Tuesday, August 17, 2010

DC4W: Talk in the Terms of the Other Person's Interest

Technique Tuesday

Continuing our on-going series on Dale Carnegie for Writers (DC4W), the fifth principle in the Six Ways to Make People Like You, the second section in How to Win Friends and Influence People, is, "Talk in the terms of the other [person's] interest."

This may seem a bit redundant in light of what we've discussed so far in this series, but it really goes to the heart of what it means to be a writer.

Agents

Telling an agent how they can help you fulfill your dreams of publication completely fails to talk in terms of their interest. What is in their interest? Placing books that will sell and earn them a nice commission. Your interests, aside from producing a book that will sell, are largely irrelevant to them. Indeed, in the early stages, all an agent really wants to know about you is that you're not crazy and won't be too painful to work with.

Editors and other Industry Professionals

Your interests and those of editors and other industry professionals has an even smaller overlap than the interests of you and your agent. Editors are interested in the particular project they've bought and care about your interests only to the degree that they help move the project through publication and out into the market.

The advice to communicate in a professional, business-like manner is another way to say that you should talk primarily in terms of the other person's interest.

Readers

To this point, the suggestions have been fairly straightforward--perhaps even standard practice for good interpersonal skills. But when we turn our attention to readers, we find something wonderful.

The key thing that distinguishes a writer from other people who put words on the page is that writers "talk in the terms of [reader's] interests.

Think about it.

The only reason anyone parts with their hard-earned cash and devotes hours to your book is because they believe it addresses their interests. From entertainment to information, readers only care about what's in it for them.


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