I truly believe that books can change the world. And the right ones can certainly change your business. The stories, ideas, and strategies in good books can ignite a fire in you and give you the tools to take your business and life to the next level. Today, I’ll share my ten favorite books for affiliate marketers…and show you how you can win the top five!

Books affiliate marketers should read

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said it best:

You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.

Here’s the thing about books though, whether they be marketing or otherwise. The books themselves don’t actually do anything for you.

They only change your business if you actually put what you learn into practice. With any of these books, I recommend reading them in the following format.

How to Read a Marketing / Business Book

  1. Read it quickly all the way through. This initial reading gives you an overview of the themes, ideas, and strategies in the book. Highlight key parts if you must, but this initial reading on most of these books will take less than four hours.
  2. Go back and read in-depth. Get a notepad or Evernote ready and go back and read more carefully. Sometimes, I’ll read only a few pages, take ten pages of notes, and most importantly, take action on what I’ve learned right away.
  3. Implement as you go. The worst thing you can do is finish a book having accomplished nothing yet. Implement what you learn as you go on the second reading.
  4. Take advantage of the bonus content. Most of the books below have bonus content mentioned throughout the book. It might additional case studies, video tutorials, or swipe files. These are often some of the best content.
  5. Use it as a reference. Continue to use the book and the bonus content as a reference. Organize your notes using Evernote or something else so you can easily refer back to them when you need them.

You’ll notice as you go through the list below that these aren’t “affiliate marketing” books (except one). That’s because most affiliate marketing books are outdated by the time they are published. They tend to focus on “get rich quick” schemes and not the principles that lead to affiliate marketing success.

The books I list below are online marketing books and foundational books for your business. I’ve listed them in order from what I call “foundational books” to more “tactical books.”

I’m also giving away my top five listed below, so keep reading to learn more about each book, grab a copy of each for yourself, and then enter to win the top five for a friend.

My 10 Favorite Online Marketing Books

10. Influence by Robert Cialdini

This book is by far the most foundational of them all. There are very few practical takeaways from this book, but I re-read it every few years to remind me of the principles of persuasion and influence.

The book is full of timeless psychology studies that will get your wheels turning. Every time I read this book, I have at least three new business-changing ideas of my own.

When you read Influence (or any of Cialdini’s books) and then read one of the other pure marketing books below, it will all make sense. Plus, you’ll see just how much the other authors are pulling from Cialdini’s research.


People seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.

Get Influence here.

9. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

This is not a marketing book. At all.

So why did I list it?

Because far too many people come to me seeking that one tip or strategy that will make them an overnight success. And that’s not what they actually need.

I want affiliate marketers and online business owners to think bigger. And Michael Gerber’s book will help you do just that.

This book is all about building a small business that grows and lasts. Whether affiliate sales are a small percentage of your revenue or 100%, you need to read this book to learn how to set up your business the right way.


Make a chart of all the tasks and “departments” in your business on day one. At first, you will be the only one responsible for each task. Begin to hire for the tasks and departments that you are least skilled or enjoy the least.

Get The E-Myth here.

8. YES by Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein, and Steve Martin

Yes, another Cialdini book. (In fact, I recommend all of his books)

This book took me nearly a year to read the first time. I broke my rule of reading through it because of the way it is laid out.

Each chapter focuses on a single idea to help you be more persuasive. And by a quick count of the dog-eared pages, 34 of the 50 chapters were relevant to me.

I’d plan on reading one chapter each week and spending some time thinking about how each idea can shape or reshape your business.

KEY CHAPTER: Chapter 33 which points out that People respond better when you point out a piece of supporting information that is uniquely known by you AND that you point out it is uniquely known by you. People like exclusivity and having that “edge” in terms of info.

Get YES here.

7. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath

This was the first book I ever read about virality. And it was written before the explosion of social media (2007).

The Heath brothers clearly lay out why some ideas (even those that are not true) go viral and survive for generations while others simply die.

They show you what makes ideas “sticky.” And those sticky ideas are what make your business grow.

This was the book that taught me the power of story and BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front). Those two lessons alone transformed my company’s marketing in 2009. And the lessons are still relevant today (perhaps even more so).


The most basic way to get someone’s attention is this: Break a pattern.

Get Made to Stick here.

6. The Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer

This was the first book about selling that I ever read…way back in 2004.

This is all about sales principles, not tactics, though there are a few ideas in the book that have made me hundreds of thousands of dollars. Like the idea of leaving a partial voicemail and cutting yourself off halfway through (that one was easily worth millions to my second business).

Many of the ideas in the book may seem outdated or not relevant to online marketing, but this book is foundational to everything else listed below. It’s a must-read for anyone who wants to learn the principles of selling.


People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy!

Get The Little Red Book of Selling here.

Now…for my top five books for affiliate marketers, all of which you can enter to win here.

5. DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson

I’m currently re-reading this book now to refresh myself before I read Russell’s new book (more on that below).

There is a reason why he refers to this as a “playbook” because it is exactly that. It’s a great combination of high-level strategy and nitty gritty strategy.

When you get the book, make sure to check out the bonuses as well. There are literally entire email sequences you can basically copy/paste (with some edits of course).

I personally filled more than 40 pages in Evernote that have transformed my business. It’s that good.


It is absolutely critical that you get clear on YOUR voice. If you are a leader, lead with authority. If you are a reluctant hero, don’t forget to be reluctant and don’t forget to be a hero. You need balance. Whatever your voice, get crystal clear on it.

Get DotCom Secrets here.

4. Launch by Jeff Walker

I was pleasantly surprised at this book. While I think the world of Jeff Walker, who literally invented Product Launch Formula, I was expecting the book to be mostly an upsell to the course (which I DO highly recommend you check out).

Instead, I found that Jeff gives away a LOT of his best secrets in the book. I’ve heard from numerous people who’ve run $10,000+ (even 6-figure) launches just from reading the book.

That definitely sets it apart in the online marketing books category.


Jeff Walker Quote on Memorable Marketing

Get Launch here.

3. ASK by Ryan Levesque

The traditional online marketing strategy prior to ASK seemed to rely on intuition and basic common sense. For some, those two things resulted in millions of dollars in sales. For others, it led to failure.

What I love about ASK is that it clearly shows you how to know exactly what your audience wants to buy.

When you use the ASK method along with affiliate marketing, you learn so much about your tribe. ASK shows you how to survey them and promoting affiliate offers that fit their survey results proves to you what they’ll actually purchase.


This book is still revolutionizing how my business operates, but the biggest takeaway I’ve got so far is to make sure to ask open-ended questions. Let them write responses in their own words and then use those exact words in your messaging. Very powerful!

Get ASK here.

2. Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson

This book literally just came out and I ordered two copies. One for me and one to give away.

I’m less than 50 pages in and already it is blowing my mind.

I have yet to put anything I’ve learned into practice yet, but my team and I are definitely going to be rewriting our scripts as a result of this book.


The importance of taking a stand and not being afraid to be polarizing. Russell goes in-depth about creating an “US vs. THEM” mentality. You take a stand, share how you are different, explain what you are fighting for or against, and define WHO your tribe is.

Like him or not, Donald Trump did this incredibly well in the 2016 presidential election…and well, it worked.

Get Experts Secrets here (FREE as of this posting…you only pay shipping)

1. How to Write Copy that Sells by Ray Edwards

Ray Edwards is the reason I can even type this post coherently. He has literally taught me almost everything I know about copywriting.

And copywriting is absolutely the #1 thing you have to learn if you are going to make money online.

His strategies and tips have helped me to sell my own products better and sell affiliate offers better. When I first attended one of his webinars years ago, I more than doubled my click through rate on my emails.

That was the difference between giving up on my dream and pursuing it with everything I’ve got.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Ray is a client, but that does not affect my rating of his book. It does, however, warrant that I highly recommend his launches to you (sign-up here).


Buy Ray’s book here and I email me your receipt (matt mattmcwilliams.com] and I’ll send you my free training on affiliate copywriting.

Get How to Write Copy That Sells here.

Book for affiliate marketersBONUS BOOK: My book – The Affiliate Effect

No, you can’t buy this book yet, but I figured I’d put my proverbial feet to the fire on this one.

I’m currently about halfway done with the manuscript and after a recent lunch with Kary Oberbrunner, we came up with a killer name together (and by “we” I mean “he”).

The title of the book is The Affiliate Effect: The Proven Low-Risk, High-Reward System for Explosive Business Growth.

In it, I share all of my best information on how to start and grow your own affiliate program. As the subtitle says, it’s a proven system that has virtually no risk and all the reward.

If you want to get on the Early Bird notification list for the book, just click here to sign-up.

Now that I’ve announced it, I have a lot of incentive to finish this sucker!

Win My 5 Favorite Marketing Books

As I’ve mentioned throughout, you can WIN my five favorite marketing books.

That’s right…I am literally giving away copies of Expert Secrets, Launch, Ask, DotCom Secrets, and How to Write Copy That Sells (a $71.32 value).

What is your favorite marketing book?

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0 thoughts on “Top 10 Books Every Affiliate Marketer Should Read

  1. Michael Hudson says:

    Excellent list Matt…not just valuable for affiliate marketers, but for all business builders and world changers!

  2. Lain Ehmann says:

    I read about 150 books year, so I have a long list! Right now I am loving Insanely Simple by Ken Segall.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Dang. I can’t read that fast haha.

  3. Patricia Lemieux says:

    Hi Matt! I have a pile of to-read books so big that if I couldn’t die until I read them all, I’d be immortal! I read 70 – 100 books a year. Right now I’m rereading on Jen Sincero’s “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life”. It always has the exact advice I need at the exact time when I need that extra kick in the butt! PS. Thanks for adding to my immortality pile! These look like great books.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Love it Patricia! I’ve seen that book and it seems pretty awesome 🙂

  4. Anthony Metivier says:

    Great post! I’ve read the majority of these and have the new Brunson currently on its way to me. Can’t wait for your new book too!

    In the meantime, my list of recommended reading would include:

    Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message by Michael Masterson

    The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert

    The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax

    That third suggestion might seem a bit odd, but I’m mentioning it because a certain someone sent me a profound object in the mail that proves the point of this book and the huge implications real things have in the world of digital marketing.

    (Many thanks for that object, by the way!)

    1. Matt McWilliams says:


      You are welcome.

      I first heard of the Boron Letter last Friday…and you are the 2nd person to recommend them since then. Crazy!

      1. Anthony Metivier says:

        Hope you get a chance to read The Boron Letters.

        After I read it, I modified the Roadwork concept in a huge way that helped me draft 3 books in a few months while still doing all my blogging, product creation and sales copy.

        And if you can get the Halbert All Stars audio program where star copywriters read editions of his newsletter … Crazy good stuff. 🙂

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        On it…looking forward to reading them!

  5. Suzy Taylor Oakley says:

    I’m sure I must have read at least one marketing book in my life, but I can’t think of any at the moment. I certainly am going to tackle your top 10, starting with a download of #1 tonight. They all sound awesome, so I’d better get started! (And you’d better get finished with YOUR book. Can’t wait to read it.) Thank you for taking the time to put together this list for us.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Getting there Suzy. I had no idea it’d be such a BEAST!

      1. Suzy Taylor Oakley says:

        I know, Matt. I started writing a book in August and got sidetracked after a few weeks, not because I ran out of things to write about but because life is just so busy and I haven’t making it a priority. I expected to have the thing written by now. Let’s agree to hold each other accountable, eh? I’m going to have my first draft finished by Aug. 1, or a year from the day I started it. How about you? When you gonna have yours wrapped up?

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        I just got the first draft last week (shhhhh). I recorded the rough draft while taking walks over the course of two weeks. Then it was put into writing. Now the hard part…editing 🙂

      3. Suzy Taylor Oakley says:

        Awesome! Can’t wait to read it. If you need a good editor, let me know. I have a couple of decades of experience (mostly newspaper and magazine editing, but I’ve done a few books, too). BTW, I downloaded sample chapters of “Influence” and “The E-Myth Revisited” and am working my way through them. I’m so glad you posted this list!

  6. Jeffrey Kukkola says:

    The book that changed my life is “The 10X Rule” by Grant Cardone. In it he states that if you aren’t working for your goals, you are working for someone else’s goals. That really opened my eyes and brain.

    1. Chris Naish says:

      Thumbs up for this book, it’s a hard hitting one that’s for sure!

    2. Matt McWilliams says:

      I have to check that one out. 3rd or 4th time I’ve heard about it.

  7. Chris Naish says:

    Reading Ca$hvertising at the moment Matt, good stuff in it so far.

    Definitely need to check out your book and Rays. Once I get this book launch done with Matt Stone, copywriting and your own teachings are top on my list to begin studying and putting into practice.

    Anybody reading not on Matts No Product No Problem course should definitely take a look!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      That is such a good book. Read it back in 2011-ish, re-read it in 2014, and refer to it at least quarterly now.

      And thank you for the kind words about NPNP!

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