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Friday, May 30, 2008

What Makes You Pick Up a Book?

A few things happened yesterday that got me thinking. Thing One: it was Book Sale Day at the boy's school. I gave him twenty bucks, expecting to get a few bucks back in change. Silly me. Got none. But the boy did get two new books. I'm thrilled he's suddenly so excited about reading, and it's all thanks to Rick Riordan's Greek mythology series. He not only loves reading, but he's started writing his own story! (The story, four chapters in length so far, is dedicated to his favorite authors: his mom and Mr. Riordan.) When he came home today with his purchases, I was intrigued by his choices. And I asked him why he picked those particular books. What about them caught his eye? Was it the cover, the blurb, the author? Did someone recommend these particular books? He said he picked cover first, then blurb.

Thing Two: on the RWU forum, one member mentioned how, if she read a book she particularly liked, she'd automatically go on the Internet to find her website. Another member picked up on the feminine gender, and the first member admitted most of the time she tends to reach for female authors first.

Thing Three: while the boy played lacrosse, I headed to the library, which is a short walk from the field, looking for new books on CD for the office. As I scanned the multitudes, the first thing I looked at was title. If the title intrigued, I'd check out the author. Male or female? Female, I automatically picked up for a closer look. Male...well, it depended upon if it was a name I was familiar with. At last, I'd check out the blurb. I must have looked at dozens of books in the time I was there. How many did I check out? Two.

There's a lesson in these three different incidents. A lesson about what happens when your query hits an editor or agent's desk. Maybe it's not your letter, or your synopsis, your blurb or title that didn't hook the target. Maybe, sometimes, it's something you can't help: your gender or name. So don't sweat it. Regroup from that rejection, and send that query out again. If everyone had the same taste, Baskin-Robbins would have stopped after vanilla and chocolate.

Ice cream for thought...

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