If you are going to be a freelance writer, then you must learn as much as you possibly can. Sure, you can learn on your own...and you mostly likely will learn on your own through trial by fire. However, there's a lot that you can think about and plan for if you read and study. These five freelance writing books can help you learn more about the industry and plan to be a successful freelance writer.
These books aren't in any particular order.
1. Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horrors of Writing Life by Nick Mamatas. This book...I laughed so hard. I actually read most of it while sitting in a parking lot one night while my husband was in class. It really gave me a lot of perspective about starting out as a freelance writer. It's a huge wake up call and gives you a lot of good tips (and evil tricks) about making it in the cold world of writing. I picked this up at my local library.
2. How to Start a Home-Based Writing Business by Lucy V. Parker. I bought this from Half Priced Books. It is a great book for beginners to freelance writing. If you've been writing for a while, then it might not teach you anything that you need to know. One of the best parts of this book is that it walks you through writing a business plan. You'll also learn about rate setting, but this isn't how I learned to set rates. It's still a really good read.
3. Any of the Writer's Market books are great. One is produced every year. I save myself some money and get the previous year (or older) at Half Priced Books. My reasoning is that since so much is online now that I can find out if older listing are still active. The newest editions are great for finding new publishers. The best thing about this book is the walk through on what the low, average, and high end of rates are for just about every writing gig under the sun. If I had to choose one book, this would be it because you can't make money without knowing where to submit your work (unless you're like me and mostly work with private clients).
4. Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale is my go-to reference book for anything grammar related. If you feel like you need a grammar refresher, but don't want to die of boredom, buy this book. It's a lot of fun to read.
5. Crash Course Freelance Writing by Robin Bull is clearly written by me. It's a definite "must read" for beginning freelance writers. You'll learn about the sites I use to find gigs and how I set my rates. You'll also learn a lot about actually running the business. Oh, and if you check this out then you should know that Odesk recently changed their name to Upwork.
There you have it - 5 freelance writing books that you need to read. You'll learn a lot from all of these great books. I've read the four that I didn't write and also own physical copies of all of them. It doesn't get much more dedicated than that! :)