Sunday, November 20, 2005

What’s In A Name?
Posted by: Pamela Samuels-Young

I recently had a conversation with a friend, Brandi Twiggs, about the title for my second novel, In Firm Pursuit. Brandi is a bright young Generation Xer who is a business major at FAMU. She’s currently reading the manuscript for In Firm Pursuit. She told me that she’s enjoying the story, but she did not think the title would attract the younger set.

Her comment got me to thinking. How many people browse bookstores shelves and pick up a book based solely on the title? Titles often attract me, but it’s just a starting point. From there, I look at the cover. Then I flip to the back of the book or the inside jacket flap to read the synopsis. If I like what I read, I’ll flip to the first chapter and read as much as time allows. Often, it’s no more than a couple of pages. In that short amount of time, I’ll make a very important decision: Do I return the book to the shelf or head to the checkout counter?

Of all of the steps listed above, reading those first few pages is the most important for me. If the first page doesn’t pull me in, I have no faith that the rest of the book will. That’s why, as a writer, I spend a great deal of time on my first chapter. When it comes to agents, most won’t read more than a few pages before tossing the manuscript aside.

I’m curious about what motivates others to purchase a book. The synopsis? Reviews? Recommendations from friends? Bestsellers lists? Write and tell us how you select a book.


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