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.
Should this author have hired an editor? Here are the first 17 manuscript lines from the prologue of Atlantis Stolen (Sam Reilly Book 2).
The barren winter landscape was desolate in its beauty. While the sun approached its zenith, it did little to stop the cold stinging his weather-worn face while he worked. Albert Olsen filled his bucket with another shovel of sludge and then turned to climb the slippery crest of the muddy bank. Once on the ridge, he didn’t have far to walk before he could dump its contents down the other side.
From there, Olsen saw the other islands.
A strange mixture of mud and ice stood surrounded by a river whose partially frozen mouth looked as wide as an ocean when it thawed. Not that he paid much attention to any of it as he returned to fill yet another bucket.
It was strenuous and tediously boring work, but it needed to be done so the boats could survive. And if they didn’t, the little outcrop certainly wouldn’t.
So the sea canals needed to be built. They had begun as small ditches used to drain the marshland so basic farming could meet the needs of the settlement. But protecting the ships had warranted the effort to widen and deepen them to accommodate small boats, or ships at high tide.
Wrapped in a pair of thick animal hides, fur hat, and boots, even a day’s shoveling did little to allay his cold. The sort of cold that sunk into your bones and didn’t come out again long (snip)
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
This book received 4.4 stars on Amazon. The writing is clean and the voice sounds good. We’re in a different sort of past, and that’s interesting. Other than that, though, what does this opening have to offer? Tension in either me, the reader (caused by what’s happening in the story) or scene tension (also caused by what’s happening in the story)? Nope. A man is cold and doing messy, boring work. I had no desire to see what happened next.
The title and the promise of a tale of fabled Atlantis are good, but none of that is on this page. More than that, this character dies at the end of the prologue and has no influence on the rest of the story. He is here simply to find a mysterious object and to show the dastardly deed of another character (who is also long dead when the first chapter opens). I plan to read deeper in this book, but it had better deliver pretty soon to keep me involved. This is the problem with starting with exposition rather than action in a scene.
You can turn the page here.
© 2016 Ray Rhamey