Your first pages do a lot of work for your book, and this blog post was going to talk all about it. This very scientific poll I ran on Twitter was going to lead the way. But it bought up way more than just first pages, and this post turned into an overall-type thing. I’ve always enjoyed knowing how others make decisions, and here’s a small idea of what attracts readers to your book.
What I found was that some people are really brutal with a book. You get the first sentence with some, others, maybe the first paragraph. That’s it–if your potential reader even gets that far.
If you have a typo anywhere, forget it. I have little patience for typos. I’m starting to feel quite agent-y about the whole book-buying thing. All it takes is one little nope, and I’m done.
I would imagine though, that if an author knew how many readers s/he was losing due to a small error, it wouldn’t seem so cute.
The picture above was just a poll, but there were a lot of comments, too:
This is a great thing to keep in mind. Your writing style won’t hit home with everyone. I dislike first person present. There is only one author I will read who writes that way. I’ve turned down beta requests and review requests because of this. I might as well be reading something like, right?
Reviews were one aspect of the whole thing that I didn’t consider. Mainly because I don’t look at reviews unless it’s a non-fiction book. Taste is subjective, and unless the reviews say it’s poorly edited, I don’t think someone’s opinion would have much weight with me. And I would know if it’s poorly edited by reading the first couple paragraphs.
Liking the blurb makes sense–if that is poorly written, there’s a good chance the book will be too. But blur-writing is a skill in itself, and you need to either pay someone who has the skill to do it or learn it yourself.
Being swept away by a book is the best sign. If you’re reading on Amazon and you run out of the free sample and you want more . . . that’s the goal of every author right? Because it’s not such a long stretch from being sad the sample has run out to clicking the buy button.
Some people give their books way too much of a chance–and I think this happens when someone has already bought the book and doesn’t want their money to go to waste. That’s one thing you have to watch out for when buying indie books from Writer Twitter. We’re all friends, but just because that person is a friend, that doesn’t mean what they’ve written is any good. It’s an unfortunate fact that some of your friends will publish crap. Be it because they can’t afford hire an editor, or didn’t want to take the time, didn’t take the time to have beta readers weigh in on their book, or because they don’t do anything in their non-writing time to get better, (reading craft books, reading other fiction) sometimes you just can’t trust the people you know are good writers (or know how to format correctly, either).
While I was thinking of mainly indie books, Jamie brings up a good point. Trad-pubbed authors don’t control the book cover or the blurb. If you’re turned off by those two things, you won’t make it to the inside. Although, if you are trad-pubbed and have a little marketing power behind you, maybe a high number of good reviews or positive word of mouth would counteract a cover you don’t like and a blurb that sounds boring.
Leanne brings up the book’s title, something else I didn’t think of, at least for this poll. I’ve lamented in the past about my title for On the Corner of 1700 Hamilton. I loved it then, not so much now. I don’t think the title has helped sales. *Laughs* But I bought the ISBN number for it so to retitle it I would have to trash the number, and that’s a waste of money. But anyway, to get back to Leanne, she likes the title and the cover.
If you want to laugh at some, look here.
And last, but not least, Laurie likes the blurb as do most of us.
This poll surprised me, but it shouldn’t have because it’s a no-brainer to have a decent cover and a good blurb. But taste is subjective, and what you like for your own book may not be the best for your genre or your book’s content, so it’s always a good idea to research what is selling in your genre and try to fit in and stand out at the same time. Got it? Good. 😛
If you have a poor cover, some won’t bother with you at all. If you have poorly written-blurb, that’s probably a good indication the inside isn’t written well either, and potential readers will pass you by.
Publishing is a cutthroat industry; readers don’t have time for your poorly written book.
So, what makes a reader buy your book?
- A good cover. Something that fits within your genre.
- A good title.
- A good blurb. Hire someone. Learn how to do it and get honest feedback from people you trust.
- Have awesome first pages.
- Format it correctly. Your book could have won the Pulitzer, but if you leave the automatic 8 pt. space between paragraphs, I’m not reading you. Simple as that.
- Decent reviews won’t hurt. At least one five star review so when you tweet the link to your book the five stars will pop in the tweet. I’m kidding. Kind of.
I rarely tweet my own books, but this is what it looks like:
Might not help if someone found your book on Amazon, but if you tweet it now and then, it can’t hurt.
This blog post was going to be about first pages, but I wanted to feature my Twitter poll, so I’ll write about first pages another day.
Thanks for reading, and tell me what you think!