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The Best Copywriter Books-For Anyone Who Wants to Write Persuasive Sales Copy

Updated on December 11, 2013

The Best Copywriter Books in One Place

What are the best copywriter books?

If you are an aspiring copywriter, or you are a business owner who wants to increase sales, or if you are an online business owner who wants to write persuasive web copy...these seminal books on copywriting are for you.

Choosing the best copywriting books is an invidious task-one that is bound to divide opinion and provoke debate.

But the copywriting books that are referred to below are recommended by some of the finest copywriters who plied their trade writing powerfully persuasive direct response copy.

And they have stood the test of time as they contain the universal principles that have been successful in selling billions of dollars worth of goods and services since they have been published.

People like Eugene Schwartz, Claude Hopkins, David Oglivy, Dan Kennedy, Gary Halbert, Gary Bencivenga, Clayton Makepeace have at one time or another recommended certain copywriting books for budding copywriters-books that they described as essential.

It is these books that will be the primary focus of this page.

I have read almost all of them and have my personal favorites which I will share with you.

But it is important to let you know about what you can expect in each book as your needs and knowledge and personal style will be different from mine.

I don't neglect modern copywriting books either but the emphasis will be on the classics, the copywriting books that have stood the test of time and which have been recommended again and again by the masters.

Because in my opinion, most of what followed from the classic copywriters was simply a different take on the universal principles of persuasion set out in the pages of the classics.

Copywriting Books Recommended by Eugene Schwartz

"Breakthrough Advertising" by Eugne Schwartz is one of the best copywriting books ever written.

It is detailed, comprehensive, and is the copywriting book that should be in every copywriter's library.

It is not a book to be read at one sitting. It is a book that you will find yourself drawn to again and again if you are serious about your copywriting trade.

I have done an exhaustive review of this book which you can check out by clicking on the link below.

Eugene Schwartz recommended the following books at the back of his seminal work:

1. an anthology of great advertisements -The 100 Greatest Advertisements by Julian Watkins, 1949
2. My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins, 1927
3. Intensive Advertising by John E. Kennedy
4. The Robert Collier Letter Book by Robert Collier
5. Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Oglivy
6. Reality of Advertising by Rosser Reeves

Any copywriter who has read "Breakthrough Advertising" by Schwartz will pay acute attention to his recommendations above.

Modern Day Copywriting Books to Consider

Modern day copywriters who must be considered include

  • Jay Abraham and his book "Getting Everything You Can Out of All You've Got"
  • Ted Nicholas and his "The Golden Mailbox"
  • "The Ultimate Sales Letter" by Dan Kennedy
  • "Kick-Ass Copywriting Secretes of a Marketing Rebel" by John Carlton

All of these guys studied the "masters of copywriting" like Claude Hopkins, David Oglivy, Eugene Schwartz, Victor Schwab, John Caples, Rosser Reeves, Robert Collier, etc.

So if you want to truly get under the skin of the thinking, psychology, testing in the field of the pioneers of writing persuasive copy, you won't go too far wrong by studying these old timers.

How to Write a Good Advertisement by Victor O. Schwab-A Deceptively Easy and Powerful Read

I have read virtually all of the copywriting and advertising books referred to on this page. But one book that I find myself coming back to time and time again is Victor O. Schwab's "How to Write a Good Advertisement".

What I like about this book is it's accessibility and simplicity. He boils persuasive copywriting down to 5 fundamentals:

  1. Get the reader's attention
  2. Show him/her an advantage
  3. Prove the advantage
  4. Persuade the reader to grasp this advantage
  5. Persuade him/her to act now.

His book also analyses and critiques 100 famous headlines and he explains why they were successful or not.

These headlines are a fantastic resource to have to hand when you are writing to persuade because they can be easily adapted to your particular situation.

Schwab's book is very well written, easy to read and I particularly like his references to the great Greek and Roman orators who used persuasive rhetoric to move peoples' minds to action.

He also provides a quiz at the end of each chapter which certainly gets you thinking about what you have just read.

As well as expanding on the 5 principles outlined above Schwab also answers the question of how long your copy should be, how to get more inquiries and some interesting random observations.

The ease of reading of this book should not fool you into thinking that the precepts and principles Schwab outlines are not incredibly powerful-they most certainly are and are common characteristics in any good advertisement or copy.

Joe Sugarman-Advertising Secrets of the Written Word

Joe Sugarman was different.

Sugarman developed his own style but boy, was it a successful one..

Sugarman's seminars were expensive and in white hot demand and his most famous book, "Advertising Secrets of the Written Word: The Ultimate Resource on How to Write Powerful Advertising Copy from One of America's Top Copywriters and Mail Order Entrepreneurs" is a must for any aspiring copywriter.

Sugraman's philosophy might be summarized as follows:

  • Get reader to read. Short sentences, interesting, curiosity?
  • Create the right environment to get the reader comfortable
  • Harmonize with your reader by getting them to agree with you
  • Then the slippery slide-readers should be so compelled to read that they can’t stop
  • Use seeds of curiosity to keep them reading, especially at the end of paragraphs
  • Use emotion to sell, logic to justify-understand the nature of the product and the customer/reader-all words have emotions attached
  • Sell the concept, not the product, the sizzle, not the steak
  • Be personal-should be a personal message
  • Copy must flow-anticipate questions and answer them
  • Edit

The Gary Halbert Copywriting Technique

Gary Halbert, the self described "Prince of Print" set out his technique for writing great copy on his website

Here is a summary of his method:

1. Fact sheet/list

2. Translate facts into benefits-benefit list

3. Start thinking about your offer-how would you like to buy it? THE OFFER IS THE HEART AND SOUL OF GREAT COPY-deal sheet


4. Headline-benefit and news. Look at your deal sheet/offer and adapt it to a headline. Offer ordinary? Sweeten it until you have something to say..

5. First sentence/paragraph-tell him what is in it for him to read the letter

6. Next paragraphs-tell the good news-elaborate specifically on your promises

7. Why? Why such a good deal?

8. If he is interested he wants facts-enumerate them as benefits

9. Prove why your deal is so good..and make it believable

10. Call to action-tell him what to do and in a hurry

11. PS-one of the facts/benefits

Who is the Greatest Copywriter?

Who is the Greatest Copywriter?

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© 2013 Ernest Hemingway III

Comments Welcome

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    • dhimanreena profile image

      Reena Dhiman 

      4 years ago

      I will surely read all books which you have mentioned in the hub as I also from the copy writing field.


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