Copywriting: Read These 10 Books to Become a Better Copywriter
Want to make serious cash as an affiliate marketer? Of course you do.
Then you need to master the art of copywriting.
Copywriting is using words to persuade people to click, to read, and to ultimately buy. It’s part art, part science, part psychology, and part magic.
It’s the difference between the please-punch-me-this-is-so-boring ad and the one that has a huge CTR. It’s the difference between a 5% and 20% conversion rate on a landing page. It’s the difference between making $50/day and $1,000/day.
Sometimes I sit back and think about how crazy the concept is. You could spend a few hours writing words on a page, and that can be powerful enough for someone to whip out their credit card and start spending. And if you get everything else right, you can create a machine that prints money 24 / 7.
Copywriting is as fundamental to internet marketing as knowing how to dribble in basketball. It’s probably the first skillset you should work on mastering.
You can’t cheat on this or settle for half-ass. It doesn’t matter how awesome your Facebook targeting or landing page design is. If your copy sucks, nobody’s going to buy from you.
But here’s the thing: most people aren’t naturally good copywriters.
I know I wasn’t.
I learned in two ways: books and experience.
Here’s the problem though: a lot of copywriting books suck. And there are some that are awesome but are dry and boring.
I’ve read over 100 copywriting books the past decade, and I’ve selected the best for you.
Here are 10 books you should read if you want to level up your copywriting skills.
1. The Boron Letters
This is definitely one of my favorites.
Gary Halbert is considered one of the greatest copywriters of all time. He’s like straight out of Mad Men, including the time he spent in prison for mail fraud. During his time in prison, he wrote a series of letters to his son. In each letter is a different “lesson” on copywriting, and they’re all BRILLIANT.
Besides copywriting, he also sprinkles in a lot of different life advice.
Buy this right now and read it.
This is one of the most recommended books in this space.
Honestly, a lot of copywriting books are like 100 years old and super boring. This book’s easy to read and is loaded with practical tips and strategies for how to turn words into cash.
Plus, it covers a TON of different aspects of copywriting, like long vs. short copy, headline formulas, and even how to design your ads.
My biggest takeaway is the concept of the Life Force 8. It’s what he considers the basic human instincts that causes people to buy.
These include the need for sexual companionship, social approval, keeping up with the Joneses, etc.
Yes, these are hardwired into our brains.
3. Tested Advertising Methods
Warning: This book is old. I think it was written in the 1920’s.
However, this book was GAME CHANGING for me.
It was the first copywriting book I read, and it helped me understand the concept of split-testing.
They didn’t have fancy paid online ads back in the 1920’s. All they had were mailing. So, how did they “split-test” which ad did the best?
Simple. Each ad had a separate mailing address. Whichever one gets more sales, wins.
Are you whining that it takes 2 days to get statistically significant data? It took them several months to get that data.
Caples was the original data junkie, and tested every element of every marketing campaign he ran. In this book, he boils everything down into 35 proven headline formulas.
4. This Book Will Teach You How to Write Better
Do you hate reading?
Don’t have any patience?
Do you want the 80 / 20 of the 80 / 20 of copywriting?
This is the book for you.
The book is only 54 pages long, but it really nails basics of copywriting and how to write conversationally.
5. Breakthrough Advertising
Ask any decent copywriter what the “bible” of copywriting is. Chances are they’re going to say Breakthrough Advertising.
Unfortunately, it’s out of print, which means you’re gonna have to pay a couple hundred bucks to get it. But if you’re serious about making money as an affiliate, it’s worth the investment.
6. BrainScripts for Sales Success: 21 Hidden Principles of Consumer Psychology for Winning New Customers
Copywriting is just as much about psychology as it is writing, which is why this book is so important. It’s all about tapping into people’s deepest emotions to persuade them to buy. It also teaches you how to frame your products so that they look like an amazing value to potential customers.
7. Ogilvy On Marketing
David Ogilvy was the ACTUAL guy Mad Men was based on.
He created some of the most iconic ad campaigns ever and a lot of people call him the “father of advertising”. There’s going to be some stuff in here that’s not relevant, like how to get a job in advertising, but there’s also some brilliant things about copywriting. If you’re serious about marketing you need to read this one.
8. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
Both of these guys are legends in the marketing world. In this book, they’ve boiled down all that they learned running multi-million dollar ad campaigns into twenty-two easy-to-understand lessons.
I first heard of this book because it’s Tim Ferriss’s go to Marketing book.
Some laws off the top of my head:
1. Once a market matures, it tends to be a two-company race.
– Apple vs. Samsung
– McDonald’s vs. Burger King
– Pepsi vs. Coke
2. It’s hard to take over a word owned by a competitor.
Lets say you’re a new car manufacturer. It’s not smart to try to take “luxury” from Mercedes or “safety” from Volvo.
It’s already too ingrained in the customer’s heads. Instead, it’s better to create your own angle.
3. It’s better to be first than to have a better product.
Being first to a market gives you HUGE advantages. It doesn’t GUARANTEE success of course.
9. The Advertising Effect: How to Change Behavior
This is my favorite book on marketing.
Ultimately, copywriting, advertising, and marketing are all about getting people to DO stuff. To buy, click, read, and tell their friends. This book breaks down the psychology of how to get people to do exactly what you want them to do. Read this book before you launch your next campaign.
10. Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting
What’s a screenwriting book doing on this list?
Copywriting involves a lot of storytelling. What are you doing with your ads and your landing pages? You’re telling a story about how your product is going to solve people’s problems. And who’s great at telling stories?
Screenwriters. Once you learn how to write an amazing story, you can put it to work in all your copywriting.
The Greatest Achievers Read Consistently
The most successful people in the world read. A lot. Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk all read loads of books.
That’s how they became billionaires.
They learned the secrets of success by reading and then putting what they learned into action.
I know what you’re thinking. Charles, I don’t have time to read. I need to be working on my campaigns.
If you have time to watch Netflix, you have time to read. And you’re probably wasting over an hour a day browsing social media.
It’s all about choice.
Instead of watching The Office for the third time, read these books.