As a “freshie” freelancer, I have learned a lot about the industry through reading – whether that be a story about another writer’s path to success or the specific way to tailor content (or a query) to a publication and its audience. And being that I spend nearly 15 of my 24 hours each day staring at a computer screen, it is a pleasant reprieve to read a book – or use one for reference in my line of work. The eyes need a break sometimes, you know? Here are seven books that I think every writer should have on his or her bookshelf.
1. Dictionary and Thesaurus
Technically, these are two references, but are oftentimes found bound together – in fact, I much prefer the dual-research guide to locate synonyms AND be sure I’m using the correct replacement by easily locating the definition of the word on the same page. A dictionary and thesaurus go hand-in-hand, and as a writer, you need them both.
Chicago or Associated Press, MLA or APA – do you know which style your publication or research mandates? If you are a professional, you should. And this reference book will tell you the standards in place for proper names, numbers, punctuation, capitalization, abbreviation and even the preferred spelling of certain words. Being a grammar tyrant, the AP Stylebook is my most valuable freelancing reference.
3. Writer’s Market Guide
If you want to sell what you write, you need the updated edition of Writer’s Market. Well over 3,000 listings of publishers, magazines, writing contests, trade journals and book agents are included (it’s a BIG book!), and the most recent edition contains every existing publication, its submission standards and payment for your articles. After scanning your copy, there is no reason for you NOT to find a proper publication for your articles.
4. My so-Called Freelance Life
I have been a fan of Michelle Goodman since her “Anti 9-5 Guide.” And her second book does not disappoint. You feel almost as if your best friend is guiding you on an enlightened and fun freelance path. If you are a creative professional, you need to read “My So-Called Freelance Life”! She tells us what to do – and what not to – based on her own experiences (however accidental), with no B.S.
5. Freelance Writer’s Bible
If you are freelancing, you need a plan. This book takes you through the steps to be a successful self-employed within a year – financially AND emotionally – and entirely by taking action. If you know how to write, that’s a good start, but you also need to know how to sell yourself. And David Trottier can help you do that. A year promise might be hasty, but the tactics will induce regular habits of writing, which any freelancer can appreciate.
6. The New Rules of Marketing and PR
If you are reading this, you are online. That much is obvious. But as a writer, marketing and public relations has changed a lot in this social network industry. This guidebook informs its reader how to use blogs, social media and video to reach these new audiences. Not only does The New Rules teach you about these platforms, but also it TELLS YOU how to use and implement applicable marketing strategies.
Pen and paper. So simple, yet so mandatory. For notes, there is nothing like my own handwriting. Any professional writer needs to also carry a notebook. And with interviewing, digital recording devices only get you so far – and if electronics fail, you definitely need backup! For as much as I use my laptop, I like to keep a daily running list of things-to-do beside me, as well as notes from phone conversations or track outstanding invoices. Sure I have financial programs for this purpose too, but it’s so much more imperative when written in my own handwriting.
I could have been all “punny” and ended with a MacBook, I suppose. Considering the shape and age of mine, I definitely could have added that to my gift list.
If you are a writer – freelance or otherwise – what book would you recommend to a fellow creative?
Top Photo Credit: yyellowbird