“Can Jane Austen Really Help Me Improve My Copywriting?”

That’s the question I asked myself after watching a 3-part video presentation by copywriting legend Drayton Bird.

Drayton offered a lot of very useful and practical tips and ideas in that video series.  But, for me, his most intriguing one was this: he said that “all good writing starts with good reading.”  And his recommendation for “good reading” was for all copywriters–especially those who wanted to really stand out in the crowd–to make it a point to read classic works of literature.  This, he said, would contribute to “a well-furnished mind.” (I don’t know about you, but as a writer, I am very interested in having a “well-furnished mind”.)

Specifically, he referred to “the great authors.”

And by that he meant (which he mentioned on his short list of representative examples), F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Evelyn Waugh and Jane Austen.

Now, in all fairness, Drayton also said to be sure and read the best of the best of the contemporary copywriting greats, too–Ogilvy, Hopkins, Caples, etc..  But before you do that, he said, start with the literary greats first.

And so, ever since that intriguing bit of advice began rattling around in my head, it has prompted me to be on the lookout for any of these great authors.

Well, this morning, there I was with my wife at Costco, buying food stuffs and things for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, when, lo and behold, as I walked past the book tables on the way to the teeming lines at the cash registers, I paused to see what titles might be offered there to the reading public–those who still actually read physical cardboard-paper-and-ink BOOKS–when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a stack of Jane Austen library hardcover editions of her four greatest novels.


Now, before that Drayton Bird recommendation, I would probably have never, EVER thought of buying–let alone reading–a Jane Austen novel.  My daughter was a HUGE fan of her books when she was growing up.  But me?  Give me something more masculine, more manly… like a G. A. Henty novel. Or a Stonewall Jackson biography.  Or even Robert Bly (the poet, not the copywriter!).

Nonetheless, after that visit to Costco, I am now the owner of a four-novels-in-one, hard-back, gold-leaf edition of the finest in Jane Austen literature.

And so, I ask once again, “Can Jane Austen really help me improve my copywriting?”

Well, when a marketing icon and industry titan like Drayton Bird says that it will, then, by George (and by Northanger Abbey), I’m going to read it!

And I do not think that I shall be disappointed.

So, here goes…  Let’s start with Sense and Sensibility, chapter 1.

“The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex…”

I’m trusting Mr. Bird to be right about this one.


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