Review: The Copywriting Sourcebook, by Andy Maslen

Andy Maslen stands out because he hasn’t fallen for the fashionable bullshit about online copywriting – that it has its own rules, techniques and formats that exempt it from being treated like normal sales writing.

The idea’s nonsense, of course – although if you do decide to invest your work with a technical mystique that it doesn’t deserve, you can often convince people to pay more for your services.

They’ll just go elsewhere if your work fails to achieve results.

That’s where this book comes in…

The Copywriting Sourcebook: How to Write Better Copy, Faster - For Everything from Ads to WebsitesThe biggest mistake online copywriters make is to spend time and effort trying to achieve the wrong thing – visitor numbers.

To do this, they might spend hours optimising each page. If they’re good, they might even make each page an enjoyable read. But only a tiny number remembers that a copywriter’s main job is to sell – to sell products, services, ideas, causes or arguments.

If you flick through The Copywriting Sourcebook, you’ll soon spot that selling is something that Andy Maslen’s good at. He also knows that human responses to words don’t change, just because they happen to be read on paper rather than on a screen.

Here’s an example. It’s probably the only one you’ll need, so I’ll make it good.

On page three Maslen says, simply:

Seven ways this book helps you

  1. Helps you achieve sales, marketing and commercial goals.
  2. Gives you easy-to-follow advice on the right way to write copy.
  3. Provides real-world examples of different copywriting styles and tones of voice.
  4. Allows you to write better copy, faster.
  5. Takes the stress out of planning and writing any type of marketing or sales copy.
  6. Shows you proven shortcuts for beginnings, middles and ends.
  7. Explains how a professional copywriter goes about his work.

Bingo. If I saw that on the front page of a website, I’d read the lot. And that’s because Maslen has used one of the oldest and best copywriting techniques – he’s listed the benefits I’ll get from reading (or – more to the point – buying) his book.

He’s not telling you how great he is. He’s explaining what’s in it for you.

Now visit your company website. Does it do the same?

Why I like this book

I could waste lots of your time talking about how Maslen’s book gives you the lowdown on headline writing, the best ways to construct a sales letter, or provide notes on why his advice on writing press releases is tip-top.

But that’s his job. Mine is to tell you whether his book is any good.

I think it is. These are my reasons:

  • It’s written by someone who has read books by great copywriters – and learned from them
  • It’s a book that doesn’t make the mistake of thinking that writing for a robot is more important than speaking with kindness and conviction to a stranger
  • This book doesn’t recommend writing in a way that brings more people to the show, only to see them leave early.

And, as a bonus, it’s a handy volume to have on your desk when you need a bit of a reminder about what works in a range of different formats.

There must be some drawbacks?

Well, yes, of course there are. But I can think of only two that matter.

Firstly, Marshall Cavendish shouldn’t have skimped on the paper quality. This is a book that’s going to be used as a manual – and it needs to be much more durable than it presently is.

Secondly, I’d like to see more advice for effective writers who want to write for – or to recognise – effective SEO web design companies.  I’d call that chapter, “Is your web design company any good?” Or, possibly, “Writing that builds online billboards as well as sales.”

Anyway, go and buy the book, before I start trying to bore you with phrases like “But these are only minor quibbles…”

Copywriter: Ben Locker

Category: Blog, copywriting
Tags: best-copywriting-book, book-copywriting, copywriting, fashion-copywriting-books, reviews, summary-of-the-copywriting-sourcebook, the-copywriters-sourcebook, the-copywriting-sourcebook, the-copywriting-sourcebook-how-to-write-better-copy-faster, the-copywriting-sourcebook-how-to-write-better-copy-faster-for-everything-from-ads-to-websites, write-to-sell-andy-maslen-review, writethelargestnumberyoucan

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7 Comments

  1. [...] positive review of one of my books – especially when it comes from someone in the business. This review is from Essex-based copywriter Ben Locker. It’s of The Copywriting Sourcebook. The [...]

    Pingback by Review of The Copywriting Sourcebook « Andy Maslen on Copywriting on Monday 22nd March, 2010 at 9:56 am

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by benlocker: Have reviewed @andymaslen ‘s book – The Copywriting Sourcebook. It’s good. http://is.gd/aRVhT

    Trackback by uberVU - social comments on Monday 22nd March, 2010 at 10:30 am

  3. [...] his review of Andy Maslen’s Copywriting Sourcebook, Ben Locker approvingly notes that Andy ‘hasn’t fallen for the fashionable bullshit about [...]

    Pingback by In defence of SEO copywriting | ABC Copywriting blog on Thursday 25th March, 2010 at 11:10 pm

  4. I’ve written a post responding to some of the points in this review. You can read it here:

    http://www.abccopywriting.com/blog/2010/03/25/in-defence-of-seo-copywriting/

    Comment left by Tom Albrighton on Thursday 25th March, 2010 at 11:13 pm

  5. [...] – Independent Copywriter and author of very highly regarded copywriting books @benlocker – Head honcho of the eponymous Ben Locker and Associates @turnerink – Sarah [...]

    Pingback by Follow Friday - The Copywriters You Need to Follow - Unmemorable Title on Friday 2nd April, 2010 at 10:36 am

  6. When it comes down to it I think Alec Baldwin said it best in the Glenn-Garry movie. A.I.D.A attention, interest, decision and action. I’ll spare you guys the full speech where he cusses everyone out.

    Comment left by LiveTransfers on Thursday 8th April, 2010 at 3:43 am

  7. Really useful review. I’ve read a book by Andy Maslen before – write to sell – and it was both helpful and interesting. Need another book to help with my copywriting and have gone for this one, partly because of this review. Cheers!

    Comment left by Jack on Wednesday 11th January, 2012 at 9:38 pm

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