Thoughts on posting snippets, excerpts, and so such.

Kristen Lamb on whether tossing out excerpts of your work is a good idea:

I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t even like coming in halfway through a movie, let alone a book. How are we supposed to feel vested in characters we don’t know from a hole in the ground or get hooked on a story that may take months before we can read it in its entirety? Oh, and these characters might not even be in the book and these chapters, in the end, might mean nothing because they were just extra bunny trails that were cut and put on the blog so they could serve some purpose other than taking up space in the Recycle Bin.

I’ll just be frank: I don’t read snippets, excerpts, or so such usually.

I don’t even read book series usually unless they’re all out — romantic series being the notable exception because they aren’t usually linked in such a way as to make me want to tear my hair out should the author suddenly decide to stop writing, die (god forbid), or if the publisher had a brain melt and decided that they would rather slit their wrists with a rusty razor rather than put out yet another one of the author’s books.

Fact is, I have an instant gratification problem and if I get sucked in and can’t get my grubby little paws on the book in question right. now, I will not only probably forget about the book in question once it comes out, but I actively get very aggravated because I’ve been thwarted.

Lilith Saintcrow, who still. hasn’t. written. that sequel to Steelflower? Yeah, she might have single-handedly cured me of reading unfinished series, period. Especially hers.

The whole posting snippets thing seems to work well for Ilona Andrews, but I feel like that’s an entirely separate kettle of fish entirely.

- Ilona Andrews already has a fan base. They don’t need to use their snippets to reel in more fans. In fact, I’d argue that most author sites get the majority if not all of their hits from people who have already bought and liked a book of theirs.

- Ilona Andrews’ snippets are likely not really reeling in more fans rather than keeping their current fans salivating.

- Ilona Andrews’ fans know that their books are coming out and there’s not so much of the “argh, when will this author be published, if ever?!?!” aggravation.

For all the authors who want to self-publish or still haven’t landed a book deal?

It could go both ways.

They could suddenly gain a gazillion readers because their excerpts are just that good and suddenly every agent who is anyone wants to represent them.

Or, they could fall into the pit of “that coulda gone better”:

– When authors put out shorts or excerpts that are not professionally edited, there’s always that risk of them putting out regret that will come back to bite them in the ass later.

– It’s really hard to snag a reader’s interest. Period. Full stop. Sometimes the excerpt is the wrong kind. Sometimes the excerpt comes in at a point where although the action is great, the dialogue is snappy, but the reader doesn’t care about the characters yet so it’s all moot. Sometimes what the author thinks will make a great excerpt just leaves the readers cold.

My thoughts?

If I decide to self-publish, I’ll post snippets and excerpts of the story once I’ve had it thoroughly edited and vetted.

If I go the traditional route, I’ll post snippets once it has gone the full gamut of edits and after I know for sure when it’s going to be on the shelves.

Otherwise, if it’s throwaway snippets, I’ll make sure that I’ve had them edited and vetted before tossing them on here. Even then, they’ll be in the sidebar where people will have to go looking for them and won’t just stumble across them in the course of reading my blog.

Backstory snippets of things that happened far before the story starts, yes.

Interesting scenes that were cut because they didn’t advance the story that much, maybe.

Deleted scenes that didn’t work in the story? No.

Scenes of “what might have been”? Perhaps.

It was sobering to know that search engines don’t really turn up excerpts that well and so they don’t aid in your platform building.

This means that I’ll have to go into posting snippets with the idea that it’s fan service to established fans (*crickets*) and probably won’t get me anywhere. All things considered, it might even work against me.

So what do you think? Will you post snippets of your work on your blog?

3 Responses to “Thoughts on posting snippets, excerpts, and so such.”

  1. Saronai

    I’m still waffling on excerpts of my novels. Before, I wanted to keep my novels out of my blog (except to list what the current projects are on that page of my site with a little about blurb) until they’re done.

    I recently received some unfavorable feed back from a beta for chapter one though and now I’m fighting the temptation to leave the whole first chapter up on my website for potential feedback.

    I likely won’t though. I don’t know why, I just feel like, if it is something I’m going to finish and try to publish, indie or no, I don’t want to ruin the book for potential readers. You have to worry about them reading it out of order, for starters. If they read snippet #7 you must be careful that it isn’t a spoiler for the novel and whatnot.

    However, I often post snippets of other works, things that don’t have a “rest of the story” as is yet. I post writing exercises, roleplaying stories, and even fanfiction. I’m sure you know that already though.

    Lately, I’m finding that my snippets gather more readers to my site. At the very least, I’m getting a few lovely comments on them. I think there might be a difference of expectations with many readers, especially if I post a foreword before the snippet. “This is a scene I wrote from a roleplaying thread that was abandoned, thought to post it just for kicks.” The expectation is created that, at the moment, no plans to extend this scene, or write a book with it are in the works. It also seems with some readers that I’m creating a desire for more on some posted scenes.

    Perhaps in that last case, it allows the reader to hope and feel a bit of pride in helping production, should the writer take their suggestion and do more with the scene. For example, my post “Water” that you really liked. I admitted I had some small idea where the scene was leading, but not much. I didn’t think seriously about the rest of the story until you wanted more and got me talking about it.

    I don’t know, I just like sharing, and maybe that’s the difference? I started updating more actively and regularly to help my “platform” but I actually enjoy blogging and sharing the occasional snippet, both old and new ones. I don’t share with a whole lot of expectation. I’m not sure if that matters.

    I think it’s okay to share snippets, but you should probably sprinkle them among other posts of interest. Or maybe it doesn’t matter, I read an article at The Mary Sue not so long ago that talks about blogs getting followers, donations, exchanges, and more simply by writing fanfiction and whatnot.

    Regardless, I’m leaning toward not posting scenes from a current work until that work is finished, deleted or no. Which I hate to say, since I enjoy reading your deleted and old scenes from Estyria when you post them here. For my own work, it feels like I’m giving people the deleted scenes and bloopers before the movie even hits theatres, let alone with the DVD as special features.
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  2. Eirien

    I’m not a snippet fan, either. I’ll read a short story or poem but if there are only clips from a full story available then I’d rather wait until it’s finished.

    I’m a quick reader (444WPM/80%Cmp) and would prefer to gobble up a book in a couple hours (& re-read it later) than wait for snippets. Teasers will only deter me from visiting a site or reading their books again.

    Even as a concept artist, I’ve been making my work more available as a complete project (with steps in the same post) rather than a teaser since I know my own creative whims can change at will and I dislike keeping folks hanging. It is difficult to be patient (I’m not perfect with this, and I can definitely see how it’d be for writers) but it’s much more satisfying to present finished works on my site than constantly show off partial works that make me look indecisive.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It’s nice to know there are others who share my view on this topic.^^
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  3. shashantal

    Reading about this post gives me a feel of your being a bookworm. I read books but I view first most often the excerpts. If its too mushy or flat then I go for it. Since time immemorial, the time of Mills and Boone, I always read excerpts of the story at the back of the book. I don’t know but why I depend on the excerpts, but that’s me. Ma’am just love this post, it’s like talking to me personally. I just love your style.
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