Insidious writing pitfalls that turn off your readers.

Insidious Writing Pitfalls that TURN OFF Your Readers

Let me ask you a question.   Why did you want to write your book?  Yes, there are many valuable answers that you can give, such as you have a story to tell.  You have invaluable expertise to share.  You can motivate and inspire others.  You can create a powerful sales tool for your business.  And the perennial favourite you want to leave a lasting legacy.   But at the end of the day, essentially, it all boils down to you wanting someone to read your book.  You want your readers to be captivated by your story and characters or become informed and inspired to take action.  But ultimately, you want your readers to recommend it to their friends and family. Isn’t that why you physically put your precious message down in words?  All authors know that satisfied readers are the lifeblood of their books.       

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.”

Meg Rosoff

But what you might not be aware of is that there are ways to turn your reader off your book after a few pages, sometimes never to pick it up again.  There are insidious pitfalls, seemingly harmless, but they stand in the way of your book becoming a best seller. 

“You can do the best research and be making the strongest intellectual argument, but if readers don’t get past the third paragraph, you’ve wasted your energy and valuable ink.”

Carl Hiaasen

So, let’s name the top four insidious writing pitfalls towards your readers that you need to be aware of: 

1. Not knowing who your readers are

Not knowing who your readers are is a pitfall.

The problem with not knowing your readers is that it will not allow you to figure out what to share with them. You cannot write a book that will attract your target readers if you don’t know them in the first place. If you write before knowing who your readers are, you are clearly writing for yourself, not your readers. The end result is, you get no sale because you get no reader.

By knowing your reader, you know your purpose for writing. You cannot write for an audience that you do not know exists. By knowing your audience, you also create your purpose. Knowing your purpose will focus your message, making it clear to readers what it is and why it is important to them.

So, get to know your readers’ demographics. Find out who they are, what motivates them and why they like the books they read.  

2. Aiming to reach too many people

When you try to reach as many people as you want, you're aiming for destruction.

When you try to reach as many people as you want, you’re aiming for destruction. The larger the market, the more competition you will face and the bigger the drain on your already limited resources. Although promising, a broader market requires a lot of work. If you can’t put in the work, you won’t win the competition. And, even if you are willing to put in the work, you cannot expect to be the only person who will win the market.

Identify and research what your authentic target audiences crave and find a way to satisfy that craving. Recognize the unique and meaningful aspects of what you have to offer and align the two to benefit your ideal reader in an exceptional way. Aim for a smaller audience until they become loyal readers. Then leverage them to expand your market and repeat the cycle until you reach the biggest market for your genre.

This can be exciting to drill down into your genre, looking for smaller niche genres to create a big fish in a small pond scenario for your book.

3. Spoon-feeding your readers

The problem with spoon-feeding your readers all the time is that they will expect you to always do that.

The problem with spoon-feeding your readers all the time is that they will expect you to always do that. They will end up not knowing how to accept responsibility for their own. If you spoil them, you know they’ll become brats who won’t listen to you.

To ensure you are not spoon-feeding your readers all the time, share an understanding of the instructional practices that illustrate learning. Once they understand and once you stop spoon-feeding them, they will see that it is more exciting to have a part, a responsibility, in understanding your work. They will appreciate you, and they will appreciate themselves for their accomplishment.

“We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.”

Lloyd Alexander

Try to think of your writing as leaving a trail of breadcrumbs.   Your reader is excited to be embarking on a wonderful journey through the pages of your book. That is because your readers signed on to go on an unknown adventure, going into unexplored territories.  Your readers will revel in the sense of achievement they’ll gain when discovering your breadcrumbs by themselves.

4. Assuming your reader’s knowledge

Assuming your reader's knowledge is a pitfall.

No one in your audience knows as much about the topic as you do, so do not expect them to know all that you want to share. There would be no point in writing about it if your readers already know. Although your readers are intelligent beings, it doesn’t mean they can read your mind.

By avoiding or eliminating assumptions in your writing, you produce better outputs. As the author, you must not assume that your audience knows what is happening without giving your story a background or explaining technical terms or jargon that only you know.

“Making assumptions simply means believing things are a certain way with little or no evidence that shows you correct, and you can see at once how this can lead to terrible trouble.”

Lemony Snickett

Nothing frustrates a person more when given a map with scribbled marks all over it, making it almost impossible to understand what direction they should be going in.  Knowing how to outline your book really makes the difference to writing because you can structure your arguments and set the tone for your book.  Outlining will remove clutter, repetition and will keep your writing heading in the right direction. 

Parting Advice

You now have had a chance to get to know four different ways a writer can unknowingly turn off their readers.  Think about your writing. Are you falling into any of those insidious traps?  If so, then you need to start addressing these issues in your manuscript.

“Awareness without action is worthless.”

Phil McGraw

However, if you would like to learn more about the kinds of pitfalls even successful writers fall into, plus get expert insights, practical tips, and tried-and-true techniques to write better, finish faster and captivate your readers while adhering to publishing industry standards.

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