Become a Writer Today

Best Copywriting Books You Must Read

November 20, 2023 Bryan Collins
Become a Writer Today
Best Copywriting Books You Must Read
Show Notes Transcript

In this week's episode of the "Become a Writer Today" podcast, we're diving into the world of copywriting books that every aspiring writer must read! ๐Ÿ“–โœ๏ธ Join me, Bryan Collins, as I share some invaluable insights and recommendations on the best copywriting resources out there.

Key takeaways from this episode:

๐Ÿ”ธ Dive into "The Robert Collier Letter Book," a classic written in the 1930s that offers timeless advice on writing high-performing copy, including real examples that have stood the test of time.

๐Ÿ”ธ Explore the autobiographical gem, "Confessions of an Advertising Man" by David Ogilvy, and gain a deeper understanding of the mindset and psychology behind successful copywriting.

๐Ÿ”ธ Uncover the power of long-form sales page writing with "The Ultimate Sales Letter" by Dan Kennedy, which provides detailed guidance and examples on constructing persuasive and effective sales pages.

Tune in to the full episode on the "Become a Writer Today" podcast to discover more captivating copywriting books that will enhance your writing journey! ๐ŸŽงโœจ

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If you enjoyed the show please leave a review on Apple. And if you have any questions you can find me on Twitter @BryanJCollins

Thanks for listening!


Another classic copywriting book is called The Robert Collier Letter Book. It was written all the way back in the 1930s, and it contains lots of advice and letters about how to write high-performing copy. And the book was written in the 1930s and has been updated several times since then. But, of course, it specifically relates to writing copy or sales pages for traditional media or in a traditional rather than an online world. It also contains lots of examples of ads and long-form copy that has converted over the years that you can learn from. So if you're unsure of what to put in your digital long-form sales page and you want some inspiration from old sales pages, this could be a good book to check out.


Welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you'll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.


So you want to become a copywriter. There's just 1 problem, when you look at any university curriculum or go online, it's very hard to find a good copywriting course. That's because often, the best way to learn how to become a copywriter is by reading copywriting books rather than taking a traditional course. So which books should you read? Well, I worked as a copywriter for nearly 10 years. I'm going to profile some of the best copywriting books out there. Some of these books are really practical and will give you specific examples about how you can write copy that helps sell products and services, and some are more about the psychology of copywriting.

The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert is a classic copywriting book, but it's not really a how to guide or an instruction manual. So Gary Halbert wrote this book, or should I say he wrote the letters in this book when he was serving time in prison. The book is basically a compilation of letters that Gary wrote to his son, Bond.

Bond is, of course, still alive today. Now the Boron Letters is 1 part, a manual, about the specifics of copywriting, and another part, an autobiography. In the Boron letters, Gary emphasizes the importance of things like knowing the psychology of your customer, having a really good offer, and also having a list of prospects that you can contact. Because Gary was a direct response copywriter, and, of course, he's passed away, Many of the principles and examples he uses relate to copywriting years ago, but you can translate them to an online audience today. Having a good list is one example. That's because many good copywriters rely on an email list to build relationships directly with their customers. So if you're looking for an entertaining read, that's also about copywriting, the Boron Letters is certainly one that you can get through in an evening or 2.

Speaking of autobiographies, If you want to learn about copywriting, there's 1 other book that you really need to read. So it's called Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy, who is the founder of the agency of the same name. Now, if you've ever watched the TV show Mad Men, you're undoubtedly familiar with Don Draper. Well, Don Draper was in part based on David Ogilvy. Now, David Ogilvy passed away years ago, but in this particular book, he recounts how he got into copywriting, why he thinks it's important to write in the language that your customer uses, on how we transition from copywriting to building a hugely successful business and agency. Again, this book is not going to give you something specific that you can use for writing your sales copy or updating your sales pages, though it will help you understand the mindset and psychology of somebody who's considered one of the fathers of the copywriting industry today.

Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz is another famous copywriting book. Eugene Schwartz was a copywriter who became famous in the 1960s. And in this particular book, he recounts how to write and craft compelling copy for ads with lots of specific examples. And he writes at length about the importance of headlines.

And examples in this book will seem a little bit dated today, or will they? If you've ever spent time writing copy for a Facebook ad campaign, for example, then you can take some of the principles that Eugene Schwartz describes in his book to write your compelling ads. And, again, it's also a good book if you want to understand how copywriting has evolved over time.

Speaking of classic copywriting books, then you also want to pick up a copy of Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins. This book was written all the way back in the 1920s, in 1923, to be specific. Now the book, of course, has lots of different examples from newspapers and sales copy from the 1920s, which would seem antiquated and dated today. But there are some principles in this book which are particularly relevant.

So Eugene Schwartz writes at length about the importance of having an offer that you test against different groups of customers or readers. And that was quite a tricky thing to do in the 1920s. After all, we didn't have or they didn't have the Internet. But today, you can easily test different versions of your sale pages or your offers by using Facebook ads, for example, or by sending people to different sales pages, or perhaps by using some sort of AB testing software like Hotjar. If you want to figure out why this type of testing is so important and understand the principles that guide many of these A/B testing companies, then this is the book to read or to check out. Have you ever bought a high priced or a high ticket course? Well, chances are, just before you bought the course, you were on a sales page. And usually, a sales page for a high ticket offer is a long form sales page. They can span 1,000, if not over 10,000 words in length and read a little bit like a novella. You'll find stories on the sales page.

You'll find persuasive language, and a lot of the product features turned into benefits. And you'll also find lots of client testimonials, which relate to the story that the copywriter who wrote this long form sales page is trying to tell.

One particular online marketer who is a master of long form sales page writing today is Ramit Sethi. Now I'm not here to talk about Ramit Sethi's copywriting of course, which you just have. I'm actually want to tell you about a book which goes into great detail about how to construct one of these long form sales pages and what it should include.

The book is called The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy, who was one of the copywriting industry's best known copywriters working today. And in this particular book, he provides lots of different examples about how to construct a sales page, what to include, and what your sales page needs to achieve if you want the offer or to convert.

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Another classic copywriting book is called The Robert Collier Letter Book. It was written all the way back in 1930s, and it contains lots of advice and letters about how to write high-performing copy. And the book was written in the 1930s and has been updated several times since then. But, of course, it specifically relates to writing copy or sales pages for traditional media or in a traditional rather than an online world. It also contains lots of examples of ads and long form copy that has converted over the years that you can learn from. So if you're unsure of what to put in your digital long form sales page and you want some inspiration from old sales pages, this could be a good book to check out. Influenced by Robert Cialdini. Now, this book is worth a read because it describes or Robert describes the 7 key principles that everybody should understand if they want to influence someone. And if you're a copywriter, you want to influence your prospects so that they take action, take out a trial or buy your product or service. Now in this particular book, it's broken into 7 sections.

Robert goes into detail into these seven principles. These include reciprocity, commitment, consistency, consensus, social proof, scarcity, and authority. And if you want to construct a sales page or an email campaign or use your copywriting skills in any way, then you need to consider these 7 principles. As an example, consider social proof. So a couple of years ago, I worked as a copywriter for a British software company. And we spent a lot of time thinking about social proof trying to sell, some type of software as a service. What did this look like? Anytime we were working on a sales page, we would always make sure that the voice of the customer through videos or through quotes from their testimonials was included on the sales page. That's because often a prospect will only buy when they see that other people like them have bought the same product or service.

This type of social proof reinforces to the prospect or the customer that their money is not being wasted. And if you want to increase the conversions of your offer, the stronger the social proof, the better. That's just one of the principles in this book which made a big impact on how I think about copywriting. You want us to understand the other 6, I recommend getting the audiobook because it's a pretty engaging lesson.

Attention is a scarce commodity today, and that may explain why one of the most fun and yet challenging things a copywriter has to do is write a compelling headline. If you're unsure what type of headline to write, then there are lots of different copywriting books that you can buy which offer lists of some of the most high converting headlines of all time and also deconstruct them.

Just one of those books is called 2001 Greatest Headlines Ever Written, and you can get it on Amazon. I have a collection of these types of books that I keep on my shelf next to where I'm working.

And, also, when I'm writing a blog post or perhaps ad copy for a Facebook ad or a headline for a sales page, I'll dig out some of these books to get some ideas for a headline. Now, I would say that it's actually gotten easier for copywriters to write headlines today. That's because you can easily A/B test your headline using software or plugins for your website. And now, times to AI tools, you can actually ask AI to apply a copywriting principle to write me 10 variations of a headline for my sales page or from my email. And, often, this will speed up the headline iteration process. However, if you want some inspiration from old headlines from times gone by, do pick up a few of these books and keep them on your shelf next to where you're writing all of this copy. As you probably gathered by now, many of the copywriting books that I've described are classics from the genre, but perhaps relate to the copywriting industry or psychology.

So what should you buy if you want something that's more specific to working online today? Well, one of the best copywriting books written in recent times that I bought is called Ca$hvertising.

And that's the s spelt as a dollar. In the book, Drew Whitman provides specific examples how you can write compelling copy for your emails, for social media and also for your sales pages. He also provides lots of compelling real world examples that you can study from and learn from. Now although this book particularly relates to writing copy online, it was written in 2008, so some of the examples are a little bit dated. But it is a good insight into how to apply the principles of copywriting, which you are probably familiar with by now, to an online world.

One of the most famous copywriters working today is Joseph Sugarman. Thankfully, he's distilled his knowledge and insights from the industry into his copywriting book, which is called the Adweek Copywriting Handbook. In this particular book, he describes the importance of everything from writing a compelling headline to having a good offer for your prospects.

And he also writes in detail about why you should use the same language as your customers. Now this book particularly appealed to me because it's a type of copywriting book suitable for writers. Joseph, in the book, goes into great detail about why you should write a good headline, which we've covered already. But he also provides specific examples about why it's important to write a really compelling sentence and an opening to your sales page or your email or whatever your offer is. And, of course, his examples relate to an online world. I like this book because many of the principles that he uses for copywriting are similar to what the likes of Stephen King, per se, would say about a good book. That's right. Whatever genre you're writing in, you really need a good title and a good introduction and a great first sentence if you want to book the attention of readers, if it's a novel, or prospects if It's some type of offer.

That's just a selection of some of the best copywriting books out there. As you can see, there are dozens and dozens of titles to choose from. I'm gonna put a link below this video, which will include many more books that you can read if you want to hone your copywriting skills. However, my takeaway from reading these books is that they are a fantastic resource. But to be honest, the best way to learn copywriting is to dive in. You could get a job working as a copywriter in house, or perhaps you could start writing copy freelance on the side. Even if you move on from copywriting, it's a great skill. Let me give you an example.

A couple of years ago, I started writing and selling books on Amazon. And when I wrote my book, I realized that I had to write the sales page to go along with the book. So I was able to use many of the copywriting skills, and I found that this is something that many authors struggle with. They're unsure of what to put on the description for their books. The same could apply to emails that you're sending to readers of your blog or perhaps to something that you're writing for social media related to your niche, niche, or industry.


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