Nobody wants to read your nonprofit’s content [book review]

Nobody wants to read your nonprofit's content [book review]

Despite every social media post you’ve seen in the last few days, summer is not yet officially over. However, the “summer reading” part of it is for me. The good news: my summer reading left me with a book that I think might help nonprofit communicators!

I’ve heard from many nonprofit content writers who need help with getting inspired, creative and motivated. Does that sound like you? Then you might like Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t by Steven Pressfield as much as I did.

Steven-Pressfield_Nobody-Wants-To-Read-Your-Shit_1024x1024Having previously read and enjoyed Pressfield’s books Turning Pro and The War of Art, I was quick to pick up Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t when it came out.

Over the summer, while I was reading the book, notes from email subscribers kept coming in such as:

“I think we are mostly struggling with developing new ideas for content.”

“I am struggling with just starting the writing process and then writing engaging content.”


“It’s much easier to procrastinate and fill in with other ‘important’ stuff!”

These notes inspired me to share this book – along with the reasons why I think you might like it.

Reality check: your important cause is not enough to get people to read your content

Working as nonprofit communicators, it’s so easy to get lazy and feel that our content has merit because our causes do. This book offers us a very important reminder that we can’t assume people want to read our content: it’s up to us to get them to.

Your worthy cause isn't enough to get people to read your #nonprofit's content. Read this book by @SPressfield #NPMC Click To Tweet

What to expect from this book

Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t follows Pressfield’s career as a writer, the lessons he learned along the way, and how those lessons applied in the next phase (and the next, and the next) of his professional path, writing in the fields of advertising, screenwriting, fiction and nonfiction. It is divided into eight “books” (further broken down into very short chapters):

  • One: Advertising
  • Two: Fiction, Part One
  • Three: Hollywood
  • Four: Fiction, The Second Time
  • Five: Nonfiction
  • Six: Self-Help
  • Seven: The Artist’s Calling
  • Eight: Porn

Pressfield shows that although every field has its challenges, good writing – across all fields – has several key considerations in common.

Here are a few of the reminders, tips and lessons you’ll find inside Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t.

Put your readers first

It’s up to us to make our content interesting for our readers (don’t forget your marketing personas). To give them something they want and need.

Come up with a concept

Pressfield shares the idea of all writing having a “concept” and explains how it can help you to frame your ad copy – and your nonprofit’s offerings, “…in a context that makes the viewer behold the product with fresh eyes – and perceive it in a positive, compelling light.”

Rules of storytelling

Everyone is telling you to incorporate storytelling in your nonprofit’s written content, videos, in your email appeals, etc. Check out Pressfield’s explanations of the three-act structure and narrative device: what they mean, how to use them and examples.

Always include a call to action

Pressfield reminds us that every ad or commercial (and poster, flyer and brochure) should end with a call to action (I’ll add a specific and targetted call to action). He questions, “If you don’t ask for the sale, how are you gonna get it?”


As I read Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t, I could immediately see the applications to the types of projects I work on like annual report writing and website content strategy.

Would I recommend this book? Yes! It’s useful, informative, fun to read and it’s delivered in a personal, genuine and distinctive voice from which we can all take a cue.

And there’s another benefit to reading this book. If, like many nonprofit communicators I know, you have other creative writing aspirations (dreams of writing a novel, a screenplay, poetry), you’ll be amazed by the insights, help and even trade secrets found in this easy read.

I suspect that Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t will become a go-to reference on the shelves of copywriters, creative writers, aspiring writers…all kinds of writers.

Posted September 5, 2016 / Filed under Creativity and finding inspiration / Leave a comment