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Writing for Social Change: Meet Your Readers Where They Are

book writing coach Lisa TenerI’m currently working with a woman who is writing for social change and who has built a strong activist community. She has a big vision–a horizon far beyond what her community can currently envision.

She wants to encourage them to the next level of activism in her book—and to expand how most of them currently view the social change issues she writes about.

How do you do that? How to get people from point A to point C, when most of them are not making the A to C connection? Can you make your reader grow beyond their current vision?

Don’t Make the Book About C

You want to have an impact. First you have to get the book into their hands. And then you need to get them to read it.

If you make the book about C and your social change community wants B, you lose the opportunity to influence the majority of your community through your book. Your potential readers probably won’t buy the book if it’s not promising what they want. They may not even realize this book is for them! The very book they’ve been aching for.

Instead, meet your readers where they are.

You meet them at point A! You promise what they are looking for when they are standing at the edge of point A and looking to reach point B. And then you walk them from point A to point B, the place where they want to go! Perhaps seeding a little bit for point C along the way. Deliver what they want.

Now Your Reader is Ready for Greater Social Change and the Bigger Picture

In the final chapters, you stand with your social change readers at point B and point a finger towards point C. “Look! Over there!”

Hold their hands and offer to take them to point C.

Some of them won’t want to go to C. They bought the book for B. That’s okay. Not everybody has to follow you to the end.

Here’s the beautiful thing. At point B, many a reader may not be quite the same person who picked up the book at point A. He or she will have changed, transformed by your book! Many of your readers will have shifted enough that now they’re ready to be led to point C. The final few chapters can take them to C.

In a nutshell, when you know your core readers are really looking for B, make the promise about B. Make the title and subtitle about B. Focus on getting from A to B, and then, from a new perspective, you can point to the new horizon and take them there, when your readers are ready.

What questions or challenges do you have when it comes to writing about social change? Or what insights can you share?

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Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

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Comments

  1. Brian Gullins says

    Thanks Lisa! This was really helpful. I’m an African American father in the manuscript process of a 21 day devotional journey between fathers & sons. As a dad I’ve struggled to have those key conversations like “the talk” with my son. This post helps me to see social change starts within and to be patient in moving from A-C. I deeply appreciate your efforts to “amplify Black Voices” Peace & Blessings.
    Brian

    • Lisa Tener says

      Thank you, Brian. That sounds like a wonderful book and I’m glad the post was helpful. It seemed like one of those conversations that needed to go beyond just the two of us! It’s so helpful to get the feedback that, yes, it is pertinent for others.

  2. David Baldwin says

    Lisa,
    This post conveyed an utterly simple concept but I found myself thinking quite a bit more deeply about what I am writing. I too am looking out beyond the next most obvious thing, and this caused me to think about where my readers might be and how they might view the path from their A to my C. Profoundly helpful and much appreciated.

    • Lisa Tener says

      David, I so appreciate that feedback. The day after I wrote it, I wondered whether it was too simplistic. So I’m glad to hear it provided valuable insight.

  3. Lorraine Segal says

    I love your way of framing this, Lisa. Quite a few of my blog posts are about social change and raising awareness. In addition to your framework, I would say humor, gentle recognition that changing our thinking and behavior takes time, persistence, and a humble willingness to make mistakes. I include some of mine!

    • Lisa Tener says

      Thank you Lorraine. I am so glad you shared these tips. Yes! Humor is a great tool to help people change/shift, and putting readers at ease by recognizing that change doesn’t happen overnight is crucial.

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