Note To Self And A Reminder To Copywriters Everywhere: Dust Off That Unfinished Manuscript

Nate Hopper at The Awl has put together a nice piece on authors who were once copywriters.

“We keep you clean in Muscatine,” was one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s better lines for a steam cleaner in Iowa.

Salman Rushdie wrote, “Look into the Mirror tomorrow—you’ll like what you see,” for The Daily Mirror.

Dorothy Sayers wrote “Come on Colman’s, light my fire”and helped to create the Mustard Club—one of the most popular ad campaigns of the time.

Helen Gurley Brown worked at Foote, Cone & Belding, and wrote lines for Sunkist, Catalina swimsuits, Breast-O’-Chicken tuna and Lockheed, among others.

In addition, Don DeLillo and Joseph Heller were once copywriters.

Yet for all six, advertising was mostly just a means to an end—a day job to keep them solvent until they were lucky enough to leave. But their time in advertising wasn’t a waste: as copywriters, some learned how to write economically and on deadline; others discovered fertile subjects in the office life and business culture around them; while others used office hours to work on the books that would later make their names.

Elmore Leonard, Martin Amis, Fay Weldon, Augusten Burroughs, Richard Yates, James Patterson and Frederick Exley are also recognized as copywriters in comments on the post.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestLinkedInRedditStumbleUponEmailDiggShare
About David Burn

Native Nebraskan seeking the perfect pale ale in the Pacific Northwest. Copywriter and brand strategist at Bonehook. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Contributor to The Content Strategist. Doer of the things written about herein.

  • http://twitter.com/AskACopywriter Brian Thompson

    I’ve compiled an extensive list of former copywriters here: http://askacopywriter.blogspot.com/2008/01/what-would-you-do-if-you-got-different.html 

    • http://adpulp.com David Burn

      Whoa, that’s an amazing list. Thanks for sharing.

      Kurt Vonnegut was a copywriter. I already feel better about myself.

  • Speake

    My book (two volumes on the life of an explorer who mapped most of western North America from 1784 to 1812—obscure? sure but I canoe a lot) just got posted on Amazon.  Only took 18 years to finish.  Life kept getting in the way.

    • http://adpulp.com David Burn

      Congrats. What’s the title? Give us a link to your Amazon.com page.