When you connect with your readers, your readers feel more motivated, your book has more impact and you create loyal fans.
Yet, most of us have little idiosyncracies in our writing that can push readers away. The problem is that, if we are not aware of them, we can’t even see them to fix them.
In this post, I share four common ways authors push their readers away so you can check for them in your writing, particularly when editing—and repair the error—to connect with your readers instead. I see these errors all the time in people writing books, so don’t feel embarrassed if you make these errors.
The fixes are easy and they do the opposite. They draw your readers closer to you. They inspire your readers and strengthen your relationship with them.
When you connect with your readers, you offer them an experience they want to continue and they will read your book, finish it, get the most out of it and recommend it to others.
When you push them away, you may lose them forever. So, let’s empower you and make sure that doesn’t happen.
#1 The Flub: “Most of you…” “Many of you…”
Example: Many of you have trouble saying “no.”
As you read a book, especially one that draws you in, don’t you feel as if the author is speaking directly to you?
For most readers, there’s a conversation going on. When you write “you” the reader feels connected. As soon as you write “many of you” or “most of you” your reader is taken out of this experience and you create distance between you and your reader.
#1 The Fix: Stick with “you.”
If you find yourself imagining speaking to a large group of people, you’re on the wrong track. Imagine an intimate conversation between you and each individual reader.
Example: If you’re like most people, you probably have trouble saying “no.”
#2 The Flub: “I want…” “I want you to experience…” “I want you to change…”
Example: I want you to love your hair.
It’s not about you and what you want. “I want…” feels a bit pushy.
#2 The Fix: Think like your reader.
Instead, think of what the reader wants. Offer the benefits of a particular behavior.
Example: With the right hair products, you can spend as little as ten minutes a day on your hair, receive compliments on a daily basis, and enjoy your curly tresses.
Much more inspiring and motivating, right?
#3 The Flub: “You must…” “You need to…”
Example: You need to stop thinking about him.
Ooh. This one’s even pushier than “I want…” You probably don’t like being told what you need to do. I know I don’t.
#3 The Fix: Inspire with possibilities.
Example: Once you learn to stop thinking about him, you’ll be back in the driver’s seat of your life. Rather than obsessing about him, you’ll be able to enjoy time spent with friends, alone and in nature.
I will say, in a somewhat humorous tone, it is possible that the phrase “You need to…” will work—in moderation. When in doubt, ask your beta readers.
#4 The Flub: “You [do x]” “You [think x]”
Example: You eat too much fat.
I’m guessing you don’t like when someone makes assumptions about you. Assumptions turn off most readers, especially if the assumption isn’t true.
In addition, we can’t know whether our assumptions about our readers are true.
There’s no need to make assumptions about your readers to make your point. The following phrases offer respectful and comfortable alternatives.
#4 The Fix: “You may…” “Perhaps you…” “Do you…?” “Many people…”
Example: If you are like x% of Americans, you eat way too much fat.
Another example: Perhaps you, like many Americans, eat too much fat.
One of the easiest ways to connect with your readers is to imagine one particular person you are writing to. It can be a real person or someone you imagine. Each time you sit down to write, imagine the person and write as if it is a conversation.
The result? Your readers will feel as if you are speaking directly to them—each and every one.
Here are 3 Super Tips to Rock Your Writing, two of which go beyond the discussion in today’s post. And here are some more tips from me and seven other authors for finding your voice for self-help and memoir authors.
As a reader, what phrases jolt you out of a cozy conversation with an author? What do some authors do that create distance?
How do you personally connect with your readers on the page?
Please share your comments and ideas below.