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Episode 031 - What Copywriters Should Read, Part 2

Published by: David Garfinkel on 11-20-2017

Copywriters are solitary creatures who spend large amounts of time alone. Yet the good ones understand quite a bit more about human motivations and behaviors than almost anyone else, including most professional psychologists.

Why is that? A lot of it comes from observation and thinking about what they have observed. But more to the point, they have to… or, their copy just won't work.

Last week we talked about a "core curriculum" of books people copywriters need to read. This week, we're going to talk about "the advanced stuff" – a deep and possibly disturbing survey of how and why people do what they do. Stuff you need to know if you want to improve the response to your copy.

So today these words are especially relevant:

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, some friendly advice regarding what we're going to be talking about today. Of the dozens of books I considered for last week's episode and this one, the nine books I'm suggesting today made the cut. My advice is that you need to brace yourself when you read them. This stuff can be scary, because as you start to find out how people REALLY behave – and why – it will almost certainly shake up some of your cherished assumptions about humanity.

But as a marketer and copywriter, you need to know anyway.

Three categories of books:

1. Persuasion

2. Story

3. The mind, and learning

-Persuasion Books

1. How to Argue and Win Every Time, by Gerry Spence

• Spence is a lawyer with an incredible winning record

• Learned some hard lessons early on, changed his approach

• Not easy or fun, but incredibly valuable

2. Scott Adams: Winning Bigly – Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don't Matter Anymore, by Scott Adams

• Visionary thinker about persuasion

• This book could upset you – it's worth the disruption

• I have it on order. I've only looked at the table of contents on Amazon.

3. Never Split the Difference, by Chis Voss

• Former top FBI hostage negotiator

• Not what you would expect

• Some very valuable insights about persuasion I've never seen anywhere else.

- Story Book

4. Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron

• Talks about story and how the human brain responds to it

• She's got plenty of Hollywood and NY publishing experience

• Great teacher – clear explainer

- Books on the Mind and Learning

5. Mindset, by Carol Dweck

• Two types of people

• Invaluable for understanding those who will/those who won't

• Author is Stanford professor

6. The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle

• Shows why talent is NOT the deciding factor

• Lots of tips for learning and improvement

• Good introduction to work of Anders Ericsson (book 8)

7. Mastery, by George Leonard

• Great book by terrific writer

• Helps you understand the frustrations of getting better

• Short book, easy read, strangely motivating

8. Peak, by Anders Ericcson and Robert Pool

• The "10,000 hour rule" demystified

• Clear and well written, but not an easy read

• If you want to become a master copywriter, you must read this

- Evolutionary Psychology

9. The Moral Animal, by Robert Wright

• Will open your eyes to things you never thought about

• Not always pleasant and sometimes scary

• You'll understand human nature at a MUCH deeper level

Keywords: books to read

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