Which books on business writing do you recommend?

Which books on writing do you recommend?
Hundreds of books on writing – by well-known authors and little known teachers – have been published, and I have a large collection on my bookshelves. What are my favourites? The purpose defines which book is best suitable: if you want to write better in your daily email communications you need a different book from the person who wants to be a writer – for blogs, magazine articles or books.
I have selected two books: one for business communication, and one for writing to inform, entertain and inspire. Below are brief introductions to these two books:
‘Business Writing with Heart’ by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston with the sub-title ‘How to build great relationships, one message at a time’ was published in 2014. How to communicate in business in a positive and constructive manner is the focus of this book; it does not contain the essentials of grammar, or how to write concisely.
Why do I like it? It provides real-life examples and presents two different ways of responding, the quick response versus the considerate, relationship-fostering response. The tips in this book range from word choice to re-phrasing paragraphs to refocusing on the importance of the relationship versus the annoyance of one incident.
This book is a useful resource to keep close by. Read the first two chapters, and pick the book up whenever you are stuck. Due to its apt chapter headings you will find ideas whatever your challenge – if you want to say thank you, introduce people, provide feedback or write a Christmas card. This book is an essential tool for fostering positive relationships.
Lynn’s business writing blog is a useful resource to dip into.
‘On writing well’ by William Zinsser is a classic. First published in 1976 and regularly updated this treasure trove of a book is a delight to read.
Structured in four main parts (Principles, Methods, Forms and Attitudes) the book covers writing in general, and specifics of Science and Technology, Business Writing, Travel Writing, The Interview and Non-fiction as literature to name a few. Yet, it also covers the personal challenges every writer faces in sections named ‘the tyranny of the end product’ or ‘enjoyment, fear and confidence’.
The first edition of the book was written from Zinsser’s experience of three decades as journalist and five years as writing teacher. This depth of knowledge is obvious on every page.
The book contains no bullet points. Every chapter conveys its message through stories. It’s easy to pick up and open anywhere – today I re-read the chapter ‘a writer’s decisions’ which includes images from salt caravans in Timbuktu. Apart from visually strong stories that transport me as reader into a different world this section beautifully and effectively illustrates why the writer is the central person behind every piece of writing.
The digital world and its multitude of blogs have not changed the role of the writer. What to write about, who to write for, which stories to select that best convey the intended message and how to structure the text – these are some of the choices inherent in every piece of writing. In his book ‘On writing well’ Zinsser demonstrates that writing is more than the use of language.
This book leaves me with a smile on my face every time I pick it up. Yes it is nearly 40 years since it was originally published, yet it has been revised several times and its teaching is timeless.
Researching the author William Zinsser I stumbled across his blog ‘Zinsser on Friday’. Aged 87 Zinsser won the American National Magazine Award in the category of Digital Commentary in 2012.  Now, at 89 and nearly blind William Zinsser decided to retire from weekly publication deadlines. I wish him all the best for a long and healthy retirement, and hope that he has not put the pen down for good just yet. His thoughts on writing in the digital age and blogs are subject of Zinsser’s latest book ‘The writer who stayed’; another book that leaves me with a smile on my face whenever I pick it up.

Hella Bauer is a freelance writer, copywriter, copyeditor and trainer – she can write for you, copyedit your text or coach you to improve your writing. Contact Hella on hella@hellabauer.com or 027-491 7670.

writing, AllHella Bauer