Are you looking for the best copywriting books? Books that’ll help you become a better writer and make more money?
Whether you’re a newbie copywriter or a seasoned pro, you should always be honing your craft. The better you are at creating persuasive copy that converts, the more you’ll earn as a copywriter.
But how can you become a millionaire marketer without investing thousands of dollars in a copywriting course? Start by reading the best copywriting book you can get your hands on.
There’s a few of them out there, and to help you get started, we’ve rounded up the 25 best copywriting books every copywriter should read.
Let’s dive into them.
25 Books Every Copywriter Should Read
Classic Copywriting Books
1. Ogilvy on Advertising, by David Ogilvy
In this 1983 classic, he spells out the fundamentals of writing compelling copy, emphasizing the importance of market research and positioning while providing real-life examples of what works — and what doesn’t.
It’s basically a swipe file of some of the most successful — and unsuccessful — ad campaigns ever created.
2. Tested Advertising Methods, by John Caples
John Caples had a bit of an obsession with split testing — hence the title. Caples rigorously tested all his recommended strategies before including them.
Tested Advertising Methods is especially valuable for copywriters working in direct response advertising and paid ad campaigns. And, it’s worth buying for Chapter 5 alone, which spells out the ad headline techniques that five out of ten advertisers still use today.
3. The Boron Letters, by Gary Halbert
The Boron Letters is a collection of letters the famed copywriter Gary Halbert penned while incarcerated in the Boron Federal Prison Camp for tax fraud.
Written and sent to his son, Bond, the letters are part self-help book, part copywriting science.
Gary Halbert shares his insights on copywriting, persuasion, and advertising, and, fittingly, decision-making, and surrounding yourself with the right people.
4. Scientific Advertising, by Claude Hopkins
Scientific Advertising is considered by many as the original copywriting sourcebook. David Ogilvy himself thought anyone aspiring to work in advertising should read this book seven times. And many of this book’s tried-and-tested revelations would bear that out, including:
- Long-form copy performs better than short.
- A strong brand personality is essential to advertising success.
- Proven claims and social proof work.
The words may feel dated, but the ideas still ring fresh.
5. Breakthrough Advertising, by Eugene Schwartz
But — you can harness existing demand by connecting your product to people’s desires.
Though parts of the book are conceptually complex and perhaps best-suited to more experienced copywriters, Breakthrough Advertising is still highly relevant in direct response marketing. Particularly helpful are the frameworks Schwartz builds around stages of awareness.
But be warned — this book is out of print, and currently listed on Amazon at an eye-watering $349.70.
The Best Modern Copywriting Books
6. Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, by Luke Sullivan
In the aptly-named volume, Sullivan explains why bad ads sometimes work and good ads sometimes fail.
Some of his key insights include:
- Simple is almost always better.
- Value is key — good copy stays relevant to your audience’s needs, desires, and interests.
- Writing is a process — write until you find the idea that dramatizes the benefit.
7. The Idea Writers, by Teressa Iezzi
Some of the classics mentioned above provide solid copywriting foundations, but may not be entirely relevant to today’s digital world.
In David Ogilvy’s time, for example, a single great headline could create and sustain an entire successful campaign.
These days, though, ad campaigns are multiplatform and interactive, with the potential to create each their own audience.
The Idea Writers brings traditional copywriting theory up to date to meet the challenges of the changing advertising landscape and get your brand and its message noticed regardless of the platform.
8. The Copy Book, by D & AD
Want to know the breakthrough advertising secrets of the world’s most successful copywriters? This book is for you.
The Copy Book made its debut in 1995 with 32 essays (later editions brought the total to 48) penned by successful agency copywriters. Notable contributors include:
- Barbara Nokes, the brains behind Volkswagen, Levi’s, and Audi campaigns.
- Neil French, the master of long-form ads for Chivas Regal.
- And David Abbott, know for his work with Sainsbury’s and The Economist.
In each essay, you’ll explore real-life examples from each copywriter, and insights into how they created their campaigns. It’s an indispensable over-the-shoulder glance at advertising greatness at work.
9. Advertising Secrets of the Written Word, by Joseph Sugarman
Joseph Sugarman made millions writing mail order and direct marketing copy in the 1970s and ’80s. Defying conventional copywriting wisdom, he developed a style that changed the face of direct response marketing.
Sugarman shares his secrets of creating copy in a way that’s educational, inspirational, and motivating.
And using examples of his ads to illustrate his points, he provides unique insights into his writing techniques, and the psychological triggers he taps into that ultimately lead to sales.
10. The Wizard of Ads, by Roy H. Williams
Roy Williams has dedicated his life to answering the question, “what makes people do the things they do?”
To that end, The Wizard of Ads distils Williams’ wisdom on both life and copywriting through a collection of essays and letters written to clients and friends. Compelling chapter titles include A Caterpillar Called John Riley and Pointing Chris Like a Gun, while subject matter ranges from Alexander the Great, to how Williams met his wife.
It’s a rare trip inside the head of an advertising great.
Books That Teach the Craft of Copywriting
11. The Ultimate Sales Letter, by Dan Kennedy
According to Dan Kennedy — one of the world’s most highly-paid copywriters — effective copywriting is more mechanical process than it is art. Which means anyone can learn the art of persuasive copywriting — yes, even you.
In The Ultimate Sales Letter, Dan Kennedy explains why some letters lead to sales and others end up in the trash. He shows you how to enter the conversation in your audience’s mind, while being honest about the drawbacks of your product or service.
This book will bring hope to anyone who thinks they “can’t” write great copy.
12. The Copywriter’s Handbook, by Robert W. Bly
This is another book that comes with the David Ogilvy seal of approval.
In The Copywriter’s Handbook, Robert “Bob” Bly reveals effective techniques for writing ads and emails that get attention. To get your products sold, Bly suggests, you need to see yourselves as salespeople behind keyboards. And to that end, he offers tips for creating unique and urgent copy, including:
- Headlines that work
- How to make your copy more readable
- Ways to open a sales letter
An indispensable bonus? His insights on how to build a freelance copywriting business.
13. Everybody Writes, by Ann Handley
In a world of lip-syncing TikTok videos, it’s tempting to believe writing doesn’t matter anymore.
But, in Everybody Writes, content marketing expert Ann Handley says great copywriting matters more than ever. And in the digital marketing age, traditional marketing is no longer enough.
In this book, you’ll discover the secrets of persuasive online copywriting, including:
- How to tell a true story well
- How to empathize with your audience
- How to create trustworthy content using journalistic principles
- How to personalize your sales emails
Ann Handley thinks everyone on the internet is a copywriter. Everybody Writes shows how to do it right, in a style only she can.
14. Words that Sell, by Richard Bayan
Words that Sell is a copywriter’s thesaurus.
Need an alternative to exciting? This book has 100 of them.
There’s more than 75 lists — containing more than 6,000 power words — that make an impact and sell, including:
- Grabbers that get attention
- Benefit descriptors that create appeal
- Clinchers to win over your customer
- Strategy words that seal the deal
There’s a few bonuses too — a crash course in copywriting, and a guide to commonly misspelled, confusing, and pretentious words to look out for.
15. Great Leads, by Michael Masterson and John Forde
Do you stare at a flashing cursor every time you sit down to write an email? Then you need this book.
Learning to write great openings will dramatically increase your success as a copywriter. And Great Leads is one of the best books on writing them.
Knowing why a great lead matters is the first step to becoming a more effective copywriter. What’s more, it allows you to:
- Create stronger, more compelling copy
- Increase demand and charge more for your services
Great Leads is a must-read for writers of all experience levels.
Books About Human Behavior and the Psychology of Decision-Making
16. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B Cialdini
This book is the ultimate guide to understanding why people say yes. Read it, and you’re sure to write better copy.
Dr. Cialdini shares the results of 35 years of research into the psychology of persuasion, which he condenses into six principles:
- Social proof
Influence will teach you how to use these principles — and spot people using them on you. Once you’re familiar with them, you’ll start seeing them everywhere.
17. Cashvertising, by Drew Eric Whitman
Ready to steal a few high-impact ad copy secrets from New York’s top agencies? This book lets you crack the safe.
Cashvertising contains facts that will make your web, advertising, email, and SEO copywriting more effective. Did you know that—
- 60% of people only read headlines?
- Image captions get 200% more readership than other non-headline copy?
- Ads containing the price get 20% more attention?
- Four-color ads are 45% more effective than black-and-white?
Whether you’re writing copy for a large business or a mom-and-pop store, the tips in this book will work — regardless of your location, product, or service.
18. The Power of Moments, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
The premise of The Power of Moments is that a single moment can change your life.
There are certain experiences you’ll always remember — both good and bad — and these moments are often brought about by circumstances or luck. But, by understanding what makes a moment powerful, you can create experiences that enchant and delight your customers.
Our most memorable positive moments contain one or more of the following elements:
By embracing these elements, copywriters can create memorable experiences for their readers — and drive more sales for their clients.
19. The Advertising Effect, by Adam Ferrier
If you want to learn about behavioral change, this is the book for you.
In The Advertising Effect, industry insider Adam Ferrier explains why action creates change more effectively than emotional and rational persuasion.
His ten top advertising strategies, illustrated with real-world campaigns, include:
- Eliminate complexity
The book also features contributions from leading behavioral and advertising experts like Alain de Botton, Faris Yakob, and Bob Garfield.
20. Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely
Think you know how to make good decisions?
In Predictably Irrational, behavioral economist Dan Ariely challenges the well-defended assumption that we make decisions rationally. This witty and entertaining book demonstrates how we make shockingly simple mistakes every day due to emotion, expectation, and social norms, including:
- Overpaying for purchases
- Underestimating the importance of certain things
- Procrastinating, and its cost to us
Copywriters can use this information to create copy that appeals to their readers’ irrational side.
Books About Copywriting In Contemporary Marketing
21. How to Write Seductive Web Copy, by Henneke Duistermaat
This book is perfect for both beginners and more advanced copywriters who want to up their game.
This short, self-described “easy guide to picking up customers” delivers on its promises by walking you through the basics of writing web copy that converts. It contains tips on:
- Identifying your ideal customer
- Describing benefits
- Identifying your value proposition
- Writing and editing.
Duistermaat’s mission is to stamp out gobbledygook online, so each chapter ends with exercises and worksheets that put her lessons into action.
22. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, by Gary Vaynerchuk
In this book, social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk reveals his social media copywriting secret in the title’s meaning — jab away at your competition, and then knock them out with a final right hook.
Vaynerchuk’s core message is that what works on social media is constantly changing — and since it was written in 2013, some of the advice may already seem a bit outdated.
Still, it’s worth the read, as it goes into detail on crafting copy that will deliver the right hook across different social media platforms.
23. They Ask, You Answer, by Marcus Sheridan
Following the housing collapse, Marcus Sheridan turned his failing pool company around to become one of the biggest pool installers in the US today. And he achieved this by answering people’s questions.
This book shares the exact strategies he used.
They Ask, You Answer is a philosophical guide to becoming the most trusted voice in any industry… by simply answering questions.
24. This is Marketing, by Seth Godin
Master marketer Seth Godin condenses over 25 years of experience into this book, sharing his core values of marketing:
This is Marketing makes the case for why marketers should think about how they can serve their customers — not the other way round.
Godin advises finding your smallest viable market and telling stories tailored to their ideas about status and affiliation.
He also encourages small businesses to start with direct marketing (Google ads, email and social media) over brand marketing (billboards).
25. The Mom Test, by Rob Fitzpatrick
The Mom Test is based on a simple yet painfully important principle:
Never ask your mom for business advice, because she loves you and won’t be impartial.
It’s a short, entertaining read based on Fitzpatrick’s experience in the startup world , and it’s great for newbie copywriters.
In The Mom Test, Fitzpatrick extends his title’s premise, suggesting that instead of pitching ideas to customers, you should investigate their needs and create solutions to their problems.
This book contains how-tos, specific methods, and examples of approaches that work well, ones that don’t, and why.
These Copywriting Books Will Skyrocket Your Career
So, there you have it — a list of some of the best breakthrough copywriting books for becoming a master copywriter.
Start by reading the book that appeals most to you, one that’s relevant to your experience and writing niche. As you gain knowledge, hone your craft, and add to your portfolio, you’ll be able to charge more as a copywriter.
Where’s the nearest library?