Best Copywriting Books: 12 Essential Reads for Writing Words That Sell

The best copywriting books teach people how to write words that sell. This article rounds those titles up.

Learning how to write a sales page, a landing page, an email series or even a book description is easier with some instructions.

Thankfully, you can pick from dozens of great books on the art of copywriting. They cover topics like content marketing, writing effective copy, persuading readers, acquiring great leads and more. A few also cover the psychology of selling.

But how do you know which books to choose?

In this article, we round-up the best copywriting books from masters of the craft.

1. The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert

Best copywriting books 12 essential reads for writing words that sell

Gary Halbert was one of the best copywriters of all time. Published in 2013, he wrote this book of letters to his son while in prison.

He combines life advice and personal anecdotes with information about how to sell a product or service using direct response copy.

If you enjoy good writing or you're a creative writer, this book is a good choice as it's somewhat story-driven.

Halbert writes,

“Everyone wants to climb the mountain, but the big difference between those at the top and those still on the bottom is simply a matter of showing up tomorrow to give it just one more shot.”

Gary Halbert

2. Confessions of An Advertising Man by David Ogilvy

Ogilvy was one of the founders of advertising and co-founder of the famous advertising agency of the same Ogilvy and Mather. He changed the definition of good advertising and taught a generation how to sell and is perhaps one of the most famous copywriters of all time.

This copywriting book was first published back in 1963, and it remains in print today. His book is semi-autobiographical. It also covers people management, corporate ethics, and the ever-fun office political game.

He offers the blueprint to knowing and working with the best practices in the business world. If you’re an aspiring copywriter or looking to improve your skills with the basics, this is an insightful copywriting book.

Ogilvy's advice is applicable today as it was in the 1960s:

“Much of the messy advertising you see on television today is the product of committees. Committees can criticize advertisements, but they should never be allowed to create them.”

David Ogilvy

3. Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz

Schwartz’s book is pivotal for experienced and aspiring writers who want to write good copy and sell more of their products or earn more for clients.

First published in 1966, this book explains the psychology behind people's drive to buy and how to sell. He also helps the reader learn how to master sales and marketing. Oddly enough, some of Schwartz's principles apply to social media copy today.

He says,

“No sentence can be effective if it contains facts alone. It must also contain emotion, image, logic, and promise.”

Eugene Schwartz

4. Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins

First published back in 1923, this book is simple and direct. It is not long but is full of useful information for anyone in advertising.

Hopkins created the concept of the coupon and discussed the outcome of good advertising back in the early 1900s. This book is for experts as well as those new to this discipline. It’s full of easy takeaways, assuming you're ok with an older copywriting book

Hopkins writes,

“Use pictures only to attract those who may profit you. Use them only when they form a better selling argument than the same amount of space set in type.”

Claude C. Hopkins

5. The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy

Good copywriting enters the conversation readers are already having. But if you want customers to read your copy, it pays to understand their hopes, fears and dreams.

Dan Kennedy walks the reader through successful sales letters. He gives examples, formulas for headlines and exercises for creativity.

The step-by-step instructions are great for any freelance writer or business owner on a budget. It's a good choice for direct marketers and inbound marketers.

Kennedy writes,

“Always enter the conversation already occurring in the customer's mind.”

Dan Kennedy

6. Influence by Robert Cialdini

If you're a freelance copywriter, it's useful to understand the psychology behind sales too. That way, you can convince clients about the “why” behind your copy.

Cialdini examines the basics of persuasion via seven principles. He looks at how people can be persuaded to say yes. He examines the power of persuasion and how to effectively and ethically convince someone to act.

If you write a lot of online copy or want to clarify your sales message, this book is a good choice as the principles in this book apply to web pages that are covert. Oddly enough, I found Cialdini's advice about trust and credibility also applies to writing a blog post too.

He writes,

“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”

Robert Cialdini

7. 2001 Greatest Headlines Ever Written by Carl Galletti

This great book complies successful headlines across dozens of niches and industries. Think of it as a personal swipe file that will help you improve your headline copywriting skills.

A freelance copywriter can apply them to their own work, no matter the subject. If you spend hours on head/line research or struggle to write them, this book is a great choice.

8. The Everything Guide to Writing Copy by Steve Slaunwhite

Published in 2007, Slaunwhite's guide walks step by step through how to write good copy for all forms of media. He offers tips that the pros use. He also shows the reader how to market products and services, boost brands, and raise the bottom line.

This copywriting book is a good choice for anyone starting out in the field. If you're a marketer on a budget, it's also a good choice as it covers the basics of copywriting. It also contains examples of online copies.

He writes,

Not surprisingly, then, the top two traits of successful copywriters are:
• The ability to work well under pressure

• The ability to work both independently and collaboratively

Steve Slaunwhite

9. Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples & Fred Hahn

Published back in 1932, this book is a direct response classic. Author John Caples was an advertising guru. Fred Hahn updates this classic work for modern readers.

It covers headlines, how to use illustrations and effective advertising with examples and analysis. Much of the advice is still relevant today.

If you want to read an older great book about copywriting, this book is a good choice.

John Caples writes

“Remember that the reader's attention is yours for only a single instant. They will not use up their valuable time trying to figure out what you mean.”

John Caples

10. The Robert Collier Letter Book

This book is a great resource if you write sales letters, sales pages, landing pages or emails to readers or for clients.

I bought the print copy as it's quite hard to read on Kindle. The book was first published back in 1931 so some of the sales letters in this book are dated, but I still found some great gems.

Collier says,

“Visualize this thing you want. See it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin.”

Robert Collier

11.Ca$hvertising by Drew E. Whitman

This copywriting book was published in 2008. Given its recency, it covers more modern topics like selling online, via ads and over email. The book combines the psychology of selling with real-world examples of a high-converting copy.

The book provides lots of practical examples, and I underlined many of the hooks and formulae. It's also a quick and easy read compared to some older copywriting books.

It's a good choice if you want a modern copywriting book with email templates, ad hooks, headlines, and other examples of relevant great copy.

He writes,

“Bombard Your Readers with Benefits for a quick refresher.) After you’ve completed your list, rank them in order of importance—to your customer, not to you.”

Drew E. Whitman

12. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath

This book was published in 2007 by two brothers: Chip and Dan Heath. It's similar to Cialdini's work in that it focuses on psychology rather than direct copywriting or marketing.

In this case, the authors explain what makes an idea memorable. Basically, people remember ideas that are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and story-driven.

This book is a good choice for more creative copywriters.

The authors write,

“The most basic way to get someone's attention is this: Break a pattern.”

Chip and Dan Heath

The Best Copywriting Books: Final Word

Learning how to sell with words is a useful skill for writers, entrepreneurs and business owners. The books provide dozens of useful tips, tricks and frameworks. Pick one, read it, and put the ideas to use today.

FAQs

What is the best copywriting book for beginners?

The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy contains a detailed explanation of the art of copywriting for beginners. It also contains lots of examples, tips and tricks. Although it focuses on sales letters, Kennedy's principles apply to other forms of copywriting.

What are the best resources for learning copywriting?

You can learn copywriting by reading a copywriting book. The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy and Influence by Robert Cialdini are two good choices. Alternatively, considering taking a course in copywriting from the American Writers and Artists Institute.

What is the best copywriting book for beginners?

Resources for Copywriters

Writing effective copy takes time, practice and study. If you need help, check out our guides:

If you want more great books to read, check out our list of:

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