That's not a hypothetical exercise. It's daily reality for writers engaging in marketing and promotions.
That fact struck home as I checked the email account my wife and I reserve for offers from various companies.
In their subject line, each company had to distill its core message to a single, easily understood phrase. Based on that handful of words, potential customers would decide whether to see more -- or hit delete.
A few samples from one day's screen:
If you matched the target demographic, which of these would you click?
Now consider your own marketing – whether emails to the people on your list or the titles and opening sentences of your blog posts. The brutal reality of attraction or dismissal applies to our work as authors.
People bombarded with messages won't keep reading until they finally come to the meat of yours. If your purpose isn't immediately clear – or it doesn't connect – you've lost that potential sale.
Few of us enjoy marketing – for good reason. Done well, it ranks among the most demanding writing we'll ever do. But it's also the most important.
To connect with busy, distracted readers, don't stick with the first words that come to mind. Craft your opening words with care: keeping an eye to your target audience, your central message, and how it connects with them. Otherwise, you likely won't connect.