This book was my introduction to John Carlton, one of the most respected and accomplished sales copywriters in the world.
As befits a sales genius, his title is irresistible. How many entrepreneurs don’t get a weekly (if not daily) case of “I really should get my shit together”?
So I skimmed a few of the five-star reviews and bought the book. Nothing to lose.
A lot gained. This is a “turning point” kind of book. Really one of the best I’ve read since going all-in on making my livelihood as a writer.
Carlton doesn’t just stuff a bunch of fluff behind a great title. (No expert copywriter would.)
For $10, the amount of substance in these e-pages is, frankly, amazing. TEGTGYST goes far beyond about how to craft headlines, promises, proof, grabbers, closes, etc.
The really priceless stuff is on topics like:
- Dealing with stress
- Dealing with people — I especially liked the part about clowns who try to mask incompetence with overconfidence.
- Time management
- Brain management
Here’s what I think makes a great writer, of any stripe:
The ability to short-circuit the reader’s self-awareness that they actually are performing the act of “reading”.
Does that make an ounce of sense? Maybe it’s a poor description, but I’ll wager you have an idea what I’m talking about.
There’s no mental friction reading great writing. You don’t have to jerk your attention back to the page. Focus is a non-issue.
There’s a mind-meld going on between what the writer was thinking as he wrote and what you’re thinking now. It becomes your thinking for a moment, and leaves a mental imprint forever.
Actually, Carlton covers this in the book:
“Good writing is invisible to the reader — he should not be aware he’s reading something. Instead your copy should smoothingly melt into the conversation already going on in his own head.”
(It’s also the same general concept as John Gardner’s “fictional dream”, for any MFA-types who have happened upon this blog.)
Practicing what he preaches, Carlton pulls this effect off from the introduction to the last word (which, appropriately, is an upsell for his mastermind group.)
By two chapters into this book, I felt like I was having the kind of conversation that begins with a fridge full of beverages, and ends six hours later with empties everywhere, overflowing ashtrays, and guitars leaning against chairs.
Seriously, the guy is all rock-and-roll. If I had an hour to spend with him, it’s hard to decide whether I’d want to talk about entrepreneurship and copywriting or get out my Les Paul and jam through some Cream and Stones numbers.
So that’s that. Two days later I bought his Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel, and his Freelance Course. Worth every penny. Simple Writing System is next.
Jay Abraham talks about the “Strategy of Preeminence”:
Few embody preeminence quite like John Carlton.
If you’re a professional writer or an entrepreneur of any stripe, I hope you’ll check this book out and see for yourself.