Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Make Your Book Notable

The New York Times has posted their list of the 100 Notable Books of 2007. The list will run in their December 2nd issue, but you can read it online now.

Whether you agree with the decisions of the New York Times or not, it’s worth a look. The books are broken down into two categories: Fiction & Poetry and Nonfiction. For writers, the list is a great reference source.

Here is one way you might want to peruse the list:
Start by doing what we all do – run through the list to see if you’ve read any of the choices. Then be happy that you have and agree with their choice, or disappointed because they didn’t list your favorites.

Now, go back through the list and read through the one sentence description. Make note of the ones that catch your attention. Could you describe your book in such a way that it would entice someone else to stop and pay attention? Maybe copy and paste your favorites into a document so you can analyze what caught your eye.

Of those that you noted, click on the title and go see the original review of the book. Could you envision someone writing such a review of your book? Does your book have the depth and layers that would get a reviewer to read it or an agent to look at it? Could you write such a review of your book? Of the top reviews on the list that you read, could you take each and extrapolate enough to create a short synopsis of the book? Try it as an exercise in writing a one-page synopsis of a book, then write a synopsis for your book.

Now, go back and look closely at all of the titles on the list. Which ones intrigue you? Why? Do they give you any ideas for your own titles? Do you like short snappy titles? Longer, more involved titles? Do you prefer the ones that tell you exactly what the book will be about? Or do you like the ones that you know you’ll have to read the book in order to figure them out? What about your own title for your book? Why did you choose it? Do you think it will make a bookstore browser pick it up, buy it?

After reading titles, one sentence write-ups, and the longer reviews of your favorites, narrow your choices down to two or three. Then go read those books.

Doesn’t matter whether you live in New York or not or whether you’ve ever read the New York Times, as a writer, you can use this list to improve your own writing.

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