My Book Agent

A Literary Agency Getting Authors Published Well

Read Your First Paragraphs to Others

GalleyCat Media has launched an occasional episode they call “First Graf Friday.” In about 9 and a half minutes, you can hear a dozen authors read their launches. No back story, no explanation. Would you be interested in listening (or reading) more?

Some time ago, I was in another state doing some consulting work for an academic press. I searched out a local writers' group that happened to meet one of the evenings. The convener replied to my query, encouraging me to join the group.

They have a practice of actually going around the circle, reading up to 5,000 words aloud and then receiving reactions, recommendations, or questions. Most of responses were on-target, kind, but helpful.

I hadn't anticipated this, in large part, because my regular writers' group meets on Saturday mornings and features presentations.

The group kindly pestered me to join in. I had written a sample introduction to a possible sequel for one of my authors. (He didn't like the premise.) So I started my laptop, knowing that I would have to read from the screen.

Honestly, the reading didn't go very well. Up to that night, I had only read the piece (or any piece) with my eyes. Hearing it made me nervous--and hurry along toward the finish line.

What impressed me, however, was how simple, but strong and engaging the writers around the circle were in the various genres. Not surprisingly, many were already published--more than once.

Today, when I am reviewing a proposal, I often will read the first paragraph aloud--or the few pages, if the work is enjoyable.

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