The more you write, the better you get, right? Well, maybe. There are certainly people born with an innate talent for writing, but for the majority who earn their living at it, it doesn’t come easy.
Writing is a complicated skill that’s less about grammar and punctuation and more about telling a compelling story. While it’s often possible to become better at something through repetition, the way to become great at it is by learning from the masters. That means the key to achieving the status of a greater writer is reading. Why? It helps you:
- Find inspiration.
- Gain valuable new knowledge.
- Perfect your craft.
- Increase your vocabulary.
- Better understand language.
- Learn from the professionals.
If you’re in the practice of writing content, it makes sense to read other people’s content. Ads, direct mailers, email campaigns, website copy, whitepapers, and well-written blog posts can all help you become a better content writer. But to become a master writer, a storyteller extraordinaire, think bigger: novelists, poets, essayists, and dramatists.
Killer Copywriting Starts with the Written Word
All marketing is about conveying an engaging and irresistible story that compels the reader to take action. Who better to learn that skill from than the masters of storytelling? If you’re worried that reading other people’s work will keep you from developing your own voice, put that idea to rest fast. Creative writing students have been reading authors like Tolstoy and Angelou for years. No one’s cloned their style yet.
If you work with words and want to be known as a writer of killer copy, it’s time to study, read, and learn from the pros. There are, of course, thousands of pieces of literature to choose from. The sooner you get started, the better off you’ll be!
Good Books for Copywriters
Is there such a thing? It depends on what you think makes a good copywriting book. There are plenty of how-to guides filled with tips and tricks for developing great content, but the ones that can help you the most are probably not what you’d expect. Books like those listed here are meant to inspire and get you ready to become the master copywriter you know you can be.
Choosing just five is no easy task, but all these books will put you on the right path.
- Story by Robert McKee is essential to understanding the power of good narrative. People naturally respond to memorable stories and learning to tell one will set you apart from the crowd.
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott makes it clear that it’s the commitment to the process that will make you a better writer. Lamott firmly believes that to succeed, you must write more, and that through the process you figure out what you’re writing about. Her advice to get the terrible first draft out of the way is invaluable.
- A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink discusses the six fundamentally human abilities that he believes are essential for success: design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. Pink’s premise is that people who cultivate strong “right brain” qualities can harness them for creative success.
- There may be no better teacher of sound, rhythm, and imagery than good poetry. A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver is a fabulous primer on how to use words to express truth. The book begins with the premise that, although poets are born, there are some things that can be taught. The same can be said of copywriters.
- Since branding is such an important element of copywriting, Zag by Marty Neumeier is worth a read to gain insight on the power of fresh thinking and concise storytelling. And while you’ll certainly gain valuable ideas on brands and clients, this guide will also help you discover your unique copywriting voice.
The Bottom Line
If your goal is to become a killer copywriter who can inspire people to act, start by picking up a book. Reading helps you understand feelings and teaches you to connect with others. Learning to become a good reader will, in turn, make you a better writer.