Write a book: give readers a taste to whet their appetite

Are you writing a book? Great. Here’s the best tip I can offer you: build your readership as you write.

The easiest way to build your readership is by blogging.

You can also build your readership by selling a snippet, or excerpt, of your book-in-progress (or any of your published books) online.

This article, Publishers to Use Digital Works as ‘Literary Appetizers’ for Novels – WSJ.com, talks about Ballantine Books and Harlequin selling “bridges” (excerpts) of authors’ works and says about author Steve Berry’s snippet:

“The 6,000-word piece, ‘The Balkan Escape,’ is too short to have been published as a paperback original. In effect, it is a literary appetizer, inexpensive enough to attract potential readers who might otherwise not be willing to buy a new novel from an author whose works they haven’t yet read, said Mr. Berry.”

Should you give your snippets/ excerpts away?

The notion of selling excerpts from your books brings up the question: “Should you give your excerpts away to build readerships?

“Free” worked very well online for a long time. However, in 2010, I think people are over it. Here’s the thing about “free”: it will devalue your product.

You can certainly give away a “free” first chapter — or part of a first chapter, under 1500 words. Once you’re giving away two or three thousand words, or more, you’re devaluing your product.

Everyone and his dog gives things away these days as a marketing ploy. For authors to give away parts of their books is ineffective. No one values what they get for free. Charge a nominal amount for your excerpts, and there’s a chance that people will actually read it, rather than just download it, and forget about it.

Another tip: build a list of your readers while you’re selling snippets — ask for readers’ email addresses.

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Angela Booth is a top copywriter, multi-published author, and writing teacher. She offers many guides, courses and classes to help writers to enhance their skills on her websites. She also provides inspiration and motivation for writers on her writing blogs. Angela has been writing successfully since the late 1970s, and was online in the 1980s, long before the birth of the Web. Her business books have been widely published.