8 must-read books for communicators

From punctuation guides and blogging tips to networking advice, here are the books you need to add to your professional queue.


Maybe you want to get better at communications planning, or punch up the language in your speeches. Maybe you’re deciding whether to jump ship and start freelancing—or you just need some punctuation refreshers. Whether your communications challenge is large or small, you’ll find great solutions in these eight books:

1. “Chase’s Calendar of Events 2013“: There are only 365 days in a year, but there are 12,500 different holidays, anniversaries and other weeks/days of note scheduled on those days.

Before you plan your announcement against, or fail to take advantage of, one, invest in this year’s model of the venerable “Chase’s Calendar of Events 2013.” It’s an invaluable and easy way to avoid lousy timing, conflicts, and other snafus in your communications and editorial calendar this year. Reporters will thank you for using it to remember the many things people think they should cover on any given day. By this book’s count, there is an average of 34 events a day.

2. “ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income“: Problogger is a premier website about blogging, and this book got an update last year. It is condensed wisdom from the site that helps you blog better. Now, whether that six-figure income belongs to you or your company is another story.

3. “The Freelancer’s Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Have the Career of Your Dreams—On Your Terms“: Maybe you’re an independent communicator like me, or one with a day job who dreams of the sweet life on the other side. Or maybe you’re just a communicator who works with a lot of freelancers. Whatever your situation, you’ll want to dive into this book.

Author Sara Horowitz heads Freelancers Union and is a MacArthur Fellow; she’s the voice for thousands of freelancers. In her book, you’ll learn everything from where the term “freelance” originated (Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe”) to how to run your independency. Based on my experiences, this book rings true.

4. “The Associated Press Guide to Punctuation“: The 2013 edition of the Associated Press Stylebook is due out in July, but you can further hone your AP Style with one of its more specialized guides, “The Associated Press Guide to Punctuation.” Put an authoritative end to those office debates about parentheses and serial commas.

5. “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator“: Much of what we know about communicating effectively comes from cautionary tales, and this confessional from last year stirred the controversy while offering a good reminder of why your efforts are met with increasing skepticism. This is a must-read for seasoned veterans and starry-eyed newbies.

6. “Power Verbs for Presenters: Hundreds of Verbs and Phrases to Pump Up Your Speeches and Presentations“: The more active verbs you use in writing or speaking, the more concrete you’ll sound—and that makes you more persuasive. Get better at this precise skill with this book coming in February.

7. “Beyond Argument: A Handbook for Editorial Writers“: If you write opinion pieces or use editorial boards as part of your media relations efforts, you’ll want this best-practices manual from the Association of Opinion Journalists. Learn how editorial writers do it, and what will work for you.

8. “Network Like an Introvert: A new way of thinking about business relationships“: I know plenty of introverted communicators, and this 2012 book puts a new spin on the conundrum of networking when you’d really rather be alone. This book applies, whether you are introverted or extroverted.

Denise Graveline is president of the communications consultancy don’t get caught, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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