7 Books Every Indie Author Needs to Read

Hi everyone!  I’ve gotten a lot of interest and questions recently about my journey as an indie author.  Deciding to be an indie author instead of going the traditionally published route has definitely been one of the hardest and most freeing decisions I have ever made in my life.  While I plan on expounding on that in a Musings post soon, today I really wanted to share with you seven books that have really helped me take my writing and marketing to the next level.  🙂


*Before we launch in, I did want to note that I’m still discovering writing, indie publishing, and marketing books that I enjoy and learn from every day, so there will definitely be revised versions of this post in the future.  For now, though, these seven are the ones that have helped me the most so far.


Storyworld First, by Jill Williamson:


The question I hear most about building a storyworld is “Where do I start?”  Oz, Wonderland, Narnia, the 100 Acre Wood, Neverland, Hogwarts, the United Federation of Planets, Westeros, Middle Earth, Alagaesia, Terabithia, Gotham City, Jurassic Park, Fablehaven, and a galaxy far, far away.

These fictional places have become real in the minds and hearts of readers.  These storyworlds that someone invented — someone who was once like you, learning to tell stories, learning to write, and dreaming about publishing a novel.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or are looking to add depth to a finished story, Storyworld First will get you thinking.


This is one of my favorite world building books simply because, as Williamson says, it gets you thinking.  There are so many aspects of storyworld that she gets you to question and flesh out that I would have forgotten, had I been left to my own devices.  One of the most important aspects, in my opinion, is religion in your story.  What do your characters believe?  What religions are there — do you have one or multiple?  Questions like these, as well as many others, actually helped shape the religions I portrayed in my novel Smoke and Mirrors.



The Successful Author Mindset, by Joanna Penn:


Being a writer is not just about typing.  It’s also about surviving the rollercoaster of the creative journey.

Self-doubt, fear of failure, the need for validation, perfectionism, writer’s block, comparisonitis, overwhelm, and much more.  When you’re going through these things, it can feel like you’re alone.  But actually, they are part of the creative process, and every author goes through them too.

This book collects the mindset issues that writers experience, that I have been through myself over the last nine years, and that perhaps you will experience at different times on the creative journey.  Each small chapter tackles a possible issue and then offers an antidote, so that you can dip in and out over time.  It includes excerpts from my own personal journals as well as quotes from well-known writers.  I hope it helps you on the road to becoming a successful author.


If nothing else, every aspiring author needs to read this book, simply to know that they aren’t alone in what they’re feeling.  Writing, especially for indie authors, can often feel like a solo lifestyle.  How do you tell people that you’re feeling burnt out or overwhelmed?  Will they think you silly because “you’re just writing a book, what’s the big deal”?  Prepping for Villager‘s release, I had a huge bout of feeling overwhelmed, followed by comparisonitis and imposter syndrome (discussed in the book).  The tips in this book helped me get my mind back on track.  Highly recommend!



The Extroverted Writer, by Amanda Luedeke:


Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, published or unpublished, you can have a great online following by tapping into the reader-packed world of social media — and The Extroverted Writer shows you how.

With a background in corporate marketing, literary agent Amanda Luedeke breaks down the most popular social media sites and online options to give you the tools you need to be effective when engaging with your readers.  Gain a readership through: Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Pinterest, and more!

It’s time to take control of your writing career and develop an online following that sells books and propels you forward!


This was the very first marketing book I read when I started my indie publishing journey, so I highly recommend it if you’re just starting out!  It breaks down all of the bigger social media sites and provides you with insights, tips, and tricks, as well as what to do and what not to do on those platforms.  It’s also short and sweet, so it’ll make for a quick read!



How to Make a Living with Your Writing, by Joanna Penn:


Would you like to leave your job and make a living with your writing?  This book will show you how.

I spent 13 years working as a cubicle slave in the corporate world.  I was miserable in my job and my creativity was stunted by the crushing daily grind.  Then I started writing books and blogging, using my words to create products and attract readers.

In September 2011, I left my corporate job to become a full-time author and creative entrepreneur, and since then I’ve grown my business year on year — all based on my writing.

More importantly, I’m finally living the happy life I always wanted.

I’m not a Kindle or blogging millionaire and this is not a get rich quick scheme.  But in this book, I will share with you how I make a six-figure income from writing books, blogging and marketing in an ethical manner.


By the end of this blog post, you guys will realize that I love, love, love Joanna Penn.  I binge-read her books, take notes and underline like crazy, and I follow her blog (which I will happily provide at the bottom of this post since it has so many extra resources!).  I don’t really plan on making a six-figure income in my life, but Penn shares a ton of great ideas and resources that helped her along the way.  Not only that, but knowing where she started and how she got to the point she’s at today is incredibly inspiring and reminds us all that we can do it if we put our minds to it!



The Busy Mom’s Guide to Novel Marketing, by Angela Castillo and Jamie Foley:


Marketing your fiction novels can make you feel like a minnow in an ocean.

How can you get your book to stand out from the crowd — and actually make money?

This guide is packed full of advice from career novelists Angela Castillo and Jamie Foley, including: Which paid promotions and ads actually work (and how to get the most out of them), How to build your email newsletter list and social media platforms, Tips for hosting successful book signings, booths, and events (and digital events, too), How to get your novels into bookstores & libraries, Giveaway strategies that will sell novels faster than granny’s hotcakes…


By the time I started this book, I admit that I had already done a lot of marketing research, so I already knew a lot of the topics covered in this book.  That being said, if you know very little about novel marketing or just aren’t sure where to start, definitely begin by reading this book!  It has great tips, and it breaks things down easily and simply so you’re not confused by what’s being discussed.  One thing that I was thankful for was their breakdown of ads.  I have yet to experiment with Facebook and/or Amazon ads, and their insights were incredibly helpful!



Start Marketing Your Book, by Ella Barnard:


Have you always wanted to be a writer?  Are you excited by the possibility of self-publishing, but nervous about the idea of marketing?

This book is designed for writers who are just starting their self-publishing journey.  It’s also for those that have been focused on putting books out there, but haven’t given much attention to their marketing.


This is a short, quick read as well!  Even though it’s technically for beginners, I found a lot of helpful tricks in it.  Plus, Ella Barnard just has a way of pumping you up and making you feel like you can get stuff done!  The best part about this book is that you can get the e-book FREE, if you sign up for Barnard’s newsletter.  If you’re interested, you can find the book here!



Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives, and Other Introverts, by Joanna Penn:


I’m an author and professional speaker, and I’m also an introvert.

I often get asked how I do what I do, when our natural tendency as authors is to relish being alone and creative, rather than standing in front of a crowd.

In this book, I share everything I’ve learned about being a speaker and creative over the last five years of presenting internationally in front of large and small audiences.

I also dispel some of the myths around being a speaker.  You don’t have to be Tony Robbins, bouncing around on stage with a booming voice and larger-than-life persona.

You just have to be you, and tell your own story.

Discover the practical and psychological aspects of mesmerizing an audience and speaking with authority, as well as the business strategies you’ll need if you plan to use speaking as an income stream.  There are also interviews with other speakers across the personality continuum and appendices with useful extras.


This book is more for authors that have bypassed the beginning marketing stage and are looking for different revenues when it comes to writing.  As an introvert myself, I’ve always known that I wanted to speak at book signings or maybe even conferences and workshops someday, but I never thought I could do it because of my quieter nature.  Penn takes care of a lot of myths society tries to tell you about public speaking, as well as encourages you to look at yourself and your brand to figure out what types of speaking will be appropriate for you.  Since reading this book, I opened my mind to the possibilities and discovered that my area has a huge need for creative writing events/workshops for elementary and middle-school aged children.  If you read this book, it will really challenge you to think outside the box and step outside your comfort zone.



I hope you find these books helpful!  They have been instrumental to me in my indie publishing journey, and I know I’ll keep revisiting them.  Also, if you’re interested in checking out Joanna Penn’s blog, you can find it here.


Have you read any of these books?  Do any of them catch your eye?  I’d love to discuss them with you!


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