If anything in life can be close to magic, it’s great copywriting. I believe it is the most valuable skill you can possess. In business and in life.
If you have a lousy website with outstanding copywriting, you will still be able to sell a lot. If you have a fantastic website but your copy is bland and generic, you’ll struggle to stay in business.
Below you’ll find good manuals to learn the magic.
Why these books specifically?
DigitalMarketer Engage is a Facebook Group for discussions about what’s working now in digital marketing, a place to get advice and strategize, and find resources recommended by fellow marketers.
And guess what resource gets recommended there all the time…
It’s copywriting books that tend to be the most discussed. Because how you tell your story, connect with your audience, and get them to convert comes down to how you systematically assemble language.
Below are some of the most beloved books about copywriting, according to actual members of the DM Engage Facebook community.
Best copywriting books
Storynomics by Robert Mckee and Thomas Gerace
McKee is a master Hollywood script doctor and story fixer. He applies his decades of storytelling study and teaching to business story. But more than just applying “story” to ads, McKee demonstrates how to go beyond traditional and interruption marketing/advertising to connect with your audience through story.
The Robert Collier Letter Book by Robert Collier
This book presents an explanation of the classic outline for any ad or sales letter. It is probably most known for the idea of “entering the conversation already taking place in your prospects mind.” But it also furthers the concept of selling the transformation instead of the product. It is loaded with actual sales letters that brought in millions of dollars.
It is not so much a book to be read as it is to study the examples.
Write to Sell by Andy Maslen
This is a short, practical book that doesn’t waste time on theory—it just tells you exactly what to do to write great copy. Andy explains how to keep your prospect’s eyes locked onto your copy by speaking to them at an emotional level (comparing their needs to the 7 deadly sins). He also reinforces the importance of using concrete, tangible language so your copy sounds credible, and looks at different ways of framing your offer (leading the prospects toward their desire or away from their fears).
Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
In it, the authors give a framework on how to communicate good ideas in a way that makes them memorable. In order to have SUCCESs in making your ideas “stick” with others, you need to present them in some combination of the following principles:
S = Simple
U = Unexpected
C = Concrete
C = Credible
E = Emotional
S = Stories
s = This one is just an “s”
Each chapter is full of examples of where the principle was used by other businesses in an effective manner, so you walk away thinking, “This makes sense and I can take action on it immediately.”
The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman
Things to learn from the book:
Lead with a 3–5 word opening sentence. Finish your paragraphs with complete sentences, but incomplete thoughts to keep the reader engaged. Sow seeds of curiosity to hook the reader into your story. Joe breaks down the elements of an ad according to their purpose in simple terms that anyone can apply.
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
This book is the Bible of copywriting. Its premise is simple, but powerful truth: everybody writes. (And anyone can write well.)
The best thing about Ann Handley’s book is that it’s easy to skim through. You don’t have to read everything. You can cherry-pick the guidance you need, and then skip the rest.
Sell with a Story by Paul Smith
Sell with a Story gives a clear framework to develop an elevator pitch for your business, bring customers into the adventure that’s waiting for them and really cast a vision for what their life will look like on the other side of the obstacles they face in starting or growing their business. The book doesn’t waste any space with fluff. Smith makes his point clear, gives actionable insight into how it can be applied, shows you how it’s been done, and then moves on.
Writing Without Bullshit by Josh Bernoff
Focusing on treating the reader’s time as more valuable than your own, Bernoff’s indispensable guide helps you cut through the noise in emails, reports, and web copy so you can stand out.
It helps you sharpen your headlines, tighten your subject lines, and strengthen your opening statements.
Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller
It’s not a copywriting book, but it’s absolutely transformative regarding the way we talk to our audience and talk about our brands. The power of narrative is absolutely essential in marketing, and as an award-winning memoirist-turned-brand expert, Miller is especially able to address the why and how of good brand storytelling. The advice is both theoretical and practical, allowing for a full shift in approach.
Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact by Phil M. Jones
Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact shows you how to have a persuasive conversation, what words matter and why they matter, and that fits perfectly into your structure.
On the Art of Writing Copy by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Although it was published over 30 years ago, this epic coffee-table-sized book contains innumerable nuggets of scientifically-based copywriting wisdom, illustrated with numerous reprints of classic ad campaigns and copywriting samples. You’ll learn very specific, proven techniques for various projects like direct mail, radio ads, press releases, fundraisers, and catalog copy (the book is pre-Internet), many of which are published with before-and-after copy samples so you can see what a difference technical mastery makes in your copy.
Herschell’s innumerable laws for copywriting range from the philosophic (“Don’t let any piece of copy off your desk until you can say without crossed fingers, ‘My mother would understand it’”) to the granularly specific (“When a sentence has too many commas, consider using parentheses instead of one pair of commas. You can speed up both reading and comprehension.”) His advice makes copy more effective, period.
Learning effective copywriting is the best investment of your time and effort.
Choose a couple of the books above and go through them.
Apply a few things of what you’ve read.
Then choose a couple more and do the same.
In time, you’ll notice that your writing, your story creation, and your effectiveness will be on a whole new level.
PS. Good copywriting will last you a lifetime, too. It has no expiration date.