Thursday, July 15, 2010

First Lines and the Importance of the Final Sale!

The First Sale

An author really has three sales to make for each book. The first sale is to the editor. This may be the hardest sale of all. First sale considerations always come first. Without the first sale there is no second or third sale. It is of the greatest importance to give the editor exactly what the editor wants. At the current time, editors want great first lines that hook a reader’s interest and bring on a sale.

The Second Sale

Next comes the second sale. This involves selling the book to the reader – the end user. This may happen when the reader opens the book to the first page while in a book store and is so drawn into the story that a sale usually follows. It is not clear how many readers buy books this way. For example, almost all my books are bought online. I don’t read the first lines before buying. Yet I buy many books. That’s because there are many other ways to stimulate the second sale. Author interviews sell many books to me. Book reviews also are instrumental in my buying decisions. Then there are the authors that are on my auto-buy list. These new books are just automatic buys. I’ll also buy books at book signings.

The Third Sale

You might think that the selling process is over once the buyer buys the book. This is far from the truth! If the author is interested in building a career, there is one more sale to be made: getting the reader to actually read the book! Many romance fans have very large TBR (to be read) piles. These are books readers were sold on buying but have not yet got around to reading. The third sale is selling the reader on selecting an author's book from the TBR pile and reading it. A reader is far less likely to buy another book from an author when that reader already has one of the author’s books still unread in her TBR pile.

It’s been said that 'the first chapter sells the book' and the last chapter 'sells the next book'. For this to happen the book needs to be read. This is why it is useful for authors to do blog interviews. The author can not only stimulate sales but can also entice current owners of their current book to actually read it. I really enjoy blog sites where the theme is: "The Story Behind The Story”.I also like it when blog sites do interviews with characters from novels as if the characters were real people.

It’s OK to Preach to the Choir

Here’s an advertising fact that might surprise you. The highest readership of an advertisement for computer equipment or software comes from people who have already bought the item! An author interview is very likely to attract fans who have already bought the author’s new book.

The Importance of the First Line In Making The Third or Final Sale

I think the first line is of the greatest importance in winning the third or final sale. In my case, I have many books in my TBR pile. When it is time to start a new book I will pull several books out of the pile and read the first lines. If I’m not hooked after a paragraph or two, I just switch to the next book in the TBR pile. Sometimes I go through five books before one grabs me. What if no book grabs me? I pull more books out of the pile. After all, with all those books to choose from, why not choose the best ‘read’? If I were to run out of books before finding a 'grabber', I would go back and select the most interesting book.

Fun Test For an Author

Take your WIP and three published romances from your TBR pile and pretend you are selecting your next book to read. Read the first lines of all four works and honestly state which book you would read next. If your WIP doesn’t win, your WIP needs more work!

Career Building & the Final Sale

To build a career in writing you need readers to buy your books and then read them. Your last chapter should not just end with a HEA; it should have what James Scott Bell calls a knockout ending. That’s an ending that’s so satisfying that the reader wants to go right out and buy another one of your books.

Think of Teasers

Authors should think of teasers for their current book to use when blogging and at interviews. These are statements that intrigue a reader, who may already own the book, to actually read the book.

On a recent blog Liz Fielding let it be known that her new book, “SOS: Convenient Husband Required” had to be substantially rewritten in just two weeks because the editor wanted to change a major character’s status in the book. An ex-girlfriend with a baby was changed to the hero’s sister with a baby. I can tell you, this information moved, “SOS: Convenient Husband Required" to the top of my reading list. I just had to see how the author managed the revision. (I have to say after reading the book that I totally agree with the editor. I don't even know how the book could have been written the other way!)

Authors can also give interesting hints about locations that are revealed in the book. There might even be a recipe or solution to a puzzle. These are only ideas. The idea is to have something that you can say, “when you read the book be sure to be looking for…” thus giving the reader more reason to start reading your book now rather than later.


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