Who Gets Read

There’s nothing better than discovering a book by writer who knows how to get deep inside your head, so you can’t wait to get back to the book for another dose of the world he’s created. It’s even better if he’s been a prolific little dude, and there are more books lined up behind that one.

But I’m not holding my breath. I have been left at the altar, so to speak, far too many times by books with good cover blurbs (”The most riveting, ball-busting adventure I’ve read in decades!”) and no juice inside.

Really good writers are hard to find. Bookstores are crammed to the rafters with BAD writers (in case you hadn’t noticed).

Sometimes, for example, I get a hankering for some science fiction – a niche that sustained me during a gruesome adolescence – and I’ll cruise the SF aisles, randomly opening books and reading half a page.

Sci-fi novels are almost universally horrible these days. I long for the next Asimov or Bradbury. But I’m not holding my breath for that, either.

Wait. There’s a marketing lesson here.

Do this little experiment: Grab four books from the bookstore. (And yes, I’m asking you to drive to an actual bookstore, get out of the car, and walk around. It won’t kill you… and it will force you to recognize the vast tree-killing industry out there trying to steal eye-time away from your marketing efforts.)

Get two fiction books and two business books. Doesn’t matter what the subject matter is – just choose something that rings your chimes. Sexy murder mysteries, Idiot’s Guide to Whatever, classic literature, one of those tomes by Joe Sugarman you’ve been promising yourself you’d read some day.

Drink your cappuccino, drive home, and secure a spot where you won’t be disturbed for half an hour or so.

Now, plow into the first book. Read the cover blurbs, the forward, the table of contents, and the first chapter.

That’s it. Just the first chapter.

Toss it aside, pick up the next book, and do the same. And so on, through your little pile.

What you will have at the end of this short experiment is a very stark example of four different kinds of writing. By four different authors.

Now ask yourself: “Do I want to continue reading any of these books?”

My guess is that one of the four will not suck. That fourth book may, in fact, rock out. At least for you.

Repeat this experiment until the lesson becomes obvious. (You can use the library instead of the bookstore, if you don’t want to blow the dough… or you hate cappuccino…)

Some writers know how to grab your attention, quickly and definitively.

Sometimes, they know what they’re doing. They craft their writing to lure you in and hold you there. These are the experts. Other times, the writer is unskilled, and merely “transferring” his own passion to you through the written page. Maybe an editor was in evidence, cleaning up the tangents and B.S.

More likely… the writer got in touch with communicating what he needed to say… and did it. Just slammed it out, and hit pay dirt. He may never be able to get in that kind of lucky groove again.

Online, with most websites and all blogs relying on the written word to convey most of the message, getting read is your Number One Priority. Even if you’re swinging into using video more and more (and I love video)… you still must rely on the same writing skills to grab and hold attention with your script.

Trust me on this experiment: You need to do it yourself. No matter how little you read normally. Hell, especially if you’re not much of a reader.

It’s tough to become a top marketer if you’re languishing among the 25 percent who never read… or the 50 percent who seldom read. (Half the country reads no more than a single book in a year… and it’s usually a crappy book.)

It’s all about mind expansion. Reading will do things to your brain that TV, radio, sports, video games, and every other media can’t begin to touch. Reading is like steroids for the brain. Seriously. (Heavy readers don’t often suffer dementia later in life.) And, as a marketer trying to woo the masses…

… it really pays to be that guy who is well-read, informed, hip, and comfy in the larger culture.

You have more to say. You say it better.

And you get read.

You do not have to be a “great” writer to be a successful marketer. In fact, your grammar, like mine, can blow chunks. And you may use too much slang, and violate lots of other “rules” of formal writing.

Doesn’t matter.

It’s all about communication. About grabbing your readers and dragging them into your world, where they will become so engaged and enthralled… that they stay, and absorb, and bond, and buy.

Something to consider, as the competition heats up in every online market out there.

John Carlton

John Carlton slyly refers to himself as "the most ripped-off copywriter on the Web", and almost no one on the inside of the online entrepreneurial world disagrees. His sales copy has been stalked for decades by many of the best marketers both online and offline… and they freely admit using John's ads as templates for their own breakthrough pitches.