As a business book ghostwriter and book coach, I’m constantly inspired by books about writing by other professional authors. As the legendary Stephen King said in On Writing: A Memoir of The Craft,
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Now I’m in the process of writing my own full length book, which is to help experts and speakers take their authority to the next level through becoming a respected author. This has led me to re-examine my ever-growing library of writing books – there are 48 on my Kindle alone!
So I thought that rather than keep this treasure trove to myself, I’d share with you my top 10 list of the best books to read if you want to write a business book that’s credible, readable, and marketable. Whether you’re on your first work or your tenth, you can never stop getting better at communicating your big message through a book.
These books will help you get there. I’ve given the Amazon link for each book in case you want to take a look*. Here’s hoping you feel as inspired as I do!
The most kick-ass ‘books about writing’ list you’ll find
Into the Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke. I couldn’t put this one down, which led me to become pretty anti-social during a family half term trip last year while I was reading it. John Yorke is the creator of the BBC Writers’ Academy, and in this book explores the universal nature of stories and why we can’t live without them. It’s not directly business related, but you can apply his findings to telling stories in your own business book, and indeed in your business as a whole. Simply spell-binding.
Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. Anne’s writing and wisdom is warm and generous, and also terribly funny in places. If you’re finding the process of writing your book a grind, this is the one to turn to. It reminds us the author’s life is never an easy one, but there are ways of making it work and the rewards are endless. Again, not strictly business related, but all the better for it.
The Storytelling Toolkit: How to Write Stories that Get the Results You Want from All Your Business Communications by Lynda McDaniel and Virginia McCullough. A brilliantly practical guide to crafting stories which get across the points you want to make. Whenever I have a coaching client who’s struggling to find and develop stories to make their business book more interesting and relevant, I always point them towards this concise guide (only available as an e-book).
The Tall Lady With the Iceberg: The Power of Metaphors to Sell, Persuade, and Explain Anything to Anyone by Anne Miller. Appropriately, the most memorable title of any business book I’ve come across (you’ll find out why inside). One of the things business owners can find hard is how to get their message across in a simple and striking way. This applies to writing a book as much as to creating a presentation or giving a sales pitch. In this guide you’ll learn how to spice up your writing with the images and metaphors that will bring your ideas to life.
How to Write Your Book Without the Fuss: The Definitive Guide to Planning, Writing and Publishing Your Business or Self-Help Book by Lucy McCarraher and Joe Gregory. This is so practical and down-to-earth it could practically be growing out of the ground. Lucy is a publishing professional and, as I know from working with her personally, loves nothing more than helping business authors get their books out there. I especially love the checklists in the first third of the book – they give a ‘no escape’ way of making sure your business book is viable.
The Business Book Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Write a Great Business Book by Derek Lewis. Written by a fellow ghostwriter, this elegantly written tome is full of practical and, and times, humorous advice. I love the flow of his writing, the quotes he includes, and the fact that he’s so honest about the ups and downs of the process. He’s never shy about expressing his personal opinions, either, something I always find refreshing in a business book.
The Business Book Outline Builder: Start the Book that Supercharges Your Business in 5 Easy Steps by Ginny Carter. Okay, yes, this is my book – but it’s good (or so I’m told) so I feel justified in including it. It’s a short e-book guide to doing the very thing that I find most business authors get wrong, which is building their books on solid foundations. Get this wrong and your book won’t do what you want it to. Get this right and you’ll be set to achieve your dreams.
Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman. Now in its third edition, this is an intensely practical guide to writing a proposal that stands a chance of being accepted by a publisher – something most business authors aren’t well equipped to do without help. Its strength is that it’s based on actual proposals which worked, and why. The annotations are helpful and to the point.
How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn. From the author of a whole series of books about the art and science of writing, this is incredibly helpful. Penn is an ‘authorpreneur’ who’s written many novels and has also authored as series of books about how to write, market, and self-publish your book – relevant for both nonfiction and fiction authors alike. This book looks at marketing from all angles, and I like the way it gives the reader choices about how to market their book. There’s no one-size-fits-all prescription here. Check out her website and blog The Creative Penn for more publishing and writing tips.
Book Marketing Made Simple: A Practical Guide to Selling, Promoting and Launching Your Business Book by Karen Williams. This does what it says on the tin. Karen’s written and successfully marketed several business books of her own, so this draws on her impressive experience. She also focuses on the important pre-launch phase of your book marketing, making sure you’ve got everything set up right before you go live. There’s even a helpful contribution from yours truly about blogging on page 53!
I just know that in this list are two or three books that will transform your business book from ho-hum to fantastic. And the added bonus is after reading them all your writing will improve, not just your book. Let me know if you’ve read any of these, or if you have any other books about writing that you’d recommend.
*I get a few pennies in commission if you buy from the link, but you’re always welcome to search separately.