One simple thing a writer can do to help the reader sense the story better is to use words and phrases that appeal to the 5 senses. This isn’t normally my strength as I’m a straight to the point type without much flowery description, but I find it fairly easy and enormously helpful, especially early on when readers decide if they can relate to the tale. I think of it like adding spices to the meal; just a bit makes the experience so much better. Here are some examples from the first 2 pages of The Little Universe:
My legs labored to turn the pedals on my bicycle as the frigid air bit into my cheeks and knuckles.
I pedaled quickly past a busy construction site and endured the jeers from workers dressed in expensive coveralls, laughing at me as they leaned against new trucks, sipping their hot drinks. The aroma of fine coffee made my stomach grumble.
He led me into his house. The entry had a cathedral ceiling with stained glass windows that filled the downstairs with an array of colors, like walking through a rainbow.
My footsteps echoed softly as I followed him down the hallway.
The top floor was immaculate with marble counters, leather couches and a plush carpet that led to a stone hearth and fireplace, where a small fire crackled.
Whether or not the reader likes the story line, at least I’ve made an effort to appeal to her senses of touch, sound, sight and smell (not so much for taste, but the cookies come on page 3).
See if there are places early in your story to add those little spices for the 5 senses. It might make a big difference in hooking more readers. Then remember to keep appealing to them throughout your tale.
Good luck with it and keep writing.