In this section Laura shares her favorite books on the art and science of both writing and marketing.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. As with most things, too much information can be as problematic as too little, and we would rather share a small selection that helps you move forward in a meaningful way, rather than dump dozens of recommendations on you that leave you overwhelmed.
The books listed here are personal favorites that Laura reads regularly and refers to in order to improve her own work, and that she thinks will give you the most bang for your buck, in terms of the time and attention you spend reading them, and in the value they will bring to your work.
If you never read another book about writing, On Writing Well would be enough. It has been in print since 1976, and has sold well over a million copies, with very good reason. Zinsser’s style is so approachable—it’s like having your own personal writing teacher bending over your shoulder, giving you encouragement and coaching at every stage. I have this in both print and digital formats and still come back to it regularly.
This is a master class in the process of writing and a fascinating look behind the scenes onto one of the most prolific writers of our time. King is funny and pragmatic—reading his advice on the technical aspects of writing is both incredibly informative and a bit like being heckled by a childhood friend. Very useful and a lot of fun.
Lerner worked in New York publishing houses for many years, and worked with every type of writer and book imaginable. Her commentary on the process of writing, the power of editing, and the state of the publishing world is illuminating. If you’re interested in pursuing a traditional book deal, Part Two of this book deals with publishing and is very informative.
This book has made me fall in love with writing, over and over again. It gives you permission to write in the way that’s natural to you, instead of trying to hold you to someone else’s process. It teaches you how to make a start, even if you believe right now that you could never write a single word that anyone else would want to read. Goldberg is a marvellous teacher, who loves her subject and her students, and Writing Down The Bones is both a roadmap and a joy to read.
Even though I did several units on grammar during my writing degree, there is just no way I can remember all the tiny, finicky details of the English language. When I’m in flow and actually writing good material, the last thing I want is to get held up fretting about whether I’m writing date formats correctly or whether I should be using an en dash or an em dash. This book makes it really easy to check all those little details you’re unsure about once you get to the editing stage.
In all transparency, I worked with Brian on this book as a developmental editor, but I honestly believe this book is the practical compendium to Breakthrough Advertising. Overdeliver teaches all the critical business elements of marketing—understanding the principle of Recency, Frequency and Monetary scoring, controlling your costs to acquire customers, maximizing customer lifetime value, using predictive modelling to forecast revenues and profits, and most importantly, building relationships with customers that will allow you to run a sustainable, profitable business for many years.
Don’t let the title fool you; this book is about marketing to any highly motivated audience. Kennedy’s point is all about picking a market that wants what you have, and has the resources to pay what you ask for it. It’s a playbook in understanding the psychology of sophisticated markets and maximizing your ability to connect with them.
This was the first book I ever read about marketing, and it gave me a very firm foundation to build my career on. It cleared away all the mystique around marketing and showed me how to think about campaigns holistically and with the right metrics in mind.
This book is a master class in marketing. It delves deep into understanding your market, crafting effective offers and copy and various sales mechanisms that you can use in any kind of campaign. It’s very dense and will yield new ideas and insights on every reading.
I can’t emphasize enough how powerful Marshall’s book has been for me. Focusing on the 20% of work that yields 80% of the results? That’s a priceless skill and will hone your marketing focus down to very targeted offers and audiences, in turn saving you from wasting time and resources on campaigns that don’t grow your business.
This book is for entrepreneurs and the leaders of B2B businesses who want to use content marketing to bring a predictable stream of qualified leads into their sales cycles, and need a replicable system to make it happen. This book provides that system — a step-by-step process that can be executed in any business to generate qualified leads and more conversions with content marketing.
Writing a book can transform the growth and value of your business.Books are still one of the most powerful assets you can create to build your credibility, authority and visibility in your market. It raises the profile of your work, putting you in front of audiences you might not have been able to reach before. It positions you as the go-to expert in your field—after all, if you literally ‘wrote the book’ on your industry, you’ll be the easy choice for your prospects.
This is the stuff Rachel swears by and recommends to her friends, colleagues, and clients when they ask for tools and resources.
Here you'll find her favorites to help you write killer copy or level up your biz...
... and a few things thrown in that just make life easier.
Copy Chief was started by comedian-turned-copywriter Kevin Rogers, and is a community where business owners and copywriters come together for expert feedback on their copy, exclusive marketing and freelancer trainings, and opportunities to connect with true professionals. It’s bad-ass and I love it in here.
I will confidently say that Copy Chief is one of the main reasons why my business is at where it is today.
This course is my first ‘official’ training in how to write sales copy, and I still think it’s one of the best beginner courses out there. CopyHour is a training program run by Derek Johansson to teach you how the greats wrote (and still write) killer copy. This program teaches ‘copy by hand’ — you literally write out great sales pieces by hand, so that you develop an intuitive, tangible sense of what works and why. Laura and I have both been through this program multiple times, because it’s just so good for keeping your copy skills sharp.
Most of the writers we talk to agree that the freelance life is pretty awesome, but if you’re going to make the business side pay, you need to develop a much larger skillset than putting good words on paper. Abbey Woodcock (herself a kick-ass copywriter), created this online portal with exclusive resources like contract and proposal templates, software discounts, pricing guides, project management tools and training, and even on-call experts in topics like taxes, contracts law, outsourcing, and more. So. Damn. Useful.
This course by Chris Orzechowski is the definition of 'overdeliver'. It's a step-by-step training program that teaches you how to write simple email campaigns that can sell any product in any market with great success. I've taken a lot of copywriting courses, and I truly believe this is the best course on email copywriting available today.
This is the shopping cart software I use to manage ALL of my invoicing, product sales, payments, and affiliate programs. One thing I wish I did sooner in my writing career was get my shopping cart straightened out. Thrivecart has given me so much leverage and allowed me to evolve and grow my business quickly WITHOUT stressing or screwing around with all the tech stuff. If you're interested in creating and selling products, memberships subscriptions, courses – or even if you just want an intuitive invoicing software – then this is the #1 program I recommend. Plus you only buy it once and have a lifetime license, and I'm all about keeping ongoing overhead costs low as a freelancer.
This is a rapid-fire checklist that I created to help you make sure every page and post on your website meets the 5 critical copy elements that transform new readers into profitable sales.
This is the same checklist I used to train and manage my team when we built a 6-figure content agency. The team used this guide to successfully deliver high-performance content to our clients that was both primed to convert browsers into buyers, and rank well on search engines.
Michael Hauge is a master storyteller, and crafts the stories that make millions at the Hollywood box office. In fact, Will Smith regularly calls him to look over his scripts before he agrees to star in a new movie. This book breaks down Michael's structure for storytelling – and shows you how to apply it to ANY topic. Plus – you'll get some great bonus resources, like templates for asking interview questions to build out awesome story-based case studies.
You can become the best writer in the world, but if you want to write words that get people to take action, then you need to understand how people think and make decisions (and what influences those decisions).
This book is the most straightforward, interesting, and relevant resource to learn what makes your readers tick. I'd consider this mandatory reading for anyone looking to write great copy.
I like this book because it tackles one of the hardest parts of writing great sales copy (or any engaging story-based writing) – starting!
When you're staring at that blinking cursor and a blank page, somehow all the words feel like the WRONG words.
This book helps you master the beginning piece of sales copy – The Lead – which the majority of copywriters would argue is the most important part of any piece.
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