What an incredible concept! Think about it — you’ll probably never get to meet most of the people who’ll buy and read your book. Nevertheless, you can have an impact on how they look or feel or what they do as a result of your writing.
When you set out to teach, train, inspire or entertain, your writing can, and should, have an impact on someone, somewhere. The question is — how?
The Components of Influence
Basically, influence is the effective combination of three components:
- The author – that’s you
- A message — what you want your readers to understand, know or do
- Your audience — the people who you hope will read your book and be influenced somehow
As an author, your job as a communicator is to effectively convey a message to your audience.
Here are some ideas and guidelines to influence your unseen unknown audience.
- You have to know who your audience is — Whom do you want to influence? What is their background? Where are they coming from? What do they want or need? Write specifically to and for them. Keep your writing simple and clear. Avoid technical jargon or local colloquialisms (unless that works for your target audience).
- Know what your message is — What do you want to share? What outcome do you want to achieve? Be explicit. Be clear. Keep it simple — don’t lose your audience. Write your text in “digestible” chunks. Would you influence more effectively using logic or emotion or both?
- Share what you know, share your experiences — Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, tell a story that will engage your readers. Don’t write dry text. Connect with your audience. Don’t talk AT your readers; talk TO them — as if you were engaged in a conversation in your favorite coffee shop.
- Write as YOU, not as an author — Let readers know who you are.
- Let your readers know what’s in it for them — If it’s non-fiction, what benefits or value will they get from your book? If it’s fiction, will it make them smile, mystify them, make them go “ooh” or “ah”?
- Have fun writing — When writing becomes a chore or a burden, your readers will see that. When you write with feeling, humor, pathos, or whatever — even in non-fiction, you engage your readers; they want to read further.
Remember, your goal is to influence people you’ve never met. Which means that you won’t likely know every person you want to influence. And they won’t necessarily know you. What to do? The answer is to make sure that they know about you — and what they know about is positive. As an author, you need to be credible. So what does that mean?
You need to know what you’re talking about (how knowledgeable you seem), and have some standing in your personal or professional community. You need to appear trustworthy. And finally, you need to seem likable to your readers and share their values (or they yours). Many of these characteristics are intertwined, and they all affect and influence how your readers accept you as an author.
The ability to influence people you’ll never meet is one of the most challenging jobs an author faces. How effective you are will depend on how well you put yourself in your reader’s position. If you can grasp the information above, and tailor it to your personal style, you’re on your way to becoming an influential author.
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