192 pp paperback
Published by Marshall Cavendish

Hi. I'm Andy Maslen, an independent copywriter specialising in business-to-business (b2b), subscriptions and direct response. Let me share 23 years' experience with you in this practical, entertaining and easy-to-follow paperback guide to great copywriting.

Write to Sell

Organisations as diverse as BBC Worldwide, The Economist, the RSPB, Hamleys of London, The London Stock Exchange, Pitney Bowes, News International, Emap and PricewaterhouseCoopers come to me for copywriting and advice on better business communications.

To give you an insight into my abilities and record as a copywriter, here are a few facts:

  • Since I went independent in 1996, 93 per cent of my clients have given me repeat business.
  • Over 80% of my clients come to me through personal recommendations.
  • Of my current copywriting clients, two have been with me since 1997, one since 1998, one since 2000 and two since 2002.
  • I publish Maslen on Marketing - a free monthly copywriting e-zine with over 1,400 subscribers all over the world.
  • I am regularly invited to speak at industry conferences including Publishing World and the International Direct Marketing Fair.
  • I write articles regularly for InCirculation magazine and have contributed to others including B2B and Direct Marketing International.
  • My training company - Write for Results - is retained byThe Economist to train their staff all over the world.

Write to Sell helps you hit sales and marketing targets, build your business and get where you want to be.

Ten ways this book helps you

  1. Helps you achieve sales, marketing and commercial goals.
  2. Gives you practical, easy-to-use tools to craft better copy.
  3. Saves you time, effort and heartache when you next want to write sales copy.
  4. Gives you insights into how to gain your reader’s attention, respect and trust.
  5. Shows you specific techniques for improving the readability of your copy.
  6. Gives you the confidence to try a new approach to copywriting.
  7. Helps you understand the relationship between selling skills and sales writing skills.
  8. Saves you money on doomed sales and marketing communications.
  9. Refreshes your knowledge of some basic rules of good written English.
  10. Frees you from anxiety of so-called ‘correct’ English.

Four big questions answered in the book

How do you persuade someone to buy from you using nothing but the written word?

What does good copywriting look like-and sound like?

How can someone who isn’t a professional writer still write compelling, persuasive, believable sales copy?

How does design and layout affect the impact of your writing?

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What makes this book special?

  • The author is a practising copywriter at the sharp end of sales writing. Not an academic. Not a grizzled ex-sales hack. Nor an adman-cum-aspiring novelist.
  • It explains what to do and how: providing simple techniques that yield instant improvements.
  • It is an enjoyable read: upfront, candid, witty, perceptive and unafraid to shoot a few sacred cows (wherever they’re grazing).
  • It is a quick read, not a daunting academic textbook or style guide.
  • It provides real-world examples of copy that works and explains why.
  • It demystifies the craft while not dumbing down or denying the need for skills and practice.
  • It provides checklists, practical exercises, mnemonics, quick self-tests and diagnostic tools.

Four facts you MUST know about copywriting

  1. Copywriting is about selling

    There are a lot of people out there who need to write sales copy (letters, brochures, emails, proposals, bid documents) who aren’t equipped or trained to do it well. They are doing it badly because they have never been shown how to do it properly.

    Yes, people are taught to write at school (sometimes even quite well). But there is a deep chasm between academic writing and effective copywriting.

    Why? Because copywriting is primarily about selling and only secondarily about writing. And that distinction calls for an understanding of people and what makes them tick.

    Yes of course you need to be able to write well and correctly, but that alone will not take you all the way.

    I am often asked whether my degree was in English. It’s not. I read Psychology: the study of people.

  2. We must focus on the reader

    Most copywriting underperforms because it is all about the writer and not about the reader.

    Business owners are in love with the company. Managers are in love with the product. Agency copywriters, frequently, are in love with themselves (and their artistic aspirations and desire to win creative awards doled out by their industry peers).

    But who’s in love with the reader? Who’s trying to figure out what they want to hear? What their needs and wants are? What will motivate them to pay attention to a sales message, believe it and act upon it?

  3. Beautiful things come in small packages

    Most business writers, especially in-house copywriters, assume that bigger is better. Long words are better than short words. Long sentences are better than short sentences.

    But readers - even CEOs - do not engage with this style of writing. It’s all head, no heart. To engage our reader, we must use wheelbarrow language: the earthy, flinty words we can almost pick up in our hands and smell.

    People buy on emotion then post-rationalise their decisions. So our understanding of, and willingness to write, plain English is crucial to making the sale.

  4. Most people lack the skills and experience to do it well

    Most copywriters have never done any selling. Or if they have, they miss the connection between the two activities. That means they don’t see how their writing works as a sales process. They lack the relevant experience.

    Most sales people have never done any serious writing, so they lack the relevant skills.

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List of contents


Why I decided to write this book

What it will do for the reader
  What it’s all about
Section One: It’s not about you
1 Where most people go wrong
2 A few thoughts on human nature
3 Identifying and empathising with your reader
4 Understanding the sales process in written form
5 The B-word (and why it’s so much better than the F-word)
Section Two: What do you mean you don’t have a plan?
6 Yes but what are you trying to say?
7 Setting out your goals: commercial and for the document itself
8 A simple but powerful fast-food mnemonic for creating perfect plans
9 Understanding what you’re really selling
10 The killer structure for every piece of sales copy you’ll ever write
Section Three: What works? And what doesn’t?
11 What works
12 And what doesn’t
Section Four: OK, start writing
13 The black arts (and a few magic words)
14 Why your sales copy should be like a bowl of cereal
15 Good English style for copywriting
16 Tone of voice: what it is and what to do with it
17 Why punctuation is a sales tool
18 Stuff you learnt at school you can forget
Section Five: Dressed to impress?
19 Editing your work
20 Layout—what you can do to help your reader
21 Design—what designers can do (and what you should never allow them to)
22 Checking and proofreading
23 Readability
Section Six: What now?
24 Recommendations for action
25 Writers’ reference sources
26 How to brief an external copywriter

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About Andy Maslen

I have spent 23 years in the business communications and information industry. I began my marketing career at Euromonitor, a leading research publisher, as a marketing assistant.

At 27 I was promoted to Marketing Director, leading teams in London and Chicago. During my ten years there, I created and managed over 2,000 marketing and sales campaigns.

After six years heading the marketing function, I resigned to return to my first love—writing—and to set up my own creative agency, Sunfish. I now divide my time between copywriting, training and writing books.

As a specialist independent copywriter and writing coach, I work with organisations of all sizes and across widely differing sectors, helping them build sales and profits using the written word.

I write articles regularly for InCirculation—a best-practice magazine for magazine and newspaper publishers—and have also contributed to B2B Marketing magazine and Direct Marketing International. I also publish my own monthly e-zine—Maslen on Marketing.

I have spoken at workshops, seminars and conferences organised by The Data Publishers’ Association, the UK Newsletter and Electronic Publishers’ Association and the Independent Publishers’ Guild; as well as in-house events for The Economist Intelligence Unit, Euromoney and T&F Informa.

My clients

  • Large global businesses:
    The Economist Group, Euromoney Institutional Investor, Pitney Bowes, Dun & Bradstreet, News International, PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Charities and the public sector:
    The Landscape Trust, the Small Business Service
  • Smaller national companies:
    A a night nanny agency, a transport company, a restaurant, a TV production company, a sporting social club for well-heeled singles.

My training business, Write for Results, which I co-own with a business partner, is the preferred supplier to The Economist Group and works with managers at AstraZeneca, Bank of America, BP, Emap, Nationwide Building Society and PricewaterhouseCoopers, among others.

What Andy's clients say about his copy

My copy works—you can tell from the number of clients who come back to me for project after project. Their opinions speak volumes:

“We have had further very favourable response to our Tattoo mailer today. With your excellent copy writing we have generated the best ever response to any internal DM campaign that we have run .”

Terry Turner, Managing Director, Priority Newstrade, Mailing & Digital

“Many thanks for the work you put into our Group Capabilities project. The copy itself was exactly what we were looking for: clear, concise, high-impact. On top of that, you added a huge amount of value by helping us shape the ideas behind the concept, so that we ended up with a compelling story, not just a bunch of random facts. Working with you was great fun and highly productive. I hope we can do it again soon.”

David Laird, Group Commercial Director, The Economist Group

“You'll be glad to know that both the Personal Computer World and Computeractive new letters that you've produced for me have significantly outperformed my control pack. Therefore I'd like to use your copy & designs for the next few mailings to the end of the year.”

Harriet Cumming, Subscriptions Controller, VNU Business Publications

“We appreciated this work and didn't really change anything before broadcasting. We also used the 'Billion Dollar Baby' headline as the subject line in an email which got the best opening rate of an email for this particular campaign. So many thanks for this - I look forward to working with you again soon.”

Jason Coles, Marketing Manager, Euromoney Seminars

“I wanted to pass along a thank you for your work on the November 10th conference. I am always in awe of creative folks that can take our words and create the most incredibly readable and appealing documents. Once we come to a decision on the Observatory for the UK, I will be counting on your talents to customize and beautify our marketing pieces.”

Yvonne Fizer, Business Development, Sirolli Institute

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Andy Maslen

"I show you not just the what or the how, but also the why. This book takes you step-by-step through the essentials of writing to sell."

Andy Maslen

“If I were starting out as a writer tomorrow, I would definitely want to read this book. I pretty much taught myself most of the tricks all those years ago - and it took me far too long. Had I read it, it would have saved me years of trial and, for the most part, error.”

Drayton Bird, the godfather of direct marketing

“Hi Andy,

I just wanted to say a big thank you for your 'Write to Sell' book which I bought recently. I set up my own business a year ago and have regularly purchased books and self-help guides to help me through the process.

Your book is exceptional - not only is it terrific to read (obvious I know but worth saying), it has helped guide me like no other.

And even more importantly it will help me to help my clients. It has made me want to sign up to your newsletter, which I'll now do. Thank you - please keep your great advice coming!”

Best wishes,
Fiona Barker
barker pr

"This book is a gem. Not only enjoyable to read but packed full of useful and practical tips for better copywriting. Andy has a talent for making the subject of good writing lively and fun as well as hugely educational."

Sally Bibb, Group Sales Development Director
The Economist Group