Take the “I” out of your nonfiction manuscript
Avoid using I in your nonfiction manuscript.
There are several reasons why I is best shunned. First, readers probably are not as interested in your story as in your tips or message. You still can tell your story, just focus it so the reader can relate, and be quick about it – or instead tell the story of a friend or client who’s had the same experience. Further, I makes the author sound conceited, as in When I released my first five books, each of them hit No. 1 because I followed my Super Promotion Advertising Method that I devised all on my own. That’s a real turnoff to readers. Much better would be Dozens of writers’ first releases have hit No. 1 after utilizing the Super Promotion Advertising Method. In addition, I sounds like you’re selling something; the just mentioned I sentence reads like a pitch while its rewrite is more informative. Finally, use of you rather than I shows your concern for the reader. I’ve spent years topping the bestsellers list places the focus on the author’s success while You too can top the bestsellers list suggests the readers’ needs are your primary concern.
To fix I sentences, read through your manuscript and circle every appearance of I. Look at each of those sentences and replace them with you statements. For example, this I sentence…
Eventually I will experience a breakthrough. But it probably won’t happen today, and it probably won’t happen tomorrow. If I expect to have a breakthrough everyday, surely I’ll be disappointed.
…could be replaced with…
Eventually you will experience a breakthrough. But it probably won’t happen today, and it probably won’t happen tomorrow. If you expect to have a breakthrough everyday, surely you’ll be disappointed.
By the way, my is an I word, as well, though usually appearing less often in manuscripts than I.
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