Guess who’s back? Back again… Roy is back… Tell your friends!
Hey it’s Roy here, back from a very mind-clearing break over the holidays.
Things are getting back to normal now, which means it’s time for Mailbox Mondays!
Remember — YOU can have YOUR QUESTIONS answered here… Just email them to me at [email protected].
Quick note before I dive in: I’m going to experiment with tightening up these essays. Shorter. Straight to the point. More on this to come. So if this is a little shorter than normal, that’s why. Some will love the change. Others won’t. You can never please everybody. But this is what I want to do to please me right now, so I’m going to do it.
On to our topic…
What are the best books on copywriting, marketing, and advertising for a new copywriter to read?
Here’s the question…
I hope you are well. I have just recently signed up and find your emails informative.
I have just ordered a copy of your book. I look forward to receiving it and the other training material.
I am a budding copywriter and currently studying the AWAI basic copywriting course.
What other books or courses do you recommend to improve my knowledge so that I become a first class copywriter?
I also look forward to suggestions in your book or elsewhere as to the most profitable niches to get started. And how to first my first paying client.
Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
I’m not going to count my book, The Copywriter’s Guide to Getting Paid, in my top 10 list. However, if you’re looking to really make a living as a freelance copywriter, it’s a very smart investment. Particularly if building your copywriting business is one of your plans in this new year.
While the coming list is about how to get good as a copywriter, mine is — as the title promises — about how to get paid.
While most books on copywriting will spend countless pages on the art and craft, they offer coverage of the business of copywriting only as a passing detail. I did the exact opposite. I chose to put together a book that tells you little if nothing about how to write copy. But instead how to take all the knowledge and skills you pick up from all those other how-to books and turn it into real income.
Okay, on to what you came for…
My Top 10 List of the Best, Must-Read Books for Copywriters!
Before we dig in, I need to explain. This is NOT in order. Don’t just go straight to #1, decide that’s what you need to be a great copywriter, and forget the rest. (In fact, I’ve opted not to number them, for this reason.)
This is just 10 books you MUST read if you want to be a great copywriter. And they are the BEGINNING of your journey, not the end.
1% per week, folks, 1% per week. Start here, and dedicate yourself to lifelong improvement.
Also, notice most books are OLD, written before the internet, some before TV and radio were viable advertising mediums. The principles of selling and persuasion, advertising and marketing remain constant, even as their expression changes with the media. The best copywriters and marketers I know dedicate their education to a healthy blend of old and new, timeless and cutting edge.
Scientific Advertising and My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins
Required reading. Or, listening. Here’s the entire Scientific Advertising book, read by yours truly, in mp3 format.
This book lays the groundwork for your entire marketing education. Its focus on results-accountable advertising should become yours.
Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz
The thinking in this book is required if you want to connect with your prospect on a level your competitors are not, and create real breakthrough results.
Schwartz was instrumental in building some of the biggest direct marketing Titans of the second half of the 20th century, and you’re not a serious student of advertising if you don’t have this book.
My friend Brian Kurtz has republished this book and you can get it directly from him here.
Great Leads by Michael Masterson and John Forde
From inside the great Agora direct marketing empire, comes the tome on how to apply Schwartz’s most important thinking in writing your copy today.
This book takes the “spectrum of awareness” principle introduced by Schwartz and gives real, practical advice into how to turn it into copy on the page.
It’s very hard for a modern book to make its way onto my top 10 list, but this one did so without question.
Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples
Caples was the master of the split test. Not only testing, but keeping records on tests, and deducing deeper lessons from the data.
This book is a compilation of Caples’ most important lessons learned from a career testing advertisements for companies large and small.
It’s a classic for a reason.
How To Write A Good Advertisement by Victor Schwab
This is a very practical, tactical book on writing advertising. While I tend to believe that the message is far more important than how you write it, learning the ABCs of crafting solid copy is important for novice writers.
This book is exactly what it says: a short course in copywriting. And as a short course in copywriting, it rivals most entry-level copywriting e-books and other programs on the market today.
The Robert Collier Letter Book by Robert Collier
Robert Collier spent a lifetime in mail order, and this is his story, combined with many letters he wrote.
Not just an interesting tale, it’s a deep source of inspiration for some of the world’s greatest copywriters. Example: Gary Halbert’s famous dollar bill letter — pulled straight from the pages of this book. What gems will you find?
Method Marketing by Denny Hatch
I was mad when I found this book, because I came up with the title to write it myself, only to found it had already been written. I forgave Hatch when I read it though, because it’s really dang good.
This is the least well-known book on this list, but just as good as the rest. It contains the true story of almost two-dozen marketing successes, with reflection on how they succeeded by getting into the head of the target market.
The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy
A lot of people say a lot of things about Dan Kennedy. What I’ll say is that he knows what he’s talking about, and is dang good at copywriting and selling.
This book is a very simple, step-by-step manual for writing sales letters that sell. Many businesses have been built on following this book to the letter, and millions have been made. If nothing else, it provides a unique glimpse into the structure of a sales letter, and the thinking behind it.
80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall
The index of this book says copywriting is only covered on pages 61 to 64. However, Perry is one of the best copywriters alive today, even though you can’t hire him to write copy. And it’s all about his thinking.
As a copywriter, you need to know marketing. You need to understand markets, and offers, and how they combine with copy to bring you the results you want. This book sets that groundwork in a very important way.
Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got by Jay Abraham
Again, this is less about copywriting, more about thinking. But Jay Abraham’s thinking about maximization and optimization of results is so critical to my success as a copywriter and consultant that I believe this list would be incomplete without him.
This book covers 21 of Jay’s most important concepts that he’s used to generate nearly $10 billion in sales improvements for his clients and his own businesses.
There you have it!
Agree? Disagree? Have any favorites? Let me know!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets