Thursday, January 17, 2008

Is it the cover or the words that draw you in?

We’ve all grabbed lots of books because the cover drew us in only to be disappointed with the opening paragraph. Usually I’ll give a new book one entire chapter before I decide my time is better spent reading something else. Sometimes though I only give a new book one page, especially if I’m in a buying mood.

You might ask yourself how, in one page, can you grab the reader? I will be the first to admit that’s hard, but as a reader isn’t that our goal? Recently I strolled through my local Chapters bookstore and picked up six new books. Of those six books, two were new authors for me. Candidly, I will admit that the covers of all six books drew me in but after reading the opening paragraph I only walked away with two. Now, this is also subjective. What I like to read is different from the next person. Still though, I walked away thinking…a writer really only has 30 seconds to grab a new reader.

Here’s what I read:
Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost, published by Avon. (

I stiffened at the red and blue lights flashing behind me, because there was no way I could explain what was in the back of my truck. I pulled over, holding my breath as the sheriff came to my window.

“Hi. Something wrong?” My tone was all innocence while I prayed there was nothing unusual about my eyes. Control yourself. You know what happens when you get upset.

“Yeah, you’ve got a busted taillight. License and registration, please.”

Crap. That must have happened when I was loading up the truck bed. Speed had been of the essence then, not daintiness.

These nine sentences hooked me. Last night I started to read it and today I’d like nothing more than to shut out the rest of the world, curl up with this amazing book and finish it. My gut instinct that this would be a good read so far holds true. I’m half-way through and so it keeps getting better.

The other book I walked away with is Atlantis Awakening by Alyssa Day, published by Berkley Sensation. (

Now, I will admit that I’ve read another book by Day and I think it was in this series. What annoyed me as a buyer was that she didn’t list her other books in the front of this one so I’m left wondering, did I already read this and have forgotten it? Ahh, who cares? I bought it because again, the opener grabbed me.

Here’s what I read:
Atlantis Awakening: The Warriors of Poseidon by Alyssa Day.

“These are my kind of odds,” Ven said, drawing his sword with his right hand and one of the seven daggers strapped to various parts of his body with his left. “Not even gonna brother with my Glock and its nifty new silver bullets for this mangy crew.”

The vamp leading the gang—flock? herd? What the hells did you call a group of vamps this big?—of vamps that had cornered them in the alley hissed, making sure to show a mouthful of fangs. “Prepare to die, human. You are vathhhtly outnumbered,” it threatened, with that peculiar lisp so characteristic of the recently undead. They hadn’t quite yet gotten the hang of talking with a mouthful of tooth.

Again, this worked for me. It made me smile because I sense she’s given her main character humor while making him immediately warrior ready for battle.

I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment and find the opening paragraph or first few sentences that had you hooked in your favorite book. What made you buy? Was it the cover or the words inside?