Monroe’s Motivated Sequence was established in the 1930’s by Alan H. Monroe at Purdue University. It was developed as a technique for organizing speeches that persuade people to take action. However, you can use the same sequence whether you are giving a speech, blogging or sending out a series of tweets or social networking posts. Here’s how it works:
The first step is to get the audience’s attention. Think of a scene in your book that could hold a reader’s attention, pulling them so deeply into the story that everything around them fades away, leaving only that one scene in their mind’s eye. Now find a photograph that depicts that scene (try websites like http://freeimages.com) and write a short synopsis that describes the scene in the same voice as the scene itself. Convey the emotions of the scene. Between the photograph and your expert writing, this will get the reader’s attention.
The reader has a need to fill. What is it? A person’s need leads to action. What psychological reasons could a reader have that your book fulfills? In Why People Buy—Buyer Psychology of Purchase Decisions by Gareth Goh, he describes the emotions of buyers, their need to gain something from the purchase and how buyers respond to visual elements (colors, photographs) and stories. What pictures could you find that would lead a reader to believe your book can fulfill their need? What could you say to tap into their emotions to buy?
The third step is to show how your book can satisfy their emotional needs. Consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: physiological, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualization. How can your book satisfy one or more of those categories? Return again to a scene from your book; find a photograph that depicts the emotional need and write a paragraph in the same point of view as your book that satisfies that need. For someone looking for love, for example, it might be an excerpt of a love scene (written, of course, so it is acceptable on social media). Someone looking for hope could be inspired by an optimistic passage from your book. A reader looking for travel from their armchair could feel satisfied with a scene that takes them to an exotic location.
The reader must be able to visualize themselves reading your book. If they can’t imagine where and when they will read it, chances are pretty poor that they’ll buy it. If you stop for a moment to consider anything you purchase for yourself, don’t you have a mental image of using it? It might be fleeting or it might be so ingrained that you don’t even realize you’re fantasizing about it—but we all do. Take a photograph of someone resembling your ideal reader with your book in their hands. It must be a special place to read, whether it’s on the beach, curled into a cozy chair by the fire or even sitting up in bed. The picture must be compelling, inviting and—most of all—your reader must be able to visualize themselves in that picture.
The last step in Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is action. Where do they purchase your book? If you are speaking in front of an audience, you may have books to sell an arm’s length away. If you are posting on social media or blogging, you need a link to send the reader. In either case, the sale must be easy; accept credit cards if you’re selling in person and handling the sale yourself (such as at a library) and if you’re sending them to a website, make sure any links arrive at a page in which they can easily purchase it. This might be an amazon page for your book (not the general website!) or a landing page on your website with a buy link.
p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 21 books in several genres. Her first book was published in 1984 and she became a full-time writer in 2002. She has mentored authors for more than 15 years and is the co-founder of The Book ‘Em Foundation and the founder of the Book ‘Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair. For more information, visit www.pmterrell.com.