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The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America's Top Copywriters

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  927 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Great copy is the heart and soul of the advertising business. In this practical guide, legendary copywriter Joe Sugarman provides proven guidelines and expert advice on what it takes to write copy that will entice, motivate, and move customers to buy. For anyone who wants to break into the business, this is the ultimate companion resource for unlimited success.
Paperback, 338 pages
Published December 1st 2006 by Wiley
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Start your review of The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Powerful Advertising and Marketing Copy from One of America's Top Copywriters
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Copywriter Tells All In Explosive How-To

If you think advertisers are hucksters this book won't change your mind.
(If you want to be a great writer this book probably won't make you that either.)

Sure, everyone knows of the great Joseph Sugarman. His company Joseph Sugarman & Associates sold many of America's favorite products - from BluBlocker sunglasses, Swiss Army watches, to a 1978 Aerostar 601P. Heck, he even tried so sell a mansion by mail order advertising. He created the mighty Consumers He
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people just starting out in the copywriting business; sixth-graders
God, I hated reading this thing. Obviously, the author's got tremendous clout when it comes to his experience in advertising, but I just felt like all of the advice was so vague and undefined that I don't really know how you could glean any tips from it (Top tips include "Know Your Prospect" and "Learn Everything About the Product" Come on.). I understand this book is directed towards the very beginner copywriter, but I thought the tone was almost condescendingly simplistic.

It didn't help that
Trang Ngo
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: creativity
- mainly about direct response and mail order ad
- there're links to other media but not detailed enough
- examples are out-dated (from the 1970s)
- still good and useful to read
- i learned a lot and i am curious to find out more about copywriting
Chris Johnson
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Blu-blockers. Remember those?
Sure you do. And the man that sold us - essentially nothing - is behind this book. He's a copywriter. A stone cold killer, and a millionaire with his pen and a little bit of gustle.

I've been boning up on copywriting lately - for many reasons.

I've read the usual suspects: Ogilvy, Schwartz Claude hopkins.

This guy is the best. Seriously. The layout of the book has a group of triggers and a group of axioms. One could easily make an advertisment and "grade" it based on th
Nov 06, 2012 rated it liked it
In a word, solid. For those of us who have been copywriting for quite some time, much of the advice will come as no surprise. But Sugarman's gift is in demystifying the process. He outlines all the elements that separate copy that moves people to action from copy that just sits. Given his wildly successful career, the man knows what he's talking about and I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone just starting out. If you've been plying the craft for awhile, there's still value here for y ...more
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When is a book not a book?
When it is the game Operation!
Reading this book will trip you up.
You will try to extract the rubber band and get zapped.
"Oh, I know how to write-- and this guy's stuff is sooo old!"
Have you read this far?
I have only been following Joe Sugarman's step by step instructions.
Joe lays out an instruction manual that is not a home study course to riches.
It is a fine dining experience that tells a story and allows you to be invigorated.
I highly recommend this book.
Malek Zarzour
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Make no mistake, this is a dense book, packed with information. You don’t want to read this book quickly or skim it. Take time. Read a chapter a day if you must. But read it. I admit, there were days I opened the book, looked at the percentage I’d read so far, and sighed. But about halfway through, the concepts started really coming together. By the time I reached the 70% mark, I didn’t want to put the book down.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Core principles that still apply today - particularly with web content, landing page and article writing. I have found that if I remember to orient myself with this mindset, my copy does in fact improve.
Vatsal  Prakash
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was searching online for some good books on copywriting and stumbled upon Joseph Sugarman Adweek copywriting handbook. As for me who is looking forward for a career in writing, I found this book very inspirational and helpful. This book can be considered as a classical masterpiece. It is a must read book for anyone who is considering to make a career in copywriting and advertising. It doesn’t matter if you’re an enthusiast or someone currently working as a copywriter or someone who’s planning ...more
Ian Connel
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A few months ago I got into copywriting. I'm still a rookie. I'm not into Gary Halbert's self-worship, and in spite of his success I think there's a limited audience for his unchanging style of writing. Not everybody responds to this:


Friend, it's time you learned why you're not making A MILLION EFFING DOLLARS PER MINUTE FOR NO REASON.

You see, last week a man from NASA came to my house. He said he was looking for my wife. Then h
Aug 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
Sugarman presents the field of copywriting in somewhat of an antiquated discussion, admittedly he reveals his experience is derived from the 1970's. His philosophy of writing copy (I believe) is mostly outdated and lies within the realm of the "hard"sell, which today is mostly ineffective. This book would be useful really does nothing to direct the fledging copywriter in the manner of addressing the core principles required for writing effective copy today....mainly focusing on target markets, ...more
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this one! Sugarman goes into depth about his own personal method and ideas about developing advertisements. Definitely worth a read for people interested in copy-writing. Its a book I'll have sitting on my shelf for future reference. I really like how personal his ads are - like he's personally talking to you.

A couple of other people on Goodreads have complained that his ads come off as 'dated'. I have reason to believe that this personal storytelling style of advertising is maki
Jordan Hagedon
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Only very slightly dated. Otherwise, this is a great read. Great for building foundational understanding of copywriting and marketing. Pretty entertaining and all around a nice intro and really great insights. I think the simplicity of the writing and the clear and focused presentation actually belies how much of a gem this book is. Would recommend for any type of writer. Persuasive writing is ALWAYS key.
Martin Hamilton
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Super book. Simple and to the point. Joe critiques several winning ads in one of the chapters. Definitely worth the price. Joe is one of the best copywriters of all time.
Jarmaine Alcantara
Nov 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's an okay book for me. Informative indeed and full of interesting examples. However, I think the examples given are outdated and not applicable to what I wanted to know. Although sobrang good nuggets akong nakuha

If it's simple make it technical and vice versa.

Long copy depends on how aware your customer is with your product.

Satisfaction Conviction.

Ito yung mga pinakamahalaga na nagamit ko while I was creating a funnel for one product.

However, I trashed it because these kinds of ads don't wor
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is really more of a 3.5 than a 4 for a few reasons, but I'll get to that near the end.

Sugarman is an industry veteran and an expert at finding success as much as he is at finding failure. That's not a bad thing. In fact, he touts that failure is just as important, if not more important, than success. You can't find what sticks if you don't experiment. The trick is not getting hung up on those failures and learning to move forward and frame those caveats as "learning lessons." At least, that
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've been a freelance writer for a couple of years, and started a full-time marketing copywriter gig at a tech company about a year ago.

I had zero marketing knowledge when I started, but considered myself a decent writer. I committed to reading more marketing and advertising books this year to improve my skills.

After reading this book, I'm asking myself questions like "will this copy sell?" rather than just fixing errors and making the writing sound better. The slippery slope concept is at the h
Paul LaFontaine
Oct 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Writing copy takes your user on a journey in some parts emotional, others logical. The reader of your copy should be first enticed to read the first sentence, then follow a "slippery slope" of concepts that take them to the urgent and compelling call to action.

Old school direct mail copywriting written in an old format chapter by chapter schoolbook form. I had a surprisingly difficult time getting through this book. The ideas have been shared over and over since the book was written so the info
Zaheen Ahmed Deep
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a refreshing read!

Sugarman is a master of creating what he calls a 'slippery slide'—a piece of writing so intriguing you cannot help reading it to the end.

And he does it so effortlessly.

What I love the most is how he starts his ads. The first line is always short and enticing. It lures you in to the next sentence. And before you realize it, you're already reading the last sentence.

"I'm about to tell you a true story," he begins.

"If you believe me, you will be well rewarded. If you don't be
Sean Hyde
Mar 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Thorough book on copywriting with plenty of actionable steps, strategies and examples written by one of the masters. You will need to do some translating on your own to apply this to modern marketing as it was written before the era of social media dominance, but the same rules and strategies still apply, and his steps and outlines are still incredibly useful and applicable. Also includes a lot of great tips on what not do, which can be just as important when working to create good marketing and ...more
chris minger
Nov 17, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One of the worst books I have read in a longtime. Just an old man (I )

Worst book I have read in a long time. The author brags about the great copywriting feats he has accomplished in the past but never gets around to teaching anything of value about copywriting. Just common sense stuff that anyone past the 5th grade already knows. Don't waste your time or money on this piece of trash unless you want to feel like you were ripped off as I am feeling now. (CR Minger)

Kia Carrington-Russell
A phenomenal and informative read

I’m sitting here dazed. Days after devouring this book, my brain is fried from overload. I didn’t know who Joseph Sugarman was months ago but now I consider him as an inspiration, mentor and one of the best. This read was invaluable and covered so many topics that I will use moving forward. An absolute bargain considering the amount you will learn from this book. This read is your next investment.
Blaise Bowly
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: copywriting
Main takeaways

1. The best copywriters in the world are those who are curious about life often master many skills, get bored and then look for other skills to master.

2. The really great direct marketing copywriters often don’t work for advertising agencies, but rather run their own companies and experience their own successes and failures.

3. Refine your copy to express exactly what you want to express with the fewest words
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As you would hope and expect from a great copywriter such as Joseph Sugarman, this book is both an informative and entertaining. I felt as though I could listen to him talk (or read what he writes) for days. He provides good tried-and-tested tips and advice on writing great copy. He includes many examples ads towards the end of the book which are useful to refer to (examples of both good copywriting and bad copywriting). A good reference book I'll enjoy coming back to again. ...more
Michael Mardel
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Adweek copyrighting handbook by Sugarman. I was recommended this book by Brian Meeks whose book I'll review next - Mastering Amazon Ads. A lot did not apply to Amazon ads, like lengthy copy. However, I did receive a lot of helpful info like headlines, subheadlines, eliminate "that" (which I do already). I also took some advice for the flyers which I email to schools. ...more
Odolena Kostova
Sep 01, 2018 rated it liked it
It's a very practical easy to read. It is written about the 1970-ies direct mail advertising practices. The author used to run a seminar on copywriting and the book is covering his top advice and case studies. To apply the content nowadays you must be creative, as it sounds outdated. The main principles, however are very good and can be adapted to online advertising, for example. ...more
C.A. Gray
I picked up this book at the recommendation from another book on Amazon ads, thinking it would teach me how to write better copy. But this doesn't seem to apply to what I want at all... it teaches you how to write effective print ads, which is kind of irrelevant to my life. So finally I gave up. I'm sure it's great for what it's trying to do. ...more
Sebastian Zegada
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book! All the concepts incredible useful and written in a compelling way. I loved it.

Is the use of storytelling a good way to sell? Should you use technical language? Joseph Sugarman shows that you can, even effectively than just presenting the product. Just by following his principles and adding some creativity I found amazing results!
Rahi Jain
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Everything you need to become a great copywriter in a end to end system.

This book is manifestation of years of workshop around same topic, so really well structured for learning.

Only downside, it is more about newsletter selling and catalog sales but principles covered are timeless and medium agnostic.
Nov 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Very structured and detailed guidelines; this should be a dictionary for writer to look up for standards.
However, this is the reason why I give this book an average rating. I wish it can be broken down into smaller books which focus on each methodology and more examples with deeper analysis to be included.
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Joseph Sugarman is a legendary copywriter who started a mail-order business, JS&A Group, through the power of his pen. He's also the author of The Adweek Copywriting Handbook. ...more

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  In most romances, a romp in the hay comes after many chapters of meeting cute, silent pining, and steamy banter. Not so for books that...
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“The more tools you have to work on a problem in the form of experiences or knowledge, the more new ways you can figure out how to solve it.” 1 likes
“Another factor that makes a great copywriter is the experience of running your own company and being responsible for every word you write. The really great direct marketing copywriters often don’t work for advertising agencies, but rather run their own companies and experience their own successes and failures. Ben Suarez, Gary Halbert, the late Gene Schwartz and dozens of others recognized as top copywriters have owned their own companies and learned over years of trial and error—years of both big mistakes and great success. You can’t beat that type of experience.” 1 likes
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