Literary leverage

As a writer, it’s important to remember that only a tiny percentage of people read, far fewer read full articles instead of just headlines, fewer still read books, and—even if it’s a massive hit—only a minuscule fraction of those rarified few will read your book.

Knowing that you will never reach everyone frees you to write for a particular someone. You can tell a singular story just for people like them, a story that speaks to who they are and who they are becoming, a story they won’t be able to put down or forget.

The right book at the right time can make a lasting impact on the life of the right person, and people who read books exercise outsize influence on the world. So while writing books will never earn you a mass audience, it may very well be the lever you need to make the change you seek to make.


Complement with Stories are Trojan Horses for ideas, Strange and incongruous relation, and my advice for authors.

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Eliot Peper is the author of nine novels, including Cumulus, Bandwidth, and, most recently, Veil. He sends a monthly newsletter documenting his journey as a reader and writer, tweets more than he probably should, and lives in Oakland, CA.