Category Archives: Writing

Posts about writing

The best books to help with your copywriting

Ugh. There is nothing worse than staring at a blank screen (or piece of paper if you’re old school) and willing inspiration to hit. Earlier this week we asked for your top tips for getting through the dreaded writers block, be sure to jump onto instagram and facebook to join in the conversation. 

Copywriting is a tricky game. Sometimes we can sit and write with ease but when we reread it, it fails to excite or inspire us. We have so been there but luckily have found a handful of books that are amazing. These little gems will help you shape your copy to really connect with your audience, and also offer tips and tricks to get you started. 

So sit back, have a read with a cup of tea and prepare to be inspired. 

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

This is an oldie but a goodie. When Lynne Truss wrote her “small book on punctuation”, she had no idea that it would become a bestseller that reinvigorates interest in the niceties of the English language. Eats, Shoots & Leaves is more than a guide to punctuation use, it is also a lament and a call-to-arms. Through amusing anecdotes drawn from history, literature, and real signage, Lynne Truss discusses the origin and history of different punctuations and how they should be used. Eats, Shoots & Leaves manages to be witty, informative and compulsively readable, because it shows that misplaced or absent punctuation can change the meaning of sentences in dramatic and funny ways.

Copywrong to Copywriter by Tait Ischia 

This beautifully designed book is a little gem. It’s packed from cover to cover with tips for writing clearly, with the perfect tone and with strategic purpose. It’s a great tool for small business owners, copywriters and design studios. If you’re planning a career as a copywriter, it’ll help you to explain the basic concepts to your clients. Discover how to make words work in your favour while learning the fundamentals to write your own copy. Reading, and digesting, this book will increase your knowledge, skill and confidence.

Persuasive Copywriting by Andy Maslen

With the majority of creative professionals developing their skills on the job, it is notoriously difficult to benchmark successful copy. This book provides a step up for those who already know the basics, and are seeking more advanced, psychology-driven techniques to gain the competitive edge. With practical insight into human decision making and consumer engagement, it inspires the clear-cut confidence needed to create, quantify and sell stand out copy in a cluttered marketplace.

This second edition of Persuasive Copywriting complements the “how to” perspective of copywriting, with impressive interviews from leading ad agencies and copywriters across the globe, addressing day to day issues faced in a multitude of roles. Updates include practical advice to measure and benchmark effective copy, guidance on creating and critiquing briefs, plus four new chapters on how to weave copywriting skills into the wider industry. These cover particularly useful ground around storytelling, content marketing and the impact of evolving channels like mobile and social media. Practical and inspiring, it is a vibrant, all-encompassing guide to copywriting; an essential for your bookshelf.

The Copy Book by D&AD

In 1995, the D&AD published a book on the art of writing for advertising. The then best-selling book remains an important reference work today -a bible for creative directors. D&AD and TASCHEN have joined forces to bring you an updated and redesigned edition of the publication. Regarded as the most challenging field in advertising, copywriting is usually left to the most talented professionals, often agency leaders or owners themselves. The book features a work selection and essays by 53 leading professionals in the world, including copywriting superstars such as David Abbott, Lionel Hunt, Steve Hayden, Dan Wieden, Neil French, Mike Lescarbeau, Adrian Holmes, and Barbara Nokes. The lessons to be learned on these pages will help you create clearer and more persuasive arguments, whether you are writing an inspiring speech, an engaging web banner or a persuasive letter. This is not simply a “must-have” book for people in advertising and marketing, it is also a “should-have” for anyone who needs to involve or influence people, by webpage, on paper, or in person.

The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

*Technically* this isn’t a book on copywriting but is a great book on having conversations with your customers so we just had to include it. The Mom Test is a quick, practical guide that will save you time, money, and heartbreak. They say you shouldn’t ask your mum whether your business is a good idea, because she loves you and will lie to you. This is technically true, but it misses the point. You shouldn’t ask anyone if your business is a good idea. It’s a bad question and everyone will lie to you at least a little . As a matter of fact, it’s not their responsibility to tell you the truth. It’s your responsibility to find it and it’s worth doing right. Talking to customers is one of the foundational skills of both Customer Development and Lean Startup. We all know we’re supposed to do it, but nobody seems willing to admit that it’s easy to screw up and hard to do right. This book is going to show you how customer conversations go wrong and how you can do better.

Draft No. 4 by John McPhee

Draft No. 4 is a master class on the writer’s craft. In a series of playful, expertly wrought essays, John McPhee shares insights he has gathered over his career and has refined while teaching at Princeton University, where he has nurtured some of the most esteemed writers of recent decades. McPhee offers definitive guidance in the decisions regarding arrangement, diction, and tone that shape nonfiction pieces, and he presents extracts from his work, subjecting them to wry scrutiny. In one essay, he considers the delicate art of getting sources to tell you what they might not otherwise reveal. In another, he discusses how to use flashback to place a bear encounter in a travel narrative while observing that “readers are not supposed to notice the structure. It is meant to be about as visible as someone’s bones.” The result is a vivid depiction of the writing process, from reporting to drafting to revising―and revising, and revising.

Draft No. 4 is enriched by multiple diagrams and by personal anecdotes and charming reflections on the life of a writer. McPhee describes his enduring relationships with The New Yorker and Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and recalls his early years at Time magazine. Throughout, Draft No. 4 is enlivened by his keen sense of writing as a way of being in the world.

Enjoy!

#tuesdaychat

There is NOTHING worse than staring at a blank page (or screen) waiting for inspiration to magically appear. When this happens we like to put on a podcast and go for a walk in the fresh air.

How about you? What do you do to get you through the dreaded writers block?

I have a great idea for a book… what do I do next?

You have lots of great ideas that you want to turn into a book – that’s wonderful! Now the hard work starts.  Much needs to happen before an idea becomes a full-grown manuscript.  The first step is to hone your writing skills, through advice from other writers and from your potential readers too. Here are some ideas on where to get that support:

On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Part-memoir and part-masterclass, On Writing dispels any doubt that a wealth of knowledge and writing skills underpins Stephen King’s prolific output. He starts with a mini-autobiography, discussing his childhood, and the experiences and influences that helped him to become the author he is; this morphs into a section of advice to budding writers, drawn from questions he had been asked (and some he wished he had).  The final section of the book is a raw and compelling description of his recovery from his near-fatal car accident in 1999.  In serious pain and frustrated with his incapacity, it’s no exaggeration to say that the act of writing helped him to survive that difficult time.

20 Master Plots and How to Build Them by Ronald B. Tobias

This is a fascinating piece of literary analysis as well as a useful writer’s resource. Ronald B. Tobias shows how most powerful, engaging stories fall within 20 timeless and universal “Master Plots” – such as Quest, Adventure, Forbidden Love, and Transformation. Each chapter of this book examines one Master Plot, analysing and explaining how it works, illustrating with literary and cinematic examples, and concluding with checklists that keep writers on-track. Ronald B. Tobias also shows how to adapt and develop these themes to suit your characters, making your fiction more cohesive and convincing.

Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on why they Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature edited by Meredith Maran

Autobiography is the ultimate “writing about what we know”, but laying bare our lives and those of our circles is fraught with social and emotional risks. Here, 20 memoirists including Cheryl Strayed (Wild) and Ayelet Waldman (Bad Mother), tell us why and how they do it.  Many of this diverse and talented group talk about a compulsion to write, hoping that their stories will resonate with and help someone else.  Others dispense advice on how to handle the (both positive and negative) reactions to their work. Part bibliography, part personal reflection and part writer’s manual, Why We Write About Ourselves is inspiring and highly readable.

The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl Klein

Cheryl Klein is an experienced editor at Scholastic Books, and this is her comprehensive guide to crafting great middle-grade and young adult fiction.  Her advice ranges from writing and editing to pitching your idea, navigating the publication process and choosing an agent. A range of writing exercises will challenge you to analyse, critique and revise your work.  The Magic Words offers a nice balance between encouragement with pragmatism, and the wealth of insider tips will help you refine your masterpiece into a compelling, publishable form.

Once Upon a Slime: 45 Fun Ways to Get Writing… Fast! by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Once Upon a Slime encourages kids to have fun creating stories and playing with words.  Drawing upon the skills of the hugely successful Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, this book can be enjoyed on many different levels – as an activity book, as a series of writing exercises, as Andy Griffiths’ story on how he became a writer, and also as a sneak peek at the creative processes of this mighty duo.  Once Upon a Slime is simply fun to read, full of examples from Andy and Terry’s books. It speaks directly to kids and young people but is also useful for teachers and caregivers – make this your go-to guide for encouraging young people to start writing.

 

Using Social Media to Develop your Writing Career

The rise of social media has changed the publishing landscape profoundly.  It has enabled authors to engage with potential readers even before publication; it has helped authors to connect and form supportive communities; and it has created new pathways to publication, either by self-publishing, or by attracting publishers through your profile as a blogger / social media influencer. Here are two writer- and writing-specific communities worth your attention:

Tablo (tablo.io) is a self-publishing platform that also helps writers engage with their readers – and for readers to discover new books and/or writers in their favourite genres. Writers can upload works-in-progress to seek feedback.  Publishers also have a presence on Tablo, and there are communities offering advice to aspiring writers.

Wattpad (wattpad.com) is a reading app with social networking features that helps writers interact with readers and promote their work.  Wattpad has become a huge repository of user-generated stories, some of which have been adapted into successful TV series and movies.  Wattpad also hosts writing contests and has helped secure book deals for their most popular contributors.