How to Win More Fans Through Storytelling

I’m excited to welcome a special guest poster today–Bryan Cohen. I originally “met” Bryan through a request to guest post on my blog a couple of years ago, and since then I’ve been privileged to take part in three March to a Bestseller events with him. Today, he’s back on my blog again to share some great insights on how we can connect with our newsletter subscribers through stories.

So take it away Bryan!

How to Win More Fans Through Storytelling

Guest Post by Bryan Cohen van den Berg van den Berg

I once competed on the show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. After the obvious question (did you win any money?), the second question people normally ask me about my appearance is, “How did you get on the show?” Each participant must take a difficult multiple choice test and score relatively high on it before moving onto the real challenge. You need to sit one-on-one with a producer from the show and make them think you’re interesting enough for TV.

Sure, they don’t come right out and say that, but when they’re asking you basic questions about you and your life, they’re not looking for one-word answers. They want to know your story, so you better have one to tell.

While connecting with new readers through your email list may not be as nerve-wracking as attempting to get on a game show, the same rules still apply. When you get a new email subscriber, it’s your job to turn that person from a casual reader into someone who wants to buy and review all your future books. To create a fan, you need to get that person excited about you. It all starts with your story.

When you share your journey, your writing process, and your personal struggles, you form a deeper connection with your readers. As you drip out bits of your story over the course of a few emails, your readers will feel like they know you. And it’s a lot easier to sell a book to a fan who wants to be your friend then it is to sell to a complete stranger.

Here are five different types of stories you can share with your readers to forge a stronger bond:

How I Did It

You may not feel like you’ve achieved much in your career, but readers are more impressed than you give them credit for. If you’ve written one or multiple books, then you’ll earn their respect and praise. By telling the story of how you got to this point of your writing journey, you’ll give readers context whenever they considering buying one of your future books.

Treat this story like your own personal Wikipedia page. Write about where you came from and how it influenced your efforts to write your awesome books.

Why I Became a Writer

In addition to sharing how you wrote your books, you can also explain why you decided to become a writer in the first place. This is an opportunity to really tap into the passion behind your writing. Explain why you had to write above all other callings (or why you write despite working a 40-hour-a-week job and taking care of your kids). These kinds of stories can really provoke emotion from your readers, and an emotional connection is one of the most important precursors to selling your books.

If you don’t have some momentous event that called you to writing, then simply share why writing has become so important to you.

My Biggest Struggle

Struggling is awesome. Not in the moment, of course, but one of the best things about a difficult challenge is getting to share your story about it later. Personally, I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of my stories about the troubles I had attempting to write my first novel. You might have had a difficult past to overcome or a trying incident that delayed you from becoming a writer. Readers love to hear this stuff because it humanizes you. You’re not some mythical author, you’re a regular person who deals with the same struggles that they do.

Make sure to share what lessons you learned from your ordeals as part of the story.

Where My Book Came From

Book origin stories are always fan favorites. Readers love to ask about what inspired you to write a certain character or tell a particular story. In many industries, it’s a harrowing experience to learn how the “sausage was made,” but fans are always interested in the building blocks of your well-crafted tales.

There are many different directions you can go with this. You can talk about the research that led to the book, the other authors who you read leading up to the idea’s germination, the people from your life who you modeled your characters after, and even the moment in the shower when your best idea came to you. Pull the curtain back with this tale to reveal the backstory to your backstory.

Fan Encounters & Appreciation

There really is nothing quite like meeting fans. It’s an incredible feeling, and your readers would love to hear how much those encounters have meant to you. You can share certain incidents or just the general sensation you get when you actually meet a person who loves reading your stuff.

If you haven’t had any in-person fan meetups, then share how you felt when you got your greatest compliment via email or through a customer review on Amazon. When you share stories about fans, don’t be surprised if you get even more praiseworthy messages from readers who want to join in the fun.

I went into my Millionaire audition with a story ready to tell. It touched on struggle and love and a happy ending with a dash of humor. I made it onto the show and earned enough money to pay off my credit card debt.

What do you think you’ll win when you tell your story?

Byran CohenBryan Cohen is an author, a podcaster, and a copywriter. If you’d like to learn more about writing better book descriptions and emails for readers, then check out his free cheat sheet and free mini course. Click the link and enter your email on the next page to get instant access:



Interested in more ways to improve your writing? Point of View in Fiction is now available! (You might also want to check out Internal Dialogue or Showing and Telling in Fiction.)

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