10 Inspiring Books Every Author Entrepreneur Should Read

As Stephen King once put it, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of books that should inform, enlighten, and spark your creativity. Specifically, I chose titles for the author entrepreneur about cultivating the imagination, challenging preconceived notions, and increasing productivity.

  1. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles — Steven Pressfield

This a must read for all artists who want to overcome Resistance. It pushes you to be the best you can be. Resistance is capitalized by Pressfield because it is a real force to him, trying to thwart attempts at greatness. Resistance encourages you to play it safe and take the easy way out. The War of Art is a reminder to never back down and do the work you are called to do. Pressfield discusses the two situations in which Resistance will the most ruthless: when the call to create is strong for the artist and when you are about to succeed.

Inspiring Idea

“There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.”

2. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft — Stephen King

On Writing is part memoir and part how-to. He takes you through the journey of how he became a writer and peppers the story with plenty of practical advice. Stephen King has a unique perspective on the craft and his voice shines through even in non-fiction. He lets you peek into his writing routine, where he writes, and how long it takes him to write a novel. There are many gems sprinkled throughout the book, such as “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

Inspiring Idea

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

3. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action — Simon Sinek

Sinek studied influential leaders and their habits, weaving together a narrative of their common habits, while giving his readers an up-close look at the stories of people like Steve Jobs and the Wright Brothers. This is an excellent book for entrepreneurs or any leader looking for direction for their company or startup. Sinek comes to the conclusion that the most important thing a leader can do is figure out why their organization exists and why that should matter to customers. It all starts with why. If you can get your employees to believe and understand your why, it makes it much easier for your audience to trust you.

Inspiring Idea

“All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year. Those who forget WHY they were founded show up to the race every day to outdo someone else instead of to outdo themselves. The pursuit, for those who lose sight of WHY they are running the race, is for the medal or to beat someone else.”

4. Steal Like an Artist — Austin Kleon

This a short, inspiring read, chock full of helpful tips and interesting ideas. The small size makes it feel approachable, but don’t let that fool you. There is great content with plenty of advice to help jumpstart your creative process. The entire premise of the book, as made evident by the title, is that it’s okay to “steal” artistically from different sources and put your own spin on it. The book is a fun read, with inspiring quotes, drawings, and poems to help inspire you.

Inspiring Idea

“You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences. The German writer Goethe said, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

5. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind — Jocelyn K. Geli and 99U

This book is the brainchild by 99U and edited by the then director and editor-in-chief, Jocelyn K. Glei. 99u.com provides “insights on making ideas happen.” Manage Your Day-to-Day is a collection of essays by successful people such as Seth Godin, Steven Pressfield, Gretchen Rubin, and Leo Babauta, and many more. Since there’s a wide range of methods and ideas, one is bound to find a strategy that works for him or her. It’s filled with new insights on habits, having a successful day, and staying focused, while allowing your creativity to flourish.

Inspiring Idea

“Like it or not, we are constantly forced to juggle tasks and battle unwanted distractions — to truly set ourselves apart, we must learn to be creative amidst chaos.”

6. Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life — Elizabeth George

George takes you deep inside the specifics of her research process. This is a very practical book that takes you through how one author approaches the art of writing. She focuses in on particular parts of the writing process, shows examples, and then explains how she approaches it. It’s quite informative and equips the writer with the necessary tools he or she needs in order to write well. Her enthusiasm and passion for the craft is evident and helps to ignite the same type of excitement in her readers.

Inspiring Idea

“Lots of people want to have written; they don’t want to write. In other words, they want to see their name on the front cover of a book and their grinning picture on the back…To reach that end you have to be willing just to set it aside, knowing that it may never happen at all but not much caring because it’s the writing that matters to you… If you don’t feel this way, then you want to be an author, not a writer.”

7. So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love — Cal Newport

This book really challenges the status quo and makes one question their beliefs about passion, talent, and how that translates into a career. It rejects the common myth of “follow your passion.” Newport believes this is terrible advice, leading people to quit their jobs in a moment of inspiration while not having the skills to succeed at their newfound passion. His theory is that people can become passionate by being skilled at their craft. Instead of the passion mindset, he suggests the craftsman mindset, where an individual is forced to ask what they can offer that is valuable. Newport stresses the importance of deliberate practice, hard work in a focused way. There are no gimmicks, or quick fixes offered in this strategy, but it will allow you to become “so good they can’t ignore you.”

Inspiring Idea

“Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.”

8. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? — Seth Godin

Seth Godin is well-known for his popular blog about marketing, entrepreneurship, and ideas. Linchpin teaches you how to become indispensable in the workforce, whether at the corporate level or as an entrepreneur. He encourages you to make a difference and to succeed as the “artist you already are.” He introduces a third team of people to the workplace, the linchpins, in addition to management and labor. They are individuals who thrive on challenges, work hard, and become essential to the organizations they work for. Linchpins make themselves indispensable in today’s world.

Inspiring Idea

“If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will willfully ignore the future that is likely.”

9. If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence, and Spirit — Brenda Ueland

This gem of a book inspires readers to live their lives with authenticity, so that their art may also express it. If You Want to Write helps authors overcome their self-doubt that prevents them from even attempting a project. It encourages and inspires writing with its warm, humorous tone. Though it was written in 1938, the book is a classic that will resonate with all artists, writers, and entrepreneurs. Ueland shows readers how to deal with negative criticism and dig deep down for the inspiration and drive that motivated them to want to write in the first place. If you’re looking for encouragement in you art, pick up this book.

Inspiring Idea

“At least I understood that writing was this: an impulse to share with other people a feeling or truth that I myself had. Not to preach to them, but to give it to them if they cared to hear it.”

10. Choose Yourself! — James Altucher

This was was written for artists and entrepreneurs. Altucher encourages you to cultivate the fire inside of you, as you are the only one who can do it. By saying yes to things you don’t want, you are smothering that fire. It’s time to “choose yourself” and allow yourself to be an entrepreneur. This is an honest, engaging read that will surely make you think.

Inspiring Idea

“Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, “I did it again.”

Jenna Millen is an intern at Winning Edits exploring the intersection of publishing, editing, book marketing, and audience building online.

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