Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What would Tiffany Read?

I am asked many times by aspiring writers what books I would suggest they read. I used to have a list of suggested resources on my website but took it down when I overhauled it a couple of months ago.

Now it is on this list. These are books that I have personally read [and re-read] and have really been foundational to my ongoing success. I have connected each to an link so you can easily click through to learn more about these books, purchase or add this reading list to your own blog or website.

This is NOT an exhaustive list. It's a list of books that will help you look differently at your writing business. I have a couple of resources [like two really cool thesauruses] books by authors [On Writing by Stephen King is one] and books on marketing. Then I also have books that will help you think differently about success. What I learned is that many times I was my own worst enemy. I was convinced I could NEVER do I didn't.

These are NOT "out there" books that tell you that you can think yourself in to being a radish. :-) These are serious books for people who want to seriously pursue their highest potential. And each and every one has become a part of my success.

I hope this list will be helpful for you. I've told you what I like about each book and why it's on this list. Maybe you'll find some you want to buy, or that you can pick up next time you're at the library.


The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It
What does a business book have to do with being a successful writer? Everything. The first step to taking your writing career seriously and moving forward towards your goals is to see yourself as the owner of a business. You are the CEO of your writing empire. Many of our self-destructive habits show up in how we work and organize. This book not only helped me in establishing my business but it also helped me as a home school mom. And can you believe it helped me get better at housework? Everything we seek to accomplish is made easier when you have a system and clear lines of communication. This book will help you with that.

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
Whether you want to be a millionaire or no, this book helps you understand the hidden biases each of us have inside. These actually sabotage us in our quest for success. If we view people who have wealth as something undesirable we will subconsciously do all we can to keep ourselves from being wealthy. How does this apply to your life as a writer? As a writer and business owner you have certain prejudices you didn’t realize you have. When you begin to understand what they are you can fight them. This book will also help you if you want to be a millionaire.

The Synonym Finder
This is an excellent tool to have on your shelf. It is a comprehensive thesaurus and the one I use most. If you already have a thesaurus you like, you don’t need this one. But if you don’t have a thesaurus, this is the one to buy.

Flip Dictionary
This thing is so cool. This is designed for people like me who are forever forgetting the word I want. This dictionary is set up so you can look up “hair” and find things on hair styles, hair pieces, names for pieces of hair…Whatever you need. I do not have enough words to praise this book. If you already have a thesaurus you still need this one. You will find yourself actually READING it. It really helps with research so you can START with the correct vocabulary.

Christian Writers' Market Guide 2008: The Essential Reference Tool for the Christian Writer (Christian Writers' Market Guide)
This is for anyone who writes specifically for the Christian Market. It lists CBA publishers, contact information, what they’re looking for (or not), magazine and book markets as well as trends in the industry. It is worth every penny you spend. I use mine so much the spine is broken. The 2008 edition has a great CD with it that has the book on it in a word document. You can quickly search using your search function and do in seconds what took HOURS in previous editions.

Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life
This book is so short you can read it in an afternoon or listen to it on your way to and from work. I suggest people who take my course “Writing Career Coach: Intro to the Writer’s Life” read this after they complete the 4th lesson. This is timeless and should be read over and over. I have it on tape and re-listen to it once a year.

PyroMarketing: The Four-Step Strategy to Ignite Customer Evangelists and Keep Them for Life
This book is a must have. It tells of the technique used by Rick Warren to launch “The Purpose Driven Life” and by Mel Gibson to launch “The Passion of the Christ.” There are techniques you will be able to use immediately to build your writing business, even if you haven’t finished your manuscript. You can buy the print book through this link or he used to give it out for free online at his website.

Straight Talk from the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission
This is what is called an “Amazon Short”. It is a little downloadable book that costs 49 cents and it is worth every penny. I bought this a while back and have read it so many times I need to print a new copy. It is simply and straightforward. And for the price if it doesn’t help you, pass it along and help another writer.

Fiction 101 by Randy Ingermanson. Affectionately known as “The Snowflake Guy” Randy will take the craft of ANY fiction writer and kick it up a notch. I paid over $1,000 to attend a writer’s conference to hear Randy teach and it was worth every penny. I didn’t know about Fiction 101 when I was starting out but if I had, I would have bought it.

Fiction 201 (by Randy Ingermanson) is the follow-up to Fiction 101. I do own this course and in a word it is WOW. Suddenly those places you’ve been getting stuck on in your manuscript go from BLAH to A-HA. I truly believe if you want to write solid fiction that sells you need to own these two lessons.

On Writing
By Stephen King. Okay, I am not a person to read cuss words but I was able to sift through them and grow as a writer through this book. This man can make an ear infection interesting, and he does in this book. Truly I wrote one of my novels simply because one sentence he said in this book took my mind on a wild tangent. And it ended up winning the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense in 2007. If you want to write fiction, get this book.

Writing the Breakout Novel
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook
My husband and daughter’s got this for me as a Christmas gift and my writing has never been the same again. Every manuscript has to go through the “Breakout Edit” now where I use my editing worksheet with the first draft and use every lesson in the workbook on the manuscript. For fiction writers, it’s a must have.

Elements of Style, The (4th Edition)
This is a must have book that can be read cover to cover in an afternoon. Stephen King recommends it in his book On Writing and there is not a writer I know who doesn’t own a dog-eared copy. It is easy to read when you need to know a comma rule or how to tighten your writing.

The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency As a Freelance Writer in Six Months or Less
This book is exactly what it says. A way to help you build a writing business in six months or less. If you’d like to be a successful writer, even before you get that first book contract, then this is the book for you. It allows you to pursue your passion of writing and make a living at it. I suggest you read all three of this lesson’s books side by side. Allow the lessons to be braided together in your mind.

The Well-Fed Writer: Back For Seconds A Second Helping Of "How-To" For Any Writer Dreaming of Great Bucks and Exceptional Quality of Life
This is more than a sequel to The Well-Fed Writer, it is a companion book that is so full of new information it is a stand alone. Use the techniques in this book and hone your skill as a writer to create a writing business you can be proud of. There are some of us who are only happy when we’re writing. So do it, follow your passion. Write. And do it for a living with the help of this book.

Instant Income
The title grabs you, doesn’t it? You’re either thinking it is a total sham or it is a get rich quick scheme. It is neither. This book is page after page, paragraph after paragraph of “a-ha” moments. I have only been able to read about 1/3 of the book so far, despite having it for nearly 10 weeks, because it is SO full of ideas when I read it I must stop. Janet Switzer is wonderful at helping a person who has an idea build upon that idea to create business success. Her ideas are simple, yet brilliant.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money--That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
This book helped me see myself as a business owner and not as someone who works for a magazine or a publisher. It will adjust your attitude and get your ready mentally for success.

Rich Dad's Guide to Investing: What the Rich Invest in, That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not!
This book will help you develop your personalized plan for streams of income. This is a topic I’m passionate about. This goes further than I ever could.

The Fly Lady
One of the greatest lessons I learned after college was how important balance is to my life. It didn’t matter how great my plot line was if I kept forgetting to get the kids meals. [my girls are little. much too young to cook their own food.] I also learned that I was incapable of keeping my house spotless while homeschooling, chauffeuring and raising 4 little girls. My husband and I are not robots. This resource really helped me to focus on small projects, small goals, and one thing at a time. So now that you’ve spent this time building your writing business spend some time getting everything in to perspective.


Carol Collett said...

Tiff, I love Stephen King's ON WRITING. I have WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL too, but haven't gone through it yet. I can only afford maybe one more book right now. Which one would you recommend? My struggle right now is with goal setting and time management.
Love ya Naner!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter said...


I'd have to say the best book for that was The E-Myth. It helped me distinguish what IS and IS NOT necessary to do each day.

It is also written in a story form with the narrator talking to a small business owner. By watching through this person's eyes I really learned where I was wasting in my time, where I could delegate and how to set my business up to grow.

Believe it or NOT once I did these things I also learned how to better manage my time and set realistic goals.

Hope it helps.

awalls said...


I am completely on board with ON WRITING. Love love love. I also love Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD.

I agree that time management is the hardest part of writing. That's why I started a writing website called We're the first website to take care of the WHOLE process of writing, more than just giving you market listings.

With WordHustler, you upload your projects, search markets you want to submit to, then we print and ship everything for you. It's easy to track all of your submissions using WordHustler and we cost less than doing it yourself. Most importantly: WordHustler saves you TIME.

Take a look and good luck writing!

- Anne Walls, WordHustler Co-Founder

Carol Collett said...

Thanks for the advice. I just ordered E-Myth from Amazon.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter said...


I'm so glad. I really got so much out of the book. My husband has read it twice and I've read it once. We also find ourselves going back to it periodically like a resource. It took me a bit before I was willing to admit that I was making those silly mistakes, but once I did admit it...It was like "Wow, I can actually FIX this???"

I really hope you'll get as much as I did from the book or more!! Tiff