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The Copywriter's Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells

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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  5,271 ratings  ·  83 reviews
The classic guide to copywriting, now in an entirely updated third edition
This is a book for everyone who writes or approves copy: copywriters, account executives, creative directors, freelance writers, advertising managers . . . even entrepreneurs and brand managers. It reveals dozens of copywriting techniques that can help you write ads, commercials, and direct mail that
...more
Paperback, Third Edition, Revised and Expanded, 410 pages
Published April 4th 2006 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1985)
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Maura
Aug 04, 2013 rated it liked it
The three stars are because I imagine this book must be very helpful for those who write copy, yet I didn't find this book particularly useful nor engaging myself. I didn't find anything worth taking notes on.

My takeaways were:
Be clear.
Be brief.
Use understandable yet incorrect grammar if it helps with being both clear and brief (e.g. sentence fragment: Now!)
Explain the customer's benefit not just why the product is great.
Direct ads that sell are better than elegant, artful ads that don't sell.
Y
...more
Matt
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
As a professional software developer rather than a copywriter, my assessment may be unfair, but The Copywriters's Handbook disappointed me. My biggest writing desire is to write persuasively in the shortest amount of space. While the book did teach some of that, there was plenty that was completely uninteresting to me.

My best suggestion is to read the book, but be prepared to skip outright the chapters that won't interest you. You have no need to write a brochure? Good, don't read the brochure c
...more
Alix
Sep 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Bly does exactly what he recommends - deliver the facts. I think I had to pause every other sentence just to think for a second and actually process the information. This is a textbook and therefore takes a lot of concentration. The information is excellent, however I give it 3 stars because it doesn't cover all of the aspects of copywriting that I encounter. I think copywriting also has to do with branding these days and the copywriting that Bly does is really only about sales. For sales copywr ...more
Andrew
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think I read the third edition the first time. I ordered a copy, but I think this one is the first or second. it's quite different which is a bit surprising. I actually think this one is better - if my original review is accurate. it's pretty hard to say as most of the information in the book is fairly general. there's not much in here not in a dozen other books. It was nice to have it presented again though!
Zane
Aug 12, 2020 rated it liked it
My mistake - listening to audiobook, not recommended. This information will be better perceived if read.
The content is widely covered. Though I found several parts irrelevant or outdated, but maybe it's just my perception.
I did take some lessons with me and will be making synopsis for the book to have as an idea resource and to remind myself of basics of writing.
Achie
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: advertising students, beginners in copywriting
I must say that this is a very handful book for advertising students as well as for beginners in copywriting. You can say this is a sort of a manual-book in copywriting. What I like about this book is that it provides wide examples of effective headlines, sub-headlines even direct-mails(Sometimes I used them for my assignments, hi3x).

I used this as reference while I studied advertising in university and it really helped me in understanding the fundamental of copywriting.

If I am a lecturer, I wil
...more
Tyshawn Knight
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
You have to buy this book. You can't just check it out from your library. You will refer to it again and again if you plan to write for businesses. I think you should buy it if you are self-employed. It will teach you how to create a quick flier and save money. Then you can hire copywriters for the big writing jobs and whip out the little jobs in minutes.
Ryan Watkins
A very helpful book on how to write copy. Several chapters won’t be applicable to the novice copyrighter not interested in a career in copywriting. Examples include writing copy for tv and how to get a job in copyrighting. More detailed and thorough than similar books by Ray Edwards but drier as well. Recommended.
Teatum
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great starting point, I can see why it's a classic. Vocalizes some of the things about writing you already knew, but assigns terminology to them. Good reference/brush-up book as well.
Autumn Kotsiuba
May 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A good refresher or introduction to the field.
Don Sevcik
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Get inside the mind of a guy who's been at this over 25 years. He's worked with multiple businesses in multiple industries. If you read nothing else in this book, read the section about headlines. The simple step-by-step process for headline creation is worth its weight in gold.

Bly is a technical practitioner and a chemical engineer, so you get an interesting perspective on writing and the thought process behind writing to sell a product or service.
Andres Torrubia
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is coming from a non-English native in need of the basics to write web copy:

I really liked this book because it got to the point with examples; there's the usual MBA BS (the 4 Us: urgent, unique, useful and ULTRA-specific... wait... specific doesn't start with U :-) ).

Lora
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Straightforward and useful

Bob Bly is considered the modern master by many. His insights were clear and his tops straightforward. The online information could be updated, but the principles behind them are still strong.
Jordan Hagedon
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book. Detailed, helpful, and gave good perspective on a lot of topics. Though a little dated (referencing technology and practices from 2004), I still think this was a great read. If you're interested in learning more about copy, start here.
Amanda
Jun 04, 2013 rated it liked it
This was useful but so outdated that you'll get more practical advice by reading social media/email marketing blogs that publish tips like this daily.
Juneta Key
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-craft
Lots of informative info for the copywriter but for the fiction writer helpful but not as helpful as Closing the Deal...on Your Terms by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Pedro Jacob
Jun 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Bob Bly writes in a clear and authoritative voice while displaying a wealth of knowledge about the copywriting industry. If you're a freelancer interested in learning how to succeed in this field, his other book 'Secrets of a Freelance Writer' is a much more insightful and practical read. As a copywriter looking to improve my craft, there was something about 'The Copywriter's Handbook' that disappointed me; in its attempt to provide a broad overview of the profession, it only aggregated knowledg ...more
Michael Wall
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it
OK read, but agree with other reviews that quite a bit has changed since the book was last updated. The straightforward, hard-sell philosophy seems to go against the tenets of neuromarketing and the age of storytelling. All things with the likeability factor seem to go right out the window, except for the advice on the conversational tone. Some examples in this book seem to contradict his advice at times. And a lot seem suited for an audience that is at awareness level one only, before the copyw ...more
Qat Wanders
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I agree with most of the other reviews. I’m not in love with this book, but it is definitely thorough and covers just about everything. There is no way everything in this book would be helpful to everyone reading it. But I gave four stars because I think there is relevant information for anyone interested in the art of copywriting.

While I would say only about 20% of this book was relevant to me, I understand it’s still useful for many.

I was hoping for a little more guidance in how to write engag
...more
Russ
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Has some really helpful content, I definitely learnt a lot about copywriting but I’m not convinced I couldn’t have found the content for free online somewhere had I bothered to look.

The references to the internet, email and technology in general are so outdated. No mention of Social Media at all which is a huge advertising market.

Stil, I learnt some new ideas and made some notes, and it is written well, it’s just showing it’s age.
Diego
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A how to book on writing copy. It introduces the basic of copywriting in the first chapters. Things such as what to know before writing copy, formulas, etc. The rest of the book dedicates whole chapters to each type of copy you could ever write. From everything offline to online (on the 4th version). Although for online I don't think it's the best resource. Great book for beginners that want to understand copy. And a good book for experts if they want to review the basics.
Gregory Kompes
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good overview of copywriting, but the revision is aging and the online content sections are rather dated (we're moving forward very quickly and email delivery and autoresponders have really changed since this was written.) Still, a good overview of the copywriting industry and the basics of writing for it.
David
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Learned a lot from this book. Highly recommended to anyone looking to improve their copy skills.

Make sure to buy the latest version which includes more topics about online writing.

I actually skipped through some chapters that were not of my interest, like printed brochures. You can do so too without losing the essence of the book.
Carrie Daws
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: marketing
I read the third edition, which admittedly is getting dated. However, the basic principles are solid and timeless even if the examples are older. I love that the chapters are broken up in topical sections so that I could easily skip those that don't apply to me or quickly refer back to those that do. I may check out the fourth edition, which I see recently released.
DeAnna Knippling
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A book on writing sales copy on just about anything.

I'm not a copywriter, so this is taking some time to digest, and I will probably read it again. I'm reading this based on recommendations from books on indie publishing. I have to agree with. the recommendation, too.
Laura Li
This book truly changed my life. Life is the products of you moment by moment choices. An insignificant and unnoticeable change can revolutionize your life in the long term. This is the magical power of compound effect.
Roshan Chapagain
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The book was helpful, jam packed with useful copy writing information.

Bly's advice, "write to sell, not to entertain" changed my perspective of copy writing and persuasive writing in general.

A great reference material for anyone that has to write copy.
Kat Farquharson
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great introduction to copywriting

A very helpful window into the world of copywriting. The chapter on how to deal with freelancers was particularly helpful and fresh.
Stacey Nguyen
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
A good bare bones guide to writing copy, but I disagree that a good visual and a little bit of creativity won't significantly help your copy.
Chip Cook
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Bly is one of the Ascended Masters of Copywriting.

This is essential reading for people in my business, at least for those of us in America.
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CAN ANYONE LEARN TO BE A GREAT DIRECT RESPONSE COPYWRITER? 1 1 May 23, 2020 03:57AM  

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Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter with 4 decades of experience in direct response and business-to-business marketing. He is the author of 100 published book on topics ranging from science, sex, satire, and science fiction -- to small business, writing, advertising, and online marketing. McGraw-Hill calls Bob Bly “America’s top copywriter.”

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