The Ribbon Marker’s Guide to Effective Reader Entrapment
How to successfully get me, and many other readers out there, to buy your book.
Before your book is even for sale, you have to have a great story to sell.
Make sure you know your target audience, and their reasons for reading in the first place. I know that sounds silly, but sometimes writers are so focused on communicating the wonderful, fanciful world that they have created, that they completely forget that readers read for a reason. If you don’t keep in mind your reader’s motivations and interests when you’re writing, then your book followership might not turn out as expected.
I read to escape my life. Reading is a nice little holiday from all the stress I have in my life, a nice visit to a new world or with people who lead more interesting or different lives. I want to feel like I was transported to a different world where I hung out with the characters, and got to know them in a real and meaningful way.
So for me, I don’t like a book that makes me work. I don’t want to have to remember a long list of minor characters’ names because the suckers keep popping up from time to time, or be in the heads of more than three characters at a time. I don’t to have to memorize a map of the world you have created in order to keep up with what is going on in the story. Lastly, I don’t want to feel like I’ll be forced to sit a pop quiz after I’ve finished the book. I am pretty accepting of really weird facts. You tell me that we are in a world where feline creatures are sold across the galaxies in order to give the an opportunity to come across their life mate, I’ll run with it. If you say that vampires are real and have “come out of the coffin,” I’ll make sure to stock up on TrueBlood. If the story is set a small town in a fly-over state or dreary London, Bob’s your uncle.
What do I look for in a book? What I look for in a book is character development, believability, and pacing.
Character Development: I want books where I get to know the characters. I want to know what their thinking, their reasoning, their passion. I want to be able to anticipate their response to certain situations. I want to be able to tell you their favorite/least favorite fruit and why the love it or hate it. This doesn’t mean that I want pages and pages where the main character’s outfit is described in excruciating detail. I want to see the character grow, develop, and learn from their experiences.
Believability: Once you have established these great characters, keep it real. If on page 12 you said that Amanda doesn’t like any kind of melon, and then you have her eating a fruit salad made with grapes, honeydew, watermelon, pineapple, and cantaloupe on page 47, then we are going to have a problem. Believability is not just about keeping your facts straight, but the circumstances your characters find themselves in. If Amanda (in addition her dislike of melons) is a devout Catholic and an honest to God, goody two-shoes, then don’t have her giving into peer pressure, go to a rave where people are engaging in all manner of carnal acts in the middle of the dance floor, and join in (unless the rave was being hosted by incubus who takes pleasure in turning the righteous into sex addicts and watching the self-loathing fester). Keep true to the character and the events that occur in the story.
Pacing: Pacing is one of the things that, for me, makes the difference between a story I rate four stars on Goodreads (“I really liked it”) or five stars (“It was amazing”). Pacing is what allows the writer to weave character development, an interesting plotline, believability, and good dose of awesomeness into the story. If the story is paced too quickly, then you haven’t really given the reader time to connect with your characters. If the pacing is too slow, the story begins to feel repetitive/boring and the reader wants to move onto something else. There isn’t a set formula for what make a well-paced book, it depends on the plotline, the characters and their personalities, and the author’s voice.
At the end of the day, your story is what is going to make it sell. If you have a great plot that is executed will and written beautifully, then your work will stand for itself, and your readers will buy your other books. The more excited about your work, readers will want to share their good find, generating word of mouth, the topic of the next The Ribbon Marker’s Guide to Effective Reader Entrapment series.