Many of the folks who utilize BookBub are self-published, and because we hear over and over the need for self-published authors to have their work edited, It seemed to me that it could be educational to take a hard look at their first pages. If you don’t know about BookBub, it’s a pretty nifty way to try to build interest in your work. The website is here.
I’m mostly sampling books that are offered for free—BookBub says that readers are 10x more likely to click on a book that’s offered for free than a discounted book. Following is the first page and a poll. Then my comments follow, along with the book cover, the author’s name, and a link so you can take a look for yourself if you wish. At Amazon you can click on the Read More feature to get more of the chapter if you’re interested. There’s a second poll concerning the need for an editor.
The old man checked his new gold watch, given in appreciation for his fifty years of service to the City of Pittsburgh. He lifted the window screen and pressed his head against the oval window in the side of the plane. The glass was cold against his papery skin. Somewhere, out in the darkness, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia rose up from the land. He looked hard but couldn’t see them.
He pulled the screen back down, more sharply than he’d intended, and glanced over at his seatmates. They didn’t react to the noise. Next to him, sat a thin, college-aged girl who had squeezed herself into the middle seat, jammed her earbuds into her ears, and closed her eyes, lost in her music; beside her, a businessman, mid-level management, no higher, judging by the wrinkled suit and battered briefcase. Like a good business traveler, he used the flight to catch up on his sleep. His head lolled back on the headrest and his leg dangled into the aisle.
The man coughed into his fist and remembered the last time he had flown. It had been almost ten years. His youngest daughter and her husband, the struggling actor, had flown him and his wife out to Los Angeles to be there for the birth of their first child— his fourth grandchild, but the first girl. Maya had entered the world squealing, and, at least based on the weekly phone calls he had with her mother, it seemed she hadn’t ever stopped. He chuckled to himself at the thought and immediately felt his eyes well up. He blinked and twisted the thin gold (snip)
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow. You can turn the page here.
This book averaged 4.4 stars on Amazon. Full disclosure: I read this as a Bookbub book a couple of years ago and enjoyed it and the protagonist. I went on to get a second book in the series and liked it as well.
But what about this opening? Well, not much going on here, is there? A man is flying in an airplane and reminiscing. And here we see what happens if a little too much setup is on the first page. Much of this could have come later, and that would have been a good thing because, if done well, the following riveting paragraphs could have been on the first page and guaranteed a page-turn.
. . . he checked his watch again, fumbled with the smartphone on his lap, squinted at it to confirm the coordinates were correct, and hit SEND. Then Angelo Calvaruso sat back, closed his eyes, and relaxed— completely relaxed— for the first time in weeks.
Two minutes later, Hemisphere Air Flight No. 1667, a Boeing 737 en route from Washington National to Dallas-Fort Worth International, slammed into the side of a mountain at full speed and exploded in a fiery wave of metal and burning flesh.
Now that earns a page-turn from me.
What do you think?
© 2016 Ray Rhamey