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In no particular order…

These are 13 books, blogs, movies, and shows that have shaped my ethos as a copywriter.

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This is definitely not a comprehensive list but it’s a good start.

It’s how I got my start, anyway.

I’ll never stop recommending this content.

It’s taught me too much over the years.

And I think you’ll learn a lot from it too:

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The Ultimate Sales Letter

This book by Dan Kennedy taught me a proven formula for writing simple, ugly, long-form copy that sells.


This blog taught me that good writing controls the reader.

First, it controls her eyes, her attention.

Then it controls her thoughts, her emotions.

Writers use many tools to gain and maintain control on the page: word choice; white space; contrast; Appeal to Ego; the fear of missing out; urgency; detail and lack of detail; clarity and brevity; curiosity.

CopyBlogger teaches it all.

The Doctor’s Vest-Pocket Sampler of Natural Remedies

This free book is a direct-mail lead magnet designed to sell an expensive book called New Choices in Natural Healing. It’s a masterful piece of long-form copy by the great Gary Bencivenga.

The Sampler taught me how to write copy people notice, read, and trust.

Art & Copy

This movie inspired me to create.

And it taught me that, to do good work, copywriters must check their egos at the door.

The Copy Book

This book collates the most compelling and memorable ads of the 20th century. It also has a collection of essays written by the copywriters behind those ads.

The ads taught me proven copywriting tactics.

The essays taught me important copywriting principles.

On Writing

This book by Stephen King taught me that adverbs are not my friends.

Adverbs are not my friends.
Adverbs are not my friends.
Adverbs are not my friends.

Reach For The Sun

This book is a collection of personal letters written by Charles Bukowski between 1978 and 1994. I picked it up for pleasure but quickly developed professional respect for the voice Bukowski uses in his personal writing. It’s so natural and clear.

It taught me that the best copy sounds like a note to a good friend.

The HubSpot Blog

This blog taught me how to think like a content marketer.

I read it religiously for years. Then I began writing for it.


This book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner explains economic principles by posing strange questions:

  • “Why do drug dealers live with their mothers?”

  • “How can your name affect how well you do in life?”

  • “What do estate agents and the Ku Klux Klan have in common?”

These questions taught me basic economic principles. They also taught me how to create intrigue by connecting two (seemingly) unrelated topics, which is a staple of good copywriting.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This movie taught me to immerse myself in my craft, to fall in love with my work.

It renewed my purpose, setting my life on a new path.

The Adweek Copywriting Handbook

This book by Joe Sugarman is my copywriting bible.

It taught me so much, including this timeless lesson: the sole purpose of an ad’s first sentence is to get you to read the second sentence.

Mad Men

This show taught me that copywriters are problem solvers first and artists second.

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway

This book taught me how to write dialogue, one of the most effective ways to hold a reader’s attention.

That’s all for now.

More to come later.

P.S. Don’t think twice about investing in some (or all) of the books I’ve mentioned. Just buy them if you can. I won’t get any money if you do. But YOU will get more than your money’s worth.

P.P.S. What are YOUR writing influences? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below.


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Judge not lest ye be judged.


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