In celebration of my new (and first!) copywriting book, The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Wildly Effective Copy, I’m giving a nod to some of the copywriting books that you should DEFINITELY have in your toolbox.
If there’s one thing the best copywriters have in common (besides an obsession with persuasion and words), it’s reading.
If you’re a new copywriter and just kicking off this new journey, one of the best things you can do to start developing your copywriting skills is ready copywriting books––and as many as you can.
More reading means better writing. And learning directly from copywriters who are willing to share their perspectives is one of the best ways to go about gaining the knowledge and skills you need to thrive as a pro copywriter.
Keep Your Copywriter’s Toolbox FULL
Every single copywriter ON EARTH started with the basics, and every copy campaign has the basics baked in. How to catch your audience’s attention, how to keep it, how to immerse them in a story, how to make the story about your audience, and how to compel them to purchase are all basic copywriting skills.
SO many of these skills are taught in copywriting books.
And I’m going to give you a list of my favorite copywriting books of yesterday and today.
4 of History’s Best Copywriting Books: The Classics
These books are on the shelf (or at least should be) of every great copywriter. Are they on yours?
Scientific Advertising: Claude Hopkins
Written nearly 100 years ago, Scientific Advertising has definitely stood the test of time. Prying deep into human psychology, Claude Hopkins’ classic copywriting book gives you insight into how we respond emotionally and logically to advertising.
Although some of the cultural aspects of this book are a bit outdated, Scientific Advertising was groundbreaking in its time, and the core methodology still stands.
In fact, Joe Sugarman himself said no one should move forward without having read the book seven times.
Breakthrough Advertising: Eugene Schwartz
Ok, if I told you I DIDN’T have a pillow with a screen printed image of Eugene Schwartz on one side and his most famous quote on the other, I’d be lying to you (seriously, it’s one of my most prized possessions. I received it as part of a Secret Santa gift in a copywriter’s group I’m in, and I still don’t know who sent it!)
One of the world’s most loved classic copywriting books, Eugene Schwartz’ Breakthrough Advertising, is also one of the most expensive––IF you can get your hands on one.
Schwartz’ coveted book goes deep. If you want to absorb nearly everything you’d ever possibly need to know to write throat-grabbing, world-changing direct response copy, this book will take you to CHURCH.
The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert
If you ever come across a list of classic copywriting books and it doesn’t include The Boron Letters, throw the whole damn list away.
Gary Halbert is arguably one of the world’s most successful copywriters, having written more multi-million dollar generating campaigns than any other copywriter in history.
His no-bullshit, sit-you-down-and-suck-you-in methods push readers to gulp down every single word.
The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: Joe Sugarman
If you’ve ever studied some of the world’s most famous copywriters, you’ve definitely come across the name Joe Sugarman.
The Adweek Copywriting Handbook is, as the book’s introduction states, Sugarman’s legacy in print. Sugarman explains how copywriting works to persuade even the most casual audience to purchase and turn them into raving fans.
Plus, this book reminded me of what “Madmen” would be like in real life. So, if that’s your jam, this book will be, too.
3 Copywriting Books for the Modern Copywriter
Copywriting Secrets: Jim Edwards
I don’t know what proverbial rock I’ve been living under, but I only recently became familiar with Copywriting Secrets, which shows you how to put the words together that are going to make you more sales TODAY.
And, I loved this book so much that I wasn’t sure whether or not to put this book in the “modern” section of this post or the “classic” section, because although his methods involve a lot more digital technology than other “classic” copywriting books, I’m of the opinion that this book WILL be a classic.
And if you want to see an example of Jim Edwards’ copy in action, just look at the book’s description on Amazon. This guy is gonna teach you how to sell ANYTHING and sell it right now.
How to Write Seductive Web Copy, Henneke Duistermaat
In How to Write Seductive Web Copy, Duistermaat is an extremely thorough, no-BS guide to writing web copy. If you’re a modern copywriter, there’s about a 99.9% chance you’re going to be writing for the internet. Unless you’re that .01%, you need this book.
Everybody Writes: Ann Handley
Ok, so technically this is a book about writing content, but Everybody Writes is the modern marketer’s guide to writing content that builds the know, like, and trust that’s completely necessary for building rapport with an internet audience.
Plus, any book that focuses on the human aspect of a brand and relatability automatically gets a thumbs up from me.
2 Marketing Books You Can’t Skip
This is Marketing: Seth Godin
Pretty much anyone in marketing has heard of Seth Godin, but if you haven’t read This is Marketing, you’re missing out on some game-changing information. Godin’s focus on emotional connection and empathizing to build rapport and solve your customer’s problem is something that’s key to your success as a copywriter.
One of the first questions new copywriters ask is what books they should start with. I recommend this book even before I recommend copywriting books, because the fundamental marketing psychology covered in This is Marketing are make-or-break when it comes to writing words that make moves.
Building Distinctive Brand Assets: Jenni Romaniuk
If you’re a copywriter, you need to understand branding. And I mean more than just logos. You need to really “get it” when it comes to brand identity, metrics, and management. Copy is a major part of branding, and if you want to be a successful copywriter, branding is something you need to make sure you’re intimately familiar with.
And an Additional Nod…The #1 Best Book for Writers of All Kinds
Out of all of the books I’ve ever read, only one book has had me actually laughing out loud, with big, real tears rolling down my face. Stephen King’s On Writing.
And let me tell you this:
I am NOT a Stephen King fan. I don’t like scary stories. I don’t read his novels.
But his memoir is one of the best books I’ve ever read in the entirety of my 30+ years on this planet.
A mixture of prescriptive writing explanations and storytelling, On Writing is one of the best books for writers of every kind.
Learn From the Pros
If you’re looking for ways to get a jumpstart on your new career as a copywriter, you can never arm yourself with too much knowledge.
From copywriting courses to copywriting tools to copywriting books, soak up every bit of information you can.
The more you learn about copywriting, from both the greats of yesterday and the modern digital copywriters of today, the better you’ll become and the more successful you’ll be.