Why You’re a Better Writer Than Stephen King
Stephen King, master of horror, suspense, science-fiction, fantasy and supernatural fiction, has published 61 novels that have sold more than 350 million copies. He’s received dozens of awards, including the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and has been one of the world’s top selling authors for the past 47 years.
But that’s nothing compared to you.
Here’s why: Stephen King’s readers buy his novels with the expectation that, in return for their investment, they’ll spend several happy hours reading and come away flushed with pleasure and titillation.
The people who read your finely crafted fundraising copy, on the other hand, don’t pay you a fixed price like a book buyer does. Instead they give whatever amount they choose because they are giving from the heart, not just buying a ticket to an entertaining event.
Everyone loves to be entertained. The best entertainers, like Stephen King, can make their audiences laugh, cry, bite their nails, tremble with suspense and jump out of their skins with fright. All in good fun, of course, which is what keeps them coming back for more.
As a skilled copywriter, you do many of the same things. Your carefully chosen words move people to tears, warm their hearts in appreciation of a good deed well done, force them to recoil in horror at the evil in the world and seethe with outrage at injustice.
But you don’t’ stop there. You don’t just move your readers; you inspire them to take action.
They get so involved in the stories you tell that, through their donations, they want to help write the endings. And when they’re done, they don’t simply feel titillated, they feel great about themselves and about your (or your client’s) organization.
I mention all this because there’s a perception out there — one shared by too many copywriters themselves — that copywriters are somehow not seen as “real” writers. True, you may not be worth $500 million, like Stephen King, but the charitable organizations you raise funds for often make a difference in the world far greater than anything that can be measured in money.
That’s why it’s worth your while to constantly hone your skills and improve your craftsmanship.
Stephen King’s work may not do as much as yours to change the world, but he is a master craftsman, and you can learn a lot from him. If someone hasn’t already recommended his book, “On Writing” to you, now’s the time to go get it. There are plenty of great books specifically on copywriting as well, and I’ll create a list of the best of the best for you soon.
But for now, here are two pieces of advice: First, feel really good about yourself. You’re a fundraising copywriter, and you make a positive difference in the world.
Second, remember that no matter how powerful your writing is, it can always get better. So read more, and write more. Never tell yourself you’re at the top of your game. A lot of people depend on your words to improve — or even save — their lives. You owe it to them, and to yourself, to continually strive to be the best writer you can be.
Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.
Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.