What copywriters read – when they’re not writing

“You ain’t ‘alf got a lot of books,” said the removal man to me as he lugged another box up the stairs. “What do you do with ’em?” He’s right – I have got a lot of books.  And mostly, I read them – unless they’re one of my passing interests, like Teach Yourself Zulu or Juggling for the Complete Klutz, in which case they simply gather dust. One of my favourite copywriting books is We, Me, Them & It, a fascinating look at the use of language in business. It’s written by John Simmons, formerly head of verbal identity (yes, that’s a real job title) at Interbrand, one of the UK’s top branding agencies. The book naturally falls into four sections – we (the client), me (the individual voice), them (the people you’re communicating with) and it (the product/service). Drawing on decades of experience at the copywriting game, Simmons effortlessly weaves opinions, anecdotes and facts into a very readable whole. At one point, I almost put the book down. Not because it was bad; because it was too good. It had hit a nerve. In the chapter on ‘me’, Simmons reproduces a heartfelt letter he wrote to his children. It’s almost too much. But it makes he point more than eloquently. If I remember one thing from this book, what will it be? Easy. He sums up very neatly what all writers strive to achieve: Write as if you were speaking. Write as if you were telling a story. But tell the story well. This is billed as ‘a business book with a difference – a business book that’s an intriguingly good read’. And that it is.

Best of the rest

Here are three more from the thousands of books on my groaning shelves. Like the man said, I ain’t ‘alf got a lot.
The Copywriter’s Handbook The de facto bible for copywriters, by one of the top copywriters in the US.Written in a practical, no-nonsense style, it’s a delight to read, packed full of useful information for the aspiring copywriter.
One Step Ahead: Writing Reports Excellent guide to researching, writing and editing reports. It’s well laid out, easy to follow – and, at just 116 pages, pleasingly concise.
Words that sell Looking for just the right word to close that sale? Look no further.Words that Sell does just what it says on the cover. From ‘clinchers’ to ‘grabbers’ they’re all here.