In this post, copywriting partner Clive Cable and I make some surprising book recommendations – for would be copywriters.
Most copywriting coaches will tell you invest in the best copywriting books.
That you should read the classics on copywriting…
Books like “How to write a good advertisement” by Victor Schwab.
Or “Breakthrough Advertising” by Eugene Schwartz.
Or the “The Direct Mail Handbook” by Siegfried Vogele. [Hard to find]
But not Barry & Clive!
In fact, we’re going to recommend you don’t read any copywriting books. (Well, not yet)
Instead, we’re going to tell you what to do instead.
Because fiction outsells non-fiction by 500 to 1.
That means that people prefer reading fiction over non-fiction.
And knowing how to write good fiction (with plenty of suspense and drama) will make your copy stand out from all those copywriters who write in a non-fiction style.
For us, reading non-fiction is like trying to straighten out a bowl of spaghetti.
It’s hard work.
Don’t read another copywriting book until you have read these 5 books!
The 5 best books on copywriting – as recommended by Barry Dunlop and Clive Cable
People prefer to read or watch fiction.
And that being the case, it makes sense to incorporate suspense, drama and picture painting into your copywriting.
New copywriters should first learn how to write good fiction.
They should invest in non-fiction books on how to write good fiction.
Or as we like to say…
Buy non-copywriting books to learn how to be a better copywriter!
Especially books on how to write screenplays.
Remember, copy is not written, it’s assembled.
The five books we recommend here have had an enormous impact on our copywriting careers.
We believe they will do the same for you.
5 Best Books On Copywriting
~ 5 Copywriting Books Every Copywriter Should Own ~
No1: Non-Copywriting Book Ever Copywriter Should Read.
As books go, this is a classic and should remain by your side every time you write.
You will use it in one of two ways.
To inspire your writing, and to check up on yourself to make sure you’re building intrigue along the way.
Because people are curious creatures.
Like you are right now because you want to know the title of this book.
Here it is.
In it screenwriter and consultant Karl Iglesias say’s,
It’s not about plot points.
It’s not about structure.
It’s not about character.
IT’S ABOUT EMOTION!
As a copywriter you are in the emotional delivery business.
If we don’t say another word, knowing this, will probably double your income this year.
As you write, think in terms of scenes.
Each scene has a starting point, a middle point, and an ending point.
Then you get the transition from one scene to the next.
You can start a scene on a positive note and end on a negative.
Or start negative and end on a positive.
You can even start a scene on a negative and end on an even more negative scene.
Want to get good at this fast?
Watch or read fiction and look out for how each scene begins and ends.
We recommend good series fiction like “The Last Kingdom,” which you will find on Netflix.
No2: Non-Copywriting Book Ever Copywriter Should Read.
Now you might thing that this book has no place in a copywriter’s library.
And at first glance you’d be right.
Except for the fact that this book was recommended to Clive by non other than David Deutsch.
If you don’t know who David is then allow us to enlighten you.
David is one of the world’s highest paid top direct mail copywriters and if he recommends a book like this, who are we to ignore it?
The book itself won’t make you a better copywriter, but the brain training exercises will.
The author Michael Lavery is known as “The Hammer Man.”
He holds Guinness Book of Records for bouncing a golf ball off a claw hammer – and get this – while jogging for one mile!
And everything he says in his marvelous book is backed by science.
- You get to dramatically improve your memory.
- Your hand eye coordination and brain power.
- And you even get to write with your non-dominant hand in what’s known as “Da Vinci” writing.
How does this help your copywriting?
Writing great copy isn’t easy.
In fact, it’s one of the hardest things you can do.
With this book you will fully grasp the concept of “Train Hard – Fight Easy.”
Mediocracy is halfway up the mountain.
Being excellent means you enjoy the view at the top.
It’s your choice.
No3: Non-Copywriting Book Ever Copywriter Should Read.
Have you ever heard of Rich Schefren?
If you haven’t then you’re in for a real treat today.
Rich is arguably one of the best online copywriters alive today.
He owes his success in part by being mentored by no other than John Carlton of the “one legged golfer fame.”
You may be wondering we we’re telling you all this.
Almost every great copywriter was mentored by another great copywriter.
And that doesn’t need to be in person mentoring.
You can be mentored by books.
That’s the reason for blog post!
Going back to Rich Schefren for a moment.
Years ago, he revealed he uses one special book to get into the mind of his prospects.
This is like no other book you’ll ever read because it allows you as a copywriter to live by the maxim…
“Show don’t tell.”
Too many lazy copywriters make the reader work hard to understand what they write.
But this doesn’t have to be your fate, not with this book in your library.
One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying emotion to the reader in a unique, compelling way.
That was taken from the back cover.
Only brain-dead copywriters ignore this book once they discover it.
Editors, authors and teachers agree that “The Emotional Thesaurus,” in its easy-to-navigate list format, is a convenient and helpful brainstorming resource for any writing project.
Discover the tool that will inspire you to create stronger, fresher expressions and engage readers from your first page to your last.
Can you guess the emotion we used right here in this blog post to compel you to read this far?
(Answers on a postcard to… oops that’s a tad old school.)
Okay, that brings us to our next non-copywriting book for aspiring copywriters who want to make more money, win more clients, and enjoy the lifestyle that goes with it.
No4: Non-Copywriting Book Ever Copywriter Should Read.
Okay we confess, this is a book about copy.
But not in the traditional sense.
It’s about the words you can put into your copy to make it sing.
What we didn’t tell you was an even better book called, “WORD POWER” by Patrick Quinn.
The Sales Writer’s Thesaurus: Word Power helps you “assemble” not write copy.
There are some useful epigrams, maxims and laugh lines like this one…
“If you’re not confused, you must be misinformed.”
How can you use this?
Well, it doesn’t take too much imagination with what’s going on all around the world right now.
And if you wanted to break up serious copy and inject a bit of fun…
“Not enough is being done for the apathetic.”
We love the idea of using metaphors and similes, and again Mr. Quinn does an excellent job with this one…
“Taxi cabs cursing through the city.”
The best section of this excellent book is the Theme Finder.
This is more like a thesaurus.
Here are just a few of the themes.
- Easy to use and understand.
- Effects and results.
- New & high tech.
How can you use these?
Instead of saying unique, you say, “there’s nothing else like this.”
How about, “Daringly different.”
Yup, that even had alliteration in there as well.
You want to stay away from over-used or trite words.
Instead of new and high tech, how about, “highly sophisticated… designed for today’s… trailblazing… makes all the others obsolete.”
We hope by now you’re grasping this idea.
Yes, we know it takes time, but remember what we said about mediocracy being halfway up the mountain?
Really, you ought to have at least six of these “thesauruses” in your copywriting library if you want to write copy that sizzles.
Okay, that brings us to our fifth recommendation.
Of course, we’ve saved the best until last.
No5: Non-Copywriting Book Ever Copywriter Should Own.
If you didn’t buy any of the other books and only bought this one, you’ll have done yourself proud.
You may have heard of “Breakthrough Advertising.”
But did you know the author Eugene Schwartz wrote another amazing book on copy?
That book is The Brilliance Breakthrough.
For years, many high-profile copywriters were saying this book was a waste of time.
That’s because they didn’t understand it.
But when Brian Kurtz recently revived this book, it became an instant classic.
Oh, and it’s not cheap either.
Hundreds of dollars not cheap@!
Forget EVERYTHING you learned at school. It never worked anyway.
Eugene says there are only two types of words.
Picture words and connector words.
A picture word conjures up an image in the mind of your reader.
Connector words connect one picture to another.
Picture words make it easy for readers to grasp what you’re saying.
Your goal is to transfer the image you have in your mind to the mind of your reader without confusion.
Gimmie a ticket for an aeroplane. Ain’t got time to take a fast train.
In those two short sentences you can clearly see images.
The connector words are “a… for… an… got… to… and a…”
Without those connector word we’d have a mess.
“Gimmie – ticket – aeroplane – time – fast train.”
By the way, this is the first line of a song by the Box Tops back in the ‘60’s.
Here are more of those lyrics to give you a better understanding of picture words.
“Lonely days are gone, I’m a goin’ home.
My baby has just wrote me a letter
I don’t get care how much money I gotta spend.
Got to get back to my baby again.
Lonely days are gone, I’m a goin’ home.
My baby has just wrote me a letter.
Well, she wrote me a letter said she couldn’t live without me no more.
Listen Mister, can’t you see I got to get back to my baby once more.”
Can you see each image?
We suggest you find the Box Tops video on YouTube and not just listen to the picture words, but also the sense of urgency the song puts out.
This video is a great copywriting education.
Back to the book.
It is heavy going.
In fact, we think it’s like walking through treacle with rubber boots on that are two sizes too big for you.
And worse still, it will take you around three years to fully grasp each idea in this book.
Mr. Schwartz was a genius.
He owned the second largest art collection in New York.
He got that from writing words so well he had more winning promotions than anyone else in his day.
If you like hard work, get this book.
It will be worth the investment in time and money!
However, if you want an easier route hire us for your next copywriting sensation!
There you have it: 5 Of The Best Copywriting Books You Can Buy – and not one of them is your usual best copywriting book recommendation!
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- Use simple language
- Write is a conversational style
- Don’t shy away from bad stuff
- Empower your readers