Like the proverbial speck in your eye, it's a lot easier to see what other writers are doing wrong (as opposed to what is wrong in your writing). With that in mind, I've recently come across some glaring examples of what NOT to do,
Do NOT include samples of your book if it's going to convince people to not buy it. I read one decent book, but the sample chapter of book two lacked the charm, interest, and CONFLICT (so important!) of the first book. If everything is peachy, you don't have a story...or a reader.
Do NOT start a book anywhere but at the beginning. Gone are the days when readers will wade through pages of setting and chapters of backstory before the story actually starts. This one seems especially difficult for a lot of writers but it is crucial. And that leads to....
Do NOT skip the Hook. The "hook" is what catches your reader and reels them in and convinces them that they have to read this story (and everything else you've ever written, including your award-winning fifth grade essay on Lincoln). "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife." Two hundred years ago Jane Austen knew how to write a hook--and a book--and we're still reading her.
Do NOT try to start your own trend. I recently opened a book where the writer gave a two-paragraph synopsis of her own story--and commented on how charming and funny it was--before the story began. Does any other writer you know do this? No, and you shouldn't, either. Don't TELL the reader your book is charming and funny--let them come to their own conclusions as they read your marvelous prose.
Tomorrow: how to grab that reader and take them for the ride of their lives. I'll document my comments with actual quotes from real books (and incredibly successful authors), so you'll know I'm not just spinning you along.
See you tomorrow!