Over 90% of copywriting books suck.
I’ve barely read any, but I’m going by Sturgeon’s Law. Here, I’ll save you a Google search:
In 1951, a science fiction author by the name of Theodore Sturgeon gave a talk at New York University. After he finished, some twerp student jumped up and declared …
“90% of science fiction is crud.”
To which Sturgeon paused … and replied …
“90% of everything is crud.”
Although it’s not crystal-clear if that’s the true origin story, it captures the spirit. Either way, Sturgeon’s Law was born. Cite it wisely.
Anyway, I’ve glanced through enough copywriting material to see it’s either a waste of time or flat-out dangerous. It might fill your head with flaccid ideas that limpify everything you put to pen.
I’ve been asked what copywriting books I recommend, and my answer has always been something along the lines of “None.” I learned from The Gary Halbert Letter—which I consider a treasure—but not a book.
Recently, I read two books that changed my stance.
They are not directly related to copywriting, but you should read them anyway. Push them straight to the top of your reading list. In fact, after I’m finished, you should drive to the nearest bookstore, find them, …
… plop your butt down, read them right in the store, …
… and then purchase them.
If you’re a copywriter and you take advantage of the information in these two books, you won’t have to worry about money. You will rocket-launch past the competition from your fellow copywriters. After you produce a few pieces and the results come in, word will spread. Clients will approach you.
You’ll be able to work with the best people. You can travel for fun, and work on copy while you do it. You can provide for your family in just the way you’ve been dreaming. You can prove to your friends—and enemies—that you truly are successful.
Bills? A mere trifle.
Oh, and when you implement what you’ll discover, you can get these results while working a part-time schedule.
That should suffice as a preamble. Here’s the first book:
“The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.
It’s as if Gary and Jay woke up one day and decided to write a guidebook for how a copywriter should think about his or her craft. This book will show you how to harness your peak performance to produce copywriting magic. It will teach you how to position your writing time within your workday. It will show you how to balance time dedicated to your craft with the rest of your work life. (That part will definitely surprise you.)
The next book is “Deep Work” by Cal Newport.
This book holds the key to getting wealthy while still working part-time hours. It also scientifically validates Gary Halbert’s infamous “slacking off” technique for producing breakthrough ideas. Finally, it exposes villains destroying your copywriting ability on a case-by-case basis.
But I have one warning …
Do not think you got the essence of these books just by my description. Or by reading reviews or summaries online. Yes, you can get the gist of both books by poking around. Get the books instead.
Let me ask you something …
Let’s say you write a sales letter consisting only of a benefit-driven headline for an expensive product. Will that give you the maximum conversation rate? Or does it require, say, another 15 pages of copy before the prospect busts out the ol’ credit card and buys?
If you answered the latter, then you’ve got it right.
It’s the same with synthesizing new information and embedding it deep into your brain. You need more than a brief online description. You need more than what I’m writing here. If you truly want to change your results, then get the books and study them. The cases the authors make will boost your motivation so you can take action.
And if you’re someone who tends to be spurred by negative motivation, here’s a kicker:
A couple of decades ago, businesses hired local writers for marketing and advertising. Today, any company can hire anyone in the world with an internet connection.
How are you going to stand out? Your competition is no longer the guy down the street. Now, it’s the planet.
As Cal Newport says on page 25 of “Deep Work,” “Once the talent market is made universally accessible, those at the peak of the market thrive while the rest suffer.”
Bad news: Greater numbers of would-be copywriters are going to suffer.
Good news: If you can train yourself into superstardom, you can thrive more than you ever have before.
Even better news: The skills and systems taught in these two books can be used by anyone. Seriously. The timing is perfect for you—if you take advantage.
I’ve got a third book for you, too…
It’s called “The Perfect Day Formula,” and it gives you all the tips, routines, and techniques to turn your directionless goal-hunting into serious daily achievement. It’s backed by science and age-old philosophy. Plus, it’s been used by thousands across the globe to supercharge their lives and businesses. Did I mention it’s FREE? Get yours here.