How influential writers engage their audiences

You have to make what you say impossible to ignore, and that takes a deep connection with an audience to pull off.

Writing a book is not for the faint of heart.

It can be hard. It takes time. And for what? So that it can sit on someone’s shelf for years? No!

I spent a full year researching how to create powerful, long-lasting influence as a nonfiction author in order to earn my master’s degree, during which I discovered five fundamental principles that make a powerful difference:

1. Say something no one wants to hear in a way that they can’t not listen.

2. Bring to light the hidden, unspoken side of a story so that they can’t not see.

3. Write with heart, soul, and authenticity so that they can’t not hear.

4. Work with the media in all its various forms to reach the right people, at the right time, in the right way, and in their own worlds.

5. Be willing to compromise on how you say it but not on what you say. Deliver essentially the same message again and again—and don’t back down.

The crux of a writer’s ability to do these five things effectively—whether in a novel or for a corporate blog—is how well he or she knows his or her audience combined with how passionate he or she is about his or her subject. It is our job as authors to know and understand our audience, not the audience’s job to know and understand us.

That does not simply mean knowing where people in your audience hang out, or what they might like to learn in order to improve their lives. As authors, we must understand our readers’ values and motivations and tap into those to create an appropriately strong emotional response that spurs those readers into conversation and action.

Learn what makes your audience respond. Sometimes this will look like support from them, but often it will look like dissent. Think about the last time you responded strongly to someone or something. Why? What created that response for you? Most likely, it’s because it hit a nerve in you; a fundamental part of your belief system was challenged.

Do that for and with your readers in a way that causes them to think about their choices, re-evaluate their decisions, and head toward a better future, and you’ll have them singing your praises, sharing your writing, and following your work.

Most important, remember that it is not your writing skill that creates passionate followers and fans, it’s how much of your own passion you allow to shine through. Follow your heart. It is the easiest and simplest way to stir the passion in someone else.

Founder of Authorship for Experts, Lori Anne Rising is an author’s coach and editor who invites experts and thought leaders into influential authorship through inspiration, collaboration and strategic planning.

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