I've been spending (far too much) time browsing Petfinder.com looking at cats that might come to live with me some day. It's awfully hard to tell, from a few pictures and a brief description, which cat I'd like most and would connect with the best.
It strikes me that this isn't much different from buying a book. You read its blurb, look at its cover, maybe flip through a bit or read an online excerpt, and then you have to decide.
Some of the cats I've looked at, frankly, don't photograph well. (I feel their pain. :) They might be absolutely lovely but their picture says, "I hate all people and you particularly. Yes, you, Heather. I'm looking right at you and I hate you." They probably don't (why would they, they haven't even met me yet!) but it sure looks like we'd have nothing in common.
Some book covers look like the designer hated the book, the author, or both. Could be a fabulous book underneath that awful picture but it's hard to tell.
Other cats have a blurb that basically says, "This is a cat. It needs a home." Sure it does. So do the other thousands of cats on the site (side note: spay or neuter your pets!) that have detailed and informative descriptions.
Writing book blurbs is incredibly difficult. How do you summarize a story in a few sentences? (Interestingly, the people who've reviewed my books have nearly always done a better job summarizing them than I have. Maybe I'm just too close to them to see the forest for the trees.)
When we're ready to get a new cat, we will go and meet at least one or two of them. That's like reading their excerpt. I do understand that they might well be shy of us at the beginning, and that's fine, but if it seems that we will definitely not get along I will take that cat off the list.
Beginnings matter. Catching readers and keeping their attention is a challenge but so important. (I wonder if I could give them catnip? :)
I'm going to think on this some more because it intrigues me. I need to sell my books the same way these cat shelters have to sell the cats in need of homes. If only I were as cute as these cats!
Any ideas on how I can make my books irresistible to their potential new homes?