Historical and Contemporary Romance Author

How Long Should It Be? (Poll)

Get your mind out of the gutter. That’s not what I’m talking about! I’m talking about excerpts posted on an author’s website.

I want to know because I’m getting ready to put up PDFs of the excerpts from all my books, and I’m putting some thought into making those excerpts longer in the PDF (with perhaps slightly shorter ones on the actual website pages) to give folks a better flavor for my work before they make the decision to buy (or, more accurately, hope I can hook you in so you can’t resist buying).

What I’m wondering is whether there’s a “sweet spot” for the length of an excerpt. I’ve generally gone with the first chapter, because my chapters tend to run relatively short, but I’m considering (at least in cases where my publishers don’t object) going up to three chapters or perhaps even more when the chapters are short.

So, do you have an opinion on the matter? How much of a story would you like to be able to read before you make the decision to buy (or not)? Please record your response in the poll or, if you have more to say on the subject, leave a comment. And thanks!

[poll id=”8″]


  • Booklover1335 May 20, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Hey Jackie,
    I think this is a great question. The excerpts that work the best for me aren’t too long, but give me a good sense of the story, and leave me wanting more. I prefer to have a shorter intriguing excerpt on the actual website, then if I like it maybe a link to a pdf to read more to really get me hooked 🙂 (Then of course include buy links at the end of both to take advantage of my need to read more)

  • B.E. Sanderson May 24, 2010 at 7:46 am

    I try to stay away from excerpts in general. I don’t want to read bits of a book unless I can read the whole book – right then and there. Having said that, though, I guess if I was in search of an excerpt to help make a buying decision, I would want it to be short – like a page or two at most.


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