I can tell within the first 2-3 pages if I'm going to like the book or not

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When reading a new book, I can tell within the first 2-3 pages if I’m going to like the book or not. That’s not to say I abandon a book if I’m not hooked at once, but I rarely last beyond the first third of a book if it doesn’t hook me.

It’s that all important hook that writers need to consider and that hook occurs on multiple levels and in one case in an almost subliminal way. A lot of books these days are sold via online stores, like Amazon, so you have to consider, first and foremost, the cover of your book. That is hook number one and if your cover doesn’t stand out it will be lost in the mass of fiction trawling before your very eyes.

Your next hook is the blurb you write for your book description, which traditionally would be on the back-cover. The modern version on Amazon is right next to your book cover should anyone click on the cover to reveal more details. Here you have a golden opportunity to hook the reader and this is where most of your two minutes comes into play. If a potential buyer likes the description they can then download a sample and you are almost, but not quite, there. Here is the final opportunity to hook yourself a new reader. In the sample pages, you will need to ensure the reader is well and truly hooked on your story. Here though is where it mostly goes wrong for many because the free pages they offer and actually quite often the index, the book description the reader has already seen and even page after page of acknowledgements. That is going to cut no ice with anyone.

Look at it this way. Pretend the two minutes I mentioned in the title is the beginning of a 30 minute drama on TV or radio. Consider what you are writing and pretend it’s going to be a 30 minute drama, so you only have 30 minutes to tell a complete story. Now, make the first two minutes of your story so compelling, everyone will want to carry on reading.

You have two minutes to hook yourself a reader, so choose your words well.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2020

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