Top Copywriting Books... Ever

by 305 comments
UPDATE: I've looked through the 4 pages of replies to this thread, extracted the books mentioned, and listed them below.

I know I've missed some, so please reply to the thread or pm me, and I'll update this list. Same goes if you don't think something should be there.

I'd like to construct a weebly page with a ratings system on, so Warriors can let me know their rating of each book. That way we can come up with an "Ultimate List Of Copywriting Books" for this thread.

Remember - the idea here is to learn copywriting without spending hundreds (or thousands) on top level courses.

Don't get me wrong. Of course taking part in something like Carltons SWS, Makepeace's Desktop Copy Coach, etc. etc. is going to educate you no end, and vastly improve your copy skills - so I'm NOT bashing these courses.

The idea here is to learn the basics (or maybe even everything you need to know) from some good ol' hard back books. Use Abe books, or Amazon - get yourself a second hand copy of the books that appeal to you, and you can get started on your copywriting education without breaking the bank...

A BIG thank-you to everyone who has (and continues to) comment on the thread!

Here's the list so far. PM me if I've got any duplicate listings, mispellings etc.

Okay, so here goes:




"Scientific Advertising" Claude Hopkins

"Tested Advertising" Caples (4th edition or earlier only)

"How I Raised Myself from a Failure to Success in Selling" Betger

"How to Write a Good Advertisement" Schwab.

"How to Write Sales Letters That Sell" Drayton Bird

"The Robert Collier Letter Book" - by Robert Collier

"Tested Advertising Methods" -by John Caples

"How To Write A Good Advertisement" - by Vic Schwab

"The Lazy Man's Way to Riches" - by Joe Karbo

"Break-Through Advertising" - by Eugene M. Schwartz

"7-Steps To Freedom" - by Ben Suarez

On Writing - Stephen King

"Advertising Secrets of The Written Word" by Joe Sugarman

"Making Ads Pay" by John Caples

Web Copy That Sells by Maria Veloso

The Architecture of Persuasion by Michael Masterson

Influence The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joe Sugarman

"The Elements of Copywriting" by Gary Blake and Robert Bly

"The Ultimate Sales Letter" by Dan Kennedy

Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman

"Write to sell " it is written by Andy Maslen

"Influencing Human Behaviour" by H.A.

"Tested Sentences That Sell" by Elmer Wheeler

"Unlimited Selling Power" by Moine and Lloyd.

Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias

Bob Bly's "The Copywriter's Handbook"

How To Make Your Advertising Make Money - John Caples

Tested Advertising Methods - John Caples

The Copywriters Handbook - Bob Bly

The Adweek Copywriting Handbook - Joseph Sugarman

Sales Letters That Sizzle - Herschell Gordon Lewis

Cash Copy - Jeffrey Lant

Magic Words That Bring You Riches - Ted Nicholas

Ogilvy On Advertising

Method Marketing by Denny Hatch.

My First 50 Years in Advertising by Maxwell Sackheim.

The Greatest Direct Mail Sales Letters of all Time " by Richard Hodgson.

How To Write Advertising That Sells by Clyde Bedell

Ads That Sell by Bob Bly

How To Write A Good Avertisement-- Victor Schwab

Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich-- David Garfinkle

Magic Words-- Ted Nicholas

Robert Collier Letter Book-- Robert Collier

My Life In Advertising -- Claude Hopkins

Bird - Commonsense

The First Hundred Million by E. Haldeman-Julius

David Ogilvy's "Blood, Brains and Beer"

"Confessions of an advertising man"

"Million Dollar Mailings" by Denison Hatch

"The Wizard of Ads" trilogy by Roy H. Williams

Making Ads Pay by John Caples

Method Marketing - Denison Hatch

"How to Write Sales Letters that Sell" by Drayton Bird.

Hypnotic Writing -- Joe Vitale

"The Lazy Man's Way to Riches" - by Joe Karbo

Denny Hatch's Million Dollar Mailings


Some more from Matt Jutras:


Techniques of Propaganda and Persuasion - Magedah E. Shabo

Write Right: 26 Tips to Improve Your Writing. Dramatically. - Roger Shapiro

Winning Website Sales Letters: How To Create An Opening That Pulls Prospects In... A Message That Sells Them... And An Offer They Simply Can't Refuse! - Robert Boduch

Great Headlines Instantly 2.1: How To Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines That Pull In More Prospects... More Customers... and More Profits - NOW - Robert Boduch

I agree, anything from Robert Boduch is worth looking at. He's a top guy too.


H
ere's the weebly site so you can see ratings: http://bestcopywritingbooks.weebly.com/


Moderators, if I'm not allowed that link in my post, please pm me and I'll remove it straight away.
#copy writing #book #books #copywriting #overlooked #top
  • Profile picture of the author Maximillion_Z
    And the Gary Halbert Recommended List:

    "Scientific Advertising"

    -by Claude Hopkins

    "The Robert Collier Letter Book"

    -by Robert Collier

    "Tested Advertising Methods"
    -by John Caples
    "How To Write A Good Advertisement"

    -by Vic Schwab

    "The Gary Halbert Letter" (all back issues)

    -by Gary Halbert
    "The Boron Letters"

    -by Gary Halbert

    "The Lazy Man's Way to Riches"

    -by Joe Karbo

    "Break-Through Advertising"

    -by Eugene M. Schwartz

    "7-Steps To Freedom"

    -by Ben Suarez
    • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
      Joe Sugarman's books have a more modern feel to them
      than many of the classics mentioned here - even though
      he wrote them in the days before the internet he
      was dealing with technological innovations. One
      year he was selling calculators for $200 a pop and
      the next year better calculators were $40 - kinda
      like the Internet Marketing phenomenon where information
      that sells for $1000 today is given away next year.

      Useful stuff.

      I've read Drayton Bird's book on Direct Marketing and
      it's first-rate - more useful in many ways than "7
      Steps To Freedom" - which deals specifically with
      how to run a direct mail business, not copywriting.
  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    Even though it's not a copywriting guide get Seven Kings' "On Writing." This is one of his few non-fiction books with a slight autobiographical slant. Excellent stuff.

    In a nutshell King says, you've gotta have some intrinsic talent or all the study in the world won't help. Once you've determined you've got the basic talent there are two things you must do consistently. Those are: read a lot and write a lot. The rest will take care of itself. I agree. Good luck.
    • Profile picture of the author Maximillion_Z
      Thanks for the replies.

      I just saw the other thread in the copywriting section: "Best Copywriting Book?"

      Just to say that I didn't mean to start a thread with such a similar theme. Should've looked before posting

      ---

      Loren Woirhaye, regarding Sugarman - it would be good to get your opinion on this, by Mark Joyner (not affiliate link):

      simpleˇology | Simpleology Great Teacher Series - Ted Nicholas and Joe Sugarman Teach Direct Response Copywriting

      It looks interesting given the $1 7 day trial, but it doesn't seem directly endorsed by Sugarman or Ted Nicholas, nor does it have any real testimonials.
    • Profile picture of the author Roxanne McHenry
      Originally Posted by travlinguy View Post

      Even though it's not a copywriting guide get Seven Kings' "On Writing." This is one of his few non-fiction books with a slight autobiographical slant. Excellent stuff.
      I agree that Steven King's book is excellent. It's not a how-to in the traditional sense, but he shares the nitty-gritty to get the job done. Great for writing and copywriting!

      I actually saw Steve King in person years ago in New England at a movie showing of one of his stories, and he's still a writing icon. He was very unassuming, and if you didn't know who he was, he looked like he could've been a teacher or professor.
    • Profile picture of the author Henry White
      Originally Posted by travlinguy View Post

      Even though it's not a copywriting guide get Seven Kings' "On Writing." This is one of his few non-fiction books with a slight autobiographical slant. Excellent stuff.

      In a nutshell King says, you've gotta have some intrinsic talent or all the study in the world won't help. Once you've determined you've got the basic talent there are two things you must do consistently. Those are: read a lot and write a lot. The rest will take care of itself. I agree. Good luck.
      I found it very disappointing - it's poorly written, half the book is completely irrelevant, the part on writing was unoriginal, and so profanity laced I tossed it in the trash. This is the sort of writing you'd expect from a middle schooler.
  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    Hi maximillion - I looked at it. I promote Simpleology
    as an affiliate - I generally feel their stuff is good.

    If you've never read Sugarman's "Advertising Secrets
    of The Written Word" you might really enjoy the Sugarman
    part of it - because you wouldn't know it's just some guy
    reading the book to you word-for-word.

    The Ted Nicholas part is, as far as I can tell, original.

    There are 60 million people in the USA who basically don't
    read - but they still want to learn how to make a lot
    of money. The market for spoken-word info-products
    is vast for that reason. Simpleology break things down
    into nice little bites. I think it's a good system but if
    you are a voracious, aggressive student I think you
    might find the copywriting course too slow.

    Still two world-class teachers though - guys who made
    their fortunes selling stuff with copy - not peddling
    copywriting seminars and courses. They both started
    doing that only after they were very successful.
    • Profile picture of the author Maximillion_Z
      Originally Posted by Loren Woirhaye View Post

      If you've never read Sugarman's "Advertising Secrets
      of The Written Word" you might really enjoy the Sugarman
      part of it - because you wouldn't know it's just some guy
      reading the book to you word-for-word.

      The Ted Nicholas part is, as far as I can tell, original.
      That's what I was worried about.

      $45 a month for 12 months = $540 to have a book read to you.

      The AWAI course also seems good, but as you mentioned - us aggressive students don't want to wait a year just to learn the basics...

      ---

      As you're a pro (I'm guessing), do you think it possible to become a copywriter just by studying these books, and just practising?

      I mean, it would be nice to take on a few small time gigs until enough income arives to afford the high end courses.

      ---

      Ben Settle's "Copywriting Grab Bag" looks to be a winner also.
  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    Yes. If you've sold stuff in person of on the phone it
    will be easier for you though.

    The most important thing is to write. I don't follow
    formulas normally. For a cheap, quick salesletter
    for a generic product I might though. For a high-priced
    product I spend a lot of time working out what to
    say - the big ideas and arguments - when I sit down
    to write they flow out.... mostly in a messy way that
    needs a lot of editing .

    I'm not a big-shot by any stretch but my copy does sell...
    and know what? I read the books over and over and when
    I sit down to write I don't think much about what the do's
    and don't's are in the books.

    Nobody has mentioned Herschell Gordon Lewis's books. I have
    a couple and they are first-rate in my opinion. If I had to
    pick two books that could take you from being a guy
    who writes okay copy to a guy who writes great copy
    they would probably be "Breakthrough Advertising" and
    "Direct Mail Copy That Sells" - because both books are very
    specific in different areas that can transform your whole
    approach in subtle and powerful, creative ways.
  • Profile picture of the author MrCopy
    Don't be fooled by the low price tag and packaging - I think Ca$hvertising by Drew Eric Whitman is a good resource. It's kind of checklist style - but quotes a ton of other books and resources. It's probably a little advanced for beginners.

    It's a great for teaching primary emotional motivators etc.
    • Profile picture of the author Woody C
      Originally Posted by ncub8 View Post

      Don't be fooled by the low price tag and packaging - I think Ca by Drew Eric Whitman is a good resource. It's kind of checklist style - but quotes a ton of other books and resources. It's probably a little advanced for beginners.

      It's a great for teaching primary emotional motivators etc.

      If you want to understand the psycological triggers behind sales and copywriting then Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman is a MUST!

      He also just got on Twitter and has some really helpful tweets, all promoting Cashvertising, of course . @DrewEricWhitman is his username.
  • Profile picture of the author Dima Kritchevski
    "Advertising Secrets of The Written Word" by Joe Sugarman is a seriously kick-ass book on writing killer copy. How that managed to evade a significant mention in a thread about the the top copywriting books makes about as much sense to me as tits on a donkey.
  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    It was mentioned. You didn't read the thread.
    • Profile picture of the author Dean Dhuli
      "Making Ads Pay" by John Caples

      This book isn't talked about as much as "Tested Advertising Methods", but I personally feel
      MAP is much, much better than TAM.
  • Profile picture of the author mspennylane
    I'm currently reading "The Elements of Copywriting" by Gary Blake and Robert Bly. It was written a while ago so some sections, like web copywriting, are out of date. But most of the methods seem to be timeless.

    By the way, I'm new here and looking forward to getting involved in a few discussions
  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    "The Adweek Copywriting Handbook" is a newer version in paperback
    of "Advertising Secrets" - which is available in paper but mostly sold
    as an exquistively printed and bound hardcover. It's really a nice
    book to own but the Adweek handbook has the same information
    in it. Personally I like Sugarman's writing but his book doesn't make
    my A-list because it pertains to a specific type of catalog writing he
    basically invented and was wildly successful with. Drew Alan Kaplan
    is one of the surviving exponents of the style - though as far as
    I know his catalog is now all online. If D.A.K. wrote a book on copy
    or marketing I would buy it.

    Sugarman's advice on the specifics of how-to write copy may or may
    not work for you.

    Often ignored is Jeffrey Lant's book "Cash Copy". Some people hate his
    style but if you could only have one book on the topic it's a contender.
  • Profile picture of the author methomas
    I haven't seen any mention of Joe Vitale.

    Mr. Vitale, also known as Mr. Fire (mrfire.com)is one of the top Internet copywriters and has several ebooks on Hypnotic Marketing and Hypnotic Writing secrets.

    Well worth reading.
    • Profile picture of the author James A. Miller
      Originally Posted by methomas View Post

      I haven't seen any mention of Joe Vitale.

      Mr. Vitale, also known as Mr. Fire (mrfire.com)is one of the top Internet copywriters and has several ebooks on Hypnotic Marketing and Hypnotic Writing secrets.

      Well worth reading.
      That's because most of his products are a waste of time and money. He's a great copywriter but a poor teacher.
    • Profile picture of the author blueonblue
      Originally Posted by methomas View Post

      I haven't seen any mention of Joe Vitale.

      Mr. Vitale, also known as Mr. Fire (mrfire.com)is one of the top Internet copywriters and has several ebooks on Hypnotic Marketing and Hypnotic Writing secrets.

      Well worth reading.
      Read the list again. It was mentioned three times!
  • Profile picture of the author mccflo99
    I agree M E, you can get Hypnotic Writing on Amazon for less than 15 bucks and it's a steal. I read all of his material.

    Chris
  • Profile picture of the author wrcato
    Maximillion_Z,
    In my opinion anyone serious about copywriting needs to read "Scientific Advertising". It's a classic. Claude Hopkins is considered the "Father" of modern day advertising. If you haven't read it yet you can read it for free on my blog. 2Ultra.com Presents: ---> Ad-Copy Secrets Revealed It is located in the header under the title.
  • Profile picture of the author priyankeshu
    There is one more book... "Write to sell " it is written by Andy Maslen it is one of the best books easy to understand.. in the book.. writer talks a bit about psychology too!

    With no doubt... Claude Hopkins is a must read for any advertising/marketing professional... in fact people say that one should read it at least 10 times before starting a marketing career
    • Profile picture of the author Nic Oliver
      Originally Posted by priyankeshu View Post

      There is one more book... "Write to sell " it is written by Andy Maslen it is one of the best books easy to understand.. in the book.. writer talks a bit about psychology too!

      With no doubt... Claude Hopkins is a must read for any advertising/marketing professional... in fact people say that one should read it at least 10 times before starting a marketing career
      Another vote for Andy Maslen, both for "Write to Sell" and "The Copywriting Sourcebook: How to Write Better Copy, Faster - For Everything from Ads to Websites"

      Regards

      Nic
  • Profile picture of the author Hesster
    Newbie copywriter (and newbie Warrior) here...

    Does anyone have suggestions on books for newbs who have never written copy or been in the advertising business before? I'm not talking about stuff on how to string a sentence together, more about the nuts and bolts of putting together copy without a lot of jargon (or at least explaining what the jargon means).
    • Profile picture of the author Ken Strong
      Originally Posted by Hesster View Post

      Newbie copywriter (and newbie Warrior) here...

      Does anyone have suggestions on books for newbs who have never written copy or been in the advertising business before? I'm not talking about stuff on how to string a sentence together, more about the nuts and bolts of putting together copy without a lot of jargon (or at least explaining what the jargon means).
      That's what this thread is about -- go back and check out some of the books mentioned. None of them are grammar handbooks, they're all about how to copywrite.
    • Profile picture of the author zauberer
      In my opinion and as has already been mentioned get How To Write A Good Advertisement by Schwab and also Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy and then get your hands on about 50 to 60 good swipes of John Carlton, Gary Halbert, Gary Bencivenga and Brian Keith Voiles and memorize them until you can recite them in your sleep.

      Also get your hands on courses that break down good copy and explain step by step why and how the letter was put together. License To Steal by John Carlton is one such example. It helps you get good fast

      Originally Posted by Hesster View Post

      Newbie copywriter (and newbie Warrior) here...

      Does anyone have suggestions on books for newbs who have never written copy or been in the advertising business before? I'm not talking about stuff on how to string a sentence together, more about the nuts and bolts of putting together copy without a lot of jargon (or at least explaining what the jargon means).
    • Profile picture of the author ARSuarez
      Originally Posted by Hesster View Post

      Newbie copywriter (and newbie Warrior) here...

      Does anyone have suggestions on books for newbs who have never written copy or been in the advertising business before? I'm not talking about stuff on how to string a sentence together, more about the nuts and bolts of putting together copy without a lot of jargon (or at least explaining what the jargon means).
      Honestly, it's a very good idea to start with Bob Bly's "The Copywriter's Handbook." He goes through a lot of information you'll need to know. Plus, it's inexpensive on Amazon.
      And as I'm sure you noticed, pick-up "Scientific Advertising" by Claude Hopkins. You can find that one online, if need be. Just read it.

      I also recommend "The Ultimate Sales Letter" by Dan Kennedy. A very thorough checklist style book. More good advice is to get together a good swipe file. Study big winners, practice 'em in longhand, start memorizing. Voila! You're getting good.

      Best,

      Angel

      P.S. Read The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert. You can find a .pdf collection of them online. Great resource.
  • Profile picture of the author undergroundguru
    Pretty sweet list so far.. I love Scientific Advertising!! One of the first books I read on advertising & marketing!
  • Profile picture of the author blfred
    Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. is not a copy writing book per say, but it's probably one of the best books on how to sell out there.

    Brandon
  • Profile picture of the author EmpoweredCreator
    Web Copy that Sells - Maria Veloso

    This is an awesome copy writing book that really explains how to do it from A - Z

    She even gives you a good system to use to develop your copy for your webpage.
    • Profile picture of the author dontono7
      Thanks for the tip on "Web Copy That Sells" by Maria Veloso, I was going to ask that but saw two people that think it's a great book. Ok, now I need to buy it...
  • Profile picture of the author pegasuspress
    A lot of great suggestions here. My personal favorites:

    Web Copy That Sells by Maria Veloso - lays everything out in a logical step-by-step sequence that even beginners can easily understand. She also has a copywriting course at webcopywritinguniversity.com which I haven't taken as it is much more expensive than the book.

    Dan Kennedy - just about anything by this guy is pretty good from my experience.

    Drew Eric Whitman - If this is who I think it is I bought a book of his about 10-12 years ago and it was excellent. (Unfortunately I can't find it anymore.) Again, follows a logical process. Does anybody know if he's the guy who bills himself as the "copywriting surgeon" or "ad copy doctor" or some such thing? I remember the book I bought had a picture of him on the cover in a surgeon's mask.

    One thing I've noticed, which someone mentioned earlier, is that a lot of the top copywriters do advocate sitting down with proven sales letters and just literally hand copying these letters over and over to get the experience of how it actually feels to write great ad copy. Sounds a bit strange and it's tedious as hell but a lot of them swear by it. I tried it once but after a few days it just started driving me nuts so I stopped. There just might be something to this method though. Apparently Hunter S. Thompson did the same thing with writers he admired, like Hemmingway. He turned out to be pretty good, to say the least, even though it's obviously a completely different style of writing.
    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Sanchez
      Scott Haines a protege of halbert did the same thing...copied one of Halbert's books by hand...

      And the great Stephen King as a boy used to copy novels by hand...over and over.

      There's a reason this is considered such a great exercise.

      Originally Posted by pegasuspress View Post

      A lot of great suggestions here. My personal favorites:

      Web Copy That Sells by Maria Veloso - lays everything out in a logical step-by-step sequence that even beginners can easily understand. She also has a copywriting course at webcopywritinguniversity.com which I haven't taken as it is much more expensive than the book.

      Dan Kennedy - just about anything by this guy is pretty good from my experience.

      Drew Eric Whitman - If this is who I think it is I bought a book of his about 10-12 years ago and it was excellent. (Unfortunately I can't find it anymore.) Again, follows a logical process. Does anybody know if he's the guy who bills himself as the "copywriting surgeon" or "ad copy doctor" or some such thing? I remember the book I bought had a picture of him on the cover in a surgeon's mask.

      One thing I've noticed, which someone mentioned earlier, is that a lot of the top copywriters do advocate sitting down with proven sales letters and just literally hand copying these letters over and over to get the experience of how it actually feels to write great ad copy. Sounds a bit strange and it's tedious as hell but a lot of them swear by it. I tried it once but after a few days it just started driving me nuts so I stopped. There just might be something to this method though. Apparently Hunter S. Thompson did the same thing with writers he admired, like Hemmingway. He turned out to be pretty good, to say the least, even though it's obviously a completely different style of writing.
  • Profile picture of the author TonyDJackson
    Gary Halbert taught me dig deep into the desire of the consumer and cut it out with a knife... Gary Bencivenga showed me how to seduce men & women with the sweet and gentle words of angels! Perhaps Gary's course is beyond your reach or possibly sold out. If so, I highly commend "every precious word" of Bencivenga's Bullets (free). Gary is the most persuasive and gracious copyrwriter I have ever read.

    Tony
    • Profile picture of the author ryancameron
      John Carlton is definitely in the top 3. Check out: marketingrebel.com

      The guy is one of the most influential copywriters of all time. His book is my favorite.
  • Profile picture of the author Sleaklight
    hmm Made To Stick by Chip heath and The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell are small books that deserve to be read

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