The Best Copywriting Advice From the Best Copywriting Books

Some advice from the most legendary copywriters.

Benjamin Watkins


I read the best copywriting books over and over again.

They each offer something unique about copywriting. They tell us how to think about words of persuasion. They give us the tips and tricks that compel customers to take action.

Here are my favorite pieces of advice from each of these books.

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan

“You put your pencil down, smile, and read what you’ve written. It’s complete rubbish. You call it a day and slink out to see a movie. This process continues for several days, even weeks, and then one day, completely without warning, an idea just shows up at your door, all nattied up like a Jehovah’s Witness. You don’t know where it comes from. It just shows up. That’s how you come up with ideas. Sorry, there’s no big secret. That’s basically the drill.”

I love this advice on the creative process of finding an idea. Sometimes, you have to let it come to you.

The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman

“If I had to pick the single most powerful force in advertising and selling — the most important psychological trigger — I would pick honesty.”

I learned about the power of honesty in copywriting from this book.

The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert

“Get yourself a collection of good ads and DM pieces and read them aloud and copy them in your own handwriting.”

Never underestimate a swipe file that can be used for inspiration. The power of handwriting something is how you remember it.

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

“We learn, for instance, that curiosity is one of the strongest human incentives.”

Curiosity invites people to take action.

Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz

“This is the copywriter’s task: not to create mass desire, but to channel and direct it.”

Copywriting is a way to communicate the benefits and outcomes of a product, not to create mass desire.

Ogilvy On Advertising

“Some copywriters write tricky headlines — double meanings, puns and other obscurities. This is counter-productive. In the average newspaper your headline has to compete with 350 others. Readers travel fast through this jungle. Your headline should telegraph what you want to say.”

The perfect headline demands attention.

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