Do business owners need to know the best books for writers? Yes, and it's not even for entertainment's sake. Familiarizing yourself with writers' must-read books is beneficial for your company. Allow me to explain... Advertising has cemented itself as one of the primary drivers of sales for any business in whatever industry, correct? It's a common practice for business owners to outsource or hire dedicated marketers to perform advertising duties. Here's the thing: not all advertising is created equal. In fact, a great ad writer can mean the difference between a successful marketing campaign and an abysmal one. However, only a handful of business owners are adept in the realm of advertising. It's when entrepreneurs immerse themselves into good writing that they can distinguish great ad writers from good ones. The best way to identify a great ad writer? Check what's on their bookshelf. Sure, you could Google "best books for writers" and come up with a hodgepodge of different titles. However, that would be missing the point, wouldn't it? What we're looking for are books that great ad writers HAVE read. These are the best of the best. The books that have influenced and shaped the thinking of some of advertising's brightest minds. So without further ado, let's explore the top 10 books that writers read.
Do You Read Books?
I believe that anyone who dares to call themselves an advertiser can write, and also read a handful of material. You know what they say, "as you read, so will you write." The problem is that everyone, including advertisers, drowns themselves so much on blog articles, Twitter feeds, and Facebook posts, nowadays. This causes them to write poorly, that is, using weak words, ugly viewpoints, and boring material. The key to invigorating and reinforcing an advertiser's writing skills is reading. No, not the news or articles related to their industry (although, both of those are valid). Instead, they should read novels, bestsellers, classics, and books on writing itself. By reading often, writers expose themselves to new worlds of grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, storytelling, and more. Since advertisers are storytellers themselves, they must hook their audience with their craft. Reading the best books for writers is the most pertinent way to make this possible. Alternatively, when business owners read the best books themselves, they become equipped with the art of writing. Entrepreneurs then become qualified to critique an ad and discern if an ad writer is good or great. Advertising is more than just writing a story. It's about composing a compelling, persuasive and captivating piece that puts readers in a trance. The catch? Their only way out is through sales. For this, you need to read the best books for writers. In a tough competitive space like the residential home service business, you need more than advertisers. The best way to win the industry is having a Master Strategist, like Ryan Chute of Wizard of Ads® to hand pick the perfect storyteller for your business. Book a call.
Books of Great Writing
There are two types of books, according to Roy H. Williams:
- Books that boast great storytelling. Those that employ marvelous narrative arcs and character developments.
- Books that boast the best writing. Those that pack sentence construction, word selection and vivid description beyond compare.
Personally, I think both concepts hold insurmountable importance when it comes to advertising. It's the good story and plot sequences that get your imagination swimming in euphoric bliss for hours on end. While it's impeccable writing that helps you wield words to most effectively communicate your message to readers. Learning to harness both tools of the trade makes one a master wordsmith. With all that being said, here are 7 of the best books for writers. Treat them, as you would, the zenith of great writing. Each will teach you a valuable copywriting skill that all culminates into a mighty writing Excalibur to your advertising Arthur.
1. Travels with Charley
Author: John Steinbeck
Publication date: 1962
There’s an element of nobility in the motivation behind Travels with Charley. Realizing that Steinbeck has called himself an American only because he lives in the U. S. became his crippling dilemma. That’s when he set out on a cross-country journey with his poodle, Charley, to ‘reconnect’ with the Motherland.
His travelogue unveiled what would be some of the most vivid descriptions in writing history. The book unveils explicit mental images from his perspective that will delight you with his observations and realizations. Steinbeck coursed through sensitive matters like racism, unsustainable progress and the downward spiral of America.
While his other publications like East of Eden had a better story, Travels with Charley’s writing is like no other.
2. The Poetry of Robert Frost
Author: Robert Frost
Publication date: 1969
Robert Frost is one of the poets in America that produced some of the best poetry books of all time. The themes of his anthologized works frequently reference the natural world and humanity's frailty.
What got his poems into the list of best books for writers is his technical mastery of words. Frost manages to communicate large often overpowering concepts in a few lines that any other writer couldn't.
Immersing in his works will teach you tools that every writer should have. This includes the wonders of metaphors, the power of rhythm, and the magic of using the right words. Unlike others, Frost's writing can truly hold my attention and make me visualize the image that his words paint.
You want ad writers who can give readers a vivid experience of working with your brand. Frost's poems are a testament to that.
3. One Summer: America, 1927 Bill Bryson
Author: Bill Bryson
Publication date: 2013
Advertising is more than blurting poetic narratives and compelling words on a page. An often overlooked non-negotiable aspect when you embrace the field of advertising is research. You can't promote something you don't fully understand and believe in. What gives your words power is the universal truth that warrants the claims.
This is one of the best books for writers in that regard. Bill Bryson authored One Summer: America, 1927 as a history book to revisit the events in that faithful year. Although peer-reviewed archives and documentaries dominate the historical scene, Bryson managed to fascinate your interest using a rather odd subject.
One piece of advice that Roy H. Williams offers writers is this.
"Take your inspiration from wherever you find it, no matter how ridiculous."
Bill Bryson is the embodiment of that advice, and he did it masterfully. Great research,
engaging narratives, and amazing phrasing, all in one.
4. The Old Man and the Sea
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Publication date: 1952
The Old Man and the Sea is a short novella published by Hemingway in the latter years of his career. Truth be told it's a simple story with a non-overwhelming plot, but received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction award. The short book put Hemingway at the top of the writing hierarchy, so what gives?
Simple. No, literally, it's simple.
Ernest demonstrated in this book how seemingly simple observations can have the greatest impact when clearly stated. “There isn't symbolism either”, Hemingway said himself. It's just a short story about a fisherman, a boy, a marlin, and the ocean.
The best part is that because of its simplicity, it can be read and enjoyed by just about anyone. This is a great book for advertisers as it shows you don't need complicated concepts to concoct a great story.
In the advertising space, you will have to simplify ideas so everyone can understand. What good is an ad if only a select group of people can comprehend it? You want your ads to be effective and have a wide reach. This is why Ernest Hemingway's piece is one of the best books for writers.
Author: James Michener
Publication date: 1959
Disclaimer, the first 50 pages of the book will seem like one of the most boring content you'll ever read. It covers the specific details of the land and other geographical facts you should know about it. The following 50 pages? Another boring illustration of all the natives that discovered and penetrated Hawaii with little to no dialogue.
Here's the rub: The succeeding pages post the boring details will blow your mind. The story explodes, the dialogues flourish and the characters come to life. The 100-page setup becomes the stepping stone to a captivating story.
What Michener's Hawaii teaches writers is the ethereal value of patience and attention to detail. The sense of objective reality he displayed in the book is unrivaled. If your goal as a writer is clarity, you want Michener's (and also Hemingway's) voice pervading through your piece.
6. One Hundred Years of Solitude
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Publication date: 1967
If you're looking for the best books for writers about magical realism, this book is the one to get.
Don't get me wrong, magical realism is neither science fiction nor fantasy. Magical realism is a style of writing where magical, fantastic and unbelievable elements are infused into realistic or mundane settings. In other words, fantasy is treated as an everyday occurrence, in the most realistic kind of portrayal.
This is an important tool in advertising.
Especially, in an industry where you sell externally triggered grudge purchases like residential home services. Magical realism can be your saving grace.
You want customers to experience how magically your service can soothe their pleasure points or take their pain points away. In some cases, a drizzle of magical realism can pave the way to a sale.
7. Still Life with Woodpecker
Author: Tom Robbins
Publication date: 1980
Still Life with Woodpecker is a prime example of chaotic writing. It's not about being disorganized in your writing process or having a disoriented piece. It's about using your imagination and arsenal of crafty words to expand and enliven otherwise dull concepts.
You purposely create chaos that's meant to offend, entertain, delight, irritate, inform, inspire, and sadden. You compress outrageously unrelated ideas into one cohesive piece that enthralls the reader and makes them nod in agreement.
In some cases, this is the best way to get your point across to an uninterested or closed-minded audience.
There's no clever way to box the chaos and beauty such as Robbins' writing. You have to read this publication to fully relish the experience of chaotic writing. Trust that it will expand an ad writer's horizon in advertising.
Been Read, Being Read, Will be Read
Confirmation bias is one of the most prominent features of an ad writer. It’s not that they’re not open to new perspectives and healthy clashing of ideas. Instead, reading about strong information that feeds an advertiser’s convictions only helps to prove their point. You don’t want an ad writer to be unbiased with regard to your business. Therefore, advertisers need to absorb information that reinforces their position. They need to digest ideas that strengthen their Share of Voice and Impact Quotient. Reading the best books for writers does just that. According to Roy H. Williams, the job of an ad writer can be summed up into three things:
- Discover a persuasive or compelling perspective.
- Develop a distinguished and memorable voice for the ad campaign.
- Search for supporting evidence or information that unquestionably demonstrates why your business, products and services are the intelligent choices.
By fortifying your stance towards a business or a product, you prevent doubt in a reader’s mind. They will sense your unbending convictions and see them as credibility. Your advertising principles, practices and stance must remain the same. This ensures customers that there is consistency and cohesiveness in your ads that they’ve read, are reading and will read.
We’ve covered the books of great writing, how about the ones that display the best storytelling? Writing ads strikes a balance between the right words and the right narrative. If you want to learn how to keep your reader engaged, a good story will help you in that regard. Here are 3 of the best storytelling books that ad writers and business owners should read.
8. The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Publication date: 2001
The Shadow of the Wind already builds on a unique and otherworldly plot. In fact, it only takes the first few pages to get one hooked on the story. Reminiscent of Inception, the book is about a book and the story is about a story. It’s hard to imagine how the sheer brilliance of the narrative and good writing will not get a reader invested.
One thing that sets The Shadow of the Wind 600 ft. above others is its uniqueness. In the world of advertising, a fresh angle is always appreciated. It’s like a new and reinforced net you cast to catch prospects you failed to fish in the past.
9. The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J. D. Salinger
Publication date: 1951
Who wouldn’t be familiar with Salinger’s classic, The Catcher in the Rye? The story revolved around a troubled teenager called Holden Caulfield. He narrated the entire story from the first-person perspective so accurately that readers will find themselves drawn to his personality. Every lingering thought. Each confused feeling.
Salinger mastered the art of crafting a voice so precisely that it echoed from the 50s to this date.
The importance of connecting to your customer’s feelings can never be overstated. Since every buying decision that a customer makes stems from the part of the brain that FEELS, you need emotions. You need to tug the right emotional triggers in your ads that nudge readers towards a sale.
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Publication date: 1951
Chbosky’s character, Charlie, has become one of the universal symbols of adolescence, thanks to this book. One of the most powerful weapons Chbosk, and by extension, perks, has used is relatability. You get to relive the sense of alienation and intrusive thoughts that a teen experiences.
The story revolves around Charlie, an introverted gifted teen who has a rich and consuming inner world. His experiences will move a reader, not in the sense that they’re groundbreaking. Rather, in the idea of their reality. Charlie and all the supporting characters are real people albeit fictional.
The story will move you and cast you deep into reverie.
Reality and relatability are potent marketing tools. When you make ads founded on relatable and real scenarios your customers face, they become more moving and effective.
Think of a commercial about a family trapped indoors due to heavy storms and typhoons. Now, insert a roofing company that repairs and strengthens their roof with the smiling and relieved family in view. That’s relatability.
Other Ways to Improve Your Writing
Writing is a craft one masters through constant practice and feedback. The best books for writers will do their part in influencing and reinforcing the art of writing. Still, they aren’t the only ways an ad writer can improve in the field. There are other ways to better a person’s writing skills. Below are some examples of things you can do:
- Participate or enroll in writer workshops
- Attend pertinent writing seminars
- Finish a writing skills course at a college (or online)
- Listen to other people's stories, they may be relevant for your future crafts
The advertising landscape is changing. Technology has made it easier for people to connect with their target audiences. This also means that the competition is stiffer. Advertising today is more about building an emotional connection with your audience before you go in for the kill. As a business owner, you need to be able to identify a great ad writer from a good ad writer. This will help you create ads that will resonate with your target audience and help you achieve you make sales. The truth is, even with tons of resources, advertising is a monstrous learning curve. Unless you work with seasoned marketers with rich experience writing irresistible advertising, like Ryan Chute’s teams at Wizard of Ads®. Book a call.