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The Copywriter's Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing That Sells [Paperback]

Robert W. Bly
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 2 1991
A book for everyone who writes or edits copy, it reveals dozens of techniques that can help you write ads, commercials, and direct mail that get more attention and sell more products.

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The Copywriter's Handbook is somewhat out of date. There are no references to Web sites or the Internet, and author Robert W. Bly advises that a freelance copywriter have a good typewriter. No matter. Bly has compiled an incredibly useful resource for budding, and even experienced, copywriters. Bly calls his book "a step-by-step guide to writing copy that sells." And that it is: Bly covers the writing of print ads, direct mail, brochures, catalogues, public-relations material, trade-journal articles, speeches, newsletters, commercials, and more. But equally informative is the substantial amount of space that he devotes to the copywriting business, in which he offers guidance in setting up a freelance copywriting business, getting hired by an ad agency, and hiring and working with copywriters (this section also includes a chapter on graphic design for copywriters). This is a terrific book. If you don't take my word for it, take David Ogilvy's: "I don't know a single copywriter whose work would not be improved by reading this book," he says. "And that includes me." --Jane Steinberg


"This book succeeds on two levels. For beginners, it offers a clear, comprehensive guide to the business of and techniques used in advertising copywriting. And for the professionals behind the typewriter, this book is a valuable back-to-basics tool that should be given a prominent slot on the bookshelf."-Los Angeles Times

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executive-there are just too many things competing for your reader's attention. For example: One recent issue of Cosmopolitan magazine contained 275 advertisements. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Robert Bly is almost universally accepted as the master copywriter, particularly in the area of freelancing. For anyone starting out, and even for professionals, this book is a necessity andmay save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on needless seminars.
It is filled with no-nonsense advice and instruction on the craft of copywriting. It probably truly is the Bible for copywriting. If you are starting out on a path to a career in copywriting, just ask nearly any seasoned pro and they will refer you to Bly's work.
In this volume, Bly explains advertising and copywriting and the many forms they take shape in. He explains how copywriting applies to all manner of promotions and advertising, e.g., headlines and body copy for ads, brochures, letters, article writing, TV, radio, and both commercial and non-profit promotional materials. It is both a definitive how-to and an idea book.
Whether you are starting from scratch and completely clueless or a professional seeking new ideas and approaches, this is a must have book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Goal is Sales (Not Entertainment)! May 10 2003
As Bob explains, the goal of advertising is to make sales, not to entertain. Bob exposes this common error and offers many other copywriting techniques and tips in the book. He also gives some helpful information about freelancing.
I'm a technical writer (not a copywriter), but felt that this book had good things to offer. I think it also helped define my own style of writing.
If you are into freelancing and consulting, I'd also highly recommend his 'Six Figure Consultant' book. He gives a lot of good practical advice and seems to have a lot of experience.
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Robert Bly has written a clear guide for aspiring and established copywriters. He shows you how to write powerful, compelling copy that works for whatever format you need to fill, be it print ads, direct mail, brochures, catalogs, sales literature, PR material or commercial scripts.

He continues to explain not only the ins and outs of writing copy, but also the ins and out of the copywriting business; how to find the jobs that you want as a copywriter, how to hire other copywriters to work for you (whether as a business that needs copy, or a successful copy writer who has more work than he can handle).

Finally, we get a bonus section - a chapter explaining everything that a copy writer needs to know about graphic design (I personally think copy writers should know enough to be able to do some routine graphics work themselves, in a crunch).

One reservation that you may have is that the book is a little outdated (the updated edition dates back to 1990). For a similar, more recent work, focusing more on the business end of copywriting, you are encourage to look at the work of Peter Bowerman.

Danny Iny

Author of "Ordinary Miracles - Harness the power of writing and get your point across!" (ISBN 1-4116-7252-6)
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Copywriter's Handbook Jan. 1 2002
All the nuts and bolts you need to start writing like an expert copywriter. Without a doubt, The Copywriter's Handbook is the Bible of the copywriting industry -- and has been for quite some time.When I began my career as a freelance copywriter back in the '80s, I called several gurus and asked for advice. They all referred me to Bob Bly's material. When it comes to teaching the trade and explaining how to break into it, they said, he is king. And I agree.In this single guide, Bly takes you by the hand. He starts with the basics, explaining the purpose of advertising and copywriting in its many forms. He shows how to write winning headlines and body copy for ads, brochures, letters. He gives practical tips on writing for magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, commercial and non-profit groups. He includes tips for designing sales/promotional literature and offers good advice on using art. He gives numerous check lists for improving your copy. He also uses great examples from different industries to illustrate his points.The book is so rich and relevant in content I refer to it all the time. In fact, I have worned out several copies and often buy extras to give to colleagues and clients.One thing readers will appreciate about Bly and his work is his honesty. He's very objective and fair in his assessment of the copywriting business. He offers no hype. And his work is not filled with self-promotional rubbish. Instead, he comes across as a true professional, a real expert and simply a sincere man who actually cares about his readers. No wonder the book keeps getting raved reviews. It was also praised by the lengendary David Ogilvy and other great advertising giants.Another thing readers should note about Bly is that he writes from experience as well as research. Read more ›
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Independent writing consultant Robert Bly cuts through all the hype surrounding promotional copywriting and `creativity', with a no-nonsense guide that covers everything.
I too am a copywriter and, for the first time, empathised almost entirely with what a fellow writer was saying.
You see, the subject matter is steeped in misunderstanding. What the aspiring writer needs to know is that almost all copywriting is about selling.
Robert Bly understands this, and communicates it well. He knows it's not about clever headlines; it's not about puns; it's not about abstract concepts. Yes, the copywriter is a salesperson - one who is paid by his clients to sell their products.
This book recognises this with a relish. It urges us to identify the USP (that which makes a product different and saleable) and to put it right up-front, to deliver simple messages that everyone can understand, and to write precisely for the intended audience.
Bly's comprehensive guide covers pr! ints ads, brochures, radio and TV commercials, direct mail and PR material. There are also chapters on getting a great job in an agency, and going freelance.
The only element with which I would take issue is Bly's somewhat dismissive attitude towards graphic design. I can think of many designers and art directors who would be hopping mad over Bly's comments about `fancy visuals' that don't add to the selling process, and about the limited value of white space. Surely someone who has worked so much with designers knows about their contribution to the `pickupability' of advertising material? A minor quibble, but a valid one.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference
This is an excellent reference for writers or marketers. Although it predates the popularity of the internet, the basic writing advice the book gives is timeless. Read more
Published 20 months ago by ScienceLives
5.0 out of 5 stars The name says it all: this is the copywriter's handbook
After looking for a decent book on copywriting on Amazon (where else?), I decided to buy this one, based on the positive reviews it got from other readers. Read more
Published on April 8 2003 by Laurens
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Guide for Writers
Simply put, this book is an exceptional nuts-and-bolts guide to copywriting. I highly recommend it.
Published on July 2 2002 by Gr Haynes
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, improve your writing and increase your sales
Dear Friend:
Have you ever had to write a sales letter? After too many of my own sales letters failing to earn me a penny, costing me more money than I could afford to lose -... Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2002 by Justin Hitt
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece from the master.
I bought 2 copywriting books from Amazon prior to this and couldn't really make any progress. With this book, I truly got a handle on the art of copywriting. Read more
Published on June 3 2001 by Jim Sutherland
5.0 out of 5 stars The Copywriter's Bible
If you are a copywriter or a would be copywriter you can benefit from this book. I've had it on the bookshelf next to me for several years and refer to it often. Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2000 by Joel Heffner
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent job
I must join the league of others who think that this is a great book. Robert Bly consistently writes excellent book time and time again. I have never been disappointed. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2000 by Jennifer Woodard
5.0 out of 5 stars Writing to Sell
To sell your product (in my case books), you have to describe it in (glowing) terms that relate to the needs of the potential buyer.
Bob Bly describes writing to sell. Read more
Published on Oct. 3 2000 by Dan Poynter
5.0 out of 5 stars The bomb
Yes, for once I agree with the other reviewers, this book realy is very good. Lots of timeless principles - go on, get stuck in!
Published on Aug. 23 2000 by Mr. R. Horberry
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