13 Books That Will Make You 13 Times Better at Writing Copy


Finally, a book list that will help you write better copy


I’ve been recently looking for the ultimate book list for copywriters, marketeers and advertisers.

“It’s got to have some flavour to it, not just hyped up overrated tips and anecdotes”, I said to myself – I wanted real substance.

But I couldn’t find a single comprehensive list that satisfied me.

Not only should a great book list contain works from relatively recent leaders in the industry but it should also include classics from the founders of modern advertising.

So I started my own search for the best of the best – a book list that would satisfy any copywriter or marketeer’s cravings for good old fashioned advertising knowledge.

At the end of my search I ended up including over 100 years of marketing and advertising research featuring the “founding fathers” such as Claude C. Hopkins and David Ogilvy, in addition to the more recent greats, Dan Kennedy and Joseph Sugarman.


The following book list is categorized into three different time periods:

Classic (1900s-1930s), post-classic (1940s-1980s) and contemporary (1990s-present).


1902 – Walter Dill Scott – The Psychology of Advertising in Theory and Practice

A breakthrough book on how traditional advertising should not be based on custom but rather science – looks at the psychology behind effective advertising.


1917 & 1923 – Claude C. Hopkins – My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising

Written by the father of split testing, this book is actually two in one! Learn how Hopkins became a successful advertiser and used scientific principles to analyze and create the best ads of his era.


1947 – Harold J. Rudolf – Attention and Interest Factors in Advertising

A book recommended by David Ogilvy himself which covers the technicalities of advertising. From the size and colour of ads to the tone of copy – find out what captures the attention of consumers.


1963 – David Ogilvy – Confessions of an Advertising Man

Learn how David Ogilvy went from selling kitchen stoves door to door to opening up his own professional advertising agency in New York City. Get to know the advertising business through the eyes of a legend.


1966 – Eugene M. Schwartz – Breakthrough Advertising

Sometimes referred to as the “Bible of Advertising”, Schwartz’s book has been a key source of learning for copywriters and advertisers alike – especially excellent for improving copywriting skills.


1980 – John Caples – Tested Advertising Methods

Cram-packed with practical information, this book is definitely worth its weight in knowledge. It’s considered by some to be one of the best books out there for copywriters (perfect for ad copy and headlines).


1983 – David Ogilvy – Ogilvy on Advertising

Reading this book is the equivalent to picking the brains of an advertising genius. Learn how to thrive in the advertising business by using tried and true methods from the master himself.


1991 – Dan S. Kennedy – The Ultimate Sales Letter: Attract New Customers. Boost Your Sales

Become an expert in writing sales letters within days. Dan Kennedy’s book tells you his secret to his success and provides plenty of examples by showing you his most successful sales letters.


1993 – George Felton – Advertising: Concept and Copy

A comprehensive and modern view on the advertising process – takes you step by step through the process of conception to execution of a successful advertisement… a worthy read for any copywriter.


1998 – Joseph Sugarman – Advertising Secrets of the Written Word

Learn surprisingly new unconventional ways to write copy from an award-winning direct response copywriter. Get all the knowledge from one of his $3000 seminars in just one book!


1998 – Luke Sullivan – Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads

An entertaining read about how to write ads with gusto. The book provides tons of case studies and past campaigns that have worked – great for any creative professional (designers and copywriters).


2002 – Mario Pricken – Creative Advertising: Ideas and Techniques from the World’s Best Campaigns

Feeling a little uncreative? No worries, this book will trigger an explosion of creative ideas for your next campaign – learn how the greatest and latest ad campaigns were conceived.


2008 – Pete Barry – The Advertising Concept Book

It’s like David Ogilvy 2.0 – return to the basics of successful advertising in the 21st century by learning from one of Ogilvy & Mather’s former art directors (focuses on art direction and copywriting).


Whether you’re a copywriter or advertiser I’m sure you’ll enjoy this feast of knowledge!

Happy reading 🙂


Any honourable mentions?


Let me know if you have any books you’d recommend for the list.


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