As an author myself, a former bookstore owner, and an avid reader, I love book recommendations. I especially love it when they have a business focus and TEACH me something new. I gravitate to lists of best books for entrepreneurs and writers, and I’m always disappointed when they miss many of my personal favorites. So, I thought it was time I compiled my own list of the best books I’ve read over the years.
This list includes books on writing, publishing, marketing, book marketing, entrepreneurship, motivation, and business-related topics because as authors, we are entrepreneurs (like it or not!). If you want your author business to grow, it’s important to realize it’s a business and then learn ways to grow that business.
I hope you enjoy this list and that you will bookmark the list, share it, and add your own recommendations in the comments.
On with the list…
100+ Best Books for Writers, Authors, and Creative Entrepreneurs
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
One of my all-time favorite books, you’ll learn the importance of community and why we need community leaders. Other excellent books by Godin: This is Marketing, Purple Cow, All Marketers are Liars, and Permission Marketing (among others).
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
You don’t have to be a fan of the horror genre to love this book about the highs and lows of being a writer. The personal stories will make you a King fan, whether you read his novels or not.
Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That? How Ordinary People are Raking in $100,000 or More By Writing Nonfiction, and How You Can Too by Marc McCutcheon
When I failed at my dream of writing novels, I stumbled across this book and it changed my life forever. Having grown up wanting to write, like many I naturally assumed that meant I needed to focus on fiction. McCutcheon opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibility in nonfiction, for which I will be eternally grateful.
You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Lots of motivation in this book, along with tips on getting over yourself. Sincero tells entertaining, real-life stories that will leave you laughing and inspired at the same time. Also see: You Are a Badass at Making Money.
TED Talks: The Official Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson
The owner of TED Talks and a long-time journalist, Anderson distills what makes speeches great. A must-read for aspiring professional speakers.
Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson
Learn how giving stuff away (like the books you write) can actually help you GROW your business. Fascinating case studies included.
The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson
Written by the editor of Wired magazine, this is a fascinating look at how the internet expands business opportunities.
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
In short chapters and woven with humor, this essential guide teaches you how to embrace writing as a practice and a way of life. See also: The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language, Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, and Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir.
Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Your Customers and Ignite Your Business by Anne Handley
Content marketing is an essential strategy for writers and entrepreneurs alike, and this book covers many powerful tactics for getting your message across. Also see: Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content.
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser
With more than a million copies sold, you can understand why this is essential reading for every nonfiction writer; it’s a classic. See also: Writing to Learn, Writing About Your Life, and Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir.
Find Your Why: A Practical Guide to Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team by Simon Sinek
A practical guide to figuring out what motivates you to do better work.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
Why are some people and organizations more influential and innovative than others? Sinek explains in this ground-breaking book, and in his TED Talk video–the third most popular TED Talk ever.
Writing Nonfiction: Turning Thoughts into Books by Dan Poynter
Though this book is out of print, there are plenty of used copies available and it’s worth tracking down. Poynter was a self-publishing trailblazer, and his books are loaded with insights. Also see Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual.
The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott
These rules were ground-breaking when the book was first released, and still apply today. Well worth a read.
How to Write a Book Proposal: The Insider’s Step-by-Step Guide to Proposals that Get You Published by Michael Larsen and Jody Rein
If you’re aiming to get a traditional book deal, this excellent book by two literary agents will show you how to create a proposal that sells.
The One Page Business Plan for Creative Entrepreneurs by Jim Horan
Whether you’re running a business or you’ve authored a book, everyone needs to focus their ideas into a mission, and then set goals. Essential!
The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
This beloved book introduced the concept of “Morning Pages” to millions of creatives, and especially writers. Belongs on every shelf. Other must-read titles by Cameron include The Right to Write, Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance, and It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again.
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Game by Stephen Pressfield
From the author of several books that have become blockbuster movies, Pressfield has become a mentor to writers in all genres thanks to his motivational insights and solutions. Other noteworthy books by Pressfield: Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way, Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Creative Power and Create Your Life’s Work, and The Artist’s Journey: The Wake of the Hero’s Journey and the Lifelong Pursuit of Meaning.
Writing to Be Understood: What Works and Why by Anne Janzer
This insightful book delves into what makes nonfiction books great and teaches you how to improve your writing and therefore better connect with readers. Also see The Writer’s Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear.
Million Dollar Consulting: The Professional’s Guide to Growing a Practice by Alan Weiss
What I love most about this book is that is teaches the reader never to under-value yourself or the services you offer. Also see: Million Dollar Consulting Proposals, Million Dollar Coaching, and Million Dollar Speaking.
Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits–to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Live a Happier Life by Gretchen Rubin
From the author of The Happiness Project, an insightful look into the power of small changes to create big results.
Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin
While the world has gone crazy for books about organizing, this one has less fluff and more actionable steps than many of its competitors.
The 10x Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone
Admittedly, I passed the one over for a long time because the description didn’t grab me, but when I finally cracked it open, I discovered it was filled with motivational advice for thinking bigger about business and then taking action.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
This tactical guide to productivity will teach you simple tips like “only touch email once,” which may not sound like rocket science, but you’re probably not following these guidelines yet. You will after you read the book, and you can watch your productivity soar.
The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
From the acclaimed author of The Liar’s Club, this book is credited with sparking the memoir movement.
What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings and Your Life by Laura Vanderkam
Using real-world examples, this book shows how top executives and highly productive people prioritize their day by starting early.
How to Make Real Money Selling Books by Brian Jud
This was the first book to enlighten authors on the opportunities to sell books to channels other than bookstores, such as airport bookstores, promotional product vendors, and big box retailers like Costco.
Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook: A Guide to Protecting Your Rights and Your Wallet by Helen Sedwick
Authored by a literary attorney and recently updated, this is a fantastic resource to ensure you protect yourself legally.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Used in college writing courses for decades, this is the writer’s essential guide to persevering through your prose.
Podcast Launch: A complete Guide to Launching Your Podcast by John Lee Dumas
From one of the most successful early podcasters, this book includes 15 companion videos that cover all the basics of getting started with podcasting.
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber
Learn why a business can’t grow on the efforts of one person alone. If you want to sell more books or coaching services or widgets, you need to bring in help. A classic for all entrepreneurs.
Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months by Melinda Emerson
Start your business right with expert advice by @SmallBizLady.
Fix Your Business: A 90-Day Plan to Get Back Your Life and Remove Chaos from Your Business by Melinda Emerson
Most small businesses can use help with processes, financial management, and overcoming obstacles–all this and more can be found in this useful guide.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Here’s the big secret when talking to others: Make it about THEM instead of you by asking questions and not talking about yourself. Read this book for more tips.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business by Charles Duhigg
Loaded with fascinating case studies, including how the makers of Febreeze thought the product was a flop until they taught consumers how to use it habitually, you’ll never look at habits the same way again in your personal life, and especially in how you position your products and services.
Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear
This book could easily be renamed “Atomic Goals” because Clear covers how to improve your productivity, creativity, health, and much more with tactics like habit stacking. An inspiring read that will motivate you to change your own habits.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
In our age of 24×7 technology and distractions, this book makes the case for clearing out space to do your best work and boost creativity.
So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport
Passion comes from putting in the work to be good at what you do, not necessarily from something you loved before. A game-changing read on how to love what you do.
Make a Living without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work that You Love by Barbara Winter
A classic that will be on entrepreneurs’ bookshelves for decades to come, this inspiring book will introduce you to ways you can enjoy what you do and pay your bills at the same time.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
From the bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, this book will inspire you to pursue creativity, in whatever form that means for you.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Because so many writers and creative people are introverts (people who prefer to be alone), this is an illuminating book on the perks of preferring solitude.
The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People by Dr. Judith Orloff
Many introverts and creative people are also known as Empaths–people who are biologically wired up to be more sensitive to the energies around them (us). If you find yourself being more empathetic than most, feeling drained when you spend time in crowds, or absorbing the negative energy of others around you, this book could change your life. Also see: Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life and Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress, and Fear into Vibrance, Strength, and Love.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Anyone in a marketing role should read this book to understand the principles behind how marketing works.
Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
This guide is essential to anyone in the advertising industry, covering everything from how to write copy that sells, to how the ad industry works. Fascinating insights into a powerful industry that you can use for your own business.
Launch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and a Life of Your Dreams by Jeff Walker
While there is an abundance of hype-laden internet marketing advice out there from snake oil salesmen, Walker’s book stands out because it’s loaded with real-world stories and you won’t need a shower after reading the book.
The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelance Writer in Six Months or Less by Peter Bowerman
If you’re interested in making a living as a writer, this book is loaded with valuable advice for breaking into a market that may not be as crowded as you think. See also: The Well-Fed Self-Publisher.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
This long-time bestselling book explores the moment when an idea or a business or trend suddenly takes off and reaches levels of greatness. Loaded with real-world examples, you can’t go wrong with any book by Gladwell. See also: Outliers: The Story of Success, David and Goliath, and Talking to Strangers.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown
Many of us creative types suffer from perfectionism and people-pleasing, but Brown shows us how to turn this into an asset.
Guerilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business by Jay Conrad Levinson
A classic book on bootstrapping marketing strategies that belongs on every entrepreneur’s bookshelf.
The Author’s Guide to Audiobook Creation by Richard Rieman
The fact is that the audiobook market is growing by leaps and bounds. Indie authors should consider jumping in.
How to Sell Truckloads of Books on Amazon by Penny Sansevieri
This author knows how to make books stand out on Amazon by tuning meta data and testing categories. If you’re confused by Amazon’s algorithms, or don’t know what they are, this book is for you.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
How we view our own abilities has a dramatic impact on our success, according to this Stanford Psychologist and author. Discover how your mindset impacts your success in work, personal life, school, and beyond.
Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Ariana Huffington
After suffering health challenges due to over-working, the founder of Huffington Post realized she needed to redefine her priorities and put self-care ahead of work. Considering the success of her website, I’d say she has some authority on this subject!
Relax, Focus, Succeed by Karl W. Palachuk
On the subject of self-care, Palachuk lives with such extreme Rheumatoid Arthritis, his doctors expected him to be in a wheelchair years ago. As an entrepreneur and author, he had to prioritize his health while also building his business, and he’s a shining example of how you can indeed have work-life balance.
The Miracle Morning: The Not-so-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life by Hal Elrod
Having survived a head-on collision with a drunk driver, Elrod decided he would not take life for granted. Instead, he would pursue his goals with absolute commitment, and one of the keys to his success has been waking up early to get a jump on his goals for the day. Simple idea with a tremendous outcome, and an inspiring read.
The Wealthy Speaker by Jane Atkinson
If you want to get paid as a speaker, this essential guide covers what it takes to build a successful business as a highly-paid professional speaker. Also see: Epic Keynote: The Presentation Styles and Skills of the Wealthy Speaker.
Book More Business: Make Money Speaking by Lois Creamer
Focused on the business side of getting paid to speak, this book delves into strategies for using social media to build your speaker platform, and other ways to connect with people who will pay you to get on stage.
Keynote Mastery: The Personal Journey of a Professional Speaker by Patrick Schwerdtfeger
Unlike any memoir you’ve read before, this takes you through the journey of an author who decided to ditch his career in the mortgage industry and pursue his dream of becoming a full-time keynote speaker. If you’re interested in speaking, this book proves it’s all possible.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Based on studies in neuroscience, this book shows us that success doesn’t come from brains, it comes from focused effort and a passion to keep going.
Do-It Marketing: 77 Instant Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition by David Newman
Loaded with real-life examples and contributed suggestions by other marketers, this is a tactical guide for marketing your business.
The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann
The big idea here is that we must give in order to receive, which translates to helping someone else in business or life first. Then, that good deed comes back around. It’s remarkably simple, yet incredibly effective.
The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life by Twyla Tharpe
A professional dancer by trade, Tharpe understands the power of discipline to unlock creatively. Long regarded as one of the best books on the subject of creativity, this book inspires new ways of breaking through.
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Based on the reality that there are no new ideas, Kleon suggests that us creative types look for inspiration all around us, collect ideas, and use them to spark creativity. A full-color book with fun images and creativity exercises, it’s unlike others you’ve read on the subject.
The Nonfiction Book Publishing Plan: The Professional Guide to Profitable Self-Publishing by Stephanie Chandler and Karl Palachuk
As the author of this article and the CEO of the Nonfiction Authors Association, I can’t help but recommend my own books. This step-by-step guide is as comprehensive as it gets, without being boring (at least that’s what readers are saying!).
The Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan: Online and Offline Promotion Strategies to Build Your Audience and Sell More Books by Stephanie Chandler
If you want to grasp how to build your author platform online, and also learn new strategies for reaching your audience, this book is for you.
Own Your Niche: Hype-Free Internet Marketing Tactics to Establish Authority in Your Field and Promote Your Service-Based Business by Stephanie Chandler
Written with consultants, speakers, and home-based entrepreneurs in mind, this book explains the importance of carving out a niche for your business, shows you how to do so, and then helps you Own Your Niche online.
We hope you found this post helpful!
Please recommend your favorite books for writers, authors, and creative entrepreneurs in the comments below.
Oh boy! My TBR pile just grew monumentally!! This is a wonderful list and I can’t wait to dive in. Thank you for the great recommendations. I can’t wait to incorporate the wisdom contained here into my business.
Thanks for your feedback!
Hey – super cool to see my book in the Top 100. Another one I highly recommend is Dan Janal’s terrific book, “Write Your Book in a Flash” – it’s one of the best books on getting ideas from your brain cells onto paper and then onto bookshelves. Check it out.
Thanks for the tip, and for writing a great book! Looking forward to your next one on speaking!