Read Your Way to Success: 10 Books Every Copywriter Should Read

Business.com / Careers / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Get ready to be inspired! These are the best books out there that will help you learn and grow in online copywriting.

If you want to get good at something, it’s not something that happens overnight.

You need to learn it inside and out: marry it, get to know it like the back of your hand.

And, if you’re like me, self-learning through picking up an expert book on the topic is one of the best ways to start learning a trade you’re passionate about.

When it comes to copywriting, people interested in learning the craft have all too often in the past been left in the dark.

With few resources and even fewer firsthand accounts of what it takes to make it in the industry, would-be content professionals have been left with no choice but to piece it together themselves.

Fortunately, times have changed and today there is a wealth of well-written, original books that address the topic of copywriting. 

If you’re a content professional interested in taking your copywriting to the next level, check out these top ten copywriting books this summer.

Related Article:Inspiration Awaits: 5 Influential Business Books You Need to Read

1. "Everybody Writes" by Ann Handley 

In the market for a fun, sharp, approachable book on the topic of copywriting? Here’s where you should start. Ann Handley is a self-proclaimed marketing veteran and the chief content officer at MarketingProfs, so she knows what she’s talking about and, in "Everybody Writes", she offers an approachable, down-to-earth look at the world of copywriting. Handley believes that everyone with a website is a publisher and that online writing, while it may be something we do daily, is actually crucial. 

Everybody Writes Book cover

In the words of Handley herself, “Being able to communicate well in writing isn’t just nice; it’s necessary.” Pick up this book for “how-to” guidance on topics like boosting your social media pages, LinkedIn profiles, and blogs, and becoming a more successful marketer in no time.

2. "So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing" by Julia McCoy

As a copywriter and writing agency owner myself (full-time for five years now), I understand what it takes to succeed in the business, and I also know how it feels to struggle to learn everything you need to do. So, in April this year, I published my own book on the ins and outs of how to be successful in online writing. I took out a year to write it, and I’ve heard from readers that it’s one of the most up-to-date guides in the industry, which I wrote it with the intention to be.

So you think you can write book cover

It topped #3 on the Amazon bestseller charts the second day it was out. In this book, I cover topics that help both writers and marketers learn to write valuable, relevant, engaging content that appeals to real humans, and the SERP results. Designed to help you learn to craft everything from blog posts to product descriptions, successfully, this book's goal is to help you become a marketable and effective copywriter in today’s online environment.

Get "So You Think You Can Write?" if you’re interested in learning the most up-to-date information to make your SEO, blogs, social media, and meta content better than it’s ever been before and if you want to earn money as an online writer, or be successful in your own brand content.

3. "The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells" by Robert W. Bly 

If Everybody Writes is an approachable life lesson, "The Copywriter’s Handbook" is a critical bedside guide you should never go without. Rich with expert information on everything from how to write compelling headlines (a battle we all fight, surely), crafting attention-grabbing openings for sales letters, making online copy more readable, this book helps make you a better copywriter from the moment you pick it up.

The Copywriters Handbook book cover

The author of this book, Robert W. Bly, has been called “America’s top copywriter” by McGraw-Hill and has spent his life advising writers on how to succeed in their craft and profession. Ideal for anyone looking for practical, actionable guidance on copywriting in the modern world, this handbook is an invaluable reference.

4. "Write Good or Die" by Scott Nicholson

"Write Good or Die" is the book you’d want to take to a desert island where you’d be doing nothing but copywriting. Comprised of 11 articles that deal with the practical, business side of copywriting and 22 dedicated to specific components of writing, like the importance of voice and imagery, this book offers a broad-spectrum look at what it means to write well.

Write Good or Die book cover

What makes this book interesting and differentiates it from the others on this list is that it includes pieces from best-selling authors like Jonathan Maberry and Kevin J. Anderson. Ideal for anyone who wants to become a better storyteller, craft better content, and bring elements of screen and print writing into their online copy, this honest book is a critical guide.

5. "The Content Strategy Toolkit: Methods, Guidelines, and Templates for Getting Content Right" by Meghan Casey

As a copywriter, it’s essential to have a good understanding of content strategy. In this book, "The Content Strategy Toolkit", Meghan Casey helps you do just that.

The Content Strategy Toolkit

A simple, step-by-step guide to developing and implementing a content strategy, this resource can help copywriters understand what makes for good content, how to identify problem areas in online content, how to speak to specific audiences and customers, and how to measure a content strategy's effectiveness. A critical book for anyone who wants to dig deeper and become an active strategist and copywriter, this book will help you become an authority in your field.

Related Article:10 Customer Service Books Every Business Owner Should Read

6. "Epic Content Marketing" by Joe Pulizzi 

Known as one of the founding fathers of content marketing, Joe Pulizzi has made a huge name for himself as an expert and mega-watt influencer in the world of online content. The founder of Content Marketing Institute, Pulizzi is kind enough to compile his extensive knowledge and experience into this critical, must-have book: "Epic Content Marketing".

Deemed by Fortune Magazine as one of the five business books that everyone must read, Epic Content Marketing is an absolute must-have for anyone who wants to learn what it takes to be an excellent content marketer. Wondering what you'll find when you pick up this book? The answer is simple: everything.

Epic Content Marketing

Its pages are filled with helpful pointers on virtually everything you've ever imagined  and some stuff you haven't. Some of the main topics include what makes good content (does it fill an unmet need or answer a reader’s questions?), how to deliver content (is it consistent and reliable?), what a compelling voice sounds like in online writing (your own, but with some humor that makes it relatable and approachable), and why it’s so critically important to avoid sales-y content.

7. "Content Marketing Playbook" by Sujan Patel 

Sujan Patel is the co-founder of ContentMarketer.io and Narrow.io. In his book, "Content Marketing Playbook", Patel breaks down topics like Growth Hacking, SEO, Distribution, and Branding to help content marketers understand what it takes to excel at the craft and stand out in this industry.

Content Marketing Playbook

One of the things that readers love about this book is that it manages to be helpful and productive without being “fluffy” or over-blown. Think of it as an encyclopedia of online marketing something you can pick up and learn from virtually any time you have a question or concern. I highly recommend it.

8. "Contagious: Why Things Catch On" by Jonah Berger

Ever wondered what makes something go viral online? Is it the images, the writing, the voice, the topic? Is it all of the above? If you’ve ever asked these questions, this book is for you. A New York Times Bestseller, "Contagious" explains what it takes for ideas, products, and topics to go viral online.

Contagious book cover

Playful, accessible, impactful, and ideal for any marketer who wants to create more dynamic content, this book takes viral media campaigns and breaks them down to the minutia what made them work and why? How can you learn from these things and apply them to your marketing? Trust me, this one deserves a place on your copywriting desk.

9. "Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More)" by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman

Another winner from Ann Handley, "Content Rules" combines her extensive expertise with that of C.C. Chapman, the founder of DigitalDads.com. Touted as a one-stop resource for anyone looking to create content that makes readers feel passionate and excited, this book is designed to help marketers find their voices and speak directly to customers.

Content Rules book cover

It also covers topics like how to distribute content via social media, define the goals of a content strategy, and communicate marketing messages on a variety of platforms. Perfect for marketers varying from beginning to advanced, this book is actionable, simple, and powerful all in one convenient package.

10. "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr.

While not often regarded as a copywriting book, "The Elements of Style" is downright canonical and can overhaul your content writing strategy if you let it.

The Elements of Style book cover

As a bonus, the fourth and most recent edition of this classic is filled with colorful illustrations by Maria Kalman. Ideal for learning what it takes to be a good writer across all platforms, this book improves the way you write and helps you learn to craft online copy that focuses on consistency, simplicity, clarity, and brevity. 

Related Article: Inspiration Meets Strategy: The Top 10 Must-Read Books for Marketers

Read Your Way to Copywriting Success

While there are dozens of great books out there on the topic of copywriting, these ten will help you build your skills, ace online copy, and learn what it takes to win at content distribution and sharing methods, like social media and websites.

While it's impossible to master any craft overnight, you can start reading your way to success with these ten fantastic copywriting books.

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