Updated for 2015. If you're going to be a good copywriter, then you'll need to be a regular reader. And not just reading blogs and social media feeds, but the time-tested, in-depth books that can help you develop well-targeted, well-written promotional content and materials.
By making a small investment of time and funds now, you get the long-lasting payback of knowledge, techniques and close-at-hand references that help you continually improve your copywriting skills.
Here is my list of "must have" books for every technical copywriter today. (Click on the title to order from Amazon.com)
These are the foundation books which you will turn to again and again.
Copywriting That Sells High Tech, my own book, is still the only guide written specifically for technical copywriters. It gives you clear explanations of how to write content for white papers, case studies, data sheets, and websites to promote technology products and services. You'll also gain a wealth of tips to generate new ideas and make all of your technical marketing materials more effective. Learn more about the book or order now.
The Yahoo! Style Guide. If you work for a large company, it's likely that you must follow the writing rules laid out in a corporate style guide. If you don't, then you may need a style guide to follow--both for consistency and clarity in your own writing and to offer guidance to colleagues who write their own text. The Yahoo guide is an excellent resource for both purposes, geared for web content and marketing materials. Another good choice is the classic Microsoft Manual of Style, which is geared more for documentation but includes a valuable glossary and word usage guide for technical terms and common words that are often used incorrectly.
Words That Sell, Richard Bayan. I use this well-organized reference often, especially when I am looking for words that will add interest and sizzle to my writings. The book presents extensive, creative word lists to describe product characteristics and phrases for many types of promotional text. No copywriter should work without it.
Everybody Writes, Ann Handley. written by one of the acknowledged experts in content marketing, this guidebook is full of useful tips and interesting examples for writing blog posts, articles, and web content.
White papers are so popular for technical marketing that you'll benefit from having each of these useful books close at hand.
White Papers for Dummies, Gordon Graham. This book is full of detailed, practical guidance on the fundamentals of writing a white paper and managing the white paper project. It is an especially worthwhile book if you are a writer who wants to create your first white paper.
Crafting White Paper 2.0, Jonathan Kantor. This book presents a good overview of new writing and design techniques to use in white papers and other promotional documents to attract and engage readers. If you're an experienced white paper writer who is looking for ideas to improve your content, this book offers useful advice and examples.
Writing White Papers, Michael Stelzner. This book provides a thorough and definitive guide to writing, producing, and promoting white papers. You will find step-by-step guidance and techniques for targeting readers, developing focused outlines, conducting effective interviews and research, as well as presenting and formatting the text and visual content.
Customer case studies or success stories are likely to be a frequent part of your work, so it's important to know their role in marketing and how to produce well-written and high-impact stories.
Stories That Sell, Casey Hibbard. This unique book presents clear, in-depth, and relevant guidance on writing case studies and managing customer reference programs. If you are just starting to write success stories, you will find this book a complete guide.
Information Design and Infographics
Copywriters today must understand how to present information visually as well as in text. These books will give you good insights on creating graphics yourself or by working with a designer.
Slideology, Nancy Duarte. If you're not writing text documents, you're likely developing a slide presentation. Although focused on improving PowerPoint slides, this book is full of great ideas for visual explanations and elements in any type of content. Her other book, Resonate, is also an interesting read about how to powerfully convey information and persuade readers or audiences.
Wall Street Journal Guide to Infographics, Dona Wong. If you frequently interpret and present any type of numeric data, this book is a clear and easy-to-use reference to creating charts and infographics. Each topic includes multiple examples of correct presentation techniques as well as typical mistakes.
Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don't Work, Dan Roam. If you're a writer who says you don't know how to draw or think visually, this book will be a big help in developing those skills. It includes clear guidance on turning written grammar into a visual grammar, giving you an easy-to-remember and easy-to-use way for creating good pencil sketches that a graphic designer can polish into a clear and appealing image.
Understanding and keeping up with expert thoughts about content marketing will help you write materials that are more engaging and effective.
Global Content Marketing, Pam Didner. Good advice on content marketing in general, but this book is particularly useful for large companies that market their products and services worldwide.
eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, Ardath Albee. Great insights for copywriters about how readers view and respond to any type of marketing content.
Snap Selling, Jill Konrath. Terrific insights into the challenges that your salespeople--and your marketing content--face in reaching and engaging prospects.
The Content Rules, Ann Handley & CC Chapman. A good overview of content marketing.
The Web Content Strategist's Bible, Richard Sheffield. Presents solid information about the nitty-gritty work involved in the new, content-focused job roles that are now assigned to many writers.
This field is moving rapidly; keep up by checking out these new content marketing books.