One piece of advice I’ve always received is to include excerpts from my other books at the end of each of my e-books to make it possible (and easy) for readers who wish to download any of others to do so. This is a post in which I’ll show and tell what I’ve down, explain how it’s worked, and seek your input on what you do, whether it works, and your opinion on my strategy. So here goes nothing!

Generally speaking, I include excerpts for the next novel in a particular series, the first novel in other series, and the nonfiction. To see an example—downloadable free anywhere—you can browse the table of contents of my novel Saving Grace, if you want. I don’t do the same thing in print books for a couple of reasons. First, it drives the price of the book up. Secondly, I don’t usually have my next novel finalized by the time one comes out. If we release later editions, I can add it, but we haven’t done it yet. I do think it would be a good idea to include if an author has it ready or for me if we release later editions.

Anyway, my royalties are high enough to support a couple of part-time employees and trickle an income to me, so we’re doing something right:

1. Releasing more than two novels in a series (my sales increase with each, and I’m releasing my ninth in July 2017)

2. Making my first in series e-book FREE

3. Promoting the first-in-series-free e-book and 99 cent specials for paid novels on BookBub and

4. Building my newsletter subscription and Bookbub lists.

(You can get advice on each of these strategies in the SkipJack Online School, HERE)

Other things are important, but they’re part of the ante-up, in my mind: writing your best book, not skimping on top notch editing, not skimping on your cover, entering (and hopefully placing well in) contests, pricing appropriately, and working hard to get reviews/ratings. I price to achieve maximum revenue, and the sweet spot I have found is $2.99 for my novels, although I’ve recently started offering pre-orders for 99 cents (a whole ‘nutha strategy discussion) and I still price my newest release at $3.99, although I’m not sure whether that does me any good.

My royalties are highest in the few weeks after a Bookbub for my first-in-series-free, and taper slowly until my next one, six months later, which is the time interval between which they’ll run a promotion for the same book. I usually run Bookbub on a discount for a paid book some time in that interim, but for purposes of this discussion, we’ll ignore those.

Less than two weeks before I was to run another Bookbub promotion in 2015 on my first-in-series-free Saving Grace, I received two messages two days apart:

Message One:

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 5.10.35 PM

Message Two:

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 4.26.40 PM

 

I believe all feedback is a gift, and that you have to look for the learning even if you have to wade through some people being too soft and others not so much ;-). In the first, it was “feel good” feedback, and obviously the reader had discovered others of my books (non-fiction), and enjoyed them. In the second, the reader enjoyed a novel but hated the excerpts, and made sure she took a chunk out of me in how she chose to tell me. My best guess is she is referring to my narrative non-fiction, the same praised by the previous reader. I must say that I a) wrote the non-fiction as self-therapy b) wrote it before my novels became successful. Anyway, I’m human, so I (just barely) resisted sending her back a message as direct as hers. But, in the end, I am weighing these two messages against each other and looking for the learning, if there is any. It’s always possible these are just two totally different humans, and that I can’t please everybody all of them time and all of that yadda yadda.

Which brings me to my question for you guys (think of it as your payment for all the amazing free strategy info I just synthesized for you!): what is your opinion about excerpts for other books by the same author, at the end of one? If you downloaded Saving Grace (free) and browsed the book excerpts I put in it, what do you think about how I did it? Would you do it differently, i.e., remove the non-fiction? Leave it the same? Not do excerpts at all?

Personally, I always read the excerpts at the end of a book, and I am much more likely to buy more from that author if there’s a sampler platter available to taste from. I may not like what I taste (a la Ms. Shaw, above), or I may love it (the website commenter whose name I don’t know). I think the push toward me buying/finishing is much stronger when I’ve started an excerpt. But does the good outweigh the bad? I truly don’t know and welcome your thoughts.

In the meantime, I hope the above outline of my current strategy is helpful for you guys.

Pamela

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, hilarious nonfiction (What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?), and series mysteries, like What Doesn’t Kill You, which includes the bestselling Saving Grace (e-book free everywhere) and the 2015 and 2016 WINNERS of the USA Best Book Award for Cross Genre Fiction, Heaven to Betsy and Hell to Pay. She teaches writing, publishing, and promotion at the SkipJack Publishing Online School (where you can take How to Sell a Ton of Books, FREE) and writes about it on the SkipJack Publishing blog.

Pamela resides deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. She has a passion for great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long trail rides and hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, big horses, donkeys, and whoever else wants to tag along, traveling in the Bookmobile, and experimenting with her Keurig. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start).

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12 Responses to End of Book Excerpts: Yea or Nay?

  1. katewrath1 says:

    I love reading excerpts and they definitely draw me into the next book, which is why I always include them in my books, too. However, I don’t write non-fiction, so I can’t really speak to that. I’m wondering if maybe the excerpt in question from your non-fiction work includes the stating of credentials and so on? Is that possibly what might be seen as you tooting your own whistle? I can see– vaguely– where it might turn some readers off. But me personally? No, it probably wouldn’t bother me at all, but I would most likely skip over a non-fiction excerpt, as I don’t tend to buy non-fiction unless it is something I am specifically shopping for in the first place.

    Thanks for all the advice you give. I’ve*finally* scored my first Bookbub promo on July 12th, so I’m excited!

    …And just as an aside… You have every right to toot your own whistle. Toot that whistle, Pamela! You’ve accomplished something awesome!

    • Pamela says:

      Kate: Thanks for the feedback. Congratulations on Bookbub. Celebrate and enjoy every moment of it. You’re going to feel like a freakin rock star!

      • katewrath1 says:

        Ha! I’m excited! My last free promo was my biggest success so far, but this time I’ve got the big guns. Crossing my fingers that it’s as awesome as everyone claims.

    • Eric says:

      How did your bookbub go, Kate?

  2. Larry Bone says:

    I think it is better to include excerpts than not because if a person enjoys a book, right after they finish reading it is the perfect time to let them know what else you’ve written. And you never know what someone will be interested it. As an example I was talking to an Amazon rep in games customer service about downloading a purchase. She was really knowledgeable and helpful. I should have probably have thanked her and ended the call. But it was a language course download and it ended up she was studying Korean and loves Korean horror films. So I mentioned an awesome Hindi horror film that was kind of a spiritual horror film. So she sounded really interested and said she would check it out. You never know who you will reach on the internet or what they will or will not like. So yes, definitely include excerpts. Also, whenever you write you are putting yourself out there like the first day in the first class in school or college. People like you or dislike you from the first 15 seconds they see you or when reading your first 15 words. You can toot your horn or not. That’s always your call. I agree with the author who mentioned in her reply about your incredible achievement in having written so much and published it successfully as an independent individual. Plus you share so much about the whole process with us. So as she wrote, you should toot your horn. Also, however you are in your writing, that is what you have to give to others and some people like you and some don’t. But being you is how you keep yourself and others going and it gives them courage to be themselves too. Definitely include those excerpts.

    • Pamela says:

      Larry, you rock. And you are a kind person to spend extra time on a customer service call to make movie recommendations!

  3. Marcy McKay says:

    I don’t mind excepts at all. If I want to read it, I will. If not, I won’t. I don’t “count it against” the author is they include one. Traditional publishers have used this as free advertising for years.

    For example, I just finished reading “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova. WONDERFUL book. She included an except from another of her novels (not a series). I wanted to savor “Still Alice” longer and didn’t read the excerpt right away. In fact, I still haven’t. However, the book is still sitting on my nightstand and I will read it before I pass on the novel to someone else to enjoy.

    • Pamela says:

      I love the thought of it sitting on our nightstand so you can continue to soak it in 🙂

  4. andyb0810 says:

    Interesting take on it, Pamela! I haven’t used excerpts on my novels yet.. will think about it… maybe on the romance series!

  5. Eric Hutchins says:

    I think it is an outstanding thing to do. It does not cost the readers any more and allows them a free sampling to help determine if they want to continue reading your work. Anyone that takes an issue with it just has an axe to grind for some reason. No-one is being forced to read anything they don’t chose to. I say don’t let a random comment dissuade you. The results are speaking for themselves.

    • Pamela says:

      The last two days were near-record sales, even for post Bookbub (which they are not). Something good is happening. I agree. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken!

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