15 Copywriting Books That Should Be In Every Writer’s Library

Maybe you’re looking for ways to increase your freelance writing income or you dream of authoring a bestselling novel.

Whichever the case, you’re searching for tutorials on how to become a better writer.

Ask a professional scribe for tips on polishing one’s prose, and they’ll probably tell you a few things, among which is studying some books about the art of copywriting.

Because even if you don’t go in that direction as a writer, the skills learned will sharpen all your prose.

Why All Writers Need Copywriting Books (Even If They Aren’t Copywriters)

Although it’s a component, copywriting encompasses more than crafting advertisements and marketing materials. Studying and mastering the art can:

  • Help you understand how people think and what makes them tick
  • Teach you to write more precisely and cleanly
  • Help you write better blurbs to market novel and non-fiction books
  • Learn to be more persuasive

Advertising copy is meant to sell products and services; content writing educates, inspires, and entertains; journalism is about recounting factual stories; fiction is a little bit of everything wrapped in make-believe. And practitioners of all can learn a lot from copywriting advice. 

15 of the Best Copywriting Books for All Writers 

You’re ready to put in the work and sharpen your copywriting skills, which begs the question: What are the best books about copywriting? 

We’ve compiled a list. However, not all are laser-focused on writing ads, product descriptions, and landing pages.

Some are about human behavior and the art of clear communication, both of which are essential components of effective copywriting.

1. Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz

breakthrough advertising best copywriting books

Breakthrough Advertising is an investment. Though considered one of the best marketing “bibles” of all time, the book is out of print. So the supply is scarce since people don’t part with their copies easily, and used ones go for upwards of $350.

Schwartz painstakingly guides readers through the five stages of awareness — unaware, problem aware, solution aware, product aware, and most aware — and explains how mastering these psychological inflection points will make you an unstoppable copywriter that commands top dollar.

Breakthrough advertising also spends considerable time explaining how to infuse advertisements and other marketing copy with emotion, tapping into people’s fears, hopes, and dreams.

2. Finding the Right Message by Jennifer Havice

finding the right message best copywriting books

Fundamentally, writing is about words. What phrases best convey a specific sentiment? How can words be shuffled around to be more impactful?

Jennifer Havice — an in-demand conversion rate optimizer — tackles these questions regarding marketing and copywriting in Finding the Right Message. Specifically, she teaches how to find the words that best resonate with a target demographic.

Havice also gives invaluable advice on conducting compelling and revealing surveys and interviews.

3. First You Write a Sentence by Joe Moran

first you write a sentence best copywriting books

Joe Moran’s First You Write a Sentence isn’t a well-known book, and that’s a shame. The British professor of English and culture lyrically writes about using ordinary words to create captivating sentences.

He weaves life advice into his writing tutorials, creating a compelling and educational experience.

Wordplay is a huge part of copywriting, which involves hours of revision and editing. Moran teaches readers how to do just that.

Kirkus Reviews succinctly recaps the book as “practical advice on giving one’s writing texture and verve,” and it’s a great addition to every writer’s and aspiring writer’s library.

4. How To Write a Good Advertisement by Victor O. Schwab

how to write a good advertisement best copywriting books

How To Write a Good Advertisement: A Short Course in Copywriting was first published in the 1960s, but much of its wisdom still holds true today. 

If you’re interested in crafting “hard-hitting” copy that grabs people’s attention, this book has a lot to offer in terms of advice. 

Practically, it dissects the nuts and bolts of writing effective, persuasive prose. Though short and sweet, it covers a lot of ground, including the five elements of good ads, headline writing, balancing emotions and facts, and general writing advice.

5. How To Write Short by Roy Peter Clark

how to write short best copywriting books

Praised as “America’s Writing coach” and “America’s most influential writing teacher,” Roy Peter Clark has served as a Pulitzer juror on more than one occasion.

He is the vice president of the prestigious Poynter Institute for Media Studies and has published 17 books on the art of language. 

How To Write Short is an indispensable guide that instructs readers how to say a lot with a few words — the backbone of compelling copywriting.

Short — whose tagline is “word craft for fast times” — features dedicated sections on crafting headlines, tweets, emails, sales pitches, and more. It’s also a great resource for self-published authors looking to perfect their plot synopsis.

6. Influence by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D.

influence best copywriting books

Robert Cialdini dedicated his professional life to figuring out “why people say yes” and how to leverage this knowledge for commercial gain ethically.

He was an early pioneer in formally using the psychology of persuasion to craft marketing and advertising materials. 

Cialdini’s bestselling book, Influence, is a seminal work exploring the intricacies of how to incite people to invest, buy, sign-up, or book an appointment.

Specifically, he breaks down the five influences that guide human behavior: scarcity, authority, likeability, social proof/consensus, and reciprocity.

Influence has been updated since the first publication and is stuffed with advice for any writer, marketer, or aspiring influencer.

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7. Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath

made to stick best copywriting books

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die should be on the shelf of anybody with a brand to cement, a business to grow, or characters to create. The book details how to implant an impression, idea, or story into people’s minds.

The Heaths teach the “SUCCES” formula, an acronym for:

  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Story

We’re living in the digital age, and market saturation is intense. Grabbing the public’s attention becomes increasingly difficult by the day — literally. This book instructs you how to be the cream that rises to the top. 

8. Murder Your Darlings by Roy Peter Clark

murder your darlings best copywriting books

We debated putting Murder Your Darlings: And Other Gentle Writing Advice from Aristotle to Zissner on the list because we already had a Roy Clark title. But it’s too good to pass over. 

A compilation of over 100 writing tips from the greatest rhetoricians, philosophers, and writers throughout history, Murder should be required nighttime reading for everyone who yearns to earn a living with words.  

The Booklist review called it “an all-encompassing guide to a life spent with words.” Another praised it as an “inspiring and edifying ode to the craft of writing.” Both are spot-on assessments, and it’s one of those books you’ll return to again and again.

9. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

predictably irrational best copywriting books

Founder of The Center for Advanced Insight, Dan Ariely, is a behavioral economist at Duke University with doctorates in cognitive psychology and business administration who’s a regular on the TED Talk circuit.

An expert in human consumer behavior, Ariely’s Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions explains how people routinely act irrationally in predictable ways. He also unpacks what truly impacts decision-making.

Though not a book about writing, per se, Predictably Irrational provides incredible insight into the human psyche, which will help you write more persuasive, engaging work.

10. Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

save the cat best copywriting books

Yes, the subtitle for Save the Cat is The Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need

Isn’t this supposed to be a list of copywriting books, you ask?

Here’s the thing: great copywriters are superb storytellers, and this long-standing bestseller gives concrete — almost formulaic (in a helpful way) — advice on how to craft tales that will immediately grab hearts and minds. Ultimately, it’s a book on how to “hook” people.

The advice in Save the Cat will help you make your ideas more marketable and appealing.

11. The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert

the boron letters best copywriting books

Sure, Gary Halbert spent a few months in Boron federal prison in the 1980s for tax evasion. But his legal detour doesn’t detract from the fact that today, long after his passing, he’s still revered as one of the legends of direct-to-consumer marketing.  

He was the GOAT of copywriting. A legend in the field. 

Writers of all stripes have benefited from the advice he doles out in The Boron Letters, a compendium of 18 letters Halbert wrote to his son while locked up about effective marketing and the meaning of life.

Halbert urges his kid to be his “own messiah,” “sell people what they want to buy,” and other nuggets that have inspired and guided readers for years.

12. The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly

the copywriter's handbook best copywriting books

The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells is a classic currently in its 4th edition. While it may not be as conversational as other options, it’s filled with fundamental truths about what makes good copy. 

If you want to learn how to write clear, concise, and compelling pieces, and you have a more analytical mind, Handbook is a great choice.

The author, Robert W. Bly, is a self-made millionaire who marketed his way to success, and he shares the knowledge, techniques, and tools he used to do it. Specifically, he outlines a five-step “motivating sequence” you can apply to your work.

13. The Wizard of Ads by Roy H. Williams

the wizard of ads best copywriting books

Some people may look at the original publication date of Roy H. Williams’s The Wizard of Ads and assume the advice may be a little long in the tooth.

But the book has been updated for our face-paced, digital age, and the tips are just as relevant today as they were nearly 30 years ago.

Williams’s advice has weathered the ravages of time because it centers on creative thinking and the push-pull between intellect and emotion. He answers the question: “What makes people do the things they do?” and details the seven universal laws of advertising.

Though it lasers in on advertisements, Think of The Wizard of Ads as a treatise on communication, and no matter what type of writing you do, it will help make you better.

14. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

thinking, fast and low best copywriting books

Thinking, Fast and Slow is another book that isn’t devoutly focused on writing. Instead, it’s a deep dive into the modular nature of how people think — invaluable knowledge that helps you pen more convincing copy or characters.

The author, Daniel Kahneman, is a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist. He won the prestigious award for proving that humans aren’t entirely rational. And hey, if he’s good enough for the board of Swedish kingmakers, he’s good enough for us.

Plus, Thinking genuinely helps writers become more persuasive.

(FYI: It’s currently free with Kindle Unlimited.)

15. Grammar Girl’s Punctuation 911: Your Guide To Getting it Right by Mignon Fogarty

grammar girl's punctuation 911 best copywriting books

Ugh. Grammar. Right?

We get it. And to a large degree, we sympathize. 

But it’s a necessary evil. And when it comes to copywriting, punctuation can make a world of difference. 

The fairy godmother of grammar, Mignon Fogarty, breaks down the uses and powers of semicolons, serial commas, exclamation points, and ellipses in Punctuation 911: Your Guide To Getting it Right. And don’t worry; she makes it fun and easy to understand.

Final Thought

We hope you found some books on this list that fit the blueprint for your needs. But don’t be afraid to branch out and try something new. A title that may seem off your beaten path may be the one that elevates your skills to the next level.

Copywriting is a hot niche for freelancers right now. Learn how you can learn and improve your skills with these best copywriting books.

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