People love to read about themselves

My time as a sports journalist taught me one thing: The only people really reading the entire article are the people in the article, and they will always love the article; doesn’t matter how poorly it is written.

There may have been lots of people curious about who won, but once those readers get that answer in the first paragraph or two they usually quit reading; doesn’t matter how well the article is written.

Even Nicholas Sparks wrote on his website that selling books has nothing to do with writing well. He claims to have many friends who are better writers than he is, but they can’t sell any books.

So, why are we all spending our time trying to be what others consider good writers? Perhaps we should do what Sparks claims to have done and study what kind of writing sells.

When I left the newspaper a few years back, I decided to put my theory to the test within a blog. I started blogging about my local golf community, a group of  more than 100 people I knew extremely well and could track with ease online. Sure enough, there were plenty of golfers who knew about the blog, but would never read it, until they were in it.

Everyone who was in the blog would rave about the awesomeness of the article and they would sometimes (rarely) share the article on their Facebook page. No one ever shared an article on their Facebook page if they weren’t in the article.

One share, by the way, generated at least 10 times as many readers as any promotion I did for the blog, which coincidentally kind of proves Sparks’ point about the power of word of mouth.

There are three possible reasons for any reader to read. They are either seeking specific knowledge, indulging their own ego or enjoying the poetry of the language. Which one do you think happens most often?

Why do certain types of novel readers like certain kinds of novels? Because they identify with the protagonist in some way.

Men generally don’t like romance novels about a woman snaring the bad-boy love of her life and women don’t usually like westerns about cowboys getting scalped in the middle of the desert.

There are always exceptions to every rule, but in general, my findings are fact. I could go on and on, but I won’t. In the end, if you want to write something that people really want to read, it has to be about the reader in some way.

In my next post I’ll discuss my testing of social media and why I found it doesn’t work at all, if you are trying to make money as a writer. If I have room, I’ll include some of my economic theories about writing.

 

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