Monday, February 02, 2009

How Do YOU Like It?

Excerpts. For readers, that crucial Deciding Factor on whether to purchase a book. For writers, The Final Frontier. You've voyaged through plotting, dialogue, and characterization, plundered the lands of submissions and publication, and are now facing the dazzling supernova of promotion. Now, you are faced with the five W's of excerpts:

1. Who? Do you focus on one character? A meeting between hero and heroine? Plucky side characters? Or a juicy moment with the creepy love-to-hate antagonist?

2. What? A subtle interlude? Dire action sequence? Sizzling-hot bedroom scene?

3. When? you stop? A brief snippet? A tickler ending with a profoud ". . ." cliffhanger moment? An entire chapter? What length works best without giving away the farm?

4. Where? Do you post your excerpts? Your website? In a regular blog feature? Author Chats? What places bring the most attention to excerpts? Where as a reader do you look first for excerpts?

5. Why? Do you choose the excerpts you do? Do you always use the same ones for every author chat and on your website? Or do you swap them out from time to time?

Also, there's HOW many, meaning do you like to see a variety of excerpts on a single title--say, ranging from Rated G to Rated X, perhaps--or is that Too Much Information to read? Authors, do you offer multiples on your titles, or just stick with one Uber Excerpt?

These are questions I've explored a lot lately, as I've been examining my website and my "author chat" goody bag of tricks. I'd love to hear from readers, writers, and editors as to How YOU Like It (and Do It)!

Today's Favorite Line Written: “Love? Check the dictionary. I don't think you'll find 'lying, trickery, and manipulating spiritual free will' under the definition.”--from The Wiccaning


Margaret Fieland said...

Good question -- I'm just beginning to have to worry about this, as I have a book I'm revising. So far I've chosen the beginning of Chapter 1 as my excerpt. I'm interested in hearing how others approach this.

Lisa Logan said...

With my first title I started off with that same excerpt, Margaret. I'm curious to hear what others find works!!

Michelle Houston said...

What I try and do is find an excerpt that teases, that shows the reader the character(s) and get them halfway in love with them, and given the heat rating of my title, it varies from a taste of their first kiss to them getting naked.

The length depends on how long the title is. For a 80K novel, you can do a full chapter. For a 5K story, you want to keep it short and not give too much away.

The length will also determine the amount of excerpts. For a longer novel, you can do more, picking 3-4 that you can rotate, and post on various places, and fit the requirments of the place you post. With a shorter work, sometimes you are limited to just 1 excerpt - so you have to make it count.

It's really just a matter of going with your gut. You know your work better than anyone. You want something that will intrigue, and tease readers without giving too much away.

Hope that helps.

Donna Hatch said...

I try to keep the exerpt for the front of my book to one page, so that page has to be great. I usually post that same exerpt to my website as well. I haven't tried using a whole chapter. I use one point of view, with dialogue mixed with internal thought. I try to choose an exerpt full of tension with a great cliffhanger that leaves the reader begging for more.

Rita Sawyer said...

I'm just getting into this part since I only have one release and one title in editing. But I have to say as an avid reader I have pick up a few titles base on the excerpt, or blub on the back of the book.

Lisa Logan said...

Some great points here! I've been experimenting with several of these ways and have yet to determine which works best for me. Still open for other brilliant ideas!

Lisabet Sarai said...

For my new novel, which will be released next Monday, I have a set of about ten different excerpts. Some are very hot, others focus on characters or suspense. I have one that's "sweet".

Generally, I keep them short. 500-600 words. On a loop or blog post, anything more will overwhelm. I have posted full chapters on my website for other novels, and I think that works well also.

I think it's important to have multiple excerpts. When I'm browsing on loops, I get bored if the same excerpt is posted multiple times. Also, I've found that the post title makes a huge difference as to whether I'll read an excerpt. A great title will really pull me in (unfortunately I can't think of a good example at the moment). But certainly you want to make it clear to loop readers that this IS a different excerpt from what you posted last time.

As far as the content, I think that depends on the book. You can pick sections with high drama, or emotional intensity, or suspense. Ending with a bit of "cliff hanger" works well. Also, I think you can jump into the middle of the action. It's not necessary to explain what happened before - that just bogs the reader down.

Gee, guess I have a lot to say about this...

Good luck, Lisa,


Tabitha Shay said...

I save full chapters for my web or blog site. For the group sites, I use the same short excerpts for a few weeks, then change them. I try to leave a teaser at the end of each excerpt which hopefully makes the reader want to run buy the book right then. I post anything from G-rated to x-rated...and I focus all attention on the hero and heroine...I usually post two excerpts from older novels and several from my latest release....Hope this seems to work for me...Tabs

Sloane Taylor said...

Hi Lisa,

Interesting post and you've made me think.:)

Short excerpts 300-600 words seem to work best on chats. Readers don't have time or the interest to read more. I'm a big believer in cliffhangers. There's no reason for them to read the entire book if they already know the best parts.

Ginger Simpson said...

I've saved what I consider some of the most titillating portions of my work to use for excerpts, and I keep a list of excerpt posting days handy. However, of late, I've wondered if sharing excerpts is really worth the time and effort. The loops are like an endless sea of writing samples and I know from my own experience, I rarely have time to sit and read them all. I usually do a post and run, and I assume many do the same. Are there really those out there who have the time to devote to reading all the posted excerpts or all we just spinning our wheels? I'm trying to come up with new ways to acquaint readers with more my last effort, "Bring a Character to Blog" week. That was fun and I found myself really engaged in the posts of my fellow authors who participated. Speaking through the characters really showed off even more of the creative genius. :)


Karen said...

Great topic. If it's a full length novel (70k-100k) I'll rotate three to four chapters. If I have a short, I use one excerpt. Usually it's only few paragraphs.

Lisa Logan said...

Wow, so short and cliffhanger/teasers seem to be the big ticket! And Ginger, I thought the same exact thing, but some people swear their sales go way up if they post. One gal just shared that dropping excerpts on three loops boosted her royalties $200 in one month! So I'm really trying to get a handle on what works, and what doesn't. Because apparently, readers ARE paying attention!!

Word Actress said...

Lisa - ur bio is fascinating. I'm sure it has provided tremendous opportunities that slip into ur writing. i'm halfway through my first novel. I was a short story writer/poet first, so it's been very interesting and challenging. You gotta reel 'em in somehow. i remember that from my days of working in advertising in New York City. I wrote so many openings to my novel and have now settled on this opening sentence; I don't know how this happened, but I don't have anyone. For me, this really sets the tone of the journey my main character Sosie Bend is about to take. I'll be sure to check out ur blog frequently...Mary Kennedy Eastham, Author, 'The Shadow of a Dog I Can't Forget' and the novel-in-progress 'Night Surfing - A Story of Love & Wonder in the Waves of Malibu.

Lisa Logan said...

Thank you, Mary, and I hope you do come back again!

It IS a challenge to move from short fiction and poetry into full length novelization--took me a couple of years to pen my first novel because the transition was weird--but the rewards of being able to immerse in your characters and worlds are great. And it sounds like you have the art of the blurb nailed down fairly tight...sounds like an intriguing read!