The Best Songwriting Books – Which Are the Best Books for Songwriters to Buy? 

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Are you struggling to improve your composition or write better lyrics? If so, it’s a good idea to get advice from professionals in the industry.  

So, which are the best books for songwriters to buy? The best songwriting books include classics that offer practical advice on how to improve your song lyrics, as well as contemporary books teaching you how to think like a songwriter. 

In this article, we’ll reveal the must-reads to add to your shopping list and how they can help you to develop as a musician.  

The best songwriting books 

Murphy’s Laws of Songwriting: How to Write a Hit Song – Ralph Murphy

Whether you’re a beginner or a maestro, there’s always room for improvement. One of the best ways to learn is to read as much as you can on the subject. Songwriting is as much about the mindset as it is about writing. Reading books on the subject is useful to strengthen your writing abilities and develop your imagination. It also lowers stress and improves your memory, so there are plenty of reasons to check out the books listed below. 

The best books on songwriting 

Let’s begin with a book packed full of advice on becoming a successful songwriter and the skills needed to earn a living from it. 

1. Murphy’s Laws of Songwriting: How to Write a Hit Song – Ralph Murphy

Murphy’s Laws of Songwriting is written by Ralph Murphy, who has been a successful songwriter for five decades. Hall of fame songwriter Paul Williams said of the book, “If there was a hit songwriter secret handshake, Da Murphy would probably have included it.” 

2. Great Songwriting Techniques by Jack Perricone  

In Great Songwriting Techniques, composer Jack Perricone shares his years of experience in songwriting to teach readers the craft. 

The book offers a series of lessons focusing on key elements of songwriting. From building blocks like melody, harmony, and rhythm to more advanced topics like lyric placement and tone texture. 

It also includes examples of exceptional songwriting from well-known artists such as Prince, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Taylor Swift. 

3. How [Not] To Write A Hit Song!: 101 Common Mistakes to Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success – Brian Oliver 

How [Not] To Write A Hit Song!: 101 Common Mistakes to Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success - Brian Oliver 

This book helps songwriters recognise any weaknesses in their songs so that they can re-work them, make them stronger, and hopefully achieve the breakthrough that they’re seeking.  

Brian Oliver is an experienced music publisher, songwriter and music consultant and he encourages readers to spend time polishing their songs.  

This book on songwriting is perfect for songwriters just starting out and looking to develop their own unique writing style while avoiding fundamental pitfalls in the development process. 

Six Steps to Songwriting Success 

If you’re looking to get on the charts, then we highly recommend you read 6 Steps to Songwriting Success by Jason Blume. 

4. 6 Steps to Songwriting Success – Jason Blume  

Good songwriting books 

Jason Blume has worked with artists such as Diana Ross, Britney Spears and Kenny Rogers. He draws on this experience and knowledge as a hit-making songwriter to present an understandable, step-by-step approach to achieve a chart-topping song.    

This book covers techniques such as three-step lyric writing (used by the pros), melody and demo checklists and tools for self-evaluation. It’s also a humorous read and features inspiring stories of how hit songs have been written and recorded.  

Which are the best books for songwriters to buy? 

5. The Addiction Formula – Friedemann Findeisen 

The Addiction Formula - Friedemann Findeisen 

Are you looking to hook your audience? Then you should definitely read The Addiction Formula by Friedemann Findeisen.   

Findeisen has been analysing hit songs for fifteen years. Throughout, he has discovered patterns which he has called ‘The Addiction Formula’. His technique is not confined to one particular genre of music. Its aim is to make your songs appeal to a larger audience but still allowing your creative freedom.   

The Addiction Formula includes over 317 techniques with 331 examples of how they can be applied in order to learn them easily in a fun and quick way. This book appeals to a new generation of songwriters by focusing on modern music, using only examples of songs from the past 30 years including songs by Rihanna, Drake and Maroon 5. If you’re overwhelmed with many ideas, then this is a good book to read if you’re looking to whittle them down.  

6. The Art of Songwriting: How to Create, Think and Live Like a Songwriter – Ed Bell 


This is the newest book on this list. It is written by the writer, musician and educator, Ed Bell. He has written songs for theatre and film, and he also created The Song Foundry, which is a songwriting resource site.   

Bell explains, “What most songwriting guides won’t tell you is that success as a songwriter – however you define it – is as much about how you live your life and the way you see the world as it is about your skill with words and music.”  

The Art of Songwriting is ideal if you want a book that goes beyond songwriting as a craft. It is not just about running after that hit song, the theories and the craft. It shows you how to be creative, how to think and live like a songwriter and be resilient and innovative. Bell teaches you to embrace who you are as an artist.  


Songwriters on songwriting 

If you’re looking for a book on songwriting that is less technical and more inspirational, then look no further than Songwriters on Songwriting. 

7. Songwriters on Songwriting – Paul Zollo 

Songwriters on Songwriting - Paul Zollo 

Paul Zollo has been an editor for many magazines, including Song Talk, Performing Songwriter and American Songwriter. His book is full of funny anecdotes and advice from the greatest songwriters of our time, such as Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Alanis Morissette, Lenny Kravitz and Lou Reed. 

The underlying message throughout the book and its interviews are that all songwriters, regardless of genre or generation, are united by the action of combining words and music to make songs. Read it cover-to-cover or dip in and out of it.  

8. More Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo 

More Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo 

Published 25 years after Songwriters on Songwriting, this book contains interviews with James Taylor, Aimee Mann, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson and many more music legends. Once again crossing genres to cover the breadth of popular music over the past decade and a half, this much-anticipated follow-up offers a rare look inside the music industry. It’s a sequel worth buying and a great additional resource for songwriters. 

Songwriting journal inspiration 

It’s one thing to write a hit song using all of the tools and techniques – the hard part is staying motivated and retaining that creative flow. If you’re struggling to feel inspired, or are in a bit of a slump, then this is the perfect book for you.  

9. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert    


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear focuses on conquering obstacles that get in the way of creativity, such as self-doubt and constantly striving for perfectionism. It’s essentially a self-help book with instructions on how to live a creative life, be mindful and passionate.   

Bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert asserts that in order to be creative, you must be courageous and fearless in the face of criticism and rejection. She asks: “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”   

This book teaches you to care less about what other people think, and more about what’s important to you. It’s about not needing validation to do what you love, and measuring your self-worth by how dedicated you are to your craft, rather than your successes or failures.   

10. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – Steven Pressfield   

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles – Steven Pressfield    

If you’re guilty of procrastination, then The War of Art is the book will help you get on track. 

Written by bestselling author Steven Pressfield, this is another self-help book designed to break through those creative roadblocks.  

The book highlights the forms of resistance faced by artists, entrepreneurs and athletes who are trying to break through barriers. 

Lyric books – the craft of lyric writing  

11. The Songwriters Idea Book – Sheila Davis   

The Songwriters Idea Book - Sheila Davis   

Author of the Craft of Lyric Writing and Successful Lyric Writing, lyricist Sheila Davis brings us The Songwriters Idea Book, a perfect read if you want to better your craft.  

In her book, Davis takes you through ‘40 strategies to excite your imagination, help you design distinctive songs and keep your creative flow’. 

This is a really great book for generating ideas and discovering new things in your own songwriting. You also get to understand your personality type from your strengths to temperament, and how to break out of your usual method of approaching lyric writing.   

It is broken down into nine easy to read chapters including topic strategies, such as beginning with a title first, and examples to illustrate these devices.    


12 Writing Better Lyrics – Pat Pattison   

Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison is one of the best reads out there for improving your song lyrics. Pat Pattison is a professor, author and songwriter who teaches at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. If you want to get the same mentoring given to famous singer-songwriters such as John Mayer, then give this a read. 

Pattison’s book has been a staple for songwriters for over two decades, since its release in 1996. The revised and updated second edition was published in 2009.  Writing Better Lyrics is ideal for both new and experienced songwriters. It covers techniques such as sensory writing, how to avoid clichés and ways to use repetition in a beneficial way.  

A very useful technique from this book is ‘Objective Writing’. You pick an object and use your senses to write about it. These words then become the building blocks to your song. This technique is all about showing imagery and emotion, rather than just simply telling, allowing your audience to better connect with your songs. 

This simple exercise only takes ten minutes and is something that you can do daily as a commitment to your songwriting 

Songwriting without boundaries: lyric writing exercises for finding your voice 

Here’s another great read by singer-songwriter Pat Pattison. 

13. Songwriting Without Boundaries: Lyric Writing Exercises for Finding Your Voice – Pat Pattison   

Songwriting without boundaries: lyric writing exercises for finding your voice 

Divided into four sections, the book is a collection of sensory fourteen-day writing challenges. These challenges include timed exercises and lots of examples from other songwriters. This unique collection of more than 150 sense-bound prompts will help you develop the skills you need to tap into your senses and inject your writing with vivid details.  

These books all bring something different in terms of songwriting – from practical step-by-step instructions and advice from famous and respected songwriters to the pitfalls you should try to avoid. We’ve listed a selection of what we believe to be the best songwriting books that are well worth a read, no matter where you are right now in your songwriting career. 

Related Questions 

  • How do you break a songwriter block? 

Freewriting exercises are some of the best ways to break a creative block of any kind. It’s a good practice to get into to keep your imagination flowing and can help reduce stress and increase concentration. 

  • How can I write a good song? 

These books will give you the foundations, or if you’re not a reader, you can check out many of the ‘how to’ guides on Youtube. Or take a look at our articles packed with advice on everything from structure to winning formulas.  

Are there any must-read books that you’ve read that aren’t on this list? What do you think are the best songwriting books? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.