Choosing an excerpt for #SampleSunday or #TeaserTuesday

Recently, I wrote a list of hastags for authors. I wanted to write a little more in depth about two of them – #SampleSunday and #TeaserTuesday – and how to go about picking an excerpt to feature.

#SampleSunday is a weekly twitter event for authors to share reading samples with readers. You provide a link to an excerpt of your writing (either on your website or one where your work has been featured). Readers can peruse the samples and read any that interest them – and hopefully retweet those they like. It is a quick and easy way for authors to spread the word about their work and perhaps find those looking for something new to read.

#TeaserTuesday is similar. You quote a favorite line or two from your book or manuscript and offer a link where the reader can read more or simply list book title and author so the reader can check it out. I prefer to provide a link to a further excerpt (and of course a buy link after the excerpt.)

Choosing an excerpt

Open bookAn excerpt is designed to give the reader a sample of your writing style and a bit of the story to entice them to want to keep reading and buy the book. When selecting an excerpt, keep it short – a few pages at most.

It needs to be interesting. Don’t pick something with page-long description but rather something with dialogue and action or conflict. And it should end with a cliffhanger or a dramatic moment that makes the reader want to read more.

Many people choose to use the first scene or chapter of their book as their excerpt as it should meet the requirements listed above. And while this a perfectly acceptable thing to do, I don’t like using the first few pages of my novel as those can easily be found on Amazon, Smashwords or Barnes and Noble. (The exception to this is my short story, The Search, in which I have only the opening scene as a sample because there is not another scene that could stand alone without confusing the reader.)

Usually, I choose a different scene than the opening to reward the reader with something they can’t find elsewhere (unless they buy my book). Think of a movie trailer – many times they do not start with the beginning of the story but the first irrevocable step into the new and perilous situation. They show you the action and drama. Just note that if you pick a scene other than the beginning of your book, make sure that the scene won’t be confusing for the reader.

And most importantly, after your excerpt make sure there is purchase information – preferably a direct link to several online stores so the interested reader can select their preferred electronic format.

And in case you want to check out an excerpt of my stories….

Excerpt of The Search (Opening Scene)

Excerpt of Summoned (Prison scene – two-thirds of the way through the book – this scene is kind of long but I have used a shorter version of it on other websites)