Readers don’t pay attention because of what you say. They pay attention because of what you do for them.

Why your audience shows up

They don’t read your book (or listen to your speech or sign your petition or vote for you) because of what you can do.

They do it because of who they might become.

Blind to aspirations

And yet we remain distinctly blind about what matters to them.

Consider our own search engine use, for example. In swift keystrokes we’ll search for answers to where our favorite bird builds its nests (so we can be someone who is closer to nature) or how much Vitamin D we need (so we can be the healthy person we imagine) or how the Broncos fared (so we can be the loyal team player, despite adversity). Dozens of questions every day, usually aimed straight at our future, by way of Google.

And then, moments later, as authors and content creators and advocates, we’ll describe our offerings and deepest thoughts to the world, writing only the thing we want to write. Even (* shudder *) musing on existence, our industry, or our wry observations at life’s quirky happenstance, thinking not for a heartbeat about the search we just did moments before.

Just prior to that, as citizens on the interwebs, we sought answers, hoping they would inch us toward our best selves. Then, while writing, we spilled forth endless sentences about how we see the world.

  • Nobody cares about that.
  • Nobody cares what your new book is about. They care how it will make them feel.
  • Nobody cares what you think of the world. They care about who they might become in that world.

Better through you

Readers care who they are when reflected through your ideas. They care who they become if they should be the person you see them as. They might accept enlightenment from you in small ways, but only to gain self-acceptance in large ones.

Readers want to imagine themselves better, and they’ll give your ideas attention only when your ideas help that happen. Give your readers experiences that make feel: that they are the brilliant detective, one step ahead of the killer; or the feisty hero who won’t back down; or the bootstrapped inventor against all odds; or whatever aspirational vision your story conjures when it’s out of your hand and in your readers’ minds.

So: Teach. Inspire. Give.

Put your most authentic self forth with empathy, all for love of how much you can help people be the better persons their ideal selves imagine.

Good art does this.

Be good art. Anything else is just musing.