Over lunch, my friend related a recent experience she had with a book. This friend told me that she had taken her daughter to a local bookstore to shop for new books to read.
While browsing, she picked up a nonfiction book whose title caught her attention. She read the back cover. Then she turned to the beginning of the book and read the first few pages.
My friend shared that the story at the beginning of the book drew her in and had her intrigued. She was excited to read the rest of the book.
As her daughter continued to browse, my friend carried the book around the store with her. Just before checking out, she thought that maybe she should read something halfway through the book just to make sure she was spending her money wisely.
My friend reported that, to her horror, the rest of the book was not like the opening. The opening had been a lovely story that drew her in. She had thought that the book would contain more stories like this. Instead it turned out to be a long succession of dry writing about the historical event the book covered. Needless to say, my friend put the book back on the shelf.
My friend shared this story because she had been sorely disappointed with her experience. The opening pages of the book promised something that the rest of the book did not deliver. In essence, she experienced a bait and switch.
The first few pages of your book are extremely important. You must draw the reader in right from the start. But, be careful that you don’t create a bait and switch. In other words, your book’s opening needs to be engaging, but it also needs to reflect what can be found in the remainder of the book.
By the way, the process my friend went through in selecting the book she thought she wanted to buy is the same process most people use when looking at books. When choosing a book, studies show that readers consider in order:
- The Title
- The Cover
- The Back Cover
- The Table of Contents
- The First Few Paragraphs of a Book’s Content
- The Price
Each phase of this process either encourages the reader on to the next step and closer to a purchase, or turns them off and sends them on to the next book.
Delivering on your book’s promise is essential. Readers that don’t receive what is promised in a book will not recommend it to their family and friends. Remember, word-of-mouth recommendation is the most powerful driving force in book sales.
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