A WBR blog by Christopher Acheson
Prince Harry’s Spare has broken records since it was released earlier this month. Some things that have surprised me, however, are a few of the responses to it I have been seeing.
There are many loud voices expressing shock and surprise in reaction to its content and revelations – though this does not seem to have stopped anyone from buying it! I am a little curious as to why people are reacting like this though. Someone expecting a conservative account of a supportive royal family has not been paying attention to Prince Harry!
Here at WBR, we have been discussing what it is that has made Spare such a hit. After active debate, we have boiled it down to six lessons that you can take away and apply to your own content.
1 – Write authentically
I personally believe that the opportunity to get an unvarnished and sincere take on the internal workings of the royal family is the secret behind the success of Spare – that Prince Harry has a reputation for authenticity is what encourages public interest in the message he has to give.
When you are insincere, people can – and will – pick up on it. If you cannot trust people enough to be honest and genuine with them, you are offering them no reason to trust and respect you or your message when you give it to them. When they cannot trust you to be honest with them, how can they trust your message to be?
Fundamentally, people dislike unexpected surprises from the content they consume. If it is possible to predict what they are about to be told, then they are far more likely to absorb the message.
Regardless of whether they agreed with Harry or not, every person who purchased Spare knew what the tone of the book would be before they bought it – and bought it regardless. Even those who disagreed with Harry entirely would have been deliberately trying to hear (and possibly be outraged by) what he had to say.
You can take advantage of the benefits of authenticity in your content too.
Everyone has a message that they are sharing with content that offers value to the world. If the content you are sharing is sincere and honest, then this makes transmitting your message to those who will truly benefit from hearing it far easier.
If you are sharing an inauthentic and insincere message, purely because you believe that it is what people want to be told, your audience will notice.
Authenticity, on the other hand, works in your favour. It will help you build an audience around you who are interested in what you have to say, benefit from it, and trust you implicitly. Since they know that they can trust your content, they will be far more comfortable with consuming whatever message you choose to share with them and pass it on to others.
2 – Have a clear and engaging narrative voice
There is no end of content about the royal family and their lives. So often, these books are written in such a generically dry tone that each book blurs into the next.
Spare does not do that – it preserves Harry’s very distinct narrative voice, tone, and dialect. While it might be a bit odd for some to hear such stereotypically posh phrasing like “todger”, it works because it is very clearly Harry talking. Instead of diluting how he communicates to make it accessible to the masses, he has instead embraced that his message needs to be using his words.
The same is true for you – embrace your voice. The world is full of books written in dusty and formal academic tones which fail to engage their readers. Don’t let your content join their ranks.
In the same way an authentic message is important, your voice should be authentic as well. People will remember your message far better if you can present it in terms which resonate with them; do not force yourself to dilute your voice to fit some vague stereotype of how “official content” should sound. Your content should sound like you.
3 – Build and maintain your audience
Now, the average non-fiction author generally does not have the stage and publicity that Prince Harry will have – indeed, many celebrity authors don’t! There are still lessons here which you can apply to your own content.
It cannot be denied that Spare is a book that already had an audience of people curious to read it long before it was released. Putting effort into building hype and interest in your audience during the pre-launch phase of publication helps build your audience’s anticipation for your book.
4 – Provide previews and tasters before release
One way that you can help your audience build interest in your book is to provide previews and tasters before release – this is something that Harry and his publicity teams have been doing masterfully.
Since Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah in 2021, we have been getting previews, hints, and tasters of the content that will be in the book, capped with the Netflix documentary series timed precisely to coincide with the release window.
On top of this, while there is no way of proving it, the leaking of the Spanish translation has been wildly convenient for Harry. It managed to ensure that Spare was positioned front and centre just in time to dominate the news cycles on release day. All this created buzz and buyers anticipating the release.
5 – Don’t be afraid of polarising your audience
Harry’s ability to court controversy and even leverage the seemingly unfair controversy put upon him by others has played a crucial role in generating plenty of sales.
Don’t be afraid to take a leaf out of Harry’s book either. A gentle touch of a little controversy is not always a bad thing. The critics who hate Spare would likely never have agreed with Harry’s message, whatever it was. If your authentic message pushes people away, they probably were not your target audience to begin with.
This said, entrepreneurs have reputations and teams to protect so polarisation might be more apt – take a stance, preferably against a common evil, and unite your audience through using virtues.
6 – Don’t be afraid to accept expert help
Also, if you’ve got a story inside of you, you can tell it even if writing isn’t your forte. Don’t let your writing skills – or lack thereof – stop you from telling your story. After all, Harry has admittedly said that he isn’t big on books. A significant part of Spare‘s success can be tied to the good work done by his collaborator/ghostwriter, J. R. Moehringer, who happens to be one of the most sought-after ghostwriters in the business.
The value of good ghostwriters is that they are professionals who can balance drawing out the best parts of your story and structuring it into a winning, highly readable format.
The Write Business Results vision is to ensure that everybody gets a chance to share their story and message with the world – don’t let a lack of confidence hold you back.
We can help you get your message out there. Our expert copywriters and editors are masters at capturing your voice and helping you portray your message in the clearest and most authentic way possible. Our award-winning Content Creation Process™ will help you both create a winning book and successfully promote it.
Book a clarity call with us today to find out how we can help you share your message with the world!
Image of Spare book cover from princeharrymemoir.com.