Book Reviews


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

Author: Robert W. Bly
Publisher Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated
Publication Date: May 1990

Reviewer:Joel Klebanoff
Joel Klebanoff, is a copywriter and marketing communications consultant specializing in the information technology industry. He is president of Klebanoff Associates, Inc.

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So you want to be a copywriter? Whether you want to write for a living or just need to write powerful copy for your own company, The Copywriter's Handbook can help.

The book explains how to write effective headlines and body copy. It describes how to achieve different writing objectives such as selling and communicating. It also explains how to write effectively for a variety of communication vehicles such as advertisements, direct mail letters, envelopes, brochures and other sales collateral, press releases, articles, and commercials.

Bly also provides considerable guidance on style. Among other things, you'll learn how to write more concisely, eliminate sexism and create more personable copy. Throughout, you'll find lots of pointers, descriptions of writing pitfalls and checklists so you won't miss anything when you sit down to write.

The book also contains helpful examples that illustrate the points and ensure that you understand the concepts.

In addition, if you are planning on becoming a professional copywriter there are tips about the business and how to earn a living in it. If, on the other hand, you're not a copywriter and would prefer to leave that to a professional, there is a section on how to find, hire and work with freelance copywriters.

Words are rarely enough. Effective marketing collateral requires good design. To help with these aspects, The Copywriter's Handbook contains a chapter on graphic design. However, don't expect it to allow you to eliminate the expense of using a good graphic designer. Bly defines a little of the design lingo and some of the things to watch for so that you will be better prepared to work with the graphic designer, but that is the extent of the discussion. This is, of course, as it should be since graphic design is a subject onto itself and well beyond the scope of the book.

According to the book's description of the author, Bly is himself both an accomplished copywriter who has written for more than 100 clients and a teacher of copy writing. His experience shows in this comprehensive and informative book.