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The Copywriter's Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells

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The classic guide to copywriting, now in an entirely updated third edition This is a book for everyone who writes or approves copy: copywriters, account executives, creative directors, freelance writers, advertising managers . . . even entrepreneurs and brand managers. It reveals dozens of copywriting techniques that can help you write ads, commercials, and direct mail that The classic guide to copywriting, now in an entirely updated third edition This is a book for everyone who writes or approves copy: copywriters, account executives, creative directors, freelance writers, advertising managers . . . even entrepreneurs and brand managers. It reveals dozens of copywriting techniques that can help you write ads, commercials, and direct mail that are clear, persuasive, and get more attention--and sell more products. Among the tips revealed are • eight headlines that work--and how to use them • eleven ways to make your copy more readable • fifteen ways to open a sales letter • the nine characteristics of successful print ads • how to build a successful freelance copywriting practice • fifteen techniques to ensure your e-mail marketing message is opened This thoroughly revised third edition includes all new essential information for mastering copywriting in the Internet era, including advice on Web- and e-mail-based copywriting, multimedia presentations, and Internet research and source documentation, as well as updated resources. Now more indispensable than ever, The Copywriter's Handbook remains the ultimate guide for people who write or work with copy. "I don't know a single copywriter whose work would not be improved by reading this book." --David Ogilvy


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The classic guide to copywriting, now in an entirely updated third edition This is a book for everyone who writes or approves copy: copywriters, account executives, creative directors, freelance writers, advertising managers . . . even entrepreneurs and brand managers. It reveals dozens of copywriting techniques that can help you write ads, commercials, and direct mail that The classic guide to copywriting, now in an entirely updated third edition This is a book for everyone who writes or approves copy: copywriters, account executives, creative directors, freelance writers, advertising managers . . . even entrepreneurs and brand managers. It reveals dozens of copywriting techniques that can help you write ads, commercials, and direct mail that are clear, persuasive, and get more attention--and sell more products. Among the tips revealed are • eight headlines that work--and how to use them • eleven ways to make your copy more readable • fifteen ways to open a sales letter • the nine characteristics of successful print ads • how to build a successful freelance copywriting practice • fifteen techniques to ensure your e-mail marketing message is opened This thoroughly revised third edition includes all new essential information for mastering copywriting in the Internet era, including advice on Web- and e-mail-based copywriting, multimedia presentations, and Internet research and source documentation, as well as updated resources. Now more indispensable than ever, The Copywriter's Handbook remains the ultimate guide for people who write or work with copy. "I don't know a single copywriter whose work would not be improved by reading this book." --David Ogilvy

30 review for The Copywriter's Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maura

    The three stars are because I imagine this book must be very helpful for those who write copy, yet I didn't find this book particularly useful nor engaging myself. I didn't find anything worth taking notes on. My takeaways were: Be clear. Be brief. Use understandable yet incorrect grammar if it helps with being both clear and brief (e.g. sentence fragment: Now!) Explain the customer's benefit not just why the product is great. Direct ads that sell are better than elegant, artful ads that don't sell. Y The three stars are because I imagine this book must be very helpful for those who write copy, yet I didn't find this book particularly useful nor engaging myself. I didn't find anything worth taking notes on. My takeaways were: Be clear. Be brief. Use understandable yet incorrect grammar if it helps with being both clear and brief (e.g. sentence fragment: Now!) Explain the customer's benefit not just why the product is great. Direct ads that sell are better than elegant, artful ads that don't sell. Your job is to sell, not to be clever/humorous/entertaining. It helps to have a website with useful information that will attract customers-->get their emails and start sending newsletters with more useful info plus pitches.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    As a professional software developer rather than a copywriter, my assessment may be unfair, but The Copywriters's Handbook disappointed me. My biggest writing desire is to write persuasively in the shortest amount of space. While the book did teach some of that, there was plenty that was completely uninteresting to me. My best suggestion is to read the book, but be prepared to skip outright the chapters that won't interest you. You have no need to write a brochure? Good, don't read the brochure c As a professional software developer rather than a copywriter, my assessment may be unfair, but The Copywriters's Handbook disappointed me. My biggest writing desire is to write persuasively in the shortest amount of space. While the book did teach some of that, there was plenty that was completely uninteresting to me. My best suggestion is to read the book, but be prepared to skip outright the chapters that won't interest you. You have no need to write a brochure? Good, don't read the brochure chapter because it won't teach you any other copywriting techniques. Treat the handbook as a reference to use when you need insight into a specific copywriter's subject.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alix

    Bly does exactly what he recommends - deliver the facts. I think I had to pause every other sentence just to think for a second and actually process the information. This is a textbook and therefore takes a lot of concentration. The information is excellent, however I give it 3 stars because it doesn't cover all of the aspects of copywriting that I encounter. I think copywriting also has to do with branding these days and the copywriting that Bly does is really only about sales. For sales copywr Bly does exactly what he recommends - deliver the facts. I think I had to pause every other sentence just to think for a second and actually process the information. This is a textbook and therefore takes a lot of concentration. The information is excellent, however I give it 3 stars because it doesn't cover all of the aspects of copywriting that I encounter. I think copywriting also has to do with branding these days and the copywriting that Bly does is really only about sales. For sales copywriting the book is great however for branding it lacks.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I think I read the third edition the first time. I ordered a copy, but I think this one is the first or second. it's quite different which is a bit surprising. I actually think this one is better - if my original review is accurate. it's pretty hard to say as most of the information in the book is fairly general. there's not much in here not in a dozen other books. It was nice to have it presented again though! I think I read the third edition the first time. I ordered a copy, but I think this one is the first or second. it's quite different which is a bit surprising. I actually think this one is better - if my original review is accurate. it's pretty hard to say as most of the information in the book is fairly general. there's not much in here not in a dozen other books. It was nice to have it presented again though!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tyshawn Knight

    You have to buy this book. You can't just check it out from your library. You will refer to it again and again if you plan to write for businesses. I think you should buy it if you are self-employed. It will teach you how to create a quick flier and save money. Then you can hire copywriters for the big writing jobs and whip out the little jobs in minutes. You have to buy this book. You can't just check it out from your library. You will refer to it again and again if you plan to write for businesses. I think you should buy it if you are self-employed. It will teach you how to create a quick flier and save money. Then you can hire copywriters for the big writing jobs and whip out the little jobs in minutes.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Zane

    My mistake - listening to audiobook, not recommended. This information will be better perceived if read. The content is widely covered. Though I found several parts irrelevant or outdated, but maybe it's just my perception. I did take some lessons with me and will be making synopsis for the book to have as an idea resource and to remind myself of basics of writing. My mistake - listening to audiobook, not recommended. This information will be better perceived if read. The content is widely covered. Though I found several parts irrelevant or outdated, but maybe it's just my perception. I did take some lessons with me and will be making synopsis for the book to have as an idea resource and to remind myself of basics of writing.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Achie

    I must say that this is a very handful book for advertising students as well as for beginners in copywriting. You can say this is a sort of a manual-book in copywriting. What I like about this book is that it provides wide examples of effective headlines, sub-headlines even direct-mails(Sometimes I used them for my assignments, hi3x). I used this as reference while I studied advertising in university and it really helped me in understanding the fundamental of copywriting. If I am a lecturer, I wil I must say that this is a very handful book for advertising students as well as for beginners in copywriting. You can say this is a sort of a manual-book in copywriting. What I like about this book is that it provides wide examples of effective headlines, sub-headlines even direct-mails(Sometimes I used them for my assignments, hi3x). I used this as reference while I studied advertising in university and it really helped me in understanding the fundamental of copywriting. If I am a lecturer, I will make The Copywriter's handbook as a text book for my students :)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Watkins

    A very helpful book on how to write copy. Several chapters won’t be applicable to the novice copyrighter not interested in a career in copywriting. Examples include writing copy for tv and how to get a job in copyrighting. More detailed and thorough than similar books by Ray Edwards but drier as well. Recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Teatum

    Great starting point, I can see why it's a classic. Vocalizes some of the things about writing you already knew, but assigns terminology to them. Good reference/brush-up book as well. Great starting point, I can see why it's a classic. Vocalizes some of the things about writing you already knew, but assigns terminology to them. Good reference/brush-up book as well.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vincent

    This is a textbook. So yes, it's pretty dry content. And as I'm just starting out on this copywriting journey, I have no idea what will end up being the most helpful information picked up from this book. The info is a little dated: there is a whole section on using Flash for advertising. Whoops. A lot of time is spent on very specific physical ad copy, like brochures. Only one chapter is devoted to online copywriting. Gig work is not covered. I definitely recommend reading this and doing an outli This is a textbook. So yes, it's pretty dry content. And as I'm just starting out on this copywriting journey, I have no idea what will end up being the most helpful information picked up from this book. The info is a little dated: there is a whole section on using Flash for advertising. Whoops. A lot of time is spent on very specific physical ad copy, like brochures. Only one chapter is devoted to online copywriting. Gig work is not covered. I definitely recommend reading this and doing an outline or taking notes while doing so. The audiobook would make for a more difficult learning experience.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    I knew that this was going to be a different read for me as I was reading it for work but this was full of information and covered a variety of topics that a copywriter could come across. It's more of a textbook read so I didn't find this to be the easiest read but I did learn a few thing in every chapter which is what I was curious about since this was more for work, to see how much of the information I could apply for my current work needs. Overall it was factual, on point and covered some step I knew that this was going to be a different read for me as I was reading it for work but this was full of information and covered a variety of topics that a copywriter could come across. It's more of a textbook read so I didn't find this to be the easiest read but I did learn a few thing in every chapter which is what I was curious about since this was more for work, to see how much of the information I could apply for my current work needs. Overall it was factual, on point and covered some steps-by-steps and provided examples across every chapter. Maybe it's this edition but this felt very dated in it's use of language and the examples it provided as I couldn't remember some of the advertisers and marketing that Bly mentioned in some chapters while I think also leaving out some newer aspects of copywriting and the expansion into branding so I'm hoping that it was just something about this edition as this the 3rd edition.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Autumn Kotsiuba

    A good refresher or introduction to the field.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Don Sevcik

    Get inside the mind of a guy who's been at this over 25 years. He's worked with multiple businesses in multiple industries. If you read nothing else in this book, read the section about headlines. The simple step-by-step process for headline creation is worth its weight in gold. Bly is a technical practitioner and a chemical engineer, so you get an interesting perspective on writing and the thought process behind writing to sell a product or service. Get inside the mind of a guy who's been at this over 25 years. He's worked with multiple businesses in multiple industries. If you read nothing else in this book, read the section about headlines. The simple step-by-step process for headline creation is worth its weight in gold. Bly is a technical practitioner and a chemical engineer, so you get an interesting perspective on writing and the thought process behind writing to sell a product or service.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andres Torrubia

    This is coming from a non-English native in need of the basics to write web copy: I really liked this book because it got to the point with examples; there's the usual MBA BS (the 4 Us: urgent, unique, useful and ULTRA-specific... wait... specific doesn't start with U :-) ). This is coming from a non-English native in need of the basics to write web copy: I really liked this book because it got to the point with examples; there's the usual MBA BS (the 4 Us: urgent, unique, useful and ULTRA-specific... wait... specific doesn't start with U :-) ).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Hagedon

    I liked this book. Detailed, helpful, and gave good perspective on a lot of topics. Though a little dated (referencing technology and practices from 2004), I still think this was a great read. If you're interested in learning more about copy, start here. I liked this book. Detailed, helpful, and gave good perspective on a lot of topics. Though a little dated (referencing technology and practices from 2004), I still think this was a great read. If you're interested in learning more about copy, start here.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This was useful but so outdated that you'll get more practical advice by reading social media/email marketing blogs that publish tips like this daily. This was useful but so outdated that you'll get more practical advice by reading social media/email marketing blogs that publish tips like this daily.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Juneta Key

    Lots of informative info for the copywriter but for the fiction writer helpful but not as helpful as Closing the Deal...on Your Terms by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

  18. 4 out of 5

    Konrad Holden

    Use like a reference book: Chapters 1-5 are assigned reading. Then, pick and choose from the other chapters to help with your specific needs.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pedro Jacob

    Bob Bly writes in a clear and authoritative voice while displaying a wealth of knowledge about the copywriting industry. If you're a freelancer interested in learning how to succeed in this field, his other book 'Secrets of a Freelance Writer' is a much more insightful and practical read. As a copywriter looking to improve my craft, there was something about 'The Copywriter's Handbook' that disappointed me; in its attempt to provide a broad overview of the profession, it only aggregated knowledg Bob Bly writes in a clear and authoritative voice while displaying a wealth of knowledge about the copywriting industry. If you're a freelancer interested in learning how to succeed in this field, his other book 'Secrets of a Freelance Writer' is a much more insightful and practical read. As a copywriter looking to improve my craft, there was something about 'The Copywriter's Handbook' that disappointed me; in its attempt to provide a broad overview of the profession, it only aggregated knowledge which is already widely available. I can see the value of this handbook before the age of widely disseminated information but these days what you'll learn here as a total newbie can be found in a more concise format in dozens of places. Still, if you're just starting in the copywriting game and have time to invest in a 400-page book, Bly's expertise will serve you well.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michael Wall

    OK read, but agree with other reviews that quite a bit has changed since the book was last updated. The straightforward, hard-sell philosophy seems to go against the tenets of neuromarketing and the age of storytelling. All things with the likeability factor seem to go right out the window, except for the advice on the conversational tone. Some examples in this book seem to contradict his advice at times. And a lot seem suited for an audience that is at awareness level one only, before the copyw OK read, but agree with other reviews that quite a bit has changed since the book was last updated. The straightforward, hard-sell philosophy seems to go against the tenets of neuromarketing and the age of storytelling. All things with the likeability factor seem to go right out the window, except for the advice on the conversational tone. Some examples in this book seem to contradict his advice at times. And a lot seem suited for an audience that is at awareness level one only, before the copywriter needs to call attention to tough-to-colloquial-ize product differentiation factors. Some good advice nonetheless and I would love to see a new version.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Qat Wanders

    I agree with most of the other reviews. I’m not in love with this book, but it is definitely thorough and covers just about everything. There is no way everything in this book would be helpful to everyone reading it. But I gave four stars because I think there is relevant information for anyone interested in the art of copywriting. While I would say only about 20% of this book was relevant to me, I understand it’s still useful for many. I was hoping for a little more guidance in how to write engag I agree with most of the other reviews. I’m not in love with this book, but it is definitely thorough and covers just about everything. There is no way everything in this book would be helpful to everyone reading it. But I gave four stars because I think there is relevant information for anyone interested in the art of copywriting. While I would say only about 20% of this book was relevant to me, I understand it’s still useful for many. I was hoping for a little more guidance in how to write engaging content, but to be honest, I didn’t find the book itself very engaging. It is long and tedious. But I will definitely keep it around to use as reference.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Russ

    Has some really helpful content, I definitely learnt a lot about copywriting but I’m not convinced I couldn’t have found the content for free online somewhere had I bothered to look. The references to the internet, email and technology in general are so outdated. No mention of Social Media at all which is a huge advertising market. Stil, I learnt some new ideas and made some notes, and it is written well, it’s just showing it’s age.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diego

    A how to book on writing copy. It introduces the basic of copywriting in the first chapters. Things such as what to know before writing copy, formulas, etc. The rest of the book dedicates whole chapters to each type of copy you could ever write. From everything offline to online (on the 4th version). Although for online I don't think it's the best resource. Great book for beginners that want to understand copy. And a good book for experts if they want to review the basics. A how to book on writing copy. It introduces the basic of copywriting in the first chapters. Things such as what to know before writing copy, formulas, etc. The rest of the book dedicates whole chapters to each type of copy you could ever write. From everything offline to online (on the 4th version). Although for online I don't think it's the best resource. Great book for beginners that want to understand copy. And a good book for experts if they want to review the basics.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Una Bērziņa - Pudule

    The guide was off to a great start, but the quality slowly deteriorated towards the end, especially when it came to anything related to online copy. I agree with most people here in the reviews—you can find all of this online, and for free. Yes, doing your own research takes more time. But if you're looking for how to write content for your website, landing pages, SM accounts, and everything else that's digital, you're bound to have more luck on blog articles. The guide was off to a great start, but the quality slowly deteriorated towards the end, especially when it came to anything related to online copy. I agree with most people here in the reviews—you can find all of this online, and for free. Yes, doing your own research takes more time. But if you're looking for how to write content for your website, landing pages, SM accounts, and everything else that's digital, you're bound to have more luck on blog articles.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Kompes

    Good overview of copywriting, but the revision is aging and the online content sections are rather dated (we're moving forward very quickly and email delivery and autoresponders have really changed since this was written.) Still, a good overview of the copywriting industry and the basics of writing for it. Good overview of copywriting, but the revision is aging and the online content sections are rather dated (we're moving forward very quickly and email delivery and autoresponders have really changed since this was written.) Still, a good overview of the copywriting industry and the basics of writing for it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David

    Learned a lot from this book. Highly recommended to anyone looking to improve their copy skills. Make sure to buy the latest version which includes more topics about online writing. I actually skipped through some chapters that were not of my interest, like printed brochures. You can do so too without losing the essence of the book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Daws

    I read the third edition, which admittedly is getting dated. However, the basic principles are solid and timeless even if the examples are older. I love that the chapters are broken up in topical sections so that I could easily skip those that don't apply to me or quickly refer back to those that do. I may check out the fourth edition, which I see recently released. I read the third edition, which admittedly is getting dated. However, the basic principles are solid and timeless even if the examples are older. I love that the chapters are broken up in topical sections so that I could easily skip those that don't apply to me or quickly refer back to those that do. I may check out the fourth edition, which I see recently released.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stefan Bruun

    This book has some clear strengths and weaknesses. It's great for the basics of copywriting. Any new marketer can learn a lot here. The challenge is that it tries to span too widely and that sections in more specific use cases such as AdWords or email marketing become very short and therefore don't really make an impact. This book has some clear strengths and weaknesses. It's great for the basics of copywriting. Any new marketer can learn a lot here. The challenge is that it tries to span too widely and that sections in more specific use cases such as AdWords or email marketing become very short and therefore don't really make an impact.

  29. 4 out of 5

    DeAnna Knippling

    A book on writing sales copy on just about anything. I'm not a copywriter, so this is taking some time to digest, and I will probably read it again. I'm reading this based on recommendations from books on indie publishing. I have to agree with. the recommendation, too. A book on writing sales copy on just about anything. I'm not a copywriter, so this is taking some time to digest, and I will probably read it again. I'm reading this based on recommendations from books on indie publishing. I have to agree with. the recommendation, too.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura Li

    This book truly changed my life. Life is the products of you moment by moment choices. An insignificant and unnoticeable change can revolutionize your life in the long term. This is the magical power of compound effect.

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