I think of myself as a marketing content creator. Why? You can’t be a just copywriter or copyeditor anymore. You need to expand to a new role that goes beyond the basics.
Writing original content
All writers need flexibility to be able to create content for new mediums. Here are a few examples of how things have changed:
- Traditional: Collateral, advertising, direct mail
- Modern: Email, websites, microsites
- Now: Blogs, Tweets, comments, questions, answers, and more—sharing relevant information
Editing involves much more than fixing typos and grammar errors. You must be able to adapt information from traditional, to modern, to now.
This could mean:
- Rewriting in a different tone
- Re-organizing for readability
- Considering how to add visual interest
- Curating content from multiple sources to create something new
Here is a list of the books I recommend, along with some links to corresponding websites (if I found them). I’ve also summarized my reasons for selecting each book for my reference library.
1. The Elements of Style, Strunk & White
A classic. Small, short, everything you need to be a good writer. Some content is out-of-date, but still a necessity. I have my original copy from high school.
2. Writing with Style, John R. Trimble
Combines some grammar with information that will help you develop your personal writing style. Good source no matter how much experience you have. Another original from high school.
3. Grammar for Smart People, Barry Tarshis
Illustrated, easy-to-follow, funny guide that covers most (but not all) of the basic grammar rules.
4. On Writing Well, William Zinsser
A classic for writing style. Helps you understand why to write and how to write for different mediums.
5. Sin and Syntax, Constance Hale
Witty. A fast read. Learn some things you didn’t know.
This book has a sense of humor. Can you tell from the title? Formatting makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.
Every writer needs a good, hard-copy dictionary. Online dictionaries can give you too much information. I like this because it’s not too big or heavy.
8. Merriam-Webster Thesaurus
First thesaurus I ever owned. Got the original at a book fair in elementary school. I use the latest edition now. Small paperback, simple.
Or AP, MLA, etc. For those times when you need a final authority on grammar and style questions. I use the online subscription for easy searches.
10. Tested Advertising Methods, John Caples
Fundamentals from an industry legend. Will always be relevant. My copy is filled with notes and yours will be too.
11. On the Art of Copywriting, Herschell Gordon Lewis
I attended his session at the DMA Conference in San Francisco a few years back. The basic idea is “write this, not that.” How your words will affect the reader. Tons of visuals.
12. Words that Sell, Richard Bayan
Great brainstorming source. Lists are divided into categories. Not just words, but also phrases and slogans too.
13. More Words that Sell, Richard Bayan
Expansion of the last book. Great for power words as well as descriptive words and phrases.
14. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More), Ann Handley and CC Chapman
Newest addition. I have the Kindle edition, but I’m going to need to get a hard copy for my library. This is now. Real advice for online.
Even though we’re no longer just writers and editors, but content creators, we still need a good reference library.