It would be so nice if all a writer needed to do was write. But, of course, life isn’t that easy. On September 20th I had surgery on the middle finger of my right hand (and yes, I’m right handed), which resulted in a week of one-finger typing and some pain pills that wiped out all desire to do anything but sleep for a couple days.
Thank goodness I’m now down to a simple wrap,
but I’m quickly learning that the finger dictates how much typing I can do before it lets me know enough is enough. So today’s blog will be brief.
I had a great time at the Tamarack Library in Lakeview, Michigan. The librarians were wonderful, and there were several local authors situated around the library with everything from children’s books to memoirs and how-to books. (Had a chance to visit with my good friends Pat Klein and Sally van Kuik.) My table-mate, Mardi J. Link, is a fascinating person as well as a very good writer, and I highly recommend her books.
My talk on “Character Development” was at 11:00 a.m. so I had time afterwards to listen to other speakers and talk to the librarians. And that’s where I learned something I didn’t know.
One librarian told me (if you’re a librarian, let me know if you do this), when writers come to her and ask if the library will buy their books (I’m assuming these aren’t books that have received good Library Journal, PW, or Kirkus reviews or a lot of on-line reviews), she looks at five (5) places to make her decision.
- The first paragraph of the first chapter
- The last paragraph of the first chapter
- Any paragraph somewhere in the middle of the book
- The first paragraph of the last chapter
- The last paragraph of the last chapter
She and I didn’t have time to discuss this further, so my take away on this is strictly my interpretation. I assume she’s picked those particular spots because #1 lets her know if the book grabs her, #2 lets her know if the story or information (non-fiction) would make her want to read on, #3 lets her see if the quality of the writing is as strong in the middle as in the beginning, #4 would give her a sense of how the author was bringing everything together, and #5 would show how the author handled the ending.
What do you think? Do you do anything like this when at a bookstore checking out a book you might buy? Do you have specific parts of a book you look at before making a decision?