Top 10 favorite copywriting books8 Comments · Filed on: Copywriting · Internet Marketing
What books have been the most helpful to you in copywriting? This question was recently asked by Stephanie (aka circusmama) in the copywriting forums. And holy guacamole Batman! – it’s one of those questions that just crazy-glues itself to my mind and sticks there until properly answered.
And while I know fully well that a skimpy list like this one doesn’t do justice to these great books, and I’ll probably end up making for it by reviewing each one in a separate blog post sometime later this year. So without further ado here’s the list of my top 10 favorite copywriting books (Click the title to learn more about each book):
10. On Writing – Stephen King
This book is, to say the least, a very interesting read. In the first part of the book, horror novelist Stephen King shares a good number of very personal anecdotes and life experiences. The meat of the book however, is the official “writing advice” section. Even though the advice is fairly simple and geared for beginners, writers of all levels will find good value in King’s extensive and instructive writing examples.
9. Net Words – Nick Usborne
Net Words is a true golden nugget for copywriters. This book reveals Nick’s rare strategies on how to write powerful and compelling copy for the internet by showing you how to drill deep into the minds of your readers and helping you find and develop the “voice” of your website. One of the things I like most about this book is that Mr. Usborne takes the time to give great examples of what to do and what NOT to do when writing online copy.
8. Movies in the Mind – Colleen Mariah Rae
This book is not directly related to copywriting, but to narrative and descriptive storytelling. In this book, Mrs. Rae shares an innovative collection of techniques on how to write a compelling story that pulls the reader in and doesn’t let go until the last word is read – which is a very desirable skill for any copywriter.
7. Triggers – Joe Sugarman
Mr. Sugarman is one of my favorite copywriters of all time (no wonder two of his books made it to this list). In “Triggers”, Joe shows us 30 valuable sales tools that you can instantly put to use to make your writing more persuasive. The concept of triggers is that by understanding human nature, we as copywriters can come to understand how our audience will react to certain situations or techniques.
6. Influence – Robert Cialdini
I’m a big believer in the theory that in order to become a great copywriter, you must first learn as much as you can about human nature; and this book is as good as it gets. In his book, Cialdini unveils with juicy details and plenty of examples the six principles of influence and human persuasion: Reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority and scarcity.
5. Tested Advertising Methods – John Caples
This classic book is a must-read for anyone involved in advertising, marketing or copywriting. In Tested Advertising Methods, Caples guides you step-by-step through the whole process of creating a powerful ad, from developing a good hook, to crafting a winning headline to writing a good first sentence, to creating the perfect close. What I love about this book is that the principles Caples teaches are truly timeless and never affected by ever shifting social trends or industry changes.
4. The Copywriter’s Handbook – Bob Bly
Can you really write a book that teaches someone the craft of copywriting in 350 pages? Most copywriters would consider this an impossible task, but Bob Bly pulls it of brilliantly in this great handbook. The book starts out by explaining to beginner writers that their job is to craft copy that sells, and then goes on to explain exactly how to do it. This perfectly structured book belongs in the bookshelf of anyone who aspires to become a great copywriter.
3. The Robert Collier Letter Book – Robert Collier
Robert Collier is probably the most plagiarized copywriter ever. Collier’s amazing ability to write persuasive and hypnotic sales letters has never (in my opinion) been matched. This book is a true classic and worth reading from cover to cover. It includes a collection of Robert Collier’s most profitable sales letters; but most importantly, it includes the precise instructions on how to craft compelling copy that converts prospects into buyers, how to take the guesswork out of advertising and how to keep customers satisfied and coming back for more.
2. Advertising Secrets of the Written Word – Joe Sugarman
This book has been described as “a complete direct marketing course from one of America’s top mail order entrepreneurs”. In my opinion, that hype-sounding description falls short on describing this amazing book. Page after page, Joe Sugarman takes you by the hand, details his thinking process and teaches in a very entertaining way the craft of writing record-breaking direct response copywriting. Each valuable piece of advice he offers is backed up with great examples from his days at JS&A.
1. Wizard of Ads (Trilogy) – Roy H. Williams
Controversial as it may be, I’m a huge fan of “the wizard”. With his creative and unconventional approach to advertising, Mr. Williams has made this trilogy of books my personal favorite. Drawing from fascinating anecdotes, the wizard teaches his copywriting methods through a series thought-provoking essays. It doesn’t matter if you are new to copywriting or a well-seasoned pro, you’ll find this trilogy enlightening and a most worthy addition to your bookshelf.
Did I miss any of your favorites?
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Disclosure note: Most of the links in this page lead to amazon.com using affiliate id. I did not write this list as a way to sell anything, but to honestly share my all-time favorite copywriting books – but hey, I still have to eat and buy some clothes every now and then… so if you feel like buying any of the books listed above, please do so through the links on this page.