“What books would you recommend I read to get better at Copywriting?”
This is one of the most common questions I get from newbie copywriters.
And as Jack Butcher said…
“Product is the answer to frequently experienced problems, CONTENT IS THE ANSWER TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.”
I’ve decided to publish this article, to list the books I recommend for any result-driven copywriter.
They are books that you should read at least once a year.
10 Relevant books for high-performance copywriters
- The Boron letters: This is a compilation you’d hear almost every Copywriting coach/tutor talk about.
It’s a compilation of letters that Gary Halbert -one of the greatest copywriters ever- wrote.
He wrote them to his son, Bond Halbert, while he was in Boron Federal Prison in the 1980s.
And in those letters, he shared lessons he’d garnered over time, and was even learning (while in prison).
They were lessons from life; of courage, of love, and of persuasion.
2. Breakthrough advertising: I personally experienced different bouts of ecstatic understanding when I first read this book, by Eugene Schwartz.
I’d already written his copies by hand and was fascinated by them.
But it was an entirely different experience reading his book.
Gene penned decades of advertising experience in the book.
3. The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: This book by Joseph Sugarman was the first copywriting book I read, after the Boron letters.
It’s my first recommendation to anyone who wants to understand Copywriting.
Joe’s simplicity in explaining terms skyrocketed my love for Copywriting.
His simplicity rubbed off on me too.
So, read the book if you wish.
4. Scientific advertising: I’d read so many recommendations of Scientific advertising before I read it.
It met my expectations. It’s a classic published in 1923, containing advertising knowledge from back then.
But because advertising is ‘scientific’, it is measurable, and has unchanging premises.
And so this book by Claude Hopkins (the Father of advertising) is very relevant till date.
5. Tested advertising methods: One of the most staggering statements by John Caples in this book is:
“The success of an entire advertising campaign may stand or fall on what is said in the headlines.”
That is just one among the many advertising truths in Tested advertising methods.
Another solid advice is to “test” and “test” your advertising ideas because testing proves your ideas.
It’s a good recommendation, if you agree.
6. The Collier letter book: Robert Collier’s collection of letters (written in the late 1800s and early 1900s) was published in 1931.
They are letters he’d written to make sales on different projects.
In his book, he told the background story of each letter; specific reasons why some were more successful than others.
For me, reading this book encouraged me to let my creativity lose when writing, and to be brave enough to ‘test’.
7. Influence: After reading this book, my summary was, “Solid witchcraft.”
Robert Cialdini makes you feel like you’ve got a superpower, and technically, you do.
‘Influence‘ is a book that unravels the primal motivations of human beings, and how to get us to take action.
This book will make even your relationships (with others) easier.
8. Ogilvy on advertising: David Ogilvy is known as the Father of Modern advertising.
His book published in 1983 is a little “modern” compared to the other classics.
He’s popular for a quote in his book (of course, besides his exploits in advertising):
“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it creative. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.”
9. Cashvertising: This is the most contemporary of this list. Right after The Adweek Copywriting Handbook.
Cashvertising by Drew Whitman was published in 2008 (after The Adweek Copywriting handbook was published in 2006).
Both authors are alive at this point of writing.
In fact, Drew quoted my review of Cashvertising on LinkedIn!
One of the major take-aways from Drew’s book is his emphasis on Desires.
10. Everybody writes: This may not exactly fit into the list but I chose it.
That’s because I’ve seen a lot of budding copywriters fumble in the aspect of grammar and good content.
Ann Handley’s Everybody writes shaped my writing even before I delved fully into Copywriting.
Her amiable voice in her book is unmistakable. I was so thrilled by her book that I looked for her all over Social media.
Somehow I got her attention and she followed me.
I’d recommend this book for anyone who has business with writing (anything).
I hope you enjoyed this list. You could start with any of these copywriting books.
And if you have read some, you can read the others. You can also read the ones you’ve read before, again.
I love to read your comments. Tell me what books you have read in your writing (or Copywriting) journey.