Folks have asked me that question (the title of this post) more often than I can recount—mostly editing clients past and present, and members of writing groups I’ve participated in over the years. My answer is always this simple: As professionals, we never stop learning.

Learning comes in many forms, of course, but one of the important methods is the basic act of self-education, taking advantage of the ever-expanding library of books on the subject. I’ve read somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-80 of those over the past 30 years, many of them twice. I refer to a few of them repeatedly as reference guides.

Hey, there’s a lot to soak up.

The inevitable follow-up question has been this: “Hey, Diamond, if you had to pick just a few, which books would you recommend I start with?”

Everyone has their favorites, and many could, and surely would, offer alternatives to these, but here are my recommendations: Scroll down the page on the left, until you come to a section of book covers under the heading, “On WRITING: I Recommend these Books (Amazon).”

Each of those 8 books informed heavily my approach to both writing and editing. How strong has their influence been over the other 62-72 books? Or the thousands of articles I’ve read? I think the fact that I return to them regularly is all the answer I need give.

You would do well to absorb all eight of those books. Even if you can only start with one… start! Those covers are simple links to Amazon, if that helps. Or get them on eBay, or Barnes & Noble, or your local bookstore… but get them.

‘Til next time, and as always, remember: To write well, you must work hard. To succeed in this tough gig, you mustn’t be lazy (or discouraged).