11 books that will make you a better writer

11 books that will make you a better writer

You’ve heard it before but I’m going to say it again:

If you want to be a better writer you need to read as much as possible. 

Obviously this applies to fiction just as much as non-fiction, but I’ve focussed this list on non-fiction. You’ll find my favorite books on copywriting, writing in general and creativity. 

If you’re short on time, you can download my quick guide on the 5 essentials of copywriting – which will take less than an hour to read – and soon have you writing like a pro. 

Books about copywriting

Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy

You can’t learn about copywriting without reading something by David Ogilvy. Deemed the father of copy, Ogilvy provides some clever insights that anyone wanting to improve their writing needs to know.

Read Me. by Roger Horberry and Gyles Lingwood

If you’re a visual learner this book is for you. It has 7 chapters, each containing a copy tip that you need to know. The pages are full of visual examples which is great as sometimes the position of the copy is just as important as what it says.

The Boron Letters by Gary C Halbert

This is another old one and a bit of a rite of passage for new copywriters. It’s one of the first books I read on the subject and is interesting because of the way it’s written. It’s a collection of letters from the author to his son during his time in prison, telling his son everything he knows about copywriting. He talks a lot about direct response copy but I’ve found you can take the principles and use them for any form of copy.

Write Copy Make Money by Andy Maslen

As the name suggests this little beauty is an ideal book if you want to start a freelance career as a copywriter. Andy has TONS of experience and offers it up in this relatively short book. A must if you want to make money from copywriting.

Books about writing

Dark Angels by John Simmons

This book encourages you to move away from business jargon and all that stiff corporate rubbish and embrace creativity in writing. It argues that even though you might be writing for a business or brand it doesn’t mean it must be void of personality. Personality is essential if you want to engage your audience.

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Ann makes the point that we live in a content-driven world which technically makes us all publishers. With attention spans at an all time low, she gives ways to make your writing connect in the online world where words are currency. I liked it because it’s interesting and practical.  

Stephen King on Writing 

I’ve had this book for years but only decided to read it a few weeks ago and I’m so glad I did. It starts with Stephen writing about his life which is interesting, but the sections on writing are the stand out bit. 

You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins

This is a short book but it’ll give you the boost you need to pick up your pen and get going.

Books about creativity

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon 

This little book is full of anecdotes that give you a kick up the arse and have some faith in yourself. It’s also really nicely presented and different to anything else I’ve seen.

Do Fly Find Your Way. Make a Living. Be Your Best Self by Gavin Strange

Gavin works for Aardman Animations and does freelance creative projects on the side. This book is his advice for how you can embrace your creativity and build a life from it. It’s hopeful and really enjoyable to read, especially when you don’t want something too heavy.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

If you’re a writer, artist, or anything else that’s creative you must read this book. Steven writes about the thing pretty much all creatives face – resistance – and how to get past it.

There are so many more I could recommend but I’ll save that for another time. Feel free to share your favourites below, I’m always on the lookout for new books…


Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Ashley is a copywriter + digital content strategist. She's also a firm believer that the best way to eat a scone is jam before cream. She helps creatives, entrepreneurs and brands get paid to be their fabulous selves. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @_ashleyhoyland.

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