The #1 Reason People Aren’t Reading Your Writing (+ How to Fix it!)

So you’re having trouble getting people to read what you’ve written? Bummer.

But unless you’re writing the next Harry Potter novel, getting your book in the hands of readers is always going to be an uphill battle. Not only do you have to get people to want to read your books, though; you also have to make people be willing to pay money for them. And that’s a challenging feat.

But all bestselling authors have been able to do it—and you can too. 

Here’s how:

Bestselling authors got where they are because of one simple thing that they’re doing differently from you—and I’m about to tell you what it is, with no sugar-coating. Just business. After all, that’s what writing is—a business.

The concept is pretty simple. Bestselling authors aren’t necessarily better writers than you. They may not tell a better story than you, or have better command of grammar and mechanics. They may not have spent as much money as you did on editing or as much time as you did with their beta readers.

The content of the book is what makes people glad they bought it. But it’s not what gets people to buy—and read—your writing.

So what does get readers to read my writing?

It’s the same thing that explains why the sports stadium down the street from you is named after a company. It’s why a TV show with a 30-minute time slot is actually only 20 minutes long. It’s called marketing, and it’s time for you to get good at it.

Why is marketing important for authors?

Writing, just like everything else, is a business.

As much as we want to view literature—especially fiction—as an art that doesn’t have a price tag, the the truth is, an infinitesimal number of people actually view it that way.

For most of the world, literature is nothing more than entertainment. And that means it’s not worth spending hours upon hours looking for a “good” book.

It’s the same reason why you rarely scour the 100th+ page of Google for the answer to your questions. Consumers want the easiest way out—they want to take the path of least resistance.

That’s why you have to make your story the obvious choice for buyers if you want to sell it. And that means marketing, marketing, marketing.

But if my goal is to make money, aren’t I writing for the wrong reasons?

Writers in my writing groups ask this question all the time, and it’s a product of writing as a hobby, not for a living.

There’s no good or bad reason to write. You can write as a hobby, for yourself, which is fine. But you can also write for other people, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And you can write to make money, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

Writing is not reserved for only those who view is as a personal experience, nor is it reserved only for those who do it for profit. It is available to anyone, and there’s no good or bad reason to do it.

In fact, the most fulfilled people in the world do their jobs for all three of the reasons I just listed.

There’s nothing wrong with making writing your passion and your business. You’ll probably be pretty happy if you can do so!

So now I’ve sold you. You know marketing is the key to a successful career as an author. But how can you get better at marketing?

You have to spend a resource to make another resource. Devoting time to marketing can earn you a loyal audience. Spending money on marketing can make you money in the long run. Whatever method you choose, remember that the goal is to make the product accessible and recognizable to your target audience.

You want readers to go into a bookstore or search on Amazon and see your book, recognize it, and then want to buy it. There are tons of ways to do this, from starting an author blog to paying for ad space on Facebook. You can do it for free, or you can spend money on it. It’s all up to you and your personal marketing strategy.

One great (and free) place to start is online. Try your hand at social media marketing. If you aren’t skilled in social media promotion, take an online course or consider hiring an expert.

The same goes for search engine optimization (also known as SEO) and physical marketing, if you choose to sell a print book. This is how all businesses work, and your writing is no different. You just have to find what works, and stick with it!

The bottom line?

If you want to write for yourself, that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that, and you can (and should) keep doing what you’re doing, especially if it’s making you happy. But if you want others to read your writing, you need to treat your work as the business that it is, and devote time, money, and effort into it. You can’t just post it on Facebook for your friends (who may or may not be interested in reading at all) to see. Find groups of people who do want to read, and market to them on social media. Join book clubs. Join Facebook groups.

There are so many things you can do to put your work in the hands of readers, but it’s not just going to happen without any effort from you. After all, no one cares more about your book than you do.

If you’re new to the business world, my advice is to start by doing some market research. Who is your target audience? 40-year-old working professionals? 16-year-old girls? What connects with them? How can you get your work in their hands? Brainstorm, and then make it happen. Success in business is 99% the result of the relevant and smart effort you’ve put into the business. Only you can make it happen.

That’s the difference between a successful author and an unsuccessful one. There are hundreds of thousands of books published every year that are great quality books. But not all of them are best-sellers. Only the ones whose authors/marketers did their job will succeed in the industry.

It’s up to you. You can be a best-selling author. Make it happen.

Looking for a copyeditor to help you take your project to the next level? I’ve spent the last five years helping authors and businesses optimize their content and connect with readers. Click here to learn more about my work history and get in touch.

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5 thoughts on “The #1 Reason People Aren’t Reading Your Writing (+ How to Fix it!)

  1. Fantastic post, Michelle. Wonderful advice. In this day and age, when we all have access to so many free resources (and info on how to use them), authors and writers are empowered more than ever. Thank you for the insight!

    As a more personal question: do you use your font changes (bold, italic) as a product of personal style, or is it a choice–to make the writing look and feel more engaging?


    1. Hi, Ronin! I’m glad you appreciated the advice!

      On my blog, I use font and style changes simply for emphasis. I don’t like to do it in my other writing, but I find it works really well on my blog to break up the text and make it easier to read. I hope it was for you!

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for writing it! I’ve reblogged. The advice is absolutely necessary for those of us who have a habit of thinking more art and less business!

        I like the font choices a lot. Not only is it easier to read, and not only does the emphasis make the message stick, but it also makes the words feel genuine. Like you care about giving this advice to the people.

        Love the work, Michelle. Now followed. Look forward to more!

        Liked by 1 person

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