What copywriting and selling books should you read first?

I’m going to turn this question on its head.  Answer it in a way that is probably not what you expect.  But which I believe will be best for you in the long run.

Today is Mailbox Monday.  Which is my weekly issue of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets dedicated to answer YOUR most pressing questions.  About marketing, copywriting, selling, internet business building, freelancing, and more.

Have a question?  Click here to submit it and I will answer it in an upcoming issue.

Here’s today’s question…


My question for now is, between The Ultimate Sales Machine book by Chet Holmes and Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson, which one should I start reading first? I am a newbie copywriter (you have recommended both books before).



First, let me answer this directly…

I have a queue of questions to answer in Mailbox Monday.  This question came in a little over a month ago.  In that period of time, you could’ve easily read both (or listened to both on audio book).

That would be my #1 recommendation.

It’s not really an either-or.  And when you read them back-to-back, it probably doesn’t matter much which order you read them in, either.

Both of these are near the top of their categories in terms of business books.  Chet’s book for sales, Mark’s (Michael’s) for entrepreneurial strategy.

I really consider both of them must-reads for serious students of entrepreneurship, marketing and selling.

That said…

Let’s zoom out and answer this from a broader perspective…

There are countless business books out there.  And probably hundreds of really good ones.

But the number of core principles of creating a results-driven business, or doing results-driven advertising, is not very big.

Everything else becomes a story of how one person applied those principles, versus another.

And what’s best for me won’t necessarily be best for you.

You have to walk your own path…

Yes, I offer training.  And it provides a way toward success in direct marketing and business.

But I’d be quite presumptuous to tell you that my way is the only way.

Likewise, me telling you which books to read in which order is presumptuous as well.

You have to find what works for you.  What resonates with you.  What excites you.

There may be authors out there that I love, and you hate.  Or the other way around.

Grant Cardone, for instance.  I respect him and his success.  I’ve even gone through a few of his books, and gotten a few good things from them.  But I don’t like him.  He just doesn’t resonate with me.  That said, he’s one of the bestselling business authors of recent years, and he resonates with a lot of people.  If Grant works for you, great!

And just like there are different authors that work for different people, we all need different topics at different times.

If you’re getting started as a copywriter, maybe you’re better off reading a book like Great Leads, or one of the other books on My Top 10 Best Copywriting Books list.

But I can’t tell you which is best for you.

I don’t know where you’re coming from, or where you’re going.

I don’t know what experience you have.  I don’t know what your immediate and long-term goals are.  And the books you choose will be dramatically influenced by these different factors.

Bigger picture: pick things to learn based on what you can use right away…

It’s one thing to get caught up in learning.  You can spend your entire life learning, and never getting anything done.  You can be a wannabe your entire life.

But if you’re serious about creating a career success for yourself, that’s not your best path.

If you’re serious about success, your best path is to start doing.

Start where you are.  Find opportunities to get out there and do some work.  And as you go, buy the books or other educational resources that will help you achieve the work at hand.

This is secret to real, powerful learning.  Practice-based learning will always outperform mere book learning because you can learn anything at a deeper level by applying it.

I remember early on in my marketing career, I knew I wanted to be a freelance copywriter.  But I was actually running Google Ads at the time.  To the tune of $45,000/month in ad spend.

Well, I could’ve read more generic books on copywriting, but instead I bought Perry Marshall’s original edition of The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords.

It taught me a ton about how run Google Ads, how to test them, and what metrics to track.

There was a chapter in it about copywriting, but the focus of the book was much broader.

That said, in reading that book, I kept sales steady while cutting costs by 2/3rds.

I was able to generate immediate results for my employer, and it had nothing to do with writing better copy.  Didn’t matter.  It was a book on marketing that was hyper-specific to my current needs and so I was able to use it to get better results.

I don’t have the answer for you, for what’s most specific to your needs.  You know your life better than I do.  You have to look at what’s out there, and decide.

Trust your gut, take action, and default to more

Let’s wrap with these three ideas.

Trust your gut.  Nobody knows as well as you what you’re drawn towards.  Your subconscious mind is taking thousands of inputs and giving you a gut feeling about what would be the best resource for you.  Listen to that feeling, and learn to trust it.  It won’t always be right, or the best course of action, but it will be an opportunity to learn something.

Take action.  This friendly correspondent may have been waiting for the last month for me to decide for him or her which book to read first.  In the mean time, they could’ve read both.  Default to taking action, and you will get much further than waiting and pondering.

Default to more.  Like the taking action bit, in the choice of A vs. B, you should choose both.  This sounds self-serving, and it may be.  But you will tend to be better equipped if you’ve studied more and learned more perspectives than the other way around.

Oh, and just one more little thing — but a very important thing…

Every single thought, experience, perspective, system, method, or “right way” is true, but partial.  (Put another way, all truths are half-truths.)

Assuming someone isn’t flat-out lying, their perspective is based on their own personal truth.  But it’s also limited to their own personal truth.  This means that if you understand their perspective and the context of their truth, you understand what worked in that context.

It won’t necessarily work in your context.  Or someone else’s.  But there is something to be learned from it.

Always look for the truths you can get from ANY teacher (even those you disagree with).  The more truths you can get in the more contexts, the more complete and integrated of a picture you’ll be able to develop for how the world works.

This is just as true in marketing as anywhere else.

It’s about you taking in every lesson you can get, from everyone you can get it from, and synthesizing and integrating it into your subconscious so that in that moment of decision about “should I write this kind of headline or that?” you can make your own independent decision that stands on the shoulders of all the giants you’ve learned from.

This is one of the most profound lessons I’ve ever learned, because of how it makes every lesson and perspective richer and more useful.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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