25 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Me

  2. @Deb, it took longer than I hoped, but not as long as I feared. I think that’s a happy medium, right? :)

    @Michele, great additions! I’ll add them to the next list. Thanks!

    @Happiness, glad you liked it. Thanks for visiting.

    @Miranda, yay!

    @Miguel, you’re so welcome. I probably own or have owned about half. Maybe a little more. I’m kind of addicted to books.

    @Monica, hope you enjoy your new reads. ;)

  3. @dylan, That is one you will PROBABLY want to go out and buy, but see what you think after you get it from the library. It’s been on my desk pretty much at all times since I bought it.

  4. Here are a couple for your next listing of the top 100, which may turn into the top 200:
    Jeff Herman’s Guide to Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents (updated yearly)
    Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 that sold and why by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman

    Thanks for the great listing!

  5. Peter Bowerman was the guy who inspired me, so my first two selections would match yours. Jack Hart’s “A Writer’s Coach” is great and so is “On Writing” by Stephen King. You should check those out if you’re reading this.

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