I remember it like it was a certain degree of time ago.
“Hey Ash,” said the message, “Fancy reading a book all about good copywriting and then reviewing it?” I read these lines over and over again, scoffing at their patronising attitude. Me? Need to read a book about good copywriting? Do they not know I spent a whole year of my life writing cheesy poetry and slightly disturbing short stories for an MA in Creative Writing? Do they not realise that once I did a Facebook update for a brand of cider that got thousands of likes in just an hour and only resulted in the odd complaint due to it, in fact, being based on lies and misconceptions? Why the HELL would I need a book on good copywriting?
Well, I kept all of those thoughts to myself at the time because I didn’t want to seem like a dick, and just agreed to do the bloody book review to save everyone a lot of hassle. A week or so later, a package arrived at work (a place where several people perhaps do feel that I need to read a book about good copywriting) and within its cardboard folds lay Read Me, a book that promises ’10 lessons for writing great copy’, written by Gyles Lingwood and Roger Horberry, both of whom are seasoned word doers, as we in the business call ourselves.
It’s bad form to judge a book by its cover, but how could I refuse any title that was offering me such explicit instructions? A couple of days later I was on a train and began to do as the book wished – read it. Instantly I was impressed because, in public places, it’s pretty important what you’re seen to be perusing. Like, one time I was sat opposite a pretty girl but I was reading my own short story and quite obviously pointing to the name on the cover and then back to me, and that didn’t impress her one bit. This time I was reading a book that made me look creative and, had there been any pretty girls nearby, I’m sure I’d have won them all over.
Which brings me nicely to the first bit of this review:
Who on earth would want to read it?
In short, people who need to use words well/ single men on trains who wish to attract a certain type of girl. Maybe less so the latter. Read Me lives up to its promise and really does give you some great advice on how to write well. That’s useful for people like me, whose jobs depend on such abilities, and for anyone who ever has to write any public facing copy. You all want to make a statement with it and to catch someone’s attention, and this is a book that can make that dream come true.
What’s the point?
The whole purpose of the book, really, is to make people know how to get attention with words. Throughout its very nice smelling pages (we all do that, don’t we? It’s not just me?) it talks about the kind of copy you might not think about when you consider normal advertising, such as labels on jars, menus, the ingredients on a packet of crisps. You’ll see copy like this hundreds of times a day and ignore it most of the time, but Read Me shows us lots of great examples of when that’s been done well. You don’t ignore it then; you engage with it and, as a result, you end up appreciating the brand more.
Who will find it useful?
Anyone who wants to have that effect with their own copy is going to find this book damn useful. It’s going to inspire them to try things a bit differently, which can only be a good approach to life.
Did it teach me owt?
Reading this book brought back memories of my first week on my Creative Advertising degree. Yeah, that’s right, I only do degrees with the word ‘creative’ in them. Suck it up, proper jobs. We were given a reading list, and when all those books arrived at my door I felt a huge surge of excitement about what lay ahead. There was so much potential there, so many possibilities, and I was about to take my first steps into that world in the hope that one day it might become my own. Read Me gave me a fresh wave of that excitement. Now I live in that world, and I was being enthused to grab it by the balls and shake it up a little bit. It made me want to write, right there and then on the train, despite the fact I had no pen or paper to hand and my only option was to scrawl on the back of someone’s head in my own diabetic blood. I resisted that urge, but only just.
Did it miss anything out?
Nah, not really. The things I look for in a book are very similar to the things I look for in the girl that I might take home to see my mum; good looks, good humour and the ability to make me a better person that I was before. This book covers all of that. Mum, set the table for extra, I’m bringing company.
In summary, it’s the kind of book that I would be more than happy to be seen with in a coffee shop, and that’s the best review I can ever give anything because I fucking love a good coffee shop and I’ve got an image to keep up. It now sits quite happily on the part of my bookcase that I call the ‘things I’ll look at when life is becoming a big, grey blur of unimportance and despair’ shelf.
It’s going to come in very handy.
Read Me can be purchased here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Read-Me-Lessons-Writing-Great/dp/1780673485 and I reckon you should go ahead and do just that.