You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Anyone can self-publish a book; it’s relatively easy and there is no vetting process. Consequently, over a million books are published online each year. Many millions of books, maybe billions, are available through online distributors, in bookstores and from libraries. Why should anyone choose yours?
Well, first off, it should be well-written. The whole thing. If you really care about your craft, you’ll get training, just like any other craft or profession. You’ll do your research, compare it to other well-written books, and see if your work cuts the mustard. If you don’t know what “cuts the mustard” and other idioms mean, you’ll look them up and use them properly. If you don’t know how to spell and use proper grammar and punctuation, you’ll find out. Don’t rely on Grammarly. And, you’ll get feedback on your work from people who know something about the craft and the industry.
In order to grab a reader’s attention, you must first have an eye-catching book cover and intriguing title. From a marketing perspective, you should learn how to maximize the searchability and impact of the words in your title and subtitle. If interested, your potential buyer will “look inside” (or flip it over if it’s a real book in a store). Your very first sentence should give the reader a good idea of what they’re in for. Perhaps it will suggest a genre, set the scene and introduce the protagonist. That’s a lot to ask for. Perhaps it will simply be an interesting first line. You still have a chance: Go on to create an impressive first page. This is something you will likely work and rework and rework again … and again … you get the picture. If your first page doesn’t hook them, you’ve likely lost a sale. Or, they may read a few pages and, by then, they should be hooked. If your entire book is well-written, you’re likely to get better reviews, which will entice more readers. If you’ve only focused on those first few pages to hook the reader … they may end up putting it down partway through, unfinished.
You want to hold your reader’s interest for an entire book, but you won’t get them there if you haven’t grabbed their attention from the beginning. Rework your beginning repeatedly until it’s brilliant!
Need help? A manuscript consultation can provide you with ideas you might not have thought of and help you to improve your writing.