17 Best Copywriting Books, Researched and Reviewed (2022)

By Mike Sellers •  Updated: 03/11/22 •  7 min read

Intro

Here are the 17 best copywriting books that made the list:

  1. The Robert Collier Letter Book
  2. The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells, by Robert Bly
  3. Ogilvy on Advertising, by David Ogilvy
  4. “The Adweek Copywriting Handbook” by Joseph Sugarman
  5. My Life in Advertising & Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins
  6. “Tested Advertising Methods” by John Caples
  7. “How To Write Copy That Sells” by Ray Edwards
  8. “Breakthrough Advertising” by Eugene Schwartz
  9. “140 Bite-Sized Tips For Writing Great Copy On The Web” by Henneke Duistermaat
  10. “The Ultimate Sales Letter,” by Dan Kennedy
  11. Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
  12. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide To Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser
  13. “Influence” by Robert Cialdini

A Brief History of Copywriting

Copywriting is the art of writing in order to persuade an audience to do something—whether that’s buy a product, sign up for a service, or take action on a cause.

The concept as we know it today originated around the early 1900s with John E. Kennedy, who wrote ads for Campbell’s soup and Ivory soap.

Since then, copy has evolved tremendously, but the basic idea remains the same: the ability to effectively convey a message to your audience and make them want to act on it.

As you can imagine, this is a skill that almost every company needs.

That’s why there are so many books and blogs dedicated to helping people learn how to write better copy.

I’ve put together a list of my top recommendations below.

The Robert Collier Letter Book

I’ve been doing SEO copywriting for over a decade. I’m constantly looking for ways to learn and hone my craft.

I’ve read books from the greats, like Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, Eugene Schwartz, Gary Halbert, John Caples.

And more recently, copywriting books by Joanna Wiebe and Clayton Makepeace.

But I have to say, The Robert Collier Letter Book was a game-changer for me.

Not only did it help me get back to the fundamentals of copywriting. It also helped me understand how to apply them to today’s market.

If you work anywhere in the world of marketing and copywriting, this book is a must-read!

The first few chapters are a review of the fundamentals of copywriting, while the later few chapters are like a massive “swipe file,” with actual letters from highly profitable direct mail campaigns.

If you’re looking for inspiration or to see what has worked in the past, this is an incredible resource.

It’s also interesting to note that these letters were written in the 20s and 30s. While technology changes, human nature doesn’t—and it’s fascinating to see how relevant many of these letters still are today.

 

“The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells” by Robert Bly

Bly is considered by many in the industry to be a legend, and this book is something of a bible for copywriters. It covers everything from how to write compelling advertising copy to how to write for the web (and do it well).

If you’re just starting out and want to learn the basics of how to write for different mediums, this is the book for you. It’s a comprehensive guide without getting into too much technical jargon.

“The Adweek Copywriting Handbook” by Joseph Sugarman

 

0

My Life in Advertising & Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins

I’ve met copywriters who don’t even know who Claude Hopkins is. And that’s a damn shame.

Claude Hopkins was the guy who figured out how to sell toothpaste and soap and cars, using advertising. He was the first guy to really understand the power of advertising for selling products.

In “My Life in Advertising,” Hopkins recounts his rise from a grocery store clerk to becoming a famous advertising executive. He credits his success to following certain principles, which he lays out in his other book, “Scientific Advertising.”

“Scientific Advertising” is all about direct response advertising strategies and techniques—many of which are still used today. It’s one of those books you’ll want to read several times over your career, making notes in the margin and asking yourself how to apply the ideas in your own business.

Hopkins’ writing style is straightforward and clear, never bogged down with jargon or confusing language—it’s just pure wisdom.

His lessons will help you develop a customer-centric mindset so that your advertising isn’t about pushing people toward products they don’t need—it’s about helping them find what they do need.

“Tested Advertising Methods” by John Caples

TK

“How To Write Copy That Sells” by Ray Edwards

This book is a great resource for learning how to think like a customer when you’re crafting your sales copy.

Edwards introduces basic concepts about design and layout and discusses how those factors affect emotional reactions—all useful stuff if you want to write compelling content.

“Breakthrough Advertising” by Eugene Schwartz

If you’re new to copywriting, you probably shouldn’t start here. This is a classic direct response marketing book for serious copywriters, and it’s considered an advanced marketing book, not for beginners. It’s also hard to find a copy for under $100 on Amazon!

Still, if you’re serious about copywriting and want to go deep into the study of direct response advertising, this book is an absolute must-read.

Eugene Schwartz was an eccentric and extremely successful copywriter from the 60s and 70s, who wrote some of the most famous ads in history.

The book includes several full-length ads that Schwartz wrote himself, but the real treasure here is the chapters on market research and prospect awareness levels.

In these chapters, Schwartz explains how to identify what type of prospect you are dealing with and how to properly appeal to them.

This information can be applied to every type of advertising you do.

The downside? The book is hard to find and pretty expensive. So if you can find a copy you should probably buy it. It’s not going to get any cheaper any time soon!

 

“140 Bite-Sized Tips For Writing Great Copy On The Web” by Henneke Duistermaat

This one is more of a reference book—a list of bite-sized tips that will help your copy get better as youYour perfectly optimized content goes here!

 

How To Write Attention Grabbing Headlines: A Quick Guide To Persuasive Copywriting And Blogging For Beginners

by Lucas Flint

If you feel like the first thing that gets lost when you’re writing is your ability to catch and hold people’s attention, this book is an excellent starting point. It will teach you how to turn on the charm, grab readers’ attention, and keep them reading.

 

“The Ultimate Sales Letter,” by Dan Kennedy

If you’re newer to copywriting, “The Ultimate Sales Letter” is a great place to start.

Dan Kennedy is widely regarded as one of the greatest living marketers, and this book is a key piece of his body of work.

Although the book is almost ten years old now, it covers the fundamental principles of effective sales copywriting and will help you write a solid draft of any sales letter.

In fact, this book can be a useful resource whether you’re just starting out or have more experience under your belt.

If you’ve ever wanted to read Kennedy’s work but thought his courses were too expensive, this book is only $15-$20 and makes for a great introduction to his thinking.

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

TK

3 Other Great Books for Copywriters

These books aren’t about Copywriting per se, but they will improve your writing and understanding of human behavior.

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide To Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

This book has been around since 1976, but it remains a canonical example of exceptional nonfiction writing—and a must-read for anyone who wishes to follow in its footsteps.

You’ll learn how to write engaging prose without all the bells and whistles (but also without sacrificing entertainment value).

“Influence” by Robert Cialdini

TK

“Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message” by Michael Masterson and John Forde

TK

Final thoughts

tk

 

Mike Sellers