Toggle Menu

Episode 030 - What Copywriters Should Read, Part 1

Published by: David Garfinkel on 11-13-2017

When I first got into writing copy, I was having a hard time finding any good information about how to do it. So I took every seminar I could and read every book I could find. It was exhausting, and frankly, maybe not the best use of my time.

Originally I put this episode together with the plan to come up with a handful of books every copywriter should read – what I wish I had known when I started.

But my list got so long that I realized we were going to need two episodes to cover things fully.

So this is part 1 – what I'd call "the core curriculum." Next week, we'll go through a second list I'm calling "the advanced stuff."

First, a pleasant reminder:

Copy is powerful. You're responsible for how you use what you hear on this podcast. Most of the time, common sense is all you need. But if you make extreme claims… and/or if you're writing copy for offers in highly regulated industries like health, finance, and business opportunity… you may want to get a legal review after you write and before you start using your copy. My larger clients do this all the time.

Now, to the books. Some of the books I read, like Ted Nicholas's "Magic Words That Bring You Riches," are either not available at all, or available in very limited quantities. I set three ground rules for this core curriculum:

. You have to be able to get the book easily

. Each book is a course in itself. You don't need a study group or someone else to walk you through any of them to get really good value from them.

. They're affordable. (One is a little pricey… but… it's worth every penny.)

-Copywriting Books

1. Scientific Advertising, by Claude Hopkins

• The "foundation document" of copywriting/direct response marketing

• Ogilvy: Read 7 times; I've read 15 times; recently re-reading

• Not easy or fun, but incredibly valuable

2. The Adweek Copywriting Handbook, by Joe Sugarman

• Based on a seminar Joe used to give in his home

• Joe's a dm pioneer and great copywriter

• Easy to read, very valuable

3. The Ultimate Sales Letter, by Dan Kennedy

• Takes you through all the steps

• I've always found Dan Kennedy to be reliable source of great money-making ideas

• Can absolutely put you on the right path to writing a winner

4. Breakthrough Advertising, by Eugene Schwartz

• Hard to read and understand

• Like a gold mine. 30 years later, I'm still getting new ideas from it

• Expensive for a book – but worth it

5. Breakthrough Copywriting, by David Garfinkel

• Easy to understand

• Comprehensive

• Includes templates and tools for a copywriter

- Sales/Marketing/Creativity Books

6. Tested Sentences That Sell, by Elmer Wheeler

• Early pioneer in testing words, phrases, pitches

• The words/sentences may or may not work for you

• But the method of split testing always works. This

is a good introduction to split testing.

7. Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath

• Excellent book on clear, memorable communication

• "Curse of knowledge" is super-valuable concept

• Very practical, useful for copywriters

8. A Technique for Producing Ideas, by James Webb Young

• Great introduction to / and working method for / tapping into the power of the unconscious mind for writing copy

• Tremendous overall book to read for brainstorming and creativity

• Worth reading more than once; I've read it five times.

- Online Resource

9. The Gary Halbert Letter,

Keywords: Best copywriting books

Garfinkel Coaching