Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How Much Consideration Do You Give a Book?

The first chapter? The first sentence? The cover?

Personally, it depends. I read almost everything I pick-up because time is limited at the library or book store. I can't spend fifteen minutes searching for a book usually. Instead, I tend to rely on referrals or authors I've already read. It has to be pretty bad for me to put it down. I'll finish it, but I won't devour it.

Kristin Nelson recently posted about her limit for manuscript pages -- two pages. She states:

When reading sample pages, I have literally stopped reading after the first opening paragraph. (Sometimes the writing is just that bad.)

That’s pretty rare. However, I’d say, on average, that I can tell a NO within the first two to five pages of a submission.

I know this is probably appalling for writers. How can ANYONE make a determination in such a short span of pages?

Trust me. Spend one week at an agency reading the submissions and after you’ve read thousands and thousands of partials, you know.

And while I do trust her, I wouldn't need the explanation of experience. The last time I did have the luxury of alone time at a bookstore, I walked past hundreds of titles without pulling a one off the shelf to read the back cover, the first paragraph or the first chapter. Why do authors assume that their query or requested pages will be any different? Simply because it is her job?

The comments get pretty hot and heated when Kirstin has a post like this. I applaud her strength to continue sharing such thoughts, even when she anticipates the reaction she will receive.


lawmummy said...

I am so in the "it depends" camp, too.

Perfect example: I hated, hated, hated the beginning of Devil Wears Prada. It took me a bit to get into. Sometimes, compelling or entertaining stories need some time to develop. Not every book is stellar out of the box.

So, it depends.

Edie said...

Because I have stacks of TBR books, I normally don't get beyond the first few pages. And these are library books. At the bookstore, unless it's a writer I really like, I'm the same way as Kristin Nelson. All the other books are calling "Read me! Read me!" After a so-so paragraph, I'm moving on to the next one.