Saturday, January 22, 2011

Try it... you'll like it!

Or maybe not.

Call me old and set in my ways, but yes, I was resistant to the move to digital novels.  I didn't resist the change in other media. I love reading news and magazine articles online.  I love doing online research.  I'm addicted to my PC.  But books?  No.  I love holding a book in my hands... the feel of turning the pages.  Then I got a Blackberry.

I'm one of those I only need my phone to make and receive calls kinda people.  (I still don't like texting, but do use the feature with a few friends.)  Around Christmastime, I was having increasing trouble with my old cell phone.  It had seen better days.  It was time for a new one.  Mr J and I talked it over... we didn't want to be left behind by technology.  We decided it was time for smart phones.

Within twenty-four hours of receiving my new Blackberry Torch, I had downloaded the NLT version of the Bible, and several more free ebooks along with the Nook app.  I was hooked.  I read more books in one week than I used to read in a month!  But there was one I didn't read.

I won't mention the name of the ebook I deleted without reading past the first chapter.  I would bet it was a self-pub.  I can't see that MS making an impression on an agent or publisher.  It wasn't just that it was slow starting... after many pages, the most I learned was how the MC loved her cat!

Last night I finished reading Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow.  It was equally slow, yet I read it through to the end.  What was the difference?  Basically, the quality of the writing and how the characters appealed to me.  I was intrigued by the main character, as well as her entire family.  I was surprised to discover that it was Christian fiction.  My purpose here isn't to review the book, but I do recommend it, and I am likely to purchase future ebooks by that author.

The focus of this post is on the try it before you buy it feature of ebooks.  Most ebooks sources will allow you to preview a book before investing the money to buy it.  Some will let you read several chapters even!  No more standing in the aisle of a store reading the jacket and the first pages.

OK, I know this isn't breaking news.  But it is an important point.  What if my WIP is released as an ebook?  Once they've read the first chapter, are readers going to fork out the bucks to read the rest?

I shared the story of the deleted ebook with Jody Hedlund, debut author of The Preacher's Bride.  She replied that it fit with what she was preparing to post this week -  The Increasing Importance of the First ChapterThere's no need for me to discuss it any further.  She has covered the topic well in this post.  Please do read it and let me know your thoughts.


Terri Tiffany said...

First chapters are SO important.They are what we send for contests, and to agents and part of our queries, not to mention as a reader, it's what we browse through first:)
I am one of the last to convert.I still love browsing those bookshelves.

Rae said...

I have a new Blackberry too. I love all the new features on it. I haven't tried ebooks with it yet. I use my kindle for that. Like you I like to hold and feel a book, but it sure is nice to download a new book in a matter of seconds.

Anonymous said...

I got myself a Kindle last fall, and I'm enjoying it -- particularly that "try it" feature; and you're absolutely right about the first chapter (even the first page!) being so very crucial.

Carol Riggs said...

Interesting; do you not know which are self-pubbed books and which are not, when you download them? (I don't have an e-reader so I'm ignorant of the ins and outs.) I bet the excerpt trial IS handy, because I certainly love it on Amazon for books I want to order, to read a few pages on their "Look Inside" feature. Um, YES, it makes me wonder about my own first chapters...gulp.

B.E.T. said...

I think first chapters can start a bit slow, as long as they intrigue a bit, establish the pace of the rest of the novel, all that. But if all you know is that the MC loves her cat, then that's waaay too slow. So long as the pacing is good and the character is likable, I, as a reader, will keep going and be intrigued enough to finish the work.

So, I have to agree that first chapters are important, though they shouldn't stop somebody from writing the rest of the book either. Revision is a beautiful thing. :)

Arlee Bird said...

I have not tried hand held ereaders, but I have read one book on my PC and did not like the experience. For me it's just not that comfortable to sit at my desk and read a book. I do recognize that it is essential for a modern author to make their work available in the e medium.

Good first chapters are very important. I will sometimes tolerate a bad opening and expect to be rewarded eventually, but I know that a lot of readers are impatient.

Tossing It Out

Susan R. Mills said...

I recently discovered I could read books on my Blackberry. I love it. I still prefer to hold a book in my hand, but it's so convenient to just order one and have it on my phone in seconds. Plus, it allows me to read anywhere because I always have my phone with me.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Lily -

I've read books on the computer and did not like it.

As far as an ereader, there are too many negatives for me. When I read a book, I pass it along to my Mom and her friend. I couldn't do that with an ebook. Tonight, I looked at a book for the Kindle. It was less expensive to purchase a regular book.

I'll stick with the real thing.

Susan :)

North Jersey Christian Writers Group said...

Hi Lily,
Thanks for stopping by and following Eternity Cafe. We are on the same journey. Looking forward to your insights.

As for the ereader - my mom bought my sister and I a nook 2 weeks ago. While I still love a real book, I also love the sample download feature of the ereader. I was on the treadmill when I got to the end of the sample, touched the "buy now" button, and kept reading without missing a step! That was fun ;)


CrazyCris said...

That first chapter thing is rather unfair... but I guess sadly true in this modern society of instant gratification! Many of my favourite novels are slow starters... particularly 19th century literature. There are certain authors I know I just have to get past the first couple of chapters that are bit slow in setting up the story, and then I'm in for a wild ride!

I've been tempted by the ebook phenomenon, but haven't been able to convince myself to go for it yet. Hard to choose between competing gadgets I guess...