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8 Books for Freelance Writers

Freelance writers – and those who want to be one – know one of the cardinal rules of the writing business: “To be a writer, read a lot.”

Use this list to gain know-how for building your freelance writing business, whether you’re pursuing the writing life as a copywriter, content writer, blogger, book author, or freelancer for publications. 

I hope you’ll add your suggestions for books for freelance writers in the Comments below!

8 books for freelance writers with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

Secrets of a Freelance Writer by Bob Bly

Now in its third edition, Bob’s book is considered the authoritative guide to making money as a commercial writer. Bob’s career as a copywriter is legendary. He explains why corporations, small businesses, associations, nonprofit organizations, the government, and commercial clients need all kinds of writing projects and also how to get started freelancing, market yourself, and run your business. Great bonus in the appendix: model documents and resources to get you started. (More about the book here.)

Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Allen

Moira draws upon 30 years as a freelance writer in this step-by-step guide to getting started as a freelancer. She takes you through the fundamentals: finding markets and how to write for them (articles, online writing, commercial writing) as well as managing your day-to-day office tasks (getting paid, keeping records – even setting up your office.) This book is a solid start-up manual if you want to make a living as a freelancer. (More about the book here.)

The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman

Peter’s blueprint to building a successful freelance writing business is packed with practical advice for copywriters and business writers. His focus is on the nuts and bolts of getting started as a commercial freelancer for larger companies with skills are transferable to any freelance writing niche. (More about the book here.)

Back for Seconds by Peter Bowerman

In this sequel to The Well-Fed Writer, Peter unpacks how-tos for finding freelance writing assignments in smaller or unusual commercial markets. Back for Seconds is a comprehensive and valuable roadmap for making money as a freelance writer in a down economy or a specific niche – plus like the rest of Peter’s work, it’s fun to read. (More about the book here.)

Writer For Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success by Kelly James-Enger

The winner of the 2013 American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Book Award, this book explains how to make a steady paycheck from your words. Kelly's focus is on articles and books – her primary writing vehicles – but her professional principles are transferable to all kinds of content and she touches on 16 other lucrative markets for freelancers. If you want sound, honest advice about making a sustainable living from writing, read her book. (More about the book here.)

How To Make A Living as a Writer by James Scott Bell

This book from a former attorney and best-selling author, columnist, instructor and speaker explains the formula for financial success as a writer: you need to write both quantity – a body of work, not just one novel, even if it’s lucrative – and quality. Two dozen short chapters are laced with practical advice from how to write an elevator speech to the basic structure of a fiction plot. While the book is geared towards succeeding as a fiction writer, its principles touch on nonfiction markets, too. Bonus: I’m a nonfiction writer, but Jim’s book made me want to write fiction! (More about the book here.)

How To Make A Living With Your Writing: Books, Blogging, and More by Joanna Penn

Joanna has become a leading voice for author entrepreneurs and in this book she explains how to develop an “author entrepreneur” mindset by creating multiple income streams. The key is to focus on scalable income: those writing projects you create once, repackage, and sell over and over.  Use her book and the rest of her How-To series for writers to achieve financial independence as a writer. (More about this book.)

Jumpstart Your Writing Career & Snag Paying Assignments by Beth Ann Erickson

I love Beth Ann’s voice – down-to-earth and practical – that she uses to guide you through the first stages of launching a freelance writing career. This book is organized in short one- or two-page snippets that you can use to follow like a series of steps.  (More about this book.)

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