Are you on the hunt for the best copywriting books to elevate your skills in crafting compelling copy? Whether you’re an online entrepreneur, an aspiring copywriter, or simply someone interested in mastering the art of persuasive writing, the right resources can be transformative.
In this digital era, where the written word is a critical tool for connecting with audiences, understanding the nuances of effective copywriting is more important than ever.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Essential insights from the top 21 copywriting books.
- How these books can refine your copywriting skills.
- Kickstarter recommendations for beginning copywriters.
Let’s dive into the world of copywriting wisdom and explore books that have shaped the careers of many successful copywriters and marketers.
What Can You Learn from a Copywriting Book?
Copywriting is an art that combines creativity with strategic thinking. It’s not just about writing; it’s about crafting messages that resonate with audiences and drive action.
A good copywriting book provides more than just tips and techniques; it offers a deep dive into understanding consumer psychology, the principles of persuasive writing, and the nuances of different media channels.
In these books, you’ll find insights into:
- Crafting headlines that grab attention.
- Writing many specific types of business copy.
- Writing copy that connects emotionally and logically with readers.
- Strategies for optimizing your content for digital platforms.
- And so much more.
Learning from the masters of copywriting through these books can transform how you approach writing, whether it’s for marketing campaigns, web content, or even social media posts. The knowledge gained can be a game-changer in making your copy more effective and impactful.
The 21 Best Copywriting Books
In this section, we list 21 of the best copywriting books ever written and provide a brief overview of each one. Some of these books are perfect for beginners; others are more advanced.
Some of these books provide a broad overview of copywriting as a career and advice on building your copywriting business. Others offer a much narrower focus on one specific area underneath the broad umbrella of “copywriting.”
Some of these books are well-known “classics” that have stood the test of time and still offer evergreen guidance to copywriters. Some are of a newer vintage and offer tactics for producing copy in the newest copywriting genres and for the newest digital platforms.
One thing is for sure–no matter where you are in your copywriting career, no matter your current skill level, and no matter what areas of copywriting you’re interested in, there will be a number of books on this list that will provide the knowledge and direction you need to succeed.
So, let’s get started!
1. The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly
A timeless classic now in its 4th edition, The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly is often referred to as “the copywriter’s bible.” This comprehensive guide covers every aspect of copywriting, from basics to advanced techniques.
Bly is known as one of America’s greatest copywriters. He has published over 100 books on a variety of topics, with the majority of them being about copywriting, so he is definitely someone you should listen to.
In this book, he emphasizes clear, concise, and compelling writing, offering practical tips that are easily applicable. You’ll learn the art of creating copy that sells, whether it’s for ads, web pages, or direct mail. It’s an essential read for anyone looking to understand the foundational principles of copywriting.
2. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy, known as the “Father of Advertising,” is another legendary copywriter. He shares the invaluable insights gained across his lengthy copywriting career in Ogilvy on Advertising.
This book is a treasure trove of information on creating successful advertising campaigns. Ogilvy combines his wisdom with real-world examples, making the book not just informative, but also engaging.
You’ll gain insights into the importance of research, the power of creative branding, and the art of crafting messages that stick. It’s a must-read for those who want to learn from one of the greatest minds in advertising.
3. Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz
For our third entry, we bring you yet another essential copywriting book by another copywriting legend, Eugene Schwartz. His Breakthrough Advertising is a deep dive into the psychology of marketing and consumer behavior.
In this classic copywriting and marketing book, Schwartz explores the concept of “market sophistication,” a concept that’s taught in every business school and marketing course in the world today. In addition, he provides strategies for writing copy that address these various stages of customer awareness.
This book is renowned for its insights into how to tap into customer desires and write copy that truly resonates with a target audience. It’s a thought-provoking read, ideal for even advanced copywriters seeking to refine their persuasive skills.
4. The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman
Joseph Sugarman’s The Adweek Copywriting Handbook is a compelling guide that reveals the secrets behind successful copy.
Sugarman, an acclaimed copywriter, shares his techniques for engaging and persuading customers, focusing on psychological triggers and the importance of storytelling.
This book is particularly noted for its practical approach, providing readers with actionable tips to improve their writing instantly. It’s an invaluable resource for both beginners and experienced copywriters looking to enhance their persuasive skills.
5. Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath
In Made to Stick, brothers Dan and Chip Heath delve into the science of why some ideas thrive while others die. The Heath brothers are both professors at prestigious business schools, so the ideas they present in their books go beyond copywriting.
This book is a masterclass in understanding how to make your messages memorable. It outlines six principles for creating ideas that stick, including simplicity, unexpectedness, and emotional resonance. Although not strictly a copywriting book, Made to Stick offers lessons that are incredibly relevant for copywriters who aim to create impactful and lasting content.
6. Wired for Story by Lisa Cron
Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story focuses on the power of storytelling in capturing attention and influencing behavior. This book combines insights from neuroscience–specifically how the brain responds to narrative structure–to explain why stories are so compelling and how they can be leveraged in copywriting.
Cron provides insights into how to craft stories that not only entertain, but also fulfill the psychological needs of the audience, making it a unique and valuable read for copywriters who want to harness the power of storytelling to drive decision making.
7. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley is a modern guide to creating standout content such as blog posts, articles, and social media in the digital age.
Handley, a veteran marketer, emphasizes the importance of writing in the digital world and offers actionable advice for creating engaging, clear, and concise copy.
The book covers a range of topics, from grammar and storytelling to writing for social media. It’s an essential resource for anyone who writes as part of their profession, especially digital marketers and content creators.
8. This is Marketing by Seth Godin
Legendary marketer Seth Godin’s This is Marketing transcends traditional marketing books by focusing on the importance of empathy, storytelling, and creating connections with any audience.
While not exclusively about copywriting, the book offers profound insights into creating messages that resonate. Godin’s approach is about making change happen, with emphasis on understanding the audience and building trust.
We recommend this book for anyone who wants a broader perspective on marketing that deeply influences copywriting.
9. How to Write Seductive Web Copy by Henneke Duistermaat
In How to Write Seductive Web Copy, experienced marketer Henneke Duistermaat offers a hands-on guide to writing compelling web content that captivates and converts.
This book is packed with practical tips for writing web pages, blog posts, and sales letters.
Duistermaat’s straightforward and engaging style makes it a great read for beginners and experienced writers alike, especially those looking to hone their skills in writing for digital platforms.
10. Making Your Website Work by Gill Andrews
Gill Andrews’ Making Your Website Work is a comprehensive guide for anyone looking to improve their website’s effectiveness (so, pretty much anyone who’s in business).
This book focuses specifically on writing web content that not only attracts visitors but also turns them into customers. Andrews combines practical advice on web design with copywriting techniques, emphasizing the synergy between the two.
Making Your Website Work ia an excellent resource for copywriters and entrepreneurs who want to ensure their website copy is as compelling as their design.
11. The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy
In The Ultimate Sales Letter, Dan Kennedy provides a step-by-step guide to crafting persuasive long-form sales letters.
Kennedy, a renowned marketing expert and copywriter, reveals his best strategies for understanding your target audience, creating compelling offers, and writing copy that converts into sales.
This book is a must-read for anyone interested in direct response marketing and aims to master the art of writing sales letters that get results.
12. On Writing Well by William Zinsser
William Zinsser’s On Writing Well is a classic guide to writing non-fiction with clarity and style. While not specific to copywriting, its principles are highly applicable to anyone looking to improve their writing skills.
Zinsser focuses on simplicity, clarity, and finding one’s voice, essential elements for effective copywriting. This book is ideal for copywriters who want to enhance their ability to write clear, engaging, and concise copy.
If you’ve yet to begin your copywriting career, a great approach would be to read Zinsser’s book and apply the strategies to all the writing you do, then bring what you learn along with you as you tackle some of the more copywriting-specific books on this list.
13. The Idea Writers by Teressa Iezzi
Teressa Iezzi’s The Idea Writers offers a glimpse into the evolving world of advertising copywriting in the digital age. This book discusses the shift from traditional advertising to more dynamic, interactive storytelling in the digital space.
Iezzi provides insights from leading copywriters and creative directors, making it an invaluable resource for understanding modern advertising and how to craft copy that resonates in today’s media landscape.
14. Words that Sell by Richard Bayan
Words that Sell by Richard Bayan is a practical resource filled with words and phrases that can make a real difference in how you write copy.
Unlike the other books on this list, Words That Sell serves as a reference tool for finding just the right expression to engage and persuade an audience.
Bayan’s compilation of persuasive language is especially useful for those moments of writer’s block or when looking to add more punch to your copy.
15. Finding the Right Message by Jennifer Havice
Jennifer Havice’s Finding the Right Message is a guide to creating a messaging strategy that connects with your audience.
This book focuses on understanding your audience deeply and crafting messages that speak to their needs and motivations–using their own words.
Havice’s approach is research-driven, combining data analysis with persuasive writing techniques, making it a must-read for copywriters who want to base their work on solid audience insights.
16. Great Leads by Michael Masterson and John Forde
Great Leads by Michael Masterson and John Forde is a focused guide on the most critical part of any piece of copy: the lead.
This book categorizes six different types of leads and provides strategies for writing compelling openings that capture attention immediately. Its practical approach makes it an essential read for copywriters who want to master the art of drawing readers in from the very first line.
If you’ve ever struggled with how to get started on a piece of copy (and that’s every writer, ever), this book is for you.
17. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
Although not a traditional copywriting book, Robert B. Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is one of the best-known and oft-quoted books by marketers and copywriters around the world.
It offers crucial insights for understanding the psychological principles behind effective persuasion. Cialdini outlines key principles like reciprocity, scarcity, and authority, which are highly relevant for crafting persuasive copy.
This book is invaluable for copywriters who want to understand the underlying motivations of their audience.
18. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
Entrepreneurial influencer Gary Vaynerchuk is famous for his no holds barred social media style. In Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, he shares his approach to crafting messages for the modern digital world, especially social media.
Vaynerchuk emphasizes the importance of providing massive value before making an ask. This book is filled with concrete examples and provides a framework for creating compelling content that stands out in the crowded online space.
If you plan on making social media writing or social media management your area of focus, you’ll definitely want to read this book!
19. Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads by Roy H. Williams
In Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads, Roy H. Williams shares insights into creating advertising messages that enchant and convert.
This book combines the science of persuasion with the art of storytelling, offering a unique perspective on crafting advertising copy. Williams’ approach is both practical and inspirational, making it a great read for copywriters looking to add a magical touch to their work.
20. The Boron Letters by Gary C. Halbert
Gary Halbert is yet another legendary copywriter on this list. He has been so influential in the copywriting world that super successful marketers like Ryan Levesque learned how to write effective copy by simply reading (and often copying verbatim) Halbert’s marketing messages.
In The Boron Letters, Halbert provides a collection of letters written to his son. These letters provide timeless wisdom on copywriting, direct mail marketing, and the mindset required to be a successful copywriter. Halbert’s candid and personal style makes this book not just educational, but also a compelling read.
21. May I Have Your Attention, Please? By Mish Slade
Mish Slade’s May I Have Your Attention, Please? is a modern take on writing web copy that stands out. This book is particularly geared towards small business owners and entrepreneurs who write their own copy.
Slade offers practical advice on how to write clear, persuasive web copy that’s full of voice, that captures attention, and that converts visitors into customers. She offers specific examples of both highly-engaging and boring website copy that you can learn from.
What are the Best Copywriting Books for Beginners?
While many of the books on the list above have lessons for copywriters at any stage of their careers, for those just starting on their copywriting journey, we realize that the abundance of resources can be overwhelming.
So, if you’re new to copywriting, we’ll cut through the clutter for you. To make things easier, here are the top three recommended books from our list specifically suited for beginners:
- The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly: This book is an excellent starting point for beginners. It lays a strong foundation by covering all the basics of copywriting. Bly’s clear, concise, and practical approach makes it easy for novices to grasp the essential principles of writing effective copy.
- Everybody Writes by Ann Handley: This book is perfect for beginners in the digital age. It focuses on the importance of writing in all forms of online communication and provides actionable tips to improve writing skills across various platforms, making it a versatile resource for aspiring digital copywriters.
- Words that Sell by Richard Bayan: This book acts as a handy reference for beginners looking for just the right words and phrases to make their copy more persuasive. Bayan’s compilation of phrases is an excellent tool for those starting to experiment with different styles and tones in their writing.
Each of these books offers a unique angle on copywriting, making them invaluable resources for beginners looking to develop their skills and start their journey in the world of copywriting.
Embark on Your Copywriting Journey with the Best Copywriting Books By Your Side
The term “copywriting” covers a lot of territory, from marketing copy to paid ads, from website copy to social media posts, from micro-copy like product descriptions on e-commerce sites to 20 page long (or longer) sales letters. So, if you have solid writing skills and a drive to learn, there are endless opportunities to create a career that fits your interests and lifestyle.
Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting out, the “21 Best Copywriting Books for Writing Effective Copy” we’ve explored in this article offer you a wealth of knowledge, insights, and practical advice. From foundational techniques to advanced strategies, these books are invaluable resources in your journey to mastering the art of copywriting.
Remember, the best copywriters are those who continuously learn and adapt. So, pick up a few of these books that resonate with you, absorb the wisdom within, and apply it to your writing. Your journey to becoming an effective copywriter is just a page away!
And, if you’re looking for even more resources and inspiration for building your copywriting skills and growing your career, keep in mind that books aren’t the only sources of knowledge you can tap into.
If you also enjoy learning by following a good blog on the topic of copywriting, or by taking an online course, or by just looking at examples of how other copywriters go about running their businesses, you might also want to check out these other resources on our blog: