The Top 5 Best Books on Copywriting

If you’re just beginning to learn copy, this is the place to start

David O.
David O.
Jan 14 · 5 min read
Photo by the Bialons on Unsplash

Copywriting is one of the highest paying skills in the world today. It is not just a skill that can get you a job, it is a skill you can use yourself in your business.

Most of the top copywriters do not have a job. They use the skill for their own business. In this way, they make a lot more money than any job can ever offer them. This is the real lucrative power of copywriting.

The most important thing in business is sales. And marketing is directly connected to sales. The marketing is regarded as successful based on how much sales get generated. Copywriting is an important part of marketing.

Copywriting is simply written words that make people buy.

Getting people to buy is an art. Just because people need it doesn’t mean they will buy it. Just because they say they love it doesn’t mean they would buy. When Nestle introduced coffee to Japan, their survey and testing revealed that a good number of Japanese people actually loved coffee. But when they launched, nobody was buying. They had to figure out another way to penetrate the market.

Buying is primarily an emotional decision. And unless those emotions are triggered making the buyer feel confident in making a decision, no sale will be made. Copywriters are masters of this transition. Yes, they make blunders and fail a lot too. But their success makes up for every past failure in a big way.

The top people who have honed this skill over decades of practice have written books to pass on their knowledge. Some of them disagree with each other on a couple of issues. This is because they all operated at different times and use different methods of copywriting. But the core message is very consistent.

The modern needs of copywriting are a bit different from the practice when some of these books were written. But their message is relevant for all time. If you have not read all of them, you are still a beginner.

Here they are:

1. The Boron Letters

This book was written by Gary Halbert. Gary proclaimed himself to be the greatest copywriter on the back of a successful sales copy that made tens of millions of dollars. At one point, the money coming in was so much that the bank created a separate section just to receive that only.

Gary wrote a lot of other sales copy. And he had a newsletter where he expressed his thoughts and ideas on copywriting. The Boron Letters was a book he wrote from the prison in the 1980s. He got involved in a business that went wrong and he got jail time for it. This period humbled him.

To pick himself up, he made up his mind to write one letter to his son every day (for a set of days). These letters were what he put together and published as a book. Eventually, the book would be about copywriting, but it was basically Gary’s view on life.

I liked the book so much because it takes you into Gary’s mind. To be a good copywriter, you need to know how good copywriters think. It is not so much about the methods and steps. It is about the thinking approach.

One important lesson you would find invaluable from this book is that you need to become a student of the market. Study what they buy, not what they say they want.

2. Tested Advertising Methods

This book was written a long time ago by another great copywriter, John Caples. This book was built on one simple message, and that is testing.

The value of a true copywriter is measured by the results they get. If an ad is written for people to buy, the success of the ad is based on how much people bought and not how many people loved the ad. There are lovely ads that don’t lead to sales.

To be sure of sales, there must be no assumptions in a copy. Tested Advertising Methods is all about testing every aspect of your ad before making a huge campaign from it.

From this book, you will understand that copywriting is not about writing what you feel will work. Instead, it is about testing every side and angle of the marketing message.

3. Scientific Advertising

This book is by Claude Hopkins, generally referred to as the best copywriter of his time. He was arguably the first person who began incorporating scientific methods into advertising. His approach was to learn as much as possible from past attempts before writing an ad.

Claude began the book with the simple thought that ads are not written to entertain. Ads fail in many cases because they were written to please the seller. The seller wants something beautiful and entertaining, but in most cases, they don’t produce any meaningful sales.

Scientific Advertising is the ideal starting point of copywriting. Those who don’t follow the principles of the book are almost guaranteed to lose money on advertising.

4. How to Write a Good Advertisement

Just like the title suggests, this is a straight-to-the-point book on writing ads. This is a step-by-step methodology of copywriting. But some of the facts in there are based on tested assumptions in a different period. You will need to test out some of them in this time and age before you launch.

The book is written by Victor O. Schwab and it is filled with samples to choose from. It is also a book you can follow step by step to write a pressing ad on your hands.

The central message of the book is to stimulate the emotions and substantiate with facts.

5. Breakthrough Advertising

This is arguably the greatest book on copywriting. It is written by a phenomenal copywriter known as Eugene Schwartz. The book is an exhaustive study on writing a great ad. I believe every active copywriter should read the book at least once every year.

Schwartz defined a copywriter as someone that takes an existing desire and channels it into a particular product. His mentality is that you cannot sell to people who don’t want to buy.

Copywriters often see themselves as magical geniuses that can sell to people who don’t want to buy. The problem is that the more you try to sell to people who don’t want to buy, the more they don’t want to buy.

Breakthrough advertising breaks down every aspect of copywriting and discusses them in detail. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to be a very good copywriter.

Today, a lot of people are interested in copywriting because it is a skill that they can use to get jobs. But the message of these books can make you a business person. In fact, Gary Halbert says often that all the good copywriters he knows work on their own businesses.

One thing all these books have in common is the idea of targeting the wants of the people. When you don’t target any desire, the buyer won’t feel the need or urge to buy.

I hope you have learned something

Better Marketing

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David O.

Written by

David O.

Copywriter. I study why people buy. Connect with me → P.S. I have other interests too

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

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