So you want a book to learn content writing. But where do you begin?
There are many great books on writing out there and you don’t want to choose something complex, outdated, or irrelevant.
I’m here to help you out.
In this post, I’ve created a compilation of the best books you should read to become a content writer.
Whether you’re looking for advice on how to structure your thoughts, how to outline a blog post, overcome writer’s block, or start your own content business, these books have got you covered.
77 Books to help you become a master content writer
77 books on content writing? Isn’t that too much?
Don’t worry. You don’t have to read every book in this list. Just pick one that sounds right for you at any stage of your content writing journey.
This post will give you evergreen books and modern content marketing gems to learn from.
I’ve divided this book list on learning content writing into the following categories:
- The best books for complete beginners to learn content writing
- Technical books to advance your writing skills to the next level
- Books to start a successful content-based business, develop advanced skills, or get high-paying clients
- Books for motivation, overcoming writer’s block, and creativity
Use the table of contents to dive into a section you want to explore. Or just read through to find something that strikes you.
The best books to learn content writing for complete beginners
If you’re absolutely new to content writing, this is for you.
1. Everybody Writes – Ann Handley
Ann Handley is a great introduction for beginner content writers. Her’s is the first content writing book I ever read, and it launched me into the content marketing filed.
You’ll improve your writing fast with her clear instructions.
2. The Elements of Style – William Strunk Jr. and E.B White
One of the most important books on this list, The Elements of Style was first published in 1918 and has been helping writers ever since.
This classic is a must-read for anyone who wants to improve their writing skills.
3. This book will teach you how to write better – Neville Medhora
If you want to improve your writing skills, then this book is for you. Neville Medhora’s style is light-hearted and fun, but his tips are serious and effective.
It’s a great book for complete beginners who want to learn the fundamentals in a fun way.
4. Content Rules – Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman
You can’t go wrong with Ann. If you want to get serious about content writing, then you need to read Content Rules.
It’s packed with actionable advice on everything from developing your voice to creating killer headlines.
5. Eats, shoots & leaves – Lynne Truss
If you’re looking to improve your grammar, then look no further than Eats, Shoots & Leaves. This classic will show you how to use proper punctuation and avoid common mistakes. It’s also a hilarious read where Truss argues about why good grammar is important.
6. The Boron Letters – Gary Halbert and Bond Halbert
This collection of letters is a timeless source of copywriting principles that you can read over and over again. It won’t help you with modern content marketing tools but you’ll always be an effective writer who creates results by following the guidelines in this book.
The letters were from an incarcerated father to his son and is an entertaining read overall.
7. Can you eat shoot and leave – Lynne Truss
This follow-up book by Lynne Truss is a workbook that will help you put the concepts from Eats, Shoots & Leaves into practice. You’ll get exercises and quizzes to test your knowledge and improve your writing.
8. They Ask you Answer – Marcus Sheridan
Marcus’s book is a bible for business owners who’ve barely dipped their toes in digital marketing and need to understand why and how they should leverage content marketing. Its premise is simple – to understand how audiences think and how they look for information online. When you understand this, you can create content that puts you head and shoulders above your competition.
9. Writing Tools – Roy Peter Clark
In Writing Tools, Roy Peter Clark helps you overcome the belief that writing is an inherent skill that only a fortunate few possess. The book consists of 50 short essays that summarize 30 years of writing experience to help you become a better writer.
10. Do the work – Steven Pressfield
In this book, Pressfield talks about how writing is about sitting down and doing it. Dealing with resistance in the form of self-sabotage is just part of being a writer. This is a great book for people who love being pushed to get things done.
11. The One Hour Content Plan – Meera Kothund
This is a great book for beginners or intermediates in content marketing.
If you’re looking for a helpful plan to get your blog started and create a cohesive brand identity, then this is a must-read.
With the tips from this book in mind, you’ll keep your audience in mind and your brand too when blogging.
Must-read books to advance your writing skills to the next level
When you’ve covered the basics, it’s time to dig deeper.
This set of books will help you:
- Enrich your content
- Think about branding
- And market yourself to become an in-demand content writer
12. Show your work! – Austin Kleon
It isn’t enough to write well, you also have to market yourself and your content. Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work! will motivate you to promote yourself and you’ll get some solid tips on building an audience for your writing.
13. Storyworthy – by Matthew Dicks
Storyworthy is all about, you guessed it, stories. You’ll learn how to find and tell great stories that will captivate your readers.
You’ll also get tips on how to turn your everyday experiences into stories that will resonate with your audience.
14. Hit Makers- Derek Thompson
I believe that understanding psychology is critical if you want to be an effective content marketer. This book gives you insights into the psychological factors that make things popular and viral.
It’s a must-read to know how to craft stories and messages with the potential to spread like wildfire.
15. Storytelling with Data – by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic
Want to take your content writing to the next level? And even stand out from other writers? Then you need to learn how to tell stories with data.
This book will show you how to effectively communicate your ideas using data. You’ll learn how to find the story in your data and use it to create compelling content.
16. Reading like a writer – Francine Prose
Good writers must read. But they must also discern how the writer achieved the effects they did. In other words, they read like a writer.
In this book, Francine Prose breaks down this process and shows us how to apply it in our own reading. You’ll learn how to read for technique and style and use what you’ve learned to improve your own writing.
17. How to take smart notes – by Sönke Ahrens
Being an effective writer is about providing details and organizing your writing. This book will help you do just that by teaching you how to take smart notes.
You’ll learn how to effectively collect and structure your thoughts so that you can produce great writing.
18. The art of SEO – Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola
If you want to be a content writer today then you need to know basic SEO! And although this might be a little out of date by the time you read it, you can still learn a great deal from it.
19. SEO for Dummies – Peter Kent
If you’re looking for a simple , easy-to-read book about SEO, then this is the one for you. It’s perfect for beginners who want to get started with SEO without getting bogged down in technical details.
20. The Case Study Handbook – William Ellet
When you’re a content writer, you’ll be asked to write in different formats. Knowing how to write a compelling case study will make you a more versatile and in-demand writer.
The book provides clear instructions on how to write a case study, as well as how to select the right case studies to write.
21. The Case Writers Toolkit – Barbara Tarnovski
This is another great book on writing case studies. It includes templates, checklists, and real-life examples to help you write case studies that are both informative and interesting.
22. Heavy Traffic – Sarah Wilson Blackwell
If you’d like a fun read on SEO and writing, then you’ll love Sarah’s sarcastic and curse-laden take on how to build website traffic.
23. Influence – Robert Cialdini
This book is essential if you want to make your content have impact. And if you want to build leads and drive sales.
It’s a great book on psychology and marketing, and it will teach you how to write persuasive content.
24. The Content Code – Mark Schaefer
This book is all about creating content that people will share. It’s packed with actionable tips and tactics that you can use to make your content go viral.
25. The War of Art – by Steven Pressfield
Every writer gets stuck at some point and feels like giving up. Steven Pressfield’s masterpiece, The War of Art, will show you how to push through those tough times.
You’ll learn how to identify and defeat the resistance that is holding you back from producing great writing.
26. All Marketers tell stories – Seth Godin
Though a marketing-oriented book, still it is a should-read piece for content writers.
Along with marketing in this book, you will find valuable insights on best practices for framing content.
Want to weave more fascinating content of various shapes and sizes, then go ahead and pick up this book.
27. Make your writing flow – Ryan Deane
Ryan Deane focuses on a specific writing skill: creating transitions.
Making sentences and paragraphs flow is an important skill for content writers. This book will teach you how to get your readers to keep reading until the end.
There are 34 categories of transitional words and sentences with 1100 examples. You need this book to make your content engaging.
28. Roget’s International Thesaurus – Barbara Ann Kipfer
This updated edition of Roget’s 1852 edition is still relevant for writers.
Using the same terms and sentences over and over again can make your content look boring.
Keep this book by your side to add ‘precision and color’ to your communication, as one Amazon reviewer puts it.
29. Thesaurus of the Senses – Linda Hart
It’s important to add emotion to your content to engage readers.
Thesaurus of the Senses helps you find words and sentences to make your content come alive.
Readers can feel, touch, hear, smell, and even taste something if you use the right words. Get this book to make your content come alive.
30. Writing active hooks – Mary Buckham
How do you get your readers to read an entire 2000+ word blog post?
You do this with ‘hooks’. Writing hooks are statements that grab a reader’s attention.
While this book is meant for story writing, the techniques laid out in it are useful for everyday content writers.
Advanced writing techniques, getting high paying clients and business building
If you have a few years of writing experience under your belt, then you should read these books. Here are book recommendations for:
- Specialized content writing and connected tools
- Starting and running a content-based business
- Creating effective content strategies
31. One-page content marketing blueprint – Prafull Sharma
This is one of my favorite books on content marketing.
If you want to know how to ideate, plan, and execute your content marketing strategy, then this book is for you.
It’s a great introduction to content strategy – which will help you plan your topics better.
Epic Content Marketing – Joe Pulizzi
This book will help you understand content marketing from end to end. It’s full of examples and insights and will help you define a story for your business.
While you may be a content writer and have no interest in strategy, you still need to know why you write and the impact your writing is meant to create. So, read this to build your skills and even advance from a writer to a more managerial role.
F#ck Content Marketing – Randy Frisch
Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Seems like businesses face a similar situation where they’re drowning in content but can’t seem to benefit from it. Randy shows you how content experience matters more than just content creation to grow your business.
Digital Marketing Strategy – Simon Kingsforth
This book is a great resource if you want to understand how digital marketing works. It’s perfect for beginners who want to get started with online marketing.
Content Chemistry – Andy Crestodina
Looking to learn content marketing and attract more customers? Look no further than Content Chemistry by Andy Crestodina. This comprehensive guide will teach you how to create brand-building and customer-converting content efficiently and cost-effectively.
Save the Cat – Blake Snyder
Save the Cat is a must-read for anyone who wants to write a screenplay. But it’s also packed with great advice for writers of all genres. I’m a big believer that you should read everything because you never know where you’ll find just the tip you need.
You’ll learn how to structure your content, bring people to life with words, and keep your readers engaged from start to finish.
How to write it – Sandra E. Lamb
If you want a book with lists of useful words, phrases, examples, and document formats, then this is for you.
This book is a great reference point for writers who like to have everything at their fingertips.
Strategic Writing for UX – Torrey Podmajersky
Written by a UX content strategist, this book is a must-read if you want to specialize in UX writing.
Learn to align your writing with product principles, software development lifecycles, and to produce content that drives clicks, conversions, and other forms of engagement.
The Only Business Writing Book You’ll ever need – Laura Brown, Richard Karlgaard
This is a comprehensive book that goes beyond online copy. You’ll also learn about creating content for presentations or slide decks, email, cover letters, and more.
It’s a useful read for anyone working in a company. It also provides checklists that will make you a confident writer.
Problogger – Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett
Problogger is a major copywriting and blogging website.
And the book is a great read if you want to go from writing to running a business based on content.
Read it to learn how to create an impactful blogging business.
The essential habits of 6-figure bloggers – Sally Miller and Rosa Sophia
I love real-life examples over generic instructions. And this book delivers when it comes to examples of people who make over US $100,000 a year.
Get tips and insights to create an income from your blogging.
Blog, Inc. – Joy Deangdeelert Cho
This is a good book for beginners to blogging.
And content writers should explore this as it gives you context and shows you why people and businesses blog.
And what goes into creating a successful blog that gets traffic and engagement.
Content Inc – Joe Pulizzi
How can you turn your content into a business? Or how can you use content to make your product and services wildly successful?
Find the answer in this book. If you want to level up from writing to running a content-based business, this book is the key.
The 100$ startup – Chriss Guillebeau
This book is for anyone who wants to start a business but doesn’t have unlimited funds.
Guillebeau shows how he created his profit-making business with just $100 and no bells and whistles.
If you want to create a content writing business with a low budget, this is for you.
Building a Story Brand – by Donald Miller
Learn how you can apply the seven elements of great storytelling to your content brand.
This book can help you make your content more engaging to readers by leveraging powerful story elements.
Read it to create a powerful brand and make you content memorable.
Start with Why – Simon Sinek
Content writers who want to go to the next level and run a successful content agency or business should read this book.
When you know your ‘Why’ or purpose, you’ll create inspiring content to meet your goals.
The Startup of you – Ben Casnocha and Reid Hoffman
Looking forward to kick-starting your content writing business?
Then this book on startup development strategies will help you immensely.
Tactics and techniques provided in this publication can help you take your content writing startup to new heights.
The power of visual storytelling – Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio
Want to use visuals and not just words to build stimulating content? But don’t know how to incorporate visuals and make quality content?
Well, then this book, pieced around the best use of visuals and videos can be your guide.
Take up this book, if you intend to evolve as a content writer and learn more about the power of visuals and videos.
The Story Engine – Kyle Gray
Mainly focuses on content marketing, but you can refer to this book for content writing tips as well.
Read it and you will find useful tips on the creation and streamlining of quality content.
Also, let’s not forget, that you will get educated on effective content marketing strategies as a bonus. It is a buy one, get one free offer.
Positioning The Battle for Your Mind – Al Ries
Want your content writing skills and agency to stand out in the crowd? But, don’t know how to achieve it?
Then, this book concerned with brand positioning is your guide to establishing your content writing business as one in a million.
Rise of the Youpreneur -Chris Ducker
Referred to as a must-read for content writers aspiring to launch and transform their writing firms into leading ones.
Covers a lot of inputs and suggestions regarding various marketing and the entrepreneurial aspect.
If your content writing venture is in need of such guidance, then get hold of a copy.
Forever employable – Jeff Gothelf
Due to competition, be it a freelancer or a firm, content writers are always in search and short of work.
And this book is all about how not to run out of work and remain employed.
You will also come across ways following which you can rest back and wait for work to come and seek you out.
So, if you don’t want to run out of business ever, then go ahead and get yourself a copy of this book.
Stop Thinking like a freelancer – Liam Veitch
There are many pitfalls in being a freelance content writer – you have to get leads, follow up, collect payments, deal with unpleasant clients… and you have to worry about getting new clients every month.
This book shifts you out of a mindset where you’re hustling for clients. Instead, learn how to build a plan, charge good money and have clients come to you.
Anything You Want – Derek Sivers
Well, this book is an easy read with stimulating sections. You might come across several entrepreneurial strategy books, but nothing like this one.
With no mention of hard and fast rules and lessons for you to follow, Sivers in simple words leads you to success.
If you intend to follow your heart and make your writing business a winner, then this book is for you.
The 4-hour workweek – Tim Ferriss
Have you begun offering content writing services, but don’t have any set goals and objectives?
Ferriss with his ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ might help you in realizing your business goals and objectives.
From business fundamentals to selling, you find it all in this edition.
WordPress: For Beginners 2022 – Dr. Andy Williams
Crammed with info about the most recent version of WordPress, this creation by Dr. Andy William is a life saver.
Nowadays, WordPress has become an essential platform for writers. And using it might not be a ‘rocket -science’ but not an easy feat either.
Learn several aspects of WordPress, like plugins, widgets, posts vs blogs, and many more.
HTML & CSS: Design And Build Websites: Jon Duckett
Jon Ducket didn’t limit the knowledge of HTML & CSS to programmers only.
Rather, he went on to frame a book for non-programmers wanting to learn the basics.
Provided ‘to-the-point’ knowledge in simple language. Ensured that even non-programmer writers like you could also access HTML & CSS.
Note: Being a good content writer isn’t just about the act of writing. Not today, you also have to know marketing and use various marketing tools and writing apps to meet various goals.
Great books on creativity, overcoming writer’s block, and the art of writing
On Writing – Stephen King
A classic from one of the masters of horror, On Writing is part Stephen King’s autobiography and part writing guide.
You’ll learn about King’s process for writing and how he overcame adversity to become a successful writer. You’ll also get practical advice that you can use in your own writing.
Steal Like an Artist- Austin Kleon
In Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon shows you how to find inspiration for your writing by looking at other writers. You’ll also get tips on how to overcome creative blocks.
Getting things done – David Allen
Content writers often get overwhelmed with multiple tasks once they start working in a commercial business.
GTT or Getting Things Done is a must-read if you want to stay on top of a pile of writing work and related tasks in your job.
Deep Work – Cal Newport
For content writers, this book with clear advice of ‘don’t go biting more than you can chew’ is a worthy read.
In this book, Newport tells you about the disadvantages of multitasking. Also, lists down the benefits of concentrating on one job at a time.
Learn to value quality over quantity to make your content worthwhile.
The Writer’s Journey- Christopher Vogler
If you want to write a great story, then you need to understand the Hero’s Journey.
In The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler breaks down this classic storytelling structure and shows you how to use it in your own writing.
You’ll learn how to create characters that readers will root for, and take them on a journey that they’ll never forget.
Accidental Genius – Mark Levy
This one is my favorite. In Accidental Genius, you’ll learn how to tap into your creative potential and produce your best writing. You’ll learn how to overcome writer’s block and uncover your real voice and creativity. How?
Through the power of freewriting.
Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg
Learn to strip away all the distractions and get to the heart of your writing.
You’ll learn how to find your writing voice, and develop a writing practice that works for you. Goldberg also includes helpful exercises that you can use to improve your writing skills.
This book is about the actual act of writing and how to make it a daily practice. It’s not about content marketing per se, but it’s a great book for writers who want to improve their craft.
You’ll overcome writer’s block (if it hits you) and stay creative.
Doodle Revolution – Sunny Brown
Why a book about doodling for writers? Because this book can help you simplify complex concepts and come up with creative new ideas. It’s great for when you’re feeling stuck in your writing.
The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron
The Artist’s Way is a classic book on creativity. In it, Julia Cameron shows you how to unblock your creativity and get your ideas flowing.
You’ll learn how to quiet your inner critic, and find the time and space to create. Her three pillars of creativity are:
- Morning pages
- Solo dates
- Daily 30-minute walks
The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
The War of Art is a must-read for any writer who wants to overcome creative resistance.
In it, Steven Pressfield leaves the message that resistance is normal in art. And it’s only by going through resistance that you can overpower it.
The Right to Write – Julia Cameron
Cameron’s genius lies in her ability to bring out her own hidden genius. In The Right to Write, Cameron gives you permission to be a writer. You’ll learn how to silence your inner critic, and write without self-judgment.
The Art of Memoir – Mary Karr
If there’s an author who can jar your sense and create wracking emotions in your body, it’s Mary Karr. While her book is about writing memoirs, you’ll learn a great deal about creating evocative content that you can apply to content writing.
Why I write – George Orwell
In this essay, George Orwell discusses the four motivations that drive him to write:
- sheer egoism
- aesthetic enthusiasm
- historical impulse
- political purpose
Orwell’s essay is a great reminder that content writing is about more than just getting the words out. It’s also about having a reason to write in the first place.
On Writing Well – William Zinsser
Writers need to adapt their language and writing for different fields. Whether it’s sports, academia, or business, you’ll find this book helpful in understanding how to adjust your tone and style.
It’s filled with do’s and don’ts and other guidelines. And best of all, there’s loads of humor. So, it’s a fun read.
Zen in The Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury
Be excited – that’s author Ray Bradbury’s advice in this collection of essays and poems.
Many writers lose their love for writing as it becomes a daily grind. This book will uplift you and help you find a passion for writing if you feel like you can’t do it.
Productivity for Authors – Joanna Penn
Joanna Penn’s ‘Productivity for Authors’ is a holy grail for writers.
Be it about writing or work and time management, this book is an eye-opener for you writers.
Joanne pens down suggestions implementing which as a writer you can increase your writing schedule. Without a doubt, this book should be on top of your ‘to read’ books.
Daily rituals – Mason Currey
One of the most prolific misconceptions about creativity is that you have to wait for it to happen.
But the lives of the greatest creatives in the world show that being creative is about hard work, routines… and rituals.
This book will reveal how the greats, from Fitzgerald to Murakami, developed lifelong habits to support their work. And you’ll inspiration how to develop a habit to write every single day.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Flow is a state of optimal performance and experience. It’s where you write without resistance or fear.
And this book unlocks ways to deliberately create flow instead of waiting for it happen.
Back of the Napkin – Dan Roam
The author argues that everyone is born with visual thinking. And in this book, he shows you how to break down complex problems and improve how you share your insights.
Why do writers need this? To plan and structure complex content and ideas into simple ways. When you have a visual structure, creating a blog post or article based on it will be easier and more impactful for your readers.
Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Creation and creativity are intangible subjects. Csikszentmihalyi has tried to explain them in simple words.
The author has compiled the interviews and success stories of renowned creative people in this edition. And explained creativity in the best possible way.
For writers, creativity is a subject of substantial importance. With no trace of academic tone, this is an interesting book woven like a storybook.
While these are some of the books which will help you to step up your content writing game, don’t restrict yourself to just these.
And don’t worry about reading all of them. If you pick one or two out of each type of book, you’re already well ahead of other aspiring content writers.
Create a plan, read one book at a time, or even listen to audiobooks. Over time, you’ll become a competent writer with practice.