Written in 2001 by Steve Slaunwhite, Start & Run a Copywriting Business is a quick and easy read for beginning copywriters, but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful. Containing smart advice, checklists, and samples of a copywriter’s basic documents, I’d definitely recommend this book to beginners. Note: I read the first edition from 2001. The link above is to the revised, 2005 edition.
Slaunwhite begins his book explaining what copywriting is and the pros and cons of being a freelance copywriter. He then advances through such topics as what you need to begin working, how to build your book, identifying markets, how to market and price your services, how to write the types of documents most copywriters write, and how to avoid many of the problems copywriters face.
As I mentioned above, Slaunwhite’s samples and checklists are probably the most beneficial tools for a beginning copywriter. Checklists include ideal and supplementary materials to include in your book. Samples include basic budgets, sales letters, marketing plans, fee schedules, a sample quotation/contract, tips for writing headlines, and invoices. These samples remove some of the uncertainty or confusion about these items that true beginners might have. If you have never had to produce these sorts of documents, having a sample at hand would be tremendously valuable.
Although there are other books out there for starting a copywriting business and some on how to write basic copywriting pieces, this one contains a bit of both. It’s a great introductory book–think of it as a paperback gut check for those considering entering the copywriting field. But Slaunwhite does take some interesting positions as well. For example, he argues that copywriters should price themselves not by using an hourly rate, but by settling on a flat fee per project. He offers a good argument for it, but this advice does seem to contradict other books that argue for an hourly rate.
Regardless, if you are considering a career in copywriting, or have just launched your business, pick up this book. You can get through it in a weekend. The checklists and problem-avoiding strategies are definitely worth your time. However, if you’ve been copywriting for a while, this book probably doesn’t have anything to offer you.