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:
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 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).