Today’s post comes to us from Christina. As an avid reader she discusses characteristics of samples that move her from trial to purchase when reading books. If you want to read about things that Christina doesn’t like, check out this post on Four Things Characters in a Book Shouldn’t Do.
First Page Writing
Some things aren’t changing in the book world. One of them is that most readers still read the first few pages of a book before deciding to buy. Of the 96 items on my Kindle, 26 are book samples I downloaded for free that eventually convinced me to purchase the whole book. Here’s what those samples had:
1. A character by whom I’m instantly intrigued. Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit From the Goon Squad, does this beautifully for me when she introduces Sasha, the girl who can’t resist stealing a wallet from a ladies restroom. From the very first page I found myself frantically asking, “What’s she going to do with that wallet?! Who steals a wallet from the restroom? Who is this lady?” Purchase? Yes!
2. A problem I want solved or stirred up
Olive Ann Burns knows what’s up. Within the first five pages of Cold Sassy Tree she tells us that three weeks after his wife’s passing, Grandpa Blakeslee announces to his mourning daughters that he’ll be marrying Miss Love Simpson. Now that’s an interesting predicament. That, along with the other 395 pages of great writing, is why I’ve read the book over and over since high school. Granted, I started reading it before e-books came around, but had it come out just last week, the sample would’ve sold me.
3. Writing that makes me laugh from the first page
On the first page of Andy Borowitz’s An Unexpected Twist, he reviews the “pluses and minuses” of being married to a writer. Of the pluses, he notes he and his wife can do things in the middle of the day that the rest of us can’t, “like go to the DMV or have a quickie.” I laughed out loud. Sold. Read. Recommended.
Want to write a book that convinces folks to read past the sample? Sign up for Kbuuk’s free publishing and start writing this weekend.