On the New York Times website is a page explaining how they choose the books that gain a spot on the coveted New York Times Bestseller list. Towards the end of the page you’ll find this paragraph:
Among the categories not actively tracked at this time are: perennial sellers, required classroom reading, textbooks, reference and test preparation guides, e-books available exclusively from a single vendor, journals, workbooks, calorie counters, shopping guides, periodicals and crossword puzzles.
It was the term “perennial seller” that leaped out at author Ryan Holiday and inspired him to write his book Perennial Seller, which explains how to write a book that will stand the test of time and sell better a decade from now than it does today. Below are 12 books that are themselves perennial sellers, and which will help you to craft your own perennial seller.
Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday
It only makes sense to start with the book that made the term famous. In case you’re not familiar with Holiday, he’s the author of perennial sellers (that are also bestsellers) like The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, and Stillness is the Key. They’re all worth reading, and if you need some help with marketing and PR, his books Growth Hacker Marketing and Trust Me, I’m Lying are excellent reads as well.
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
I’m re-reading this right now and it is sooo good. Perhaps one of the most practical and useful books about how to write non-fiction well. If you only buy one of the books from this list, buy On Writing Well.
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
Handley’s book gives you permission to write the way that’s comfortable for you, while simultaneously helping you become a better writer. Everybody Writes is about all writing, not just writing books, but it will definitely help you write a better book.
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
Less is more. Take it from one of my favorite authors, Robert Pirsig, who praises Writing Down the Bones like this, “The secret of creativity, Natalie Goldberg makes clear, is to subtract rules for writing, not add them. It’s a process of ‘uneducation’ rather than education. Proof that she knows what she’s talking about is abundant in her own sentences. They flow with speed and grace and accuracy and simplicity. It looks easy to a reader, but writers know it is the hardest writing of all.”
Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
This is a short book with lots of pictures. You can read it in 30 minutes, but you won’t, because you’ll be taking so many notes. Steal Like An Artist will break down your writer’s block.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird will help you write a better book whether you’re writing about birds or anything else. Practical tips from how to get started to what it’s like to be an author.
On Writing by Stephen King
I don’t like any of King’s books except for On Writing. Half autobiography, half writing tips. The details of King’s life are fascinating and I couldn’t help but like him by the end, despite how I feel about his horror-genre books and his political views. The writing tips are a treasure of wisdom for all authors. Skip the biographical part if you must, but read the tips.
Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins
Focused as much on creativity as on writing, Real Artists Don’t Starve is the book to read when you start wondering if being an author is really for you. It will get you excited to keep going, and to create better art.
The Scribe Method by Tucker Max
Max is a sleazebag-turned-respectable-family-man. While you may not like his earlier books (they’re popular amongst prison inmates and young males in the military if that gives you any insights into the dubious redeeming qualities of his bestseller I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell), The Scribe Method is pure gold. Max not only has multiple New York Times bestsellers to his name, but runs a company that has helped thousands of authors publish non-fiction books, some of which have sold millions of copies.
Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller
Building a StoryBrand isn’t about writing, it’s about telling stories and how stories capture our attention. If you want people to stay engaged while reading your book and remember it, tell stories. Zinsser says the same in On Writing Well.
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
If the title The Elements of Style doesn’t sound exciting, how about the authors’ names? Sounds like a business partnership from a movie set in the 1920s. I’m torn on this book because on the one hand, it’s a bunch of rules, and the problem with rules is they cause paralysis. You end up thinking things like “Wait, did I use that semi-colon correctly?” and “Should I put this question mark inside the quotation marks or outside?” and then you just stop writing. If that’s what happens to you when you read about writing rules, then don’t read this book, just write, and let an editor worry about cleaning up your writing. However, if you enjoy learning about rules and it doesn’t stop you from writing, then this is a classic you won’t want to miss.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Some people love this book and others hate it. Just go read the Amazon reviews and you’ll see what I mean. I liked it. I think you’ll like The War of Art but if you don’t tell me why not in the comments below.
And if I missed any books that should be on this list, tell me about those in the comments as well.Liked it? Share it!