Skip to main content

How To Be a Good Writer According to Joe Sugarman

Ravi Rajan is a software program director who writes on varied subjects from history, archaeology to leadership and writing techniques

Joe Sugarman was a master in harnessing the power of curiosity by creating engaging content that the readers would want to read repeatedly.

Joe Sugarman was a master in harnessing the power of curiosity by creating engaging content that the readers would want to read repeatedly.

Joseph Sugarman Was a Legendary Copywriter

An American electrical engineer, marketing genius, and CEO of JS&A Group, Sugarman’s success stories run like a high-octane page-turner.

  • He was the first to introduce the concept of toll-free numbers to accept credit card orders by phone long before anybody thought about it.
  • He sold a computer game called Hungarian Conspiracy by writing a fascinating sales pitch connecting the harmless game with the cold war between US and Russia. People were so addicted to the game that they bought it by truckloads.
  • He offered 10$ for every spelling mistake found in an advertisement brochure that he had written for a product. The product became a runaway hit as the public spent hours searching its brochure to find mistakes.
  • In 1986, Sugarman wrote a print ad for BluBlocker Sunglasses. The ad helped an iconic brand take root. It also made him rich. He distributed his ad the old-fashioned way, in the mail, asking readers to call in with their credit cards. The response was enormous. The glasses sold out in a day.

And the secret to his stupendous successes was his ability to keep people reading. Sugarman knew that prospects who finished an ad were far more likely to buy the product than those who only read the beginning. So, he used every engagement tactic he knew to keep people glued to the page addicted.

Here are some of the key elements used by Sugarman to keep his readers captivated.

  • Open with a Bang
  • Address Your Audience’s Needs
  • Research
  • Make it Specific
  • End with a Bang

Open With a Bang

According to Sugarman, the sole purpose of the first sentence is to get the reader to read the second sentence. If your first sentence asks a question, incites curiosity, or even disgusts the reader, there’s a good chance they will move on to the following line. An engaged reader should be like a train, hard to stop till the very end of the destination.

As He writes,

“If you look at many of my ads, you’ll notice that all of my first sentences are so short they almost aren’t sentences. No long multisyllabic words, either. Keep it short, sweet and almost incomplete so that the reader has to read the next sentence.”

Address Your Audience’s Needs

Address Your Audience’s Needs

Address Your Audience’s Needs

Let us take Sugarman’s article for BluBlocker glasses, for example.

The intended audience wanted glasses that give sharper and clearer vision and are friendly to the eyes. Sugarman addresses the audience's needs by explaining how the glasses filter out harmful ultraviolet radiation and are comfortable to wear.

The idea is to put yourself in the reader's shoes and ask what questions you would like to get answered. Once the readers get the answers from your article, they are bound to agree with you and continue reading till the very end.

As Sugarman says,

“Get the reader to say yes and harmonize with your accurate and truthful statements while reading your copy. As a teenager, I sold magazine subscriptions door-to-door. At first, it was hard and I was unsuccessful. Then I picked up a trick. I started getting the prospect to agree with me”


Every article of Sugarman contains fact-based data backed by scientific evidence to prove his point. For example, in the advertisement for Blublocker sunglasses, he describes the limitations of conventional glasses in filtering out harmful ultraviolet rays. He finally describes the Malenium-99 lenses in Blublocker glasses that are scratch-resistant and effectively block harmful ultraviolet rays.

Research is the secret behind all good writing. The very act of writing might only take an hour or so. Still, the data collection, the inferences drawn from the collected data, and finally, the inferences' advantages can eventually prove the difference between speculative writing and authoritative writing.

Scroll to Continue

Mishandling or underestimating research is the beginning of the end of a writer.

Make It Specific

Sugarman uses an interesting term here, which he calls ‘seeds of curiosity. ‘As he says,

“One way to increase readership is by applying a theory I call ‘seeds of curiosity'. It goes like this, at the end of a paragraph, I will often put a very short sentence that offers some reason for the reader to read the next paragraph.”

Some examples can be.

“So read on and find out …."

“Let me explain a bit …."

“But there’s more to it …."

Sugarman, however, cautions here that one can only plant these seeds effectively only when the article is specific to the subject and does not meander aimlessly. Nothing irritates a reader more than being tricked into reading something they cannot understand or, worse still, does not meet the expectations.

The bare truth is that any writing of any type can be written such that readers can understand. If that is not happening, it is not the reader who is at fault. Instead, the blame should fall squarely on the writer who cannot succinctly explain his/her thoughts to the reader.

End With a Bang

Sugarman calls this last time as “dramatic difference." This line should stay within the reader’s mind long after the article has been read. For example, coming to Sugarman’s content on Blublocker glasses, he ends the narrative by challenging his audience,

“Once you wear a pair, you will be no way, you will want to return it.”

As Sugarman explains the importance of the last line,

“Your reader should be so compelled to read your copy that they cannot stop reading until they read all of it as if sliding down a slippery slide.”

The last line is the final icing on the cake. It is also the end of a long journey for the reader who has invested time and effort to learn something new from you. It is also the line that ultimately reinforces the reader's belief in your words, actions, and thoughts.

Make it special. Make it a lifelong event to be cherished and remembered by the reader.

As Ben Franklin has rightly said.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Ravi Rajan

Related Articles