The 30 Best Copywriting Books You Can Read In 2020
The most prolific writers are usually the most prolific readers, and that’s why virtually every copywriter you’ll ever meet will be able to give you their personal selection of the best copywriting books you can read.
I hate ALL business books with the fierce passion of a thousand suns.
And this is why I’m uniquely and counter-intuitively qualified to give you my curated selection of the best copywriting books you can read through this absolute clusterfuck of a year.
Rather than giving you an arbitrary list of the books that just happened to resonate with me, be recommended to me, or show up on my Twitter feed that one time, I went out and did the research to find which books were making a difference for real copywriters and why.
So if you are looking for a real list of beneficial copywriting books rather than yet another lazy roundup of Amazon bestsellers, you’ll be glad you found this list.
The Best Copywriting Books In 5 Categories
I’ve organized this list into the following five categories (click icons to navigate):
Disclosure: Most of these books include affiliate links, and I stand to earn upwards of 50 cents per month from this blog post. If you don’t like that, take it up with my cold, hard cash (or just Google the title to rip that 5 cents from my cold, dead hands).
Here’s A FREE Copywriting Book BTW
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Old School Classics Every Copywriter Should Read
A lot has changed since Don Draper’s era of advertising, most notably including the methods we use to get in front of our desired audiences. On the other hand, the fundamentals of human behavior and the copywriting designed to influence that behavior have stayed more or less the same.
More importantly, legend has it that if you include a list of business books without mentioning David Ogilvy or Gary Halbert, the ghosts of gurus past, present, and future will appear and begin fighting aggressively about who has read through The Boron Letters the most times.
That’s not a risk I’m prepared to take, so here are the old school classics I’m contractually obligated to include in order to be a real boy copywriter.
If you want to sound smart in a client meeting, cigar lounge, Facebook live roundtable, or MLM sales party, just say “David Ogilvy”. In the history of the internet, no name has been better leveraged to sell shitty get rich quick schemes than that of The Father of Advertising himself.
And there’s a good reason for this. The guy knew his shit. He built an agency empire the likes of which…. the world has never seen the likes of which. Most importantly, the guy looks like a baller on the cover with his tailored suit, classy lung cancer accessory and slicked back hair.
In this copywriting classic, Ogilvy covers all the fundamentals behind writing advertising that sells, including market research, positioning, and crafting impactful copy that makes a reader stop in their tracks. It’s got practical tips and great examples. Go read it.
“The book is laden with time-tested ads that work, and some that clearly don’t. This is like a 200 page swipe file of some of the greatest ads ever. If marketing or copywriting is calling your name, read this book.” – Monty Rainey, Amazon customer
If you didn’t immediately get the joke, take a second and do so now.
Award-winning copywriter Luke Sullivan spent three decades developing campaigns for the likes of Miller Lite and Time Magazine. He distills all that knowledge into a practical guide on making ads, including tactics and examples of great (and not so great) advertising.
This classic is perfect for new and intermediate copywriters who want to learn both copywriting and tips for getting work. Be sure to pick up the fifth edition with additions from Edward Boche, which helps bridge the application gap between digital, social and traditional media.
“I didn’t think this classic book on how to concept, create and execute advertising could get any better. What Edward Boches added to Sullivan’s brilliantly thought out how-to was something I thought would be almost impossible: to guide, illuminate and understand today’s incredibly complex and ever changing digital world and capture it between the covers of a book. I would recommend this for anyone wanting to enter the field of advertising and marketing. I would especially recommend it for anyone who’s been in the field for years and wants to catch up.” – Helayne Spivak, Amazon customer
Here’s another book that should be in literally every copywriter’s collection. Tested Advertising Methods is about exactly what the name suggests: proven strategies to sell more. John Caples, a literal advertising legend, was literally obsessed with split-testing, which means every insight in this book was vetted and tested before being featured.
This book is old — I mean, really old – so old that David Ogilvy (yes THAT David Ogilvy) literally wrote the forward. But as I mentioned in the intro to this category, timeless tips have no age… but this book does. It’s old. Literally old.
But well worth the read, especially if you’re in direct response copywriting or work with paid advertising campaigns. I hear Chapter 5 is literally the best.
“Chapter 5 is worth the cost of the book…You will find five out of ten of the ads use one of his headline techniques. Why? Because they still work today. Caples was one of the first advertising professionals to really test which ads worked. His methods outlined in this book make perfect sense even today.” – John Bagwell, Marketing Resource Blog
Joseph Sugarman once sold a used plane, valued at $190,000, for $240,000 using one magazine ad. If that doesn’t impress you… well, same here… but believe me, it’s a big fucking deal!
The Adweek Copywriting Handbook is based on a $2,000 course Sugarman taught back in the ’70s (you might be interested to note that this fact makes him the godfather of the $2,000 course price point). The best part about this book is that it truly is a handbook. It walks you step-by-step through the copywriting process, and explains the emotional triggers and elements that make up killer copy.
If you’re a copywriter who struggles with writing sales-y copy, this book breaks it down with a methodical approach.
“Sales…has always been my weak point. I couldn’t sell pocket warmers to Eskimos…However, I recently stumbled across a book that had a profound effect on me. In the first five chapters, something just gelled in my mind. I was suddenly flooded with ideas, and excited about possibilities, the way only a handful of books have done before.” – Jeremy Menefee, Amazon customer
The title of this book sums it up pretty perfectly. It’s the OG copywriting handbook.
Within its 400+ pages, Robert Bly dives into every conceivable copywriting techniques, and with a successful freelance career (back when freelancing wasn’t really a thing) and more than 60 books to his name, Robert Bly knows his shit.
This one’s great for beginners or marketing generalists who want to understand the sales techniques used in copywriting, and it’s been updated to provide further application to modern copywriting applications (ex. email, landing pages, etc.).
“Bly does exactly what he recommends – deliver the facts. I think I had to pause every other sentence just to think for a second and actually process the information. This is a textbook and therefore takes a lot of concentration. The information is excellent…For sales copywriting the book is great, however for branding it lacks.” – Alix, GoodReads
Legend has it you can replace your 10,000 hours of copywriting practice by simply reading The Boron Letters 100 times. The trick is that you need to read them slowly, taking the same amount of time it would take you to write 10,000 hours worth of copy (whatever that number is).
Unlike the other books on this list, The Boron Letters isn’t really a book. It’s a collection of letters from Gary C. Halbert (a.k.a. the Greatest Copywriter Who Ever Lived) to his son, Bond.
In these letters, Gary shares his insider tips on how to convince and convert buyers using copy, and he sprinkles in a few pieces of life advice along the way. Bond also throws in his two cents underneath each letter to link the principles to modern advertising.
The Boron Letters is a cult classic that goes beyond just copywriting. If you want insights on copywriting, advertising, persuasion, business, and life – and more importantly, if you want to be able to skip writing altogether and just read your way to making millions as a copywriter – this “book” is for you.
“I say it is as much about marketing as life lessons because… well… it is. The book shares insights on success, being your best, how not to get taken advantage of, how to make better decisions, friends to keep, and dead weight people to throw away…I’ve recommended this book to all my friends regardless of occupation.” – Aaron Frankel, Amazon customer
Modern Copywriting Books That Are Relevant Today
The oft misunderstood truth about copywriting and marketing in general is that it’s an experiment.
There’s no such thing as something that works in marketing. There are only things that are likely to work or things that are working right now.
So after you’ve finished mastering the timeless copywriting principles (presumably by finishing your tenth read-through of Ogilvy On Advertising), you’ll benefit most from reading the commentary of people who are on the front lines RIGHT NOW running experiments and seeing firsthand what is working for real businesses… and what isn’t.
Content creation is pretty much universal these days. If you have a website or a social media account, you’re writing copy in some way, shape or form. In Everybody Writes, Ann Handley — the brilliant marketer behind MarketingProfs — covers a ton of tips to create awesome content everywhere, from LinkedIn and Facebook to email marketing and online copy.
As the title suggests, this isn’t just for copywriters and aspiring copywriters. It’s for anyone that writes (in other words: you). This is a book for any small business owner, entrepreneur and marketer who wants to sharpen their writing craft.
“After perusing this list, it’s fair to say that “Everybody Writes” is a different how-to guide. And it’s different, because it’s not a step-by-step prescription for the reader (or fellow writer) to get the job done. Books like this are hard to nail down in a review, because there’s no major aha moment, because it was chock-full of too many to count. As I read, orange highlighter in hand, I can’t tell you how many times I’d say, “Oh, this is good. I need to remember this” or laugh at her penchant for humor throughout a book where you least expect it.” – Lauren Rebecca
After 15 years of marketing for companies like Philips Electronics and Saint-Gobain, Henneke Duistermaat condensed her insights into a straightforward, easy-to-read book that helps people convert more visitors into customers.
In How to Write Seductive Web Copy, Henneke covers a six-step process for writing persuasive copy, along with common copy mistakes, tips for writing for ‘scanners’ and a 26-step editing checklist. Each chapter also comes with worksheets and examples to help you practice what you’ve just learned.
If you’re writing landing page copy and learn best with examples and exercises, this is a must-read.
“This book is for those of us that want to improve our website copy but don’t have time to take a lengthy course in copywriting. While it’s obvious that the author is just skimming the surface of persuasive copy, they share enough to help you improve the way you present your business, product, or services online.” – Tina Hilton, GoodReads
As the editor of AdAge’s Creativity Magazine, Teressa Iezzi has seen her fair share of impactful copywriting campaigns. This book combines old school tips with contemporary copywriting wisdom, as well as hyper-relevant case studies on brands that killed it in the new media landscape (ex. Pepsi’s Refresh Challenge and Burger King’s Subservient Chicken ad).
One awesome thing about The Idea Writers is that it isn’t just filled with insights from the author. Teressa Iezzi includes tidbits of wisdom from over 50 copywriters and marketers (including some of those mentioned earlier). This book is perfect for more seasoned content managers or traditional marketers looking to understand how advertising has evolved over the decades.
“Trends away from traditional ideas about what advertising was and was about and what it would be in the future. Trends that have only grown stronger today – which is why The Idea Writers is absolutely required reading by anyone in or around advertising.” – The Agency Review
Viral content doesn’t happen by accident, and what makes Daniel Daines-Hutt’s work so impressive is less his viral wins, including one post that generated $3 million in client requests, and more his understanding of what makes content consistently successful.
Content Marketing For Traffic And Sales combines his background in direct-response marketing with his ongoing frontline experimentation to deliver the best, most practical content marketing book you’ll find online.
Here’s what happened to my email signup numbers after implementing some of Daniel’s advice.
If you found this blog post fast enough, it might even still be free on Kindle.
“This approach is different, very calculated and focused to get the right people in the right part of the cycle to get into your funnel. This is a brilliant method of using paid traffic to get eyeballs on your content that will then opt-in for a specific offer of more content and then you put them on a drip to convert them. It’s a formula that works. I use this method with consulting clients too now and they think I’m a genius.” – Stuart Brent, Amazon customer
Another great resource by Ann Handley, Content Rules covers everything you need to know about creating impactful digital content, from building out your brand voice to maximising your reach across social.
If you’ve already read Everybody Writes, you’re just starting out as a copywriter (or in marketing) or you want a dedicated resource for content marketing, this contains all the basics you need to get started.
“This book blew my mind. For one, I had not yet made the connection between social media and content marketing – I was still treating them as two separate entities. Reading this book was for me the moment the clouds parted and the angels sang – it was then that I understood social media is impotent without content marketing.” – Patricia Redsicker, Content Marketing Institute
If you’ve laughed even once while reading this post, you’ll love From Blag to Blog by Jo Watson.
If you haven’t laughed at all, you’ll still love it, because Jo is infinitely more humorous and charming than I am… and I have a VERY high opinion of myself.
Jo’s writing style is the embodiment of “fuck it, let’s have fun while we learn.” So if you want to learn how to write blog posts that people actually enjoy reading, and you want to actually enjoy reading while you learn about writing blogs that people actually enjoy reading, then you should definitely get this book.
“As I read through each of the concepts and ideas, I saw that you were giving lots of practical advice and developing all the ideas in really useful ways. I also LOVE the way you gave links to the examples of your own blogs so that we can see each concept in action (I love reading your blogs). I’ve already gone on to publish a blog that came from your ‘Hot Topics’ tips.” – Magic Frank, Magical Entertainer
Sometimes a website is really bad and needs a lot of work. Sometimes a website is actually pretty good but a few simple things are holding it back.
Gill Andrews has helped thousands of businesses improve their website’s peformance, and whether you are working on an absolutely dumpster fire of a website or a solid site that just needs a few tweaks, her book Making Your Website Work has the tips you need.
If you want to get more out of your website, deliver real results for your clients, or discover new ways to improve website copy and design that you’ve never thought of before, Making Your Website Work is a must-read.
“Small gems of ideas that will help web developers who are more technical and need to become more conversion/UX oriented like myself. I’m glad she took the time to put it all together in one easy way to refer to. I followed a few ideas in the book to develop a website project and was able to improve on bounce rates for the website overall.” – Adriana Thieme, Amazon customer
Learning how to write a headline is a critical skill for every copywriter. It’s your first impression, and it’s absolutely essential that you make it count.
This guide to headline writing from Copyblogger is one of the first resources I turned to early in my career, and it’s been a consistent favorite of mine and many of my students over the years.
Plus you can get it free via the provided link, so that’s pretty cool… pretty, pretty cool.
“This book aims to go further than providing a swipe file of generic headlines and the underlying formulas. It wants to explain why the headlines work…This book is short, easy to read and straightforward. It’s a good read for anyone curious about headlines.” – Paul Simister, Amazon customer
Direct-marketing expert Mike Palmer and copywriter Michael Masterson bring their skills together to create a methodical guide for turning average copy into sales copy that sells. A short but sweet read, this book takes you through the process of reviewing and improving your copy, by putting you in the shoes of the reader.
Copy Logic! is an awesome resource if you regularly work with other copywriters and want to turn your copy review process into a lean, mean, efficient machine… painted green, immaculately clean, and approved by the dean.
“Anyone who supervises copywriters should read this…This is a totally efficient, amazing way to give feedback to copywriters that actually improves their work – and it only takes 30 minutes instead of hours/days of back and forth drafts. Even if you can execute the entire process as described there is a lot to take away about developing copywriter talent.” – Jamie from The Doer Co, Goodreads
Copywriting Books Steeped In Behavioral Psychology
Copywriting is a mixture of science and art… on a good day. Sometimes it’s more like handing an elephant a pail (NEVER forgo the opportunity to use the word “pail”) of paint and watching him fling it at a wall. Oh wait, I already said art.
The truth is you don’t actually need the art… part. The art is the last 10% of your mastery that will make you 300% more popular and 3% more effective.
90% of copywriting (also NEVER forgo the opportunity to use arbitrarily generated numbers as hard absolutes) comes down to sciences. It’s a matter of understanding how people operate, hypothesizing what they want, connecting what they want to what you want, and then adjusting until you get the desired results.
Here are a selection of great books that are steeped in the science of behavioral psychology and will help you understand how people operate.
I mean, the name really says it all. Scientific Advertising may have been written in the 1920s, but the insights into consumer behaviour are still relevant today. This snappy book contains a variety of tried-and-tested advertising techniques to market your product more effectively using copy.
Although he’s not as infamous as Ogilvy, you absolutely should take copywriting advice from Claude C. Hopkins. Why? He’s often credited as the mastermind behind the popularity of toothbrushing, thanks to his campaign with Pepsodent. If you’re starting out, this will help you understand the core principles behind making sales and converting your customers into advocates.
“Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life.” – David Ogilvy
Don’t judge this book by its cover. Just don’t. It looks like an infomercial, but its five-star Amazon rating isn’t a coincidence.
In Cashvertising, consultant and trainer Drew Whitman breaks down the psychology behind customer behaviours. He goes beyond explaining copywriting principles and delves into the hardwired instincts that cause people to convert.
This one’s a super easy read, and every copywriter needs this on their shelf. Trust the Amazon reviews. Go on. Do it.
“CA$HVERTISING is a goldmine. I’m in the middle of studying (yes studying) that book…Yes these techniques work 100%. We see these as Clickbait titles but that’s because we’re most likely in sales/marketing. The average consumer? Not. Why do you think As seen on TV and HSN and QVC still work? Urgency, scarcity, testimonials, social proof, bonuses, all still work and have since the Ogilvy days.” – brandon0529, Reddit user
A lot of storytellers say that great writing “just comes to them”.
Sure, some people are born with that innate skill. But the art of hooking readers in and keeping them reading? It can absolutely be learned. That’s what former publisher and writing consultant Lisa Cron breaks down in this book.
Wired for Story looks at the neuroscience behind the brain’s experience of reading, and translates this into useful tips for writing compelling copy. It’s a solid read for copywriters, but awesome if you’re just a storyteller who wants to improve your craft.
“Like others, I thoroughly enjoyed the way Cron used popular movies (ie Die Hard, Gone With the Wind, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), books and otherwise to express her points. She has fantastic insights and brings a fresh perspective to the art of writing by tying into how it relates to the brain, especially the brain of the reader, and using how the brain works to write a better story. Truly a good read filled with many, “that’s clever,” “I didn’t know that,” “what a great way to word it,” and “I never thought of it like that,” moments for me.” – Aubrey, Goodreads
Some ideas are just “sticky”. They weasel their way into your brain like the One Ring, and stay there. You can never really shake it.
The Heath brothers are crazy good at understanding the psychology behind business — Chip is a professor at Stanford and Dan is a Senior Fellow at Duke. In this book, they explore the different theories behind effective communication, as well as principles to make ideas “stickier” (like creating curiosity gaps).
This one isn’t just for copywriters. It’s for any marketers, entrepreneurs or business owners who want to create Inception-like campaigns that resonate.
“When I finished this book, I wondered what it had taught me. It has taught me a simple thing about communication: keep it simple. And an unexpected thing: that, to be clever, you have to avoid being complex. And a statistical thing: forget about numbers. And an emotional thing: he who spins, wins, which is sad. And which is why it’s worth reading this book. In the right hands, it will help.” – William Leith, The Guardian
The Heath brothers have graced this list again. The Power of Moments is all about the ingredients that go into a memorable and meaningful experience. To translate it into a buzzword: it’s about engagement.
Copy has the power to create those meaningful moments — just think about a life-changing book you read, or a blog post that changed your behaviour.
Pick up this book. It’ll transform your copywriting mindset from writing words to engineering experiences.
“…should be required reading for marketers who participate in the Subscription Economy…The Power of Moments should inspire you to look at ordinary transactions, customer transitions, and even service failures as opportunities to add lasting value to the customer relationship.” – Anne Janzer
Marketing Books That Will Improve Your Copywriting
Copywriting is never read in isolation. It’s always part of a larger experience, every part of which affects the performance of the copy itself. The better you understand the broader puzzle and how your copywriting fits into it – or in other words, the better you understand marketing – the better your copywriting will be.
The following books do a great job of helping you understand various aspects of marketing. Some offer a practical look at specific types of marketing. Some offer a more conceptual look at important marketing concepts.
All of them consitute the cream at the top of an incredibly underwhelming book genre.
Advertising is all about influencing other peoples’ behaviour. If you understand the top-level principles behind making people convert, it’s easier to create copy that plays into those principles.
In The Advertising Effect, Adam Ferrier — psychologist and the founder of Australian marketing agency Naked Communications — explores ten advertising techniques used by the world’s biggest brands and how they work. It’s a handy read for anyone, but it’s a must-have if you’re working in an agency with other creatives.
“The author does a great job of translating a lot of neuroscience and psychology literature into frameworks that can be applied immediately to your business. Each chapter also has a nice summary that recaps key learning points. Definitely a must buy for any marketer.” – Omar M. Khateeb, Goodreads
Remember that TED Talk? The one that everyone shared with you a thousand times that one year? That one that Simon Sinek has since turned into an entire career platform and hopelessly tunnel visioned into all manner of absurdities?
Yeah, well it’s a great fucking TED Talk, and it will change the way you look at marketing by inspiring you to look deeper into the “why” behind customer and company decision making.
This book, like virtually every business book, takes the core concept of the video and expands it to 40,000 word. Is that necessary? You tell me. If you like the video but never succumbed to the peer pressure of watching it back in 2014, congratulations. Now, if you prefer video, go watch the fucking video. If you prefer books, get the damn book.
“For the most part, I was excited to read this book. It presents innovative ideas that inspired me to think deeply about what I’m doing and why. After a while, though, I grew restive with the constant focus on Apple and a few other companies. And the message about the need to focus on “why,” albeit fascinating, ultimately became redundant…Either way, it’s worth giving this book a read. Even if you don’t make it to the end, I’m convinced that you will be inspired to think differently about what you do.” – Diane Byington, TruScore
Before I endorse a Gary V book, it should be noted that I will automatically unfollow you on LinkedIn if your decision to like a Gary V post causes it to show up in my feed.
That said, Gary V is unquestionably the most prolific social media poster of our generation. He does it across every goddamn channel in existence, and he has leveraged it to achieve significant financial success. I can’t think of a better person to motivate you into consistently post on Linked, a habit which will absolutely impact your career in numerous positive ways.
Additionally, Gary V has a great feel for the cadence and rhythm that results in social media traction, and it’s illustrated incredibly well by the title of this book: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. Social media traction is a bit of a science and a bit of an art, and understanding what you are aiming for from the beginning of your journey will help you grow faster than you would otherwise.
So that said, if you don’t really know anything about social media and you are looking for some initial advice from someone obscenely qualified to deliver it, grab this book from Gary V.
“Gary’s latest book does a great job of presenting how to make social media updates interesting. His advice on community management, while martial in tone, is right in the sense that you need to nurture before you ask. More experienced social media marketers may find this to be pedestrian, but it never hurts to polish up.” – Geoff Livingston, Goodreads
Every copywriter today needs to understand inbound marketing. If you don’t, you will end up guessing in a lot of situations, the value you provide to your clients will be limited, and your earning potential will be a fraction of what it could be.
Inbound marketing is a big part of why we have jobs, and Marcus does a great job of explaining it in layman’s terms.
Whether you feel like you are still trying to grasp the essence of inbound marketing yourself, or you have a few clients who you think could use the primer, this is a great book to pick up.
“I’m a marketing agency owner and read a lot of books about Marketing and Sales. They Ask You Answer is the best thing I’ve read on the topics of content and inbound marketing. In about four or five waves, I’ve bought over 60 copies of this book over the past few months and have been sending them to clients and prospective customers simply because no one has done a better job than Marcus at explaining content and inbound marketing in a way that the average person can grasp. Though the personal success story Marcus tells about saving his dying pool business (and then proceeding to build a giant in that space) is a B2C example, the core strategies and tactics he illustrates are absolutely what B2B companies need to be doing NOW. Marcus takes the marketing concepts that he illustrates in Part 1 of the book and then applies them to Sales and even other parts of an organization in a way that’s both easily digestible and actionable. They Ask You Answer should be required reading for any modern CMO, Marketing Director or VP of Sales.” – Joe Sullivan, Amazon customer
The man behind Squidoo (remember that?!) and one of today’s most influential marketers, Seth Godin’s brain is filled with insanely useful advice on storytelling, marketing and communications. This is Marketing takes all of his godly wisdom and condenses it into one useful, if sometimes idealistic, book that covers how to connect with customers in the digital world.
“If you’re still not convinced this book is for you, all I can say is I genuinely believe this is a very ‘now’ book for a time when marketing is changing as much as it ever has…if there is a weak point to this book, maybe it’s that sometimes, maybe even often, as marketers we don’t get a say in what we’re selling… But the ideas behind it still apply to us all.” – Sputnik Sputnik, Goodreads
Popular Resources On The Subject Of Writing Stuff
This last category is a bit of a hodgepodge. I told you at the beginning that I went looking for books that real copywriters found helpful, and while the following books don’t fit neatly in any of our previous categories, they are mentioned so frequently and positively by writers that it would be decidedly irresponsible for me not to include them on this list.
When writers are citing the tools that helped them learn to write, these are the books that show up the most frequently.
So if you are interested in exploring a few handy resources that are extremely popular among your fellow writers, this is the category for you.
I mean, the title says “read me” so you should probably do just that. In this book, copywriter Roger Horberry and Gyles Lingwood, the Director of Education for the College of Arts, deliver exactly what the title promises: 10 useful tools and exercises to help you write more persuasive copy.
Read Me is perfect if you’re just starting your writing career, and want to know the basics behind crafting great messages using words.
“Depending on where you are in your career, you’ll be aware of much of what you’re being taught. But it doesn’t matter. It’s presented in a thought provoking way, it’s packed with additional insights, and it’s full of brilliant examples. In fact, it’s worth the purchase just to kick-start your swipe file of great advertising ideas.” – Andy, Goodreads
Copywriting books are, unsurprisingly, mostly packed to the brim with words. That’s why I love the D&AD Copy Book: it’s a ridiculously good-looking book and should be owned and displayed in its physical form.
Produced by the Global Association for Creative Advertising & Design, the D&AD Copy Book contains essays from over 53 copywriting and creative professionals around the world. Display it on your bookshelf and flick through it for inspiration, or pop it at the reception desk in your agency. Your copywriting and your table will thank you.
“This is a nice looking coffee-table-book compilation, not so much a handbook…Although, not necessarily a must-have – it’s a book I enjoy owning, and there’s plenty of ad-filled pages to go through. Lots of great stuff of course, just not something you read in one go.” – J. Carl, Amazon customer
So why am I recommending it?
I’ve been training writers for several years now, and the number one thing that holds people back is misconceptions about how writing works or how great writers go about writing.
Simply put, people think that great writing is a lot more complex or mystical than it actually is.
As a ludicrously successful author who scoffs at structure and writes more off of impulse and intuition than the vast majority of successful writers, nobody on Earth is more qualified than Stephen King to convince you that writing is as simple as sitting down and writing.
Part memoir, part how-to book, On Writing is a fascinating read. The first part of the book is what King calls his C.V. – he gives the reader scenes from his life that shaped him into the writer he is. The middle part of the book is a guide to writing. King draws from his experience as both writer and reader to give advice on writing. The last section of the book is a bit of memoir mixed with how-to, real life writing, what writing looks like when putting words on the page is tough. I loved this book and found it both inspiring and helpful. All writers and aspiring writers should read this book, even if you aren’t an aspiring fiction writer (although the book is geared to those who, like King, write fiction). – A. Smith, Amazon customer
Preemptively one-upping Stephen King from 24 years in the past, “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser could be more appropriately titled “Nonfiction 101: Useful As Hell”.
It’s a strikingly practical guide to writing nonfiction, and it’s applicable to pretty much every genre and nonfiction discipline (copywriting included). It’s going to teach you about brevity, simplicity, trusting yourself, the benefits of writing in first-person, the importance of humor and surprise, and a whole lot more.
If you feel like you need further help with the actual mechanics of writing, this should probably be your first purchase on this list.
“On Writing Well is my favorite book on writing out there. It was the first educational book through my entire schooling career that I actually finished because of intrigue and not force. Good to know Zinsser doesn’t give up so easily. What a master.” – brevisa, Reddit user
Believe it or not, there is a rhythm to writing, and it matters… a lot.
In fact, it’s a key part of engaging copy, and if you wish to discover it, look no further than poetry.
While this book by Stephen Fry won’t teach you to sell, it will teach you about pace and rythm, which are important as well.
And if you’re sitting here thinking you’re not into that stuff, just remember it’s written by Stephen Fry.
That should be reason enough.
“If you want something a little outside the box try [this book]…I’m not into poetry but the exercises inside really helped me get to grips with tone and metre which are important to all copywriting.” – jacklinden, Reddit user
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