15 Habits of Great Writers: Day 15 – Serve, Not the Other S Word

July 13, 2012 stephhwilliams 4 Comments

That’s right, not “selfish.” Wait, what were you thinking? 😉

On the final day of the Great Writers Series, writer Jeff Goins explains that great writers serve their readers. They find a way to use their words to help others. In other words, don’t be selfish.

And didn’t I just call myself selfish a few days ago? Dammit. Knew I should have read ahead.

Jeff goes on to discuss the difference between writing for oneself (which is what I was talking about) and writing only for oneself. Whew! I think I’m in the clear.

Great writers start out writing for themselves — not writing because they want to make a million dollars, but writing because they can’t imagine not writing. They just have to write.  I’ve said before that sometimes, when I go days without putting words on paper, my mind feels all jumbled and cluttered and chaotic (I suppose, moreso than usual). It’s like all the stuff I think about starts to get twisted into a big mess. Like the characters I play with in my mind throw a big wild party (to which I may or may not be invited) and then no one bothers to clean up the disastrous aftermath. So, you see, I have to write.

But great writers don’t stop there.  Writers write because they have to. Great writers go further and use their writing as a tool for moving others. Jeff says they serve their readers by solving problems, answering questions, or just helping people. I think it’s a little more abstract than that. I think great writers make people think – and thinking people solve problems, answer questions and help others.

How to Serve

For the final challenge of the series, Jeff encourages participants to do at least one of the following to serve their readers:

  1. Do a giveaway of a product or service. Find authors or organizations wanting to partner with people like you, and ask them for donations. Do this to build trust with readers, and make sure whatever you give away adds value.
  2. Conduct a survey. Find out what readers (or perfect strangers) want, what they struggle with, and create something just for them. This can be a blog series or an eBook or a whatever. Just make sure there’s a need for it before you make it.
  3. Write something important and give it away. Publish an eBook to Amazon and distribute it through the KDP Select Program. Or offer a free PDF in exchange for people subscribing to your blog.
  4. Answer all correspondence. Respond to every single email, phone call, tweet, etc. Do this until you can’t possibly keep up anymore. This is how tribes are formed — through accessibility.

What to do? What to do?

I’ve offered a giveaway before on this site and didn’t get a whole lot of responses. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it again, because I certainly would. I guess I just want to know what readers want first.

Same goes for offering a free eBook or PDF. I want to know what, if anything, readers would want to hear from me.

And I already do #4. As long as it’s not spam, I respond to every email or tweet I receive. Even though I’m not a fan of the phone (other then texting), I do return calls when messages are left … again, unless it’s the phone version of spam (i.e., telemarketers).

I guess that leaves #2. Maybe I should conduct a survey to see what readers would want in a giveaway or in an eBook/PDF.

My Promise to You

If you’re reading this and are interested in a certain book (any genre, fiction or nonfiction) and would be interested in participating in a giveaway for that book, let me know in the comments below or via email and I’ll see what I can do about it.

If you’re reading this and there’s something you’d be interested in reading more about, let me know in the comments below or via email and I’ll put together material in the form of a FREE eBook or PDF.

All you have to do is tell me what you want. Easy enough, right?

4 People reacted on this

  1. It’s a tricky one isn’t it? Wanting to give something, but not knowing what to give 🙂
    I’m always looking for new things to read – either fiction, maybe a short story (just because I’m interested to read what you write!), or gems of advice for other writers – we’re always keen to learn from other writers aren’t we! Put something together and I’ll review it on my blog if you like!

    1. Thanks Emily! I’d love to put something together for you to review. Hmmm. Will have to give it some thought. I’m on vacation until the end of the month – but this will be my project for August. As always, thanks for commenting! 🙂

  2. “Writers write because they have to. Great writers go further and use their writing as a tool for moving others.” –I like this a lot!
    Also, I always (selfishly) love book giveaways! 🙂 I’d be happy to re-tweet or help spread the word if you do one.
    For things to share in a blog series or even an E-Book/PDF, I always love writing tips, advice, insights…or just your personal story/process/journey of being a writer!

    1. Thanks Katy! I love book giveaways too! 🙂 Definitely going to work on something in August and would love to have your help in spreading the word. Thanks again!

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