As avid readers, we often turn to books to improve our copywriting skills. Between classics like Ogilvy on Advertising and more recent ones like The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly, it’s hard to tell which books will actually help us become better copywriters.
Well, your search is finally over! I’m a full-time self-employed copywriter and I’m excited to cut through the fluff and share relevant books that have made the most impact on my income throughout my career.
I’ve separated the books into categories such as the classics, marketing and persuasion, and writing skills. Whether you are an aspiring freelance, a working copywriter, or marketing your own products, these books are worth adding to your Amazon cart!
Copywriting books that are *actually* worth your time
There are hundreds of copywriting books on the market today, but not all are worth your time. In my experience, reading marketing or sales books will give you the best bang for your buck books because they focus on persuasion principles, which is key to effective copy.
When you’re done here, I recommend watching this video on Copywriting Books that are worth your time.
Copywriting books to improve your writing
Writing is a craft, an art if you will, that you’ll need be practice often. Even though the average reading level in the United States is 8th-grade level, writing well is still important.
The best copywriting books to improve your writing that are popular among other writers include:
How to Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards
As a copywriter, you want to write compelling pieces that convey messages and tell a story. The last thing you want to do is to sound like a sweaty, used car salesperson.
Becoming un-sleazy at selling is an art, and with How to Write Copy that Sales, you learn just that.
Geared towards copywriters, freelancers, and entrepreneurs, you’ll learn techniques on email marketing, website, the dreaded social media, sales pages, and much more.
And if you’re struggling with persuasive copy-which again is an art form—you’ll learn powerful hidden secrets for any copy.
For more recommendations, check out this video on sales and marketing books.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Nothing hurts a business more than imposter syndrome. Many writers, experienced or not, suffer from occasional writer’s block or the inability to pull their story from their mind and write it down on paper.
Or maybe you’re a fantastic storyteller; you just struggle to channel your creative energy. The War of Art helps you release whatever is holding you back and unlock your potential.
This book is not necessarily a copywriting book. Still, the advice helps you push pasted your inner saboteur-which is useful when creating a copywriting business on your own.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
The best advice any copywriter worth their salt will give you is to connect with your audience. But how does one do that?
Through storytelling and life experiences.
Using simple exercises, author Anne Lamott helps you tap into your potential and your inner gift of telling stories.
Bird by Bird advises on telling the truth, finding your voice, and creating writing that comes out interesting.
Copywriting books to learn sales and persuasion
Sales and persuasion go hand in hand. Sales happen when you show someone they’re missing out and why they need the product. In other words, pain points and benefits.
But sometimes, creating good copywriting that persuades isn’t easy.
Many copywriting books for beginners don’t provide tactics of sales and persuasion, but in the books below, you’ll understand simple formulas and techniques that will make the process manageable.
The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy
Sales page writing is a high ticket offer that can provide a major income boost for writers and marketers.
In fact, email marketing makes up a good chunk of many online business owners’ revenue.
The Sales Letter explains why some sales copy fail and how to fix them.
With examples and tips on how to write compelling headlines, copywriter Dan Kennedy gives you the tools needed to improve your skills as a copywriter.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
I love psychology; the human mind is so fascinating to me.
Merging psychology into the copy can be tricky; you’re learning tricks to convince more clients to say yes and apply these tactics ethically.
With, Persuasion, the Psychology of Influence, you’ll dig deep into why people are more likely to buy something and what makes them disappear.
Copywriting books to learn marketing and advertising
The difference between six-figure copywriters and business owners is not their writing skills, but how well they understand overall marketing strategies.
In reality, the goal of copywriting is to sell products through effective marketing, not to write pretty words.
Your copy will convert like crazy when you combine persuasive storytelling with an understanding of how a company makes money.
Luckily, I have some of the best copywriting books listed below will give you a much needed marketing education:
This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See By Seth Godin
Seth Godin understands business language better than most people. With a successful blog, online courses, and famous newsletter, he shares his hard-won marketing wisdom in this book.
You’ll discover how to create work you’re proud of and use marketing to solve others’ problems.
With his techniques, you will also learn how to connect with consumers meaningfully and authentically and build trust.
This is a powerful book to help your small business, social media marketing, and more.
Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller
One of my personal favorites, this book helped me begin offering messaging strategy instead of just writing services to my clients.
Donald Miller simplifies how to clear up your brand messaging, improve your connection with your customers and grow your business.
You’ll transform how you talk about your brand, what you do, and what unique value you can deliver to your clients.
The 1-Page Marketing Plan: by Alan Dibb
Is it possible to fit a business’s entire marketing plan on one page? Alan Dibb thinks so. According to him, small business owners complicate their marketing by trying to replicate big brands instead of serving one specific audience.
The 1-Page Marketing Plan teaches how to develop a plan for business growth and how you can implement that plan.
This book provides you with the tools to help you easily map out your marketing plan and price your products and services.
If you want to understand the fundamentals and keep it simple, you won’t want to miss this book.
They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan
They Ask You Answer is a great introduction to content marketing. As blog and website writers, we don’t necessarily need to be SEO experts but we do need to understand the basics of search intent.
Decording search intent is a fancy term for understanding what people are Googling or searching for. So that this brand, our client, their stuff shows up in the search results to give that answer.
by Marcus Sheridan that basically explained how companies can show up in the search results and rank just by answering the most common questions that their potential customers have.
If you need to brush up on skills or keep up with the latest marketing trends, Marcus Sheridan will show you how to master the principles of inbound, outbound, and content marketing.
Remember when I said connection is essential?
Marcus does just that by laying out his struggles with his failed pool company, giving you first-hand insight into what went wrong and how to get it right.
Copywriting books for freelance business management
Being a talented writer doesn’t automatically translate to being a profitable freelancer or business owner.
Regardless of how skilled you are at your craft, if you don’t have clients and customers, you don’t have a business. First, I had to learn to be a copywriter and then develop business management.
Here are a few recommendations to help you learn and understand business management.
Freelance Your Way to Freedom by Alex Fasulo
If you’re considering freelancing or just starting out, Freelance Your Way to Freedom is a must-read book offering practical advice on how to navigate the gig economy and build a thriving freelance business. With step-by-step guidance and relatable anecdotes, Fasulo helps readers understand the realities of freelancing and how to overcome the challenges that come with it.
One of the book’s biggest strengths is Fasulo’s ability to break down complex concepts into simple, actionable steps. Whether you’re struggling with managing finances or need tips on attracting clients, she provides real-world solutions that you can implement right away. She also includes a woman’s perspective on solopreneurship, making this book an especially valuable resource for female freelancers.
The Freelance Content Marketing Writer by Jennifer Goforth Gregory
If you’re a writer looking to break into the world of freelancing or if you’re already freelancing but want to take your income to the next level, this book covers everything you need to know to create a successful freelance content marketing business.
One of the key takeaways from the book is the importance of crafting an LOI (Letter of Introduction) that’s worth $10k or more. Jennifer shares her step-by-step formula for creating effective and persuasive LOIs that help you land high-paying clients. She also covers how to create a website and LinkedIn profile that attracts clients to you, as well as how to tap into your own skills and experience to find your niche in the market.
I interview the author Jennifer Goforth Gregory on how she makes over $200,000 per year as a freelance writer!
Classic copywriting books for advertising history
Sometimes classic books are the way to go. While marketing methods might have changed, the fundamentals of human behavior and how to influence them are the same.
One is the Boron Letters by Gary C. Halbert. Legendary copywriter Gary C. Halbert gives insides into copywriting, advertising, and life.
The Boron Letters by Gary C. Halbert
Whether you’re new to copywriting or a seasoned pro, The Boron Letters is an invaluable resource that can help you succeed in the world of marketing and advertising. It contains letters Gary wrote to his son while in prison. In addition to writing effective sales copy, he discusses attitude and goal-setting.
One of the book’s key takeaways is the importance of understanding your target audience. Gary provides practical advice on writing attention-grabbing headlines, structuring sales letters, and using powerful storytelling to keep readers engaged.
The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman
The Adweek Copywriting Handbook gives copywriters step-by-step formulas for creating compelling marketing and advertising copy. Joseph Sugarman is a copywriting legend who has written successful campaigns for iconic brands throughout history.
The book covers various aspects of copywriting, including the psychology behind consumer behavior, the importance of headlines, the power of storytelling, and the use of persuasive language. The Adweek Copywriting Handbook is useful for both beginner and experienced copywriters.
Can I teach myself copywriting?
The best way to learn copywriting is the monkey-see-monkey-do approach – take some of your favorite ad and marketing copy, create samples for yourself, then pitch them out.
Forget the books and courses. You can teach yourself by emulating your favorite ads, building a portfolio of samples, then getting real feedback through pitching clients. Don’t wait to become Stephen King; testing with customers is how you’ll know if it’s effective or not! Books will give background info but nothing beats taking action on what you’ve learned.
Don’t think you need hours upon hours or years of practice before pitching your work to clients; in fact that’s what keeps many from breaking into this field! And don’t believe books are all you need either – real success means testing with customers directly and getting feedback.!
When it comes to learning new skills or refreshing up on old ones, copywriting books are a great resource to help you improve or develop your copywriting skills. All of the books on copywriting mentioned in this post are worth your time and provide lessons from real copywriters.
Copywriting books are a great start to get some background information, but remember, nothing happens if you don’t take action on what you’ve learned.
Want to know how you can find high-paying jobs as a new copywriter? Check out this video for copywriting books for beginners.