The best books on persuasion

20 authors have picked their favorite books about persuasion and why they recommend each book.

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By Robert B. Cialdini,

Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

This was an early work that defined my own studies into recognising scams. Cialdini spent considerable time studying why he was getting “persuaded” to buy more stuffeven when he was trying to just return what he didn't want. It took him several years to compile the data. And oddly, it was certain scammers that recommend reading his book to be able to increase their sales. Once I read it, I kept referring to it as I dug out from my own expensive victimhood. It's been reprinted in several editionsso you should definitely have a copy to hand.

Who am I?

I've been scammed several times. Even getting out of one and then being suckered into another. So after the last time, I just quit buying stuff until I'd gotten how and why I could get flim-flammed to begin with. So people could wise themselves up and get their freedom back. It only took a couple of years of my life, but I was able to use all my experiences of being scammed, so the research technically started many years earlier. I've got several degrees including a doctorate, and have published hundreds of titles from the research I've done in various fields. Even one on how to research.

I wrote...

Get Your Self Scam Free

By Robert C. Worstell,

Book cover of Get Your Self Scam Free

What is my book about?

A deep study into how scammers pose as Internet Marketers and work to take your hard-earned money while you are trying to learn how to earn an extra income online.

How to discover and avoid these scammers is covered, which means you also learn how to find the decent companies meanwhile.


By Robert B. Cialdini,

Book cover of Influence: Science and Practice

Entire industries exist to manipulate us based on characteristics of human psychology that nature has programmed into us. An important part of knowing ourselves is to know these characteristics and understand how to use them for our benefit, instead of the benefit of those who would use our human nature against us.

Who am I?

We live in the age of selfies, when it’s easy to snap a picture of ourselves in the day-to-day activities of our lives. But a deeper and far more satisfying journey is to take a selfie of our inner selves to better understand who we are, what we want, and how to get it. I’ve spent a lifetime on this journey. Self discovery and self understanding, and through them self-empowerment, these are the essence of my work. As a #1 bestselling author, my purpose is to help others discover their purpose, and live it. The five books I’ve recommended here have helped me greatly along that path.

I wrote...

Magic Bullet: The Secret That Can Change Your Life in 10 Seconds—or Less

By Keith Ellis,

Book cover of Magic Bullet: The Secret That Can Change Your Life in 10 Seconds—or Less

What is my book about?

This book takes only 20 minutes to read, but it can change your life forever. You see, we’re born asking questions. Magic Questions turn that skill into a superpower. There’s nothing complicated about it. There’s no ten-step system to memorize, no mantra to chant, no checklist to follow. And it doesn’t cost a penny. The power of a Magic Question isn’t limited by language, gender, culture, race, education, age, or IQ. Anyone on the planet can ask a Magic Question to help solve any problem. All it takes is about 10 seconds to ask it out loud and begin listening to your answers. Then, like a magic bullet, they can help you get what you want from life.

Why? Because Magic Questions let you hack directly into your brain to access mental resources you might not know you have. Combine this with their uncanny power to cut through emotional red tape and Magic Questions become the ultimate catalyst for change. If you ask yourself the right question at the right time, you can begin to change your life in 10 seconds—or less. In fact, when you know what you’re doing, Magic Questions can change your life at the speed of thought. But there is a trick to it. The right questions take you where you want to go in life. The wrong questions take you in the opposite direction.


By Robert B. Cialdini,

Book cover of Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade

Another scientifically-grounded but entertaining book by Cialdini. Setting the stage for influence and persuasion requires reducing consumer resistance, increasing consumer receptivity, and expert timing on the part of the influence agent. Cialdini demonstrates that priming techniques and tunnel-vision-based techniques can be surprisingly effective.

Who am I?

Frank R. Kardes, Ph.D. is the Donald E. Weston Professor of Marketing and Distinguished Research Professor at the Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award of the Society for Consumer Psychology, and a Fellow of five national professional societies. His research focuses on omission neglect, consumer judgment, and inference processes, persuasion and advertising, and consumer and managerial decision making. He was Co-Editor of Advances in Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, the Handbook of Consumer Psychology, and Marketing Letters, and serves or has served on seven editorial boards. He has published nine books and over 100 articles and chapters on consumer psychology.

I wrote...

Handbook of Research Methods in Consumer Psychology

By Frank R. Kardes,

Book cover of Handbook of Research Methods in Consumer Psychology

What is my book about?

What impact can various research methods have on consumer psychology? How can they help us understand the workings of the consumer mind? And how can the field of consumer psychology best utilize these methods? In the Handbook of Research Methods in Consumer Psychology, leading consumer psychologists summarize key aspects of the research process and explain how different methods enrich understanding of how consumers process information to form judgments and opinions and to make consumption-related decisions.


By Suneel Gupta, Carlye Adler,

Book cover of Backable: The Surprising Truth Behind What Makes People Take a Chance on You

This is a compelling and fast-paced read about how you can develop a compelling pitch that will convince people to back you. Whether you are looking for investors, customers, business partners, or employees, knowing how to pitch your ideas in a compelling way is absolutely essential. This book dives deep into that challenge with tons of ideas and advice.

Who am I?

I never thought I would be an entrepreneur. In fact, I was happy in corporate life. But when my job in corporate America blew up, I realized that I need to rethink my entire approach to building my career and my life. The result of these efforts is The 10% Entrepreneur. Over the past decade, I have integrated entrepreneurship into my life on a part-time basis, reaping meaningful financial and psychic rewards in the process. In the process, I have taught hundreds of thousands of others that entrepreneurship does not have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.

I wrote...

The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job

By Patrick J. McGinnis,

Book cover of The 10% Entrepreneur: Live Your Startup Dream Without Quitting Your Day Job

What is my book about?

Becoming a full-time entrepreneur can look glamorous from the outside. Who doesn’t want to chase their dreams, be their own boss, and do what they love? But the truth is that entrepreneurship is often a slog, with no regular hours, no job security, and very little pay. What if there was a way to have the stability of a day job with the excitement of a startup? All of the benefits of entrepreneurship with none of the pitfalls?

In The 10% Entrepreneur, Patrick McGinnis shows you how, by investing just 10% of your time and resources, you can become an entrepreneur without losing a steady paycheck. McGinnis details a step-by-step plan that takes you from identifying your first entrepreneurial project to figuring out the smartest way to commit resources to it. He shows you how to select and engage in projects that will provide you with upside outside the office while making you better at your day job. 

Flip the Script

By Oren Klaff,

Book cover of Flip the Script: Getting People to Think Your Idea Is Their Idea

This book was a roller coaster ride. Although I don’t think the word “copywriting” is mentioned a single time throughout, I think it’s one of the best copywriting books ever written. Oren is a master of pitching, usually through presentations. I love the system he lays out in this book and I use it every single day at my email marketing agency. The biggest win I ever got was understanding his concept of the “Flash Roll.” I probably owe at least $500,000 in client work from understanding this 30-second script.

Who am I?

I started my adult life as a bouncer and a school teacher. A few years later, I was running one of the most well-known email marketing agencies in the industry. The reason this happened is because I dedicated my life to becoming a master copywriter. Learning how to write copy was the key that unlocked a level of freedom I didn’t know existed, both personal and financial. It’s also allowed me to write two bestselling books on email marketing, work with 250+ brands, and coach 2,200+ students around the world. I hope this list helps you take your writing skills up a notch.

I wrote...

Make it Rain: The Secret to Generating Massive Paydays from Your Email List

By Chris Orzechowski,

Book cover of Make it Rain: The Secret to Generating Massive Paydays from Your Email List

What is my book about?

People who master copywriting have the rare ability to turn words into money. If you do business on the internet, this is one skill you need to have in your toolbox. I wrote this book to teach people the basics of copywriting, specifically when it comes to short-form advertising mediums like email. After you read this book, every piece of copy you write will convert better. Your emails, social posts, and landing pages will light people up. Your sales will skyrocket. And you’ll finally be getting the attention, fame, and notoriety your brand deserves.

Ready to take your writing chops to the next level fast? Click the link and make it rain!

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t

By Steven Pressfield,

Book cover of Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: And Other Tough-Love Truths to Make You a Better Writer

Don’t let the title turn you off. This book helps any type of creator develop the most critical skill of connecting with their audience: empathy. Pressfield reminds us that we need to ask ourselves continually what’s in it for our reader, viewer, listener. Otherwise, we’ll end up speaking to no audience at all.  

Who am I?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been intrigued by how people make decisions and why the words we use can significantly impact those decisions. After years of conducting customer research and writing marketing messages for clients, my interest in finding and delivering compelling messages at just the right time to the right audience has only grown. I’ve poured my experience in the online marketing trenches into my book, Finding the Right Message, where I reference more than one of the authors on my recommendation list. 

I wrote...

Finding the Right Message: How to Turn Voice of Customer Research Into Irresistible Website Copy

By Jennifer Havice,

Book cover of Finding the Right Message: How to Turn Voice of Customer Research Into Irresistible Website Copy

What is my book about?

Imagine if you could connect with your website visitors the moment they landed on your website. They understood exactly what kind of value your product or solution provided. And they were eager to join your email list, start your free trial, or hit the buy button. What would that mean to your business?

Jen Havice, messaging strategist and customer-driven copywriter, walks you through how to ask the right questions to learn what makes your customers tick so you can produce copy your visitors can’t resist. Filled with examples, templates, and case studies, this second edition of Finding the Right Message is both practical and timely. You’ll get a process for determining what messages your customers need to see along with field-tested ways of improving your copy.

Bargaining for Advantage

By G. Richard Shell,

Book cover of Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People

This book outlines several important orientations to negotiations—game/poker players (who play by the rules but still want to “win”); idealists who believe in almost always treating people honestly and fairly, even if that might mean less personal advantage and instrumental pragmatists who know—“what goes around, comes around” or “your word is your bond”—reputation is everything. In the context of reporting for laypeople a lot of social science research and practical tips, this book helps orient all negotiators to think about what ethical stance they should consider in different contexts. I have taught excerpts of this book for over 20 years.

Who am I?

I am one of the founders of the American dispute resolution field and have taught negotiation, legal ethics, mediation, alternative dispute resolution and international dispute resolution for 40 years in over 25 countries on every continent. I have mediated, negotiated or arbitrated hundreds of cases. I am a law professor who has taught legal ethics since it was required post-Watergate for all law students. As a negotiation teacher and practitioner, I have seen the effects of deceit and dishonorable negotiations in law and diplomacy and peace seeking and I have also seen what can happen when people treat each other fairly to reach better outcomes for problems than they could achieve on their own.

I wrote...

What's Fair: Ethics for Negotiators

By Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow (editor), Michael Wheeler (editor),

Book cover of What's Fair: Ethics for Negotiators

What is my book about?

This book collects the best articles in law, business, politics, psychology, and ethics to provide an overview of philosophical, personal, and moral concerns in negotiating ethically. It also addresses specific and practical issues of strategy, tactics, information sharing, deception, uses of power, relationships and the social impacts of particular negotiations, and the ethics of compromise itself. The book addresses issues of how we should approach each other when we need someone else to accomplish something and what we owe to others who are not at the bargaining table.

Attitudes and Persuasion

By Richard E. Petty, John T. Cacioppo,

Book cover of Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches

What do I consider the most important theory of persuasion? The elaboration likelihood model provides a detailed, yet elegant, framework for understanding two primary “routes” through which people are influenced. This academic book not only helped me synthesize a huge body of previous theory and research, it still provides a practical blueprint for constructing my own persuasive messages. 

Who am I?

As an undergraduate in college, I worked selling men’s clothing. There was a rack of suits that, for whatever reason, would not sell, so my boss phoned a coworker and told her to cut the price of the suits by 50 percent. Misunderstanding him, she doubled the price instead. By the time our boss returned from vacation, nearly all those suits had been sold! It made no sense to me…until I read Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence. From there, I not only sold plenty of suits, I earned a Ph.D. at the University of Southern California, and eventually was named a Distinguished Professor at Utah State University.

I wrote...

Persuasion: Social Influence and Compliance Gaining

By Robert H. Gass, John S. Seiter,

Book cover of Persuasion: Social Influence and Compliance Gaining

What is my book about?

The newest edition of this field-leading book provides a highly readable, often entertaining, yet astute, presentation of major approaches to persuasion. Using real-life examples, often involving the authors’ own persuasive mishaps, the book encourages readers to develop and apply conclusions about persuasion in real-world settings. Along the way, readers are also introduced to major theories of persuasion as they apply to the practice of social influence in an array of contexts (e.g., advertising, marketing, politics, interpersonal relationships, social media, groups) and across a variety of topics (e.g., credibility, personality, deception, motivational appeals, visual persuasion). Finally, the book not only emphasizes the goal of effective persuasion, but also the importance of being ethical in one’s attempts to influence others.

Pitch Anything

By Oren Klaff,

Book cover of Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal

Pitch Anything is an established work in the pitching and negotiation book categories. It is not perfect, but it is one of the best books for introducing entrepreneurs to the importance of pitching, selling, and negotiating persuasively. Entrepreneurs must pitch to attract co-founders and early team members, to obtain early stage funding, to close customers and other commercial partners, to close later stage funding rounds, and, ultimately, to go public or exit in a sale. While Pitch Anything is a good book, the brashness of some of its advice, particularly around what Klaff calls “frames,” do not fit all persons or situations. Some contexts require full-on Machiavellian tactics; others warrant more of a “Winning Friends and Influencing People” approach. Nonetheless, it is useful to understand which situation you are in and the available plays to run.

Armed with those caveats, I suggest readers of Pitch Anything read Chapter…

Who am I?

I have worked with startups since 2000, when I joined ShareBuilder, ultimately sold to Capital One in a $9.5 billion deal – one of my five successful startup exits to date. I am currently an officer of seven startups. Startups drive global job creation and problem-solving innovation. But 90% fail, often for preventable reasons. I am helping entrepreneurs beat those odds. I wrote Startup Law and Fundraising to help entrepreneurs build on a solid foundation, avoid common legal and regulatory mistakes, and fund their vision. My books are used globally in law and MBA schools, and I speak constantly on entrepreneurship-related topics, including recently to groups in Istanbul, Ramallah, and Tehran. 

I wrote...

Startup Law and Fundraising for Entrepreneurs and Startup Advisors

By Paul A. Swegle,

Book cover of Startup Law and Fundraising for Entrepreneurs and Startup Advisors

What is my book about?

Entrepreneurship is chaotic. Some chaos drives innovation. But legal chaos rocks startups to their foundations, dashing dreams, jeopardizing jobs and investments, causing liabilities, and slowing innovation. Swegle wrote Startup Law and Fundraising for Entrepreneurs and Startup Advisors to help startups avoid these pitfalls, including the pitfall of struggling to grow a poorly funded business. 

This is a practical book meant to help entrepreneurs and their advisors: build on a solid foundation; avoid costly legal and regulatory mistakes; and raise the money needed for stability, innovation, and operational success. Startup Law and Fundraising is read in by entrepreneurs, lawyers, CFOs, investors, and others across the globe interested in business, business law, and startup fundraising. Its pages cover an unmatched range of startup-focused concepts, tips, traps, strategies, and best practices. 

Exactly What to Say

By Phil M Jones,

Book cover of Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact

The brilliance of Exactly What to Say is in its brevity and simplicity. It was built on the premise that when you ‘change your words you change your world’ and how what we say heavily impacts our ability to influence others. It is full of practical, actionable concepts on word choice and phrasing that can be implemented immediately by anyone looking to the effectiveness of their communication. While this book is a quick read–it is incredibly profound and powerful. 

Who am I?

I’m a professional keynote speaker and author that has studied the pillars of high performance for most of my life. This journey started through basketball, as I was able to work with, work alongside, and observe many of the game’s top players and coaches and witness firsthand the disciplines, rituals, and routines they modeled in pursuit of optimal performance on and off the court. That transitioned into the business world where I not only watched these foundational principles be applied by executives and entrepreneurs… but I applied them to my own life and business as well. 

I wrote...

Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best

By Alan Stein Jr., Jon Sternfeld,

Book cover of Raise Your Game: High-Performance Secrets from the Best of the Best

What is my book about?

Raise Your Game peeks behind the curtain and shares the routines and rituals of world-class performers. Elite athletes, musicians, and entrepreneurs are at the top of their game because of the discipline they have during the Unseen Hours. They have made a commitment to establish, tweak and repeat optimal habits in everything they do. Raise Your Game examines the top leaders in sports and business and proves that success is a result of the little things we do all the time.

The basic principles provided in Raise Your Game are basic, but not easy. But the basics work. They always have and they always will. Raise Your Game will inspire and empower readers and organizations to commit to the fundamentals, respect the process, and create a winning mindset.

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