Business Writing Copywriting 12 min2023-08-01 00:00

Best Books for Copywriting: Top 20 Every Copywriter Must Read

book for copywriting

One way to master any craft is by reading books on that topic. Copywriting is no exception.

If you’re hoping to become a better copywriter, you should read books that help you develop your skills, learn new techniques, and get insights into the science of copywriting.  

So, what are the best copywriting books to start with?

Read on to see our list of twenty books that every copywriter should read.

20 Best Books for Copywriting

We’ve chosen books that offer a range of perspectives and approaches to copywriting.

Here are our picks for the twenty books about copywriting that can help you become a better copywriter.

1. The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly

The Copywriter's Handbook is considered an industry standard.

Robert W. Bly worked with a wide range of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, startups, and nonprofit organizations. He has extensive knowledge of the field, a deep understanding of what it takes to create successful copy, and over 60 books with his name on them.

The Copywriter’s Handbook covers a wide range of topics, including writing for different mediums (such as print, television, and radio), understanding the psychology of persuasion, and developing a clear and effective writing style. It’s a great introduction for anyone who wants to understand the basics of how copywriting works.

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2. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy, often referred to as “the father of advertising,” is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of modern advertising and one of the most influential figures in the history of the industry.

Put two copywriters in a room together, and chances are, Ogilvy’s name will come up in conversation. He was that influential.

Ogilvy on Advertising teaches valuable lessons about developing creative ideas, crafting compelling copy, and understanding the psychology of persuasion. It’s a must-read for any aspiring copywriter.  

3. The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman

Joseph Sugarman is an American copywriter with over 50 years of experience in the field of direct marketing.

His book The Adweek Copywriting Handbook is widely regarded as a classic resource in the copywriting field. It’s based on a $2,000 class Sugarman taught in the 1970s, so you’re basically saving yourself $2,000 (not even counting for inflation) by buying the handbook instead of the course.

This book offers practical, real-world advice that can help copywriters of all levels improve their craft and produce more effective copy. It gives you a step-by-step guide for writing ad copy.

4. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Ann Handley is a digital marketing pioneer and the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs. Her book Everybody Writes is chock-full of tips for how to create written content.

This book is more versatile than many of the books on this list because it’s not exclusively designed for copywriters—it’s useful for everybody who writes. Which is, of course, everybody.

This book will help you create more persuasive and convincing content, whether it’s a simple Facebook post or a piece of web copy.  

5. The Idea Writers by Teressa Iezzi

Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Ad Age’s Creativity Magazine and an advertising and popular culture expert.

In this book, Iezzi describes the art of how to write great copy in the digital age. She presents case studies on recent advertising campaigns that work well in the modern world, such as Burger King’s Subservient Chicken ad.

She also includes insights from over 50 other copywriters and marketers, compiling several lifetimes’ worth of wisdom into a single volume.

The Idea Writers is a great read for more advanced copywriters who are looking for a deeper understanding of how copywriting works today.

best books for copywriters

6. The Boron Letters by Gary C. Halbert

Famous copywriter Gary C. Halbert wrote a collection of letters to his son while he was serving time in the Boron Federal Prison Camp for tax fraud.

These letters are full of life lessons and copywriting tips. Each letter focuses on a specific piece of advice.

The letters were collected and published as The Boron Letters, which is now considered a classic book on how to write persuasive copy. It’s packed full of actionable insights on advertising, decision-making, copywriting, and more.  

7. On Writing Well by William Zinsser

You can’t be a great copywriter without being a great writer.

On Writing Well is a guide to mastering the written word in various forms of nonfiction. It covers not just copywriting, but also creative nonfiction, essay writing, and more.

This book will teach you how to keep your sentences simple, how to write in first person, how to imbue your writing with humor, and more. Reading it will help you understand the mechanics of writing well, no matter what kind of writing you’re doing.

8. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Dr. Robert B. Cialdini is a renowned psychologist and an expert in the field of negotiation and persuasion.

His book Influence describes six principles related to the psychology of persuasion: reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

As a copywriter, you can use these principles to improve your persuasive writing skills so you can write copy that convinces your readers. It will also help you figure out when people are using these principles on you, which might be happening more often than you think.

9. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

The idea of “stickiness,” first popularized by Malcolm Gladwell, describes the quality that makes an idea memorable enough to stick in your mind.

As a copywriter, it’s crucial to understand stickiness. Sticky slogans are more likely to create brand awareness. Sticky ad campaigns are more likely to drive sales.

Made to Stick explores the psychology behind “stickiness” so marketers, business owners, and copywriters can make ideas memorable and persuasive. Reading this book can help you understand how to communicate in a way that really resonates with your readers.

10. Finding the Right Message by Jennifer Havice

Jennifer Havice is a messaging strategist and customer researcher who’s consulted for countless organizations.

Her book Finding the Right Message is all about how to conduct customer research so you can get inside their heads. Knowing your audience will allow you to write copy that resonates with them, which is a crucial skill for all aspiring copywriters.

Reading this book can help you understand how to analyze customer interviews and surveys, use the language your target audience uses, and connect with your audience on every level.

11. The Advertising Effect by Adam Ferrier and Jennifer Fleming

The Advertising Effect describes ten advertising techniques used by successful brands and organizations to convince consumers to buy.

It shows you how modern ad campaigns are generated, along with the psychological studies that back up these breakthrough advertising techniques. This book provides useful advertising frameworks that are easy to understand, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned copywriter.

In addition to offering practical tips and techniques, The Advertising Effect also includes real-world case studies, such as Coke Zero, to illustrate key concepts.

12. The Copy Book by D&AD

D&AD is the Global Association for Creative Advertising and Design, formerly known as Design and Art Direction. Their publication, The Copy Book, is a collection of essays on the art of writing for advertising.

The book features essays by 53 industry leaders around the world, including copywriting experts like David Abbott, Steve Hayden, and Barbara Nokes.

These essays showcase many different points of view on advertising and marketing, along with practical advice from each perspective. Reading The Copy Book will help you write more persuasive copy, whether that’s in the form of a web page, a letter, or a blog article.

13. Words That Sell by Richard Bayan

Writing words can be hard, especially if you tend to use the same words over and over.

There are many specific words that copywriters often reuse. Power words like exciting, innovative, and new grab readers’ attention and show the value of a product or service—but you can’t use the same words over and over without boring your target audience.

Words that Sell is a thesaurus designed specifically for copywriters looking to promote their products, services, and ideas.

This book contains over 6,000 power words so you can keep your language fresh.

14. Wired for Story by Lisa Cron

Great copywriters know how to use storytelling techniques to their advantage.

After all, people are naturally drawn to stories. We care about heroes, conflicts, and interesting anecdotes, whether it’s on the silver screen or in a marketing campaign.

In Wired for Story, writing consultant Lisa Cron examines how the art of storytelling can help copywriters create more persuasive copy. She explains how the human brain works and how you can use that understanding to write a better story.

15. How to Write Seductive Web Copy by Henneke Duistermaat

Henneke Duistermaat describes herself as “an irreverent copywriter” and business writing coach.

Her book How to Write Seductive Web Copy describes a six-step process for writing persuasive copy. Each chapter includes examples so you can see what great copy looks like, as well as worksheets so you can put your learning into practice.

This book is clear and easy to read and full of useful tips for writing compelling copy.

best books for copywriters

16. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Al Ries and Jack Trout point out that, just as there are laws of nature, there are also laws of marketing. If you don’t obey the laws of marketing, you won’t be able to launch a successful brand.

This book compiles their 22 rules for how to market well, such as the laws of leadership, sacrifice, and hype. It delves into consumer psychology, branding techniques, and more.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is a straightforward, easy read with many nuggets of wisdom that can help you learn new sales techniques.

17. Artful Persuasion by Harry Mills

Copywriters, like salespeople and politicians, work in a field that relies heavily on persuasion.

Artful Persuasion teaches you how to use the tool of persuasion to your advantage. It helps you learn how to craft compelling messages that convince people you must be right.

The book includes case studies about historical figures such as Churchill, Roosevelt, and the Clintons, who used persuasion throughout their careers. It takes insights from the fields of politics and psychology and distills them in a way that can be useful to everyone, including copywriters.

18. Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan

Luke Sullivan is a renowned copywriter who’s made marketing campaigns for Miller Lite, Time Magazine, and other influential brands.

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This is Sullivan’s guide to making great ads. It’s all about why good ads work and bad ads fail—and a few famous exceptions to both rules.

The title is based on one of the most famous ad campaigns in history: the Mr. Whipple “Don’t squeeze the Charmin” ads for Charmin toilet paper, which ran from the 1960s to the 1980s. If you want to know why such a classically bad ad worked so well, this book holds the answers.

19. Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples

John Caples was a famous copywriter who pioneered the techniques of copy testing, which means applying the scientific method to the field of advertising. Caples’ methods are tried and true because he’s rigorously experimented with them and measured the results.

Tested Advertising Methods describes many of the scientific advertising strategies that Caples tested over the course of his illustrious career. Even though this book was first published in 1932, many of the techniques it describes are still commonly used today.

This book is a useful guide to direct response copywriting, ad copywriting, and more.

20. Content Rules by Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman

In the modern age, copywriters need to know how to build successful digital content in addition to writing copy in traditional mediums. You need to understand how to navigate social media, establish a brand voice, and engage with potential customers online.

If you want to learn how to master persuasive online copywriting, this is the book for you.

Content Rules is a book specifically focused on content marketing in the modern world. It will teach you how to create effective blogs, landing pages, videos, and so much more.  

Which Is the Best Copywriting Book for Beginners?

Many of the books on our list are great options for beginners. The right choice for you will depend on your specific needs and interests.

If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend starting with The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly. This book is considered an industry standard in the copywriting field.

Reading The Copywriter’s Handbook will give you a basic understanding of different copywriting concepts and techniques, so you can then pick more advanced books to delve deeper into whichever topic interests you most.

copywriting book for beginners

Why Copywriters Love ProWritingAid

To succeed as a copywriter, you need to make sure your work is error-free. A typo or grammar mistake could ruin the effectiveness of your message or reflect poorly on your client.

ProWritingAid is a popular tool among successful copywriters because it helps you ensure your tone, vocabulary choices, and sentence structures suit the target audience you’re trying to reach.

The program highlights suggested edits you might miss, such as typos, punctuation mistakes, weak adjectives, repetitive sentences, and much more.

ProWritingAid provides a more thorough analysis of your work than any other grammar checker on the market, offering over 20 different writing reports.

For example, the Writing Style report uses advanced AI to highlight areas of your text that could be strengthened, including passive voice, overuse of adverbs, repeated sentence starts, and more.

Meanwhile, the Readability report uses top readability tools like the Flesch Reading Ease Score to highlight sentences that might be hard for readers to understand. Keeping your sentences readable and concise is crucial for persuasive copywriting.

Other reports, like the Sticky Sentences report and the Transition report, look at other specific aspects of your writing to make sure your work is as effective as possible.

You can even customize ProWritingAid’s suggestions based on your specific document type, such as General Web Copy. That way, you’ll only see suggestions that are useful to copywriters.

You can use ProWritingAid as either a desktop app or a web editor. You can also integrate ProWritingAid into your favorite writing software, such as Google Docs, Microsoft Word, Final Draft, or Scrivener.

Conclusion on the Best Copywriting Books

There you have it—our picks for the top twenty copywriting books.

These books are useful resources for anyone looking to improve their copywriting skills and produce more effective copy. They include a wealth of valuable information and insights that can help copywriters of all levels write better copy.

If you read these books, you’ll be well on your way to succeeding as a copywriter.

Good luck, and happy writing!

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