Sunday 31 August 2014

Your First Book Contains Four Chapters of Your Second Book

Signs of a problem: eBook ends with the progress bar at only 70%; critical reviews stacking up.

The symptoms: frustration; concern; regret.

You’ve just finished writing your second book and you’re determined to make sure that everybody who’s read your debut novel picks up the new one. So, you open your old manuscript and paste in the first four chapters of the new book.

A poor, unsuspecting reader is happily enjoying your tale thinking she has many chapters still to go, when Splat! ‘The End’ assaults her eyeballs. The remaining pages are devoted to something she might not want to read, especially as finding out what happens will almost certainly mean parting with more money. She did not sign up for this.

If your goal is to maximise return readers, your second book should appeal to the same target audience as your first. You don’t have to stick to one genre but it helps. However, even if your books do appeal to the same demographic, they should not include four teaser chapters from other works. A quick survey suggests that over half of readers prefer not to find any sample chapters at the back of a book, in favour of a brief blurb. Traditional publishers might do it, but that doesn’t mean readers like it.

Imagine going to a theme park for the day and getting chucked out half way through the afternoon so that you have an hour free to look at pictures of the rides at other theme parks.

Some authors have taken things further by publishing purpose-written short stories to advertise their new books, then bunging chapters at the end. Whilst writing a short story linked to a novel can be an effective marketing tool and provide welcome extra material for dedicated readers, devoting half a book to free chapters is particularly poor form and will annoy many people.

In the case of paperbacks, including unnecessary pages will make a dent in your profits, as printing costs depend on page count.

Rather than include chapters of your next book, write a compelling blurb, custom-designed to appeal to people who enjoyed the first book. Then provide a link to a webpage that contains a sample.

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