Wednesday, August 26, 2015

When you open a book at the bookstore

We hope your selection contains a Table of Contents. We strongly support a Table of Contents. Even for fictional works.

For you novelists, a Table of Contents can become a selling tool. Shoppers will scan the TOC and gain a good idea of what the book's about and where it's going. More important than most think for fiction.

Here's the TOC from our novel, The Boys of Summers Run.

Chapter 1, The Flight of The Turnip 
Chapter 2, The Rooster
Chapter 3, If We Could See the Wind
Chapter 4, When the Scene Ended
Chapter 5, Mary Anne
Chapter 6, “He's Really Cute!”
Chapter 7, “It's Food and Drink”
Chapter 8, “We're Here and We're Back”
Chapter 9, The Four Horsemen of the Outfield 
Chapter 10, Mr. Standing Ovation
Chapter 11, The Country Gentleman
Chapter 12, Melodies from Memories
Chapter 13, Rivalry with Renata
Chapter 14, Life on the Farm
Chapter 15, The Clan Kinkade
Chapter 16, The Grumbling Hills
Chapter 17, “I Hown Center Field”
Chapter 18, Home on the Run
Chapter 19, Hearing a Bird Sing
Chapter 20, A Day of Pleasant Bread
Chapter 21, Fledglings
Chapter 22, “I Have Wren”
Chapter 23, Little Maple Man

Chapter 24, Halfway Hathaway
Chapter 25, “I Hear Yhou”
Chapter 26, The Morning Song
Chapter 27, Sunbeams
Chapter 28, “Chase Around Brown”
Chapter 29, The Crevices of Memory
Chapter 30, Little League in Meadville
Chapter 31, “And Now Batting”
Chapter 32, Peaches in the Morning
Chapter 33, “Bein' Watched”
Chapter 34, Good Stories
Chapter 35, Roping the Harvest Moon
Chapter 36, Families and Forever
Chapter 37, Between Doubt and Hope
Chapter 38, Bless This House
Chapter 39, Foggy by Supper Time 
Chapter 40, Montana in the Mourning
Chapter 41, Boys in a Balloon 
Chapter 42, “Your Father's Son”
Chapter 43, The Politics of Boys' Sports 
Chapter 44, “Live Where Your Heart Is”
Chapter 45, Return to Summers Run
Chapter 46, “We're Here”
Chapter 47, When It's Magic
Chapter 48, When Baseball Ceases To Be Fun 
Chapter 49, The Time Capsule of Boyhood
Chapter 50, A Class Act
Chapter 51, The Banter of Boyhood
Chapter 52, A Patch of Blue
Chapter 53, Pick Your Magical Place
Chapter 54, Jackknives and Judgment Calls
Chapter 55, Sunbeams in Our Hands
Chapter 56, Off To See The Rooster

These chapter titles listed in the TOC are not just tossed off or given "a lick and a promise."

No, they've been given careful consideration toward enticing the reader to linger and satisfy his or her curiosity. 

What does it mean, "Montana in the Mourning"?  Is that a typo?

How do "Jackknives and Judgment Calls" relate?

Who or what is "Foggy by Supper Time"?

What's The Turnip? The Rooster?

See what we mean?

It's foolish to just list the chapter numbers and pages in the TOC. Some electronic editions won't list the page where the chapter begins. So what's the point, then?

Of what value is such to the reader?

Most readers don't mark a fictional work. If they do, they'll turn down the corner of a page featuring a key or favorite passage. Or place a bookmark there. Or use a pen or highlighter to mark what they want to remember or recall.

Creating a Table of Contents with subheadings or chapter titles serves as a useful reference to readers who wish to find that passage again. It's a signpost, helping your readers retrace their steps through your work. 

It's easier for them to find their pathway back if your Table of Contents contains some memorable phrase or quote. "Oh, yes, something about the moon. 'Roping the Harvest Moon,' that's it!"