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How do I get people to read my book?

I think the most important element you can include in your writing that will capture the reader’s attention is to be self-reflective. Especially in non-fiction writing when writing about your life experiences, being critical of your actions when you were young and taking responsibility is important. For your reader to stay on board for your book's key messages, you need to be able to say that you realize that some of the things you did, maybe under the guise of going with the flow and being young, were nuts! Everybody makes mistakes, but forgiveness comes easier if you own up.

I could write what is missing for you, but I think you are better served if you write it yourself. For your book to be taken seriously and for your key messages to be heard, when telling the story of your early life you must admit that you did some pretty bonehead things!! In fact, people like to read about some of the crazy things an author did in their youth - and survived - but only if they also acknowledge that in hindsight, they may have been wrong. I think your reader feels more connected to you if you admit, for example, that because of your early childhood experiences where your trust was betrayed, you trusted too easily, got taken advantage of and let people take advantage of you. Maybe you are lucky to be alive. In admitting this, you cease to be a victim blaming the world for not being evolved enough to handle you and you become self-reflective, self-aware, self-critical, demonstrating to your reader that you have earned the right to be a teacher, someone who is respected, and whose wisdom is of value. Then, and only then, will your reader respect you enough to take you seriously, to hear your deep, excellent thoughts, and to long for the wisdom you have gathered and take your teachings into their life. You have to earn people's trust in order to become their teacher. A true teacher is someone who knows when they were right and when they were wrong, who can take that awareness and transform it into a life lesson that can be shared for others to benefit. Your reader must envy you for your self-reflective ability. They want to hear how messed-up you (and all the rest of us) are, but the difference between them and you is that you know it and that you have learned from it. Otherwise, you become just another writer who thinks everything they have done in their life was justified and everyone else was wrong in judging you. Nobody with that attitude ever became a philosopher, a prophet, or a teacher. The teachers we respect ALL had messed up pasts, but the difference is, they realized it, learned from it, and transformed the experiences into themes, messages, parables, and teachings. I want you to become one of those folks. You know why the late Wayne Dyer, master book writer and new age philosopher, was so respected? I think it is largely because he admitted from the beginning that he was monstrously messed up and that he was ruled by anger and rage at his dad and drank to numb the pain. When he finally found out that his dad had died, he drove hours with the intention of dancing (and other things) on his grave. When he got there, he yelled and screamed for hours, but then he had a deep epiphany and the rage turned to tears. He cried for days, eventually forgiving his father. I look at that story and say to myself, "wow, I get that, but I don't think I could have forgiven." Boom! Wayne becomes my self-reflective icon and I respect everything he has to say because I know his thoughts come from a place of deep self-awareness. You need to demonstrate your self-reflective abilities to your reader if you want them to adopt - or even just hear - your philosophies. You want your reader to realize that you have figured out that past decisions don't rule you, but awareness of your true role in them informs your actions and intentions in the present. This makes you someone to listen to.

Not very experienced at self-reflection? Write down some of the more challenging times in your life on a pad or in a computer file. Think about how you might behave in similar situations if they happened today. Write down how you might have handled it differently back then. How would the outcomes have been different? Would different actions and behaviors have achieved your objectives better than the way you handled it? THAT is how you become self-reflective.

Part of being self-reflective means, I think, reevaluating past actions with current day wisdom and thinking about how the outcome would have been different.

Happy writing!


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