Unmet desire. That’s how author Steven James defines tension. Unmet desire drives your hero, drives the story, and drives the literary agent and the bookstore browser. The desire to know what happens next, the desire to feel something – this is the D in AIDA that leads to the A. Action.
The first page is your make-or-break moment. The 250 words in which your reader – be it a literary agent or bookstore browser – decides to either turn the page or close the book forever.
Keep them reading. That’s our mission, right? And there’s nothing that can hook any reader faster and stronger than a protagonist they can relate to, like, and therefore care about. This is one half of the D in AIDA:
While a cover has to grab your eye, it’s the title that has to make you pick up the book. So what makes a book title grab your attention?
It’s not that we judge books by their covers. But if you’re standing in a bookstore staring at a dozen photo-realistic illustrations next to one cartoony sketch, you’re gonna notice the cartoony sketch.
A great cover makes us look.