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Best Copywriting Books: 20 Books Every Copywriter and Entrepreneur Needs to Own

By Shane Dayton |

There’s a reason all the top writers and entrepreneurs own a library of the best copywriting books.

Copywriting is a skill that must be honed, refined, and practiced to avoid becoming rusty and ineffective. This isn’t a skill that you can master from a single book or a few hours of practice.

Good copywriters continue to hone their craft for years, always looking to add that little extra bit of knowledge that might give them an edge. There’s a reason the best copywriters get paid so well.

When you know the craft like they do and can write words that sell, you have a skill that’s always in demand.

There’s a reason the best copywriters all have a small library of copywriting books that they turn to again and again. These aren’t just on the shelf to impress visitors at the home office. A small collection of the best writing books and best copywriting books are an incredible resource a copywriter can turn to again and again.

These books are reminders, references, and resources that can help a poor copywriter become good and help a great one stay sharp.

Read on for this list of 20 books every copywriter should have and see how many you need to add to your library!

Contents

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

Some books are legendary because they are the “grandfather” that creates a niche that grows years or even decades later. Other books stick out because they offer timeless advice that has proven to be some of the best out there and it holds up over the test of time.

Ogilvy on Advertising is one of those especially rare books where both are true. “Confessions of an Advertising Man” was first published in 1963. That book introduced the name David Ogilvy even outside of the advertising world, where he was already a giant.

While that one is a bit out of date (though much of the information is still good), Ogilvy on Advertising is both a broad look at how the art/science of advertising works as well as an in-depth study on what makes good advertising copy. All from the point of view of a master in the field.

The book provides a remarkable number of examples from many different types of advertising. The in-depth studies here are a century’s worth of advertising & marketing knowledge all in one book and helps set the right understanding and mindset to tackle every copy writing or ad writing job in your career to follow.

Buy Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy on Amazon

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The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy’s name is synonymous with copywriting. There’s a reason for that. Truth be told, pretty much any Kennedy book on marketing or copywriting is an absolute gem. You’re going to be hard pressed to meet a top notch copywriter who hasn’t studied Kennedy’s books, as well as some of Kennedy’s most famous sales letters.

There’s a reason his name is synonymous with the best sales letters, the best results. The Ultimate Sales Letter has been revised and re-released three times at this point, so look for the fourth edition of “The Ultimate Sales Letter.”

Even the title and tag line are a lesson on how to get started. “Attract new customers. Boost your sales.” Short, succinct, strong. That’s a powerful title and tagline that lets you know exactly what to expect from the master copywriter in this book. He doesn’t disappoint.

This book not only teaches you every single detail that goes into making a truly great sales letter, but covers good selling writing on all mediums. This includes marketing e-mails, short but sweet landing pages that convert, and more.

Kennedy’s book writing is just like his sales writing. It’s snappy, straight to the point, and fun to read. This makes remembering his sage copywriting advice easy and will do wonders for your sales writing abilities. This is true whether you’re a novice or professional.

We can all always learn a little bit more from Dan Kennedy.

Buy Dan Kennedy’s The Ultimate Sales Letter

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Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples

This is another one of those copywriting titles that gets mentioned a lot. Thought of by many as the master of the unconventional headline, Caples proved to everyone just how important testing was. Famously he came up with lines that logically seemed like bad ideas but would work when tested in real life.

Caple was an early advocate of not only testing headlines but of teaching the most powerful ways to test headlines and other variables. Over his career he developed 35 headline formulas that proved to be consistent winners. He shares these formulas which are used by many top copywriters to this day.

This book not only gives formulas, but it teaches writers the importance of testing, how to test, and how to focus on results. Caples always felt that too many ads were approved because people “liked them,” but that’s not what matters.

Getting better results is all that matters and “Tested Advertising Methods” can help you do just that.

Buy 5th Edition Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples

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The Online Copywriter’s Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Write Electronic Copy That Sells by Robert Bly

Robert Bly is one of the old guards in the advertising industry. If you have any doubts about his writing ability, just look at all the very different types and styles of writing that Bly has professionally published in. Essays, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, ad copy – he’s done it all.

Robert Bly was fascinated by how words could affect people and the quality of his ad copy proved he mastered this skill inside and out. Every type of writing has its specific goal and Bly understand that good copy was measured by conversions.

While there are older more classic copywriting books by Robert Bly, I like the Online Copywriter’s Handbook because it showed that Bly understood the changing nature of sales. Different approaches need to be taken depending on the platform and Bly dove into the new nature of online marketing in full.

This isn’t just about online sales letters. In this book Robert Bly brings his master copywriting skills and applies them to websites, landing pages, e-mail messages, short text ads, and more. There are multiple examples of each in this book, giving you plenty of examples to help you up your online copywriting game wherever you are in the process.

Buy Robert Bly’s The Online Copywriter’s Handbook

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Everybody Writes: The Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

Copywriting is a field where you can’t just strive for good if you want to make your way up to the top tier level. This is one of those areas where the old adage “Good isn’t good enough,” applies. Ann Handley understands the power of truly superior content writing and focuses on how very easy practical changes to a writing style can yield huge results.

Good content makes an impact. Handley’s guide not only focuses on things like solid headlines, or the mechanical outlines of sales but focuses on the impact that clean crisp writing has. While some might consider this as much (or more) of a content writing book than an ad-writing book, the information is still solid gold.

She talks about writing that makes an impact. Writing that separates average businesses from good ones, and then good ones from great ones. This is a guide that does a great job staying interesting, teaching clear concise writing skills that will get results.

Buy Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

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Persuasive Online Copywriting: How to Take Your Words to the Bank by Bryan, Jeffrey Eisenberg, and Lisa Davis

A really interesting book for several reasons. This book was originally published all the way back in 2002 when the internet was still young. While it’s hard to believe now, back then there were more people who believed it was a passing fad or just a side entertainment versus a world-changing invention.

The authors here worked in a marketing firm and saw just how big the online world was going to be. They jumped into online copywriting early, putting down lessons on grabbing attention, persuading action, and interacting in an effective way with what was a new medium at the time.

This book focuses only on online copywriting and focuses on conversion, the measurement by which online copy is measured. This narrow focus has allowed the book to age incredibly well, as even nearly two decades later it is still one of the best online copywriting books out there. A must for anyone who needs to boost their online sales writing game.

Buy Persuasive Online Copywriting 

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The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America’s Top Copywriters by Joseph Sugarman

There aren’t many names that are universally recognized in any given field. In the field of copywriting the same holds true. But among the small number of names that all copywriters know, Joseph Sugarman is certainly near the top of that shortlist following Dan Kennedy.

The title might be long, but it’s accurate. Joseph Sugarman built a multi-million dollar business starting with mail order sales letters so he understands the selling power of words. With a reputation for being a creative thinker with some of the funniest and most unique sales letters out there, Sugarman proved that out of the box thinking could produce stunningly good copy.

The Adweek Copywriting Handbook is decades of lessons, testing, and experience from one of the best in the business. All that great information is wrapped up into one truly exceptional copywriting book that will teach you the ins and outs of selling with words.

A godsend for natural creatives who feel the need to stay original while writing sales copy. This is just as amazing a resource for great structural sales writers who find their copy missing that little spark to catapult it to the next level.

This is a book that is a must-have for anyone with an interest in selling or copywriting.

Purchase The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman

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This Book Will Teach You How to Write Better by Neville Medhora

Small changes can make a big difference in the quality of your writing. There’s a lot to be said about clean, crisp writing. Medhora takes this strategy and leads by example as his book is a mere 56 pages long. Length isn’t everything, and you don’t want to let the short length fool you. The amount of incredible information packed in this small book is amazing.

Conversational, easy to read, and straight to the point, this is one of those copywriter books that really hits home. A must read according to many top copywriters, if you have been looking for training in adding that human touch to make your copy more relatable this is your read.

It’s easy to get lost in the structure of copywriting. Testing, headlines, lists, using “power words” or “emotional descriptions,” it can be easy to forget that the perfect system doesn’t matter if it doesn’t connect. The best copywriters know not only how to use best practices for sales letter writing but also how important adding the human connection is.

Whether a new blogger, new copywriter, or long-time marketer, this book can work wonders for helping shape up your writing in a way that will really connect. Learning to write better will help any type of writer make more money writing.

Neville Medhora is also the author of the one online copywriting course we also recommend (if you prefer online learning programs):  KopywritingKourse.

Buy This Book Will Teach You How to Write Better by Neville Medhora

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Copy Logic by Michael Masterson & Mike Palmer

Chances are if you have spent any time in the marketing world at all you have heard one if not both of these names. Focusing on nothing other than clear, clean copy, this co-authored book is a strategy-heavy tome any up and coming copywriter will want on their book shelves.

Words matter. A few wrong words can sink an otherwise great sales letter. On the other hand, the right words can make all the difference when it comes to making a connection and getting the sales. You can’t argue with the source. Agora has done over $300 million in sales over the years due to the power of their newsletters.

You don’t hit numbers like that without knowing what you’re doing. The right words sell. This is an outstanding book focusing on copywriting in a very in-depth way. If you want a full deep dive on the art of copywriting set out in an easy to follow way, you won’t be disappointed!

Purchase Copy Logic! by Michael Masterson & Mike Palmer

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Kickass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps: Build The Buzz And Sell The Sizzle by Susan Gunelius

There are many great books on copywriting out there. What is much harder to find is a step-by-step guide. While most books are organized pretty well and go from top sections of the letter down towards bottom sections, this book focuses on being a guide for those of us who need that structure to avoid missing anything.

Focusing on helping small companies or owners of small businesses understand the importance of writing that sells, this is a book that does a great job teaching powerful writing no matter what your background. For beginners this is the perfect guide to getting sales through your words.

If you’re an experienced copywriter,, you can still benefit from the excellent lay-out and a structured review that keeps your copywriting tight and sharp.

Kickass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps by Susan Gunelius

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High Conversion E-Mail Copywriting: 50 E-Mail Marketing Copywriting Tips to Increase Your Rates by 30% or More by Scott Frothingham

Copywriting is a wide umbrella. While it’s easy to think of online copywriting as being one topic, the truth is even within that more specific niche there are actually very different rules depending on what online medium you’re using.

Scott Frothingham’s book focuses on e-mail marketing. While there are many older marketers lamenting how much things have changed since the bonanza of the early 2000’s, the truth is that e-mail marketing is still one of the most effective selling techniques for many top copywriters.

Scott has made a career out of changing with the times and making sure that every e-mail that gets sent has copy that is eye-catching, crisp, and is going to give him the best chance of getting a response. Even from the many of us who feel flooded every time we open the e-mail box.

The advice in this book is as good as it gets. An in-book checklist of 50 crucial factors makes it easy for copywriters to remember every important detail and craft outstanding e-mails that get opened, get read, and result in sales. Even with all the challenges of modern e-mail overwhelm.

High Conversion E-Mail Copywriting by Scott Frothingham

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Web Copy That Sells: The Revolutionary Formula for Creating Killer Copy That Grabs Their Attention and Compels Them to Buy by Maria Veloso

best copywriting books

This is a very underrated copywriting book, and one of my personal favorites. This is a great book that talks about all aspects of writing words that sell. This is an extremely practical guide from a copywriter who not only had success writing quality copy but continues to do so. These strategies are modern, the in-depth training is outstanding, and Maria Veloso really does a great job of doing a deep dive into multiple styles and mediums.

This includes writing words that sell for things like Facebook ads, niche online advertising, as well as squeeze pages, e-mail marketing, and traditional letters. In other words, if you want to really push up those conversion numbers across multiple platforms then this is your book.

Purchase Web Copy That Sells by Maria Veloso

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Writing for the Web: Creating Compelling Web Content Using Words, Pictures, and Sound by Lynda Felder

This is one of the better copywriting books for beginners. If you feel your head spinning a bit with all the different resources out there, take a look at Lynda Felder’s book on writing good copy. Focusing on a simple process for beginners using short clear instructions along with excellent visual aids, there’s a lot to love about this book.

Finding the best introduction to writing good words can be hard, but this is a great answer. You won’t have any problem reading the clear content, following the directions, and understanding what Felder is explaining.

Buy Writing for the Web by Lynda Felder

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Phrases That Sell: The Ultimate Phrase Finder to Help You Promote Your Products, Services, and Ideas by Edward Werz

When you find a winning phrase that just seems to convert you tend to back to it again and again. This makes sense. After all, why re-invent the wheel? Experienced copywriters talk about having their special notebook or a go-to list on the computer that you can bet is backed up in many different places.

Edward Werz has spent decades as a high-level copywriter and in Phrases That Sell he shares that list of hundreds of phrases discovered from thousands upon thousands of hours at the keyboard. This saves you years of experience discovering these on your own. Maybe even introduces phrases you might never have stumbled on.

This book is far more than a list of top-notch phrases, but it also gives sage advice on learning to come up with your own. The best phrases can vary based on your style of writing and this book deep dives into that as well.

Invaluable quick guide with some outstanding teaching lessons, as well!

Buy Phrases That Sell by Edward Werz

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Scientific Advertising by Claude C. Hopkins

Don’t let the title intimidate you. This classic by Claude Hopkins is well-written and easy to read. The book is full of great advice on how to write words that are going to do the best job selling. Certain strategies that are assumed to be basics every novice learns Hopkins first put into print like always focusing on new customers, avoiding general statements, and more.

This is a great work that focuses on helping effective ad copy do what it should: sell. This is a great work that allows focus on a part of your writing game or a top down approach to understanding why you should write a certain way.

Buy the original Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

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How to Write a Good Advertisement by Victor Schwab

Some books focus on one particular aspect. Others go the general overview route. How to Write a Good Advertisement is an excellent copywriting book for beginners that covers all the major points in overview and then deep dives into individual aspects of creating a good letter.

Understanding how a good call to action works, why psychology is important, and what makes a good sales letter are all covered in this excellent beginner’s guide to copywriting. Just because it was written years ago doesn’t mean that the advice doesn’t apply today. read this book and then write copy you can be proud of.

Buy How to Write a Good Advertisement by Victor Schwab

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On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing Book Stephen King

I know Stephen King is not a name that jumps into your mind immediately when thinking about copywriting, but stay with me for this one. There’s no denying Stephen King’s commercial success in fiction. Some stories were lauded by critics, many more were trashed, but he sold more than everyone over multiple decades and the numbers aren’t even close.

On Writing is widely considered one of the best books on the craft of writing ever, regardless of field, and for good reason. King talks about crisp, clean, clear writing. Sentences that are active, powerful, and direct. Staying away from clutter – and he brings in dozens of examples in the book from a background in journalism and teaching to prove his points in a clear manner that makes it easy to learn.

Despite being an English major and even an MFA, I could argue I’ve learned more direct, useful, and actionable information about good writing from this book than all my education combined.

King taught at the high school and college levels, which means he knows how to teach concepts clearly. No matter what your skill level, whether novice or experienced expert, you can become a better writer from reading On Writing. I do at least once a year. There’s no argument with King as someone who truly understands the written word.

Buy On Writing by Stephen King

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Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath

While not technically a direct copywriting book, there are plenty of copywriters who swear by this amazing little book by the Heaths. The focus is related to advertising. It talks about what makes ads stick in the head versus being forgettable, how to make your ads “sticky,” and what makes a story stay around.

Case studies range from actual real-life advertising campaigns to widely spread urban legends, this book is a very unique and interesting take on a wide array of topics related to effective selling. Definitely worth reading as an overview book that makes abstract concepts easy to see, understand, and analyze.

The results of that are going to be better story-telling and better ad copy as a result.

Purchase Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

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Boron Letters by Gary Halbert

Gary Halbert is a name that is right up there among the greats, and he’s not shy in telling you he was the best copywriter alive. If you’re a literary who loved the biography of Ernest Hemingway, Halbert is right in line as one of those writers who led a life of adventure most of us couldn’t imagine. Eventually settling into life as one of the truly great early ad writers.

While there are many very good collections of Halbert’s work out there, the Boron Letters take letters that Gary wrote to his son, Bond, while in prison. These letters create a really unique read. The best gift he could give was understanding copy, the ability to sell, which would always be in demand no matter what else changed.

This creates an unusually interesting and intimate read for a book in general, much less a book on copywriting. He focuses on truly great copy, on explaining how it works, while putting together a personal book of life lessons that are touching to read and truly great advice even now.

This is a very unique and remarkable read. It’s not directly about tactics or letter structures or anything like that, but gives you a deeper understanding of selling with words and how that can work even via personal letters.

Buy The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert (updated by Bond Halbert)

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Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz

So here’s the thing: Breakthrough Advertising fully deserves to be on the list. This is a very high-level advertising book. It is insightful, densely packed, and one of the best top to bottom resources out there. This isn’t beginner-friendly but it’s a classic of ad writing full of hidden gems for even the most skilled and experienced of copywriters.

This is also a book that went out of print years ago that used to be quite hard to find. On those rare occasions when it does pop up, it often sells for several hundred dollars. If you can find one, and there frequently are one or two copies floating around Amazon.com, then it’s worth the grab for sure!

Find Breakthrough Advertising on Amazon

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A Copywriting Library You Can Be Proud Of

There are certainly other great books out there. Just because it isn’t on the list doesn’t mean it isn’t worth adding to the copywriting library. However, this list consists of the many of the best out there and forms a copywriting library you can be proud of…and use to write copy that sell!




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By Shane Dayton

Shane has been a full-time writer since 2005. Shane has a degree in English & Creative Writing from Coe College (2002) and an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction Emphasis) from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (2007).

Shane spent years using his online writing skills to earn a living online and live the life of a digital nomad. After learning about affiliate marketing and SEO he has since created several niche sites to further increase his business income.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

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