Five Fabulous Books for Freelance Writers

Whether you're a new freelance writer or you have decades of experience in freelancing, there is always more to learn. That's why building a professional library is a smart idea.

You can learn or refresh yourself on the basics of being in business for yourself. Good books for freelance writers can teach you about new marketing tactics you haven't tried before. And if nothing else, they can inspire you to push through the tough times because they can serve as a reminder that you aren't alone in your struggles.

To help you build your professional library, here are five of my favorite books for freelance writers.

  • The Well-Fed Writer -- by Peter Bowerman -- This is hands-down my favorite book in the niche. Peter Bowerman's book is written in a great conversational style. It's very well-organized. It includes plenty of real-world case studies from other freelance writers. And it not only helps new freelance writers kick off their careers, but it shows them how to protect themselves in the process. Even though it focuses on commercial freelance writing opportunities, the vast majority of information in the book applies to all freelance writers. If you only buy and read one book on freelancing before going out on your own, it should be this one.
  • The Wealthy Freelancer -- by Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage, and Ed Gandia -- This book isn't specifically for freelance writers, but the information it provides very much applies. This book has a strong emphasis on the "work smarter, not harder" principle that I'm such a fan of. If you're looking to earn more as a freelance writer while still having plenty of free time for friends, family, and hobbies, this is a good book for you.
  • The Wealthy Writer -- by Michael Meanwell -- This is another book for commercial writers, but most of the information would be just as useful for other types of freelance writers. The highlight, for me, is Meanwell's section on public relations for writers. Obviously coming from a PR background, this appeals to me. But it's something far too many books ignore in favor of only talking about marketing tactics. And when you run a freelance writing business, you deal with personal branding. And that means you'd better understand basic PR and reputation management. If you need somewhere to start, this book can help.
  • The Renegade Writer -- by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell -- You might already read their Renegade Writer blog, but if you haven't picked up the authors' book yet, you should give it a read. It's the shortest book on this list, but that doesn't make it light on helpful information for freelance writers. This book is about breaking the "rules" you hear so much about, and doing it in a way that can make you stand out from the crowd.
  • The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed-- by Joseph D'Agnese and Denise Kiernan -- This book is another one that doesn't apply solely to freelance writers, but the information is worth having. That's especially true if you're a new freelancer and you're not sure what to expect financially. After all, things change when you don't have a steady paycheck and you have to play the financial role of both employer and employee. You won't learn how to run a successful freelance writing business. But you will learn how to better manage your freelance income which can help you avoid the feast-famine cycle so common in freelancing.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What other books would you recommend to freelance writers? Tell us in the comments.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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12 thoughts on “Five Fabulous Books for Freelance Writers”

  1. I read the first 3 books. I am with you on Peter’s book. It was one of the first I read and I still pull it out to revisit it – like having a phone conversation with an old friend you have’t spoken with in awhile. 🙂 Peter’s book is a great combination of the practical and optimism.

    I also loved the Wealthy Freelancer. I defy anyone to come away without at least one idea they can use immediately. It’s been quite a while since I looked at The Wealthy Writer. You make me want to go review the PR section again. I think it would stick better this go-round.

    When I first started my freelance business I went a little nuts on the book-buying route. You know how we love our books and learning new things. I had a bit of overload, which isn’t a good thing. You end up not finishing good books

    I can’t believe I haven’t read Linda’s. I’ll have to remedy that. I know I’ve mentioned it here before, but another early career purchase was C.J. Hayden’s Get Clients Now.It offers a28-day marketing program that I liked because it offered me the structure I needed and great, simple ideas.

    I know there are others I’m forgetting, but these are a great crop of books. 🙂

  2. I have The Wealthy Freelancer – love it! I got it when I was having a really tough time with things (like, looking for real jobs and not bothering to get dressed until 2pm), read it, and I kid you not, within a week I got a project that was well into the 4 figures. In that situation, what I needed was a mindset change, and it was great for that.

    I also have Write Copy, Make Money, by Andy Maslen. This one’s a bit different because he’s British, but it’s a nice solid grounding into how to get started. I don’t think it was as useful to me as it could have been because I got it a couple of years into my business, but if you got it at the start it would be excellent. My one gripe about it is that he does make it seem like it all fell into place for him – unlike TWF, where they do go into the times where it wasn’t good, which I needed to hear at the time – but it doesn’t mean the advice isn’t useful.

    I haven’t read The Well-Fed Writer, though I’ve had it in my cart at AbeBooks for a while now. Might have to check it out! I wondered if it might be a bit dated, but I guess good marketing practices don’t really date.

    • I hadn’t heard of Maslen’s book, so I’ll have to give it a look. And please do read The Well-Fed Writer. He released a newer version not too long ago. It combined the first two books (so you won’t need the “Back for Seconds” followup). Make sure you get the newer one for the most complete info. What I love even more about Peter’s books are that they’re published independently. And they’re some of the best indie books / self-published books I’ve ever come across. If you’re interested in indie publishing, I also highly recommend his Well-Fed Self Publisher. It’s the only book I’ve seen in that niche that pushes you to move beyond the crap POD companies out there and treat independent publishing as professionally as you’d treat your freelance writing business.

  3. Thanks for the list. Now my TBR stack is just a little taller. And I endorse the Bowerman recommendation: it changed the way I approach business writing, and helped me step off the freelancing ledge. A game-changer.


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