What Is Persuasion? The Persuasive Man

What is Persuasion from 2013

Since I launched my third book The Persuasive Man, I have been contemplating the reality of persuasion rather than my fictional account.  This is also prompted by my experiences so far of marketing the book. Quoted in my book are the three types of Persuasion

Ethos: The credibility of the speaker or author, their authority, reliability, integrity.  It makes the reader or listener believe what is said or written.
Logos: The logic that is used to support a claim by induction and deduction or the facts and statistics used to help support the argument.
Pathos: An emotional or motivational appeal by the use of vivid language, emotional language, and sensory details.

We all use all of these things to get our own way, whether it’s a teacher trying to persuade a class to be quiet or, in this modern age, advertisers and marketeers persuading us to buy their products or subscribe to their viewpoint.

Now as a new independent author I have to persuade as well. I want you the reader to read my book, to do that I need to get the book in front of you and preferably have you pay for the experience so that I receive a reward for my efforts.  Of course my reward can also come in the form of a nice review (or not), a following on this blog, a comment from a friend or a relative but it all starts with persuading you dear reader to pick up/download my latest missive.

So lets look at each of the three types of persuasion.


My credibility as a writer needs to be clear, this is fine when dealing with something that I have direct experience of, an auto-biography literally comes form the horses mouth, but if I write fiction it is by its very nature not true.  Of course I can ground my story in facts, places, technology, and so on.  I can use my experience of ife and perhaps direct professional experience.  An ex-policeman may have the technical background to write a police procedural, but doe an ex traffic cop know how a murder investigation operates, maybe, but would the ex-traffic cop knowledge devalue the writer’s ability to persuade you.  What if the Police Procedural is written by a former refuse collector.  Credibility down – maybe.  As a voice in the persuasion stakes I have to convince the reader that my story is worth their time.  For an example of how not to do it try any Political Party Broadcast in fact many advertisements work purely by brain washing repetition, not by convincing people of the value of the product.


Lets get to the facts, the Number One Best Seller moniker is shown on brand new, newly launched books all the time.  A best seller where?  I have the Number One Best Selling Book in the Henley household, can I legitimately claim that in my marketing and accidentally neglect to mention “in the Henley household.” I was Number One on Amazon’s list for my first book for a couple of days as I persuaded, by financial inducement, thousands to download my free book.  I could claim that my books provide unrivalled story telling but I doubt you would be convinced.  I have plenty of rivals, 9,000 new books per month apparently.  So for my first book An Agent’s Demise, I can claim that there are real facts mixed into the fictional story, although one of my reviewers thought it was far fetched.  I did say it was fiction.  My facts for my second book, To The Survivors, were in the research into viruses and several other bits that I used to make the story of surviving a catastrophe more realistic.  Judging by it’s sales I was persuasive, or I just wrote a better story.


Finally we get to the heart of the matter an emotional plea, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE buy my books.  Did that work?  If you buy my book, world peace will break out, all starving children will be fed and a cure for cancer will be discovered – working yet.  It will change your life or just like TV adverts get you that incredibly non-airbrushed attractive partner, fast car, holiday, jewellery or just a nice meal.   Of course I could quietly mention that you might just enjoy my spy thriller, dystopian catastrophe or fictional memoir, but would that persuade you because after all…

“No one can withstand the charm of such a mystery.”
Jane Austen, “Persuasion”