3 Classic Copywriting Books You Need Now More than Ever

3 Classic Copywriting Books You Need Now More than Ever

Classic copywriting books are needed now more than ever. With the explosion of marketing technology, AI-generated content, and companies worldwide competing for the same customers, timeless principles are priceless. 

Because although AI can generate content, understanding human emotions and psychology, as taught in these books, is essential for creating an engaging and persuasive copywriting piece.

With all our new technology, it’s easy to get pulled away from the fundamentals of copywriting. However, when you combine the fundamentals with modern technology, you become unstoppable.

Breakthrough Advertising By Eugene Schwartz

Breakthrough Advertising is a favorite among copywriters. Eugene Schwartz, a direct-response copywriter who was prolific in the mid-20th century, is a legend.

Breakthrough Advertising is a dense book, and most reviews will only cite the Schwartz lessons from the first half. For example, almost every review will cite Schwartz’s advice that demand for a product cannot be created—only channeled.

(I guess I just did it too.)

That advice about customer demand is indeed sage wisdom to write down and remember forever. But it’s in the second half of the Breakthrough Advertising, which gets little attention, where I find the most gems. 

One of those gems is Schwartz writing about the topic of belief.

Belief is the goal, Schwartz states.

If you can channel the tremendous force of his belief—either in content or direction—behind only one claim, no matter how small, then that one fully-believed claim will sell more goods than all the half-questioned promises your competitors can write for all the rest of their days.

A prospect can’t fully accept and value your offer unless you build the necessary beliefs. Your coupons and bonuses will bounce right off your prospects unless they believe your product is right for them.

As an example, Schwartz describes a challenge he had in selling a TV repair manual. Back in the 1950’s, TVs were complex, intimidating machines that broke down constantly, leading to expensive repair bills.

The homeowner could save a ton of money doing TV repairs themselves. The problem was that nobody believed they could actually repair a TV.

Schwartz persuaded prospects they could repair the TV using nothing but his words. He did it through the way he structured his sales letter, strategically targeting belief after belief. You can find the full sales letter in Breakthrough Advertising—it’s incredible.


These days, the marketing world is filled with hype and over-the-top promises. Schwartz advises us to dial down those big promises. Instead, focus on building belief. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and ask, “What does my prospect need to believe in order to say “yes” to my offer?

If you want more on this topic of belief building in your prospect’s mind, I teach a step-by-step process in my own, Simple Marketing for Smart People.

The Robert Collier Letter Book

Robert Collier built a successful direct-response marketing business by sending simple letters in the mail. 

He used letters to sell all sorts of products, from coal (Collier was a mining engineer) to women’s dresses. But he mainly sold books. 

The books were typically stories from history, such as H.G. Wells’s The Outline of History, or personal development books around achievement and success. Collier sold over 300,000 copies of his personal development book called The Secret of the Ages.

His letters were clear, compelling, and most importantly—human.

Collier has a way of writing that makes you feel like he’s writing you a personal letter even though has was mailing these letters to thousands of people.

One notable letter was written to mothers and sold a home study course. It has the headline: “There is No University Like a Mother’s Reading to Her Child.”

Really tugs on the heartstrings, doesn’t it? That’s classic Collier.

Now, these letters were not merely for entertainment. He calls the letters he writes “Resultful Letters,” meaning the letters had to lead to results. That is, a purchase.

But it’s Collier’s way of getting the reader to take action (i.e., to purchase the product) that sets him apart.

His approach centers on knowing your reader. Collier states:

Familiarity with the thing you are selling is an advantage, but the one essential without which success is impossible in selling, by mail or selling in person, is a thorough understanding of human reactions. Study your reader first—your product second. If you understand his reactions and present those phases of your product that relate to his needs, then you cannot help but write a good letter.

Wise words for today’s copywriter.


Use The Robert Collier Letter to add a human element to your writing. This book is different in that it’s learn by example. There’s not as much teaching as other copywriting books, but rather, you learn from Collier’s example letters, of which there are dozens.

Read Collier’s letters, his commentary, and his approach will sink in. The next time you sit down to write copy, you’ll naturally harness your inner Collier.

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

Claude Hopkins is a pioneering figure in advertising. His most famous book, Scientific Advertising, is short at just 87 pages. Yet, it’s still constantly referenced for its timeless principles.

In Scientific Adveritsing, Hopkins writes:

The lack of fundamentals has been the main trouble with advertising in the past . . . it was like a man trying to build a modern locomotive without first asserting what others had done.

Hopkins laments that advertising success has felt like too much of a gamble, too much too much like speculation, like betting at the race track.

Do you see how even today, we’re wrestling with the same problem? We roll out a new product launch, ad campaign, or VSL, and it feels like we’re rolling the dice.

Hopkins believed advertising could be a safe and sure venture. But in order to do so, we must learn the fundamentals.

Hopkins then walks through his nearly 20 laws of advertising. He covers everything from headlines to distribution to giving samples. That last law, giving samples, was one of Hopkin’s favorite techniques. He sold a mountain of products by giving away samples. Hopkins believed the product should be its own best salesman. 


Each of Hopkin’s laws can be applied today. For example, his law of giving samples is easier than ever thanks to shipping across the world being easier than ever. 

His law on individuality and adding personality to your copy is critical given the massive amount of content on the internet and the difficulty of standing out.

Weave Hopkin’s laws into your next copywriting project and enjoy the results.

Your Turn

The benefit of learning copywriting from history’s greats is that they weren’t distracted by the internet and modern technology. That meant they put all their effort into the only tool they had—their words.

Study these great books to learn the timeless principles that lead to high-converting copy. Then, combine those principles with modern technology and watch your results soar.

Billy Broas

Billy Broas

Billy Broas is a marketing consultant who specializes in creating simple yet powerful messaging. He’s been the behind-the-scenes brains to well-known entrepreneurs, including Ali Abdaal, Leila Gharani, and Tiago Forte. Billy is the creator of the popular messaging framework, The Five Lightbulbs, which he’s implemented with companies like DigitalMarketer and Scalable.co. Billy is the author of the book Simple Marketing for Smart People. Check out The Five Lightbulb's Instagram account now!

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