Saturday, June 1, 2019

Well Begun

Since the advent of its Nook e-book reader, Barnes & Noble has allowed visitors to read any e-book in its inventory for an hour at no charge while they’re in the store. In fact, one can come back every day to read the book in hour-long installments.

On my most recent visits to B&N, I paid careful attention to people in the coffee shop to see how they sampled new books on their e-readers. None of them spent a whole hour that way. In fact, most came with 3 or 4 print books under arm as well as their Nooks, then sampled all of them as they sipped a cup of Starbucks and munched their Danish. Cups emptied, they bought 1 or 2 books and left the store.
First impressions are quickly made.
When I served as a book-contest judge several years ago, I promised myself to read the first 50 pages as a courtesy, no matter how I felt about an entry. Even that small amount of reading seemed burdensome with certain books. With others, the self-imposed 50-page quota flew past in no time and I was eager to read more. You can guess which books got my vote!
Typical book browsers spend little time sampling a new novel, so the opening pages are critical. If you want to invest extra time polishing a manuscript for submission, your time will be well spent at the beginning. 

Joe Allison writes both fiction and nonfiction, and has been a member of the Indiana chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers since 2010. He lives in Anderson, IN, with his wife Maribeth and daughter Heather.