Author of mysteries and psychological thrillers
Advertising is necessary, but most people detest adverts. They slow a movie (unless you record and fast forward). Magazines are filled with them. They even find, or used to find, their way into some paperback books. At least with a print copy, we can see the ads upfront.
With eBooks, the ads are unseen - until we get to the end of the book and find sample chapters of the author's next work. Not everyone has an issue with this, but for some readers, it's a problem. I recently read an online discussion about how readers feel cheated by the inclusion of sample chapters.
The problem is not so much the insertion of the additional chapters, but with perception.
On an eReader (I'm using Kindle as an example as I've never read on a Nook) the percentage of the book read is shown. This gives the reader an idea of how much story is left. Imagine getting to the 70% mark, believing there is 30% of the story left, only to find it wraps up within the next few pages. We weren't prepared for that. What happened to the rest? This is not a good kind of surprise.
It doesn't matter that the novel itself was full length and that with the added excerpts we actually got more for our $2.99 or $3.99 than if we'd only received the novel. What counts is that we feel misled, conned, cheated. Even with free downloads, readers do not like the story to end with 30% left on their Kindle. Not even 10%. Some of those who paid for the download commented that they feel as though they've been tricked into paying for the author's advertising.
I've seen it with books I've downloaded to my Kindle. I understand the frustration. We can't "see" that the author gave us more than we paid for because we only see that book ended before we were at the 99% or 100% point on our progress bar. It feels like the story ended too soon and the author filled out the remaining percentage with the excerpts to reach 100%.
Readers getting pissed off is the last thing an author wants. Once they've been turned off, we've lost them, along with everyone to whom they might have recommended our books. An author can argue all they want that the reader got more than they paid for, that the excerpts did not reduce the length of the book, but it does no good once the reader is annoyed.
Yes, readers can ignore the excerpts (and from the comments on the forum, the majority do), but they are still unhappy about what they perceive as a shortened story. 1% or 2% left for advertising seems to be okay, or just one page of links to the authors next work. Readers commented that if they enjoyed the book, they still don't read the excerpts. If the quality of the blurb or the sample pulls them in, they trust the rest of the writing is as good, and they will find the author's next works on their own.
Readers: how do you feel about excerpts? Even if the book was great, does it leave you feeling misled when an eBook ends at less than 100%. Would it turn you off recommending or reading other books by this author?
You make some good points, Jenny. I have a short chapter from my other book at the end of each of my two books. As a reader, I like having a sample chapter of the author's next/other book, and I usually read it.ReplyDelete
I hope readers of e-books will change their perception of this, as I personally think it's a good feature. I'll wait to see what others think. If response is really negative, I'll reconsider the practice for future books.
Thanks for your research and comments/conclusions on this topic, Jenny.
I never read the sample chapters because they're like a spoiler. When I go to read the next book, I'm not sure if I've read it before.Delete
Wow, Jenny. I hadn't even considered this. I don't always read the excerpts at the back, but I'm usually glad to know there's something else by that author to read, assuming I enjoyed the book.ReplyDelete
This reminds me of genre paperbacks "back in the day." At the end of an SF or Mystery novel the publisher would put in a few pages - 3 or 4 at most, I think - announcing other titles by the same author, the author's next book and - or - other books in the same genre. Nobody minded; most readers I know appreciated the "coming soon" or "more of the same" announcements. The one or two page link to the website seems to be the same thing.ReplyDelete
Some paperbacks did have a "chapter tease" but that wasn't the norm. I think the sense of completeness impels us to not want the next chapter, unless - big caveat - it's the next of a series and the book is already out or will be very, very soon. (In this sense, the "extra chapter" is a teaser like in TV, and that's ok.)
Jodie, I think it's different for non-fiction. Reader response - and expectation - of an ending is not the same.
Good to know readers may not mind for nonfiction. Thanks for that, David! :)Delete
I dislike finding a large part of the new novel in the back. Just happened with the book I was reading. 90% done and I'm really enjoying the reading and all of a sudden it's done.ReplyDelete
I could tolerate a page advertising the next book. Nothing more please. It makes me feel cheated.
This was the most common comment I heard from readers, Marilynn. They didn't like to see 10% or so left on their ereader and have the story end. It's made me think twice about adding sample chapters to the end of my books. I enjoy seeing a page of the author's other titles, but I rarely read the excerpts.Delete
What a weird new world. I've never even looked at a book's percentage in a Kindle because I don't care. And including chapters of the next book is not an advertisement; it's a sample.ReplyDelete
I can understand not wanting to read them, because it could be confusing if the novel comes out a year later and you think you might have read it...but you haven't.
Personally, I don't care for excerpts and don't include them in my books. Many authors do use them and very successfully. I like picking up a new book and not having a deja vu moment of having read this already. Plus, I like a novel to be completely that novel and not just part of the book with something else added on at the back. I think a page with an announcement for a new book would be just as effective.ReplyDelete
Just my own personal little preference.
Thanks, Patty. This is my also preference.Delete
I agree with Peg and L.J., and had composed a reply almost identical to Peg's in my mind while reading your post, Jenny.ReplyDelete
I have to admit, I DO miss having page numbers and a feel for the "heft" of a novel. But I actually enjoy reading a chapter from an author's next novel, IF I liked the book I just finished. If I didn't, of course I just close the ebook and don't look back.
Great question, one I hadn't seriously considered. Thanks!
I love excerpts! I always read them; and I've NEVER used the % complete bit on the Kindle or Nook or iBooks or...(insert Hitch's other reading devices here) to tell where I was in a book, not that close to the end. I don't know if there's a trick we can use so that it doesn't "count" the excerpt as part of the book, but there might be. Hmmm....something for me to think about!ReplyDelete
Very interesting blog, Jenny. I hadn't really thought about it before. I never read the chapters, but I always look for the other books the author has written, assuming I like the book. I guess that's why I do the same with my own books...one page listing the other books in the series, no chapter.ReplyDelete
Good one. I just made a conscious decision to to 80% paper 20% Kindle a change from current estimate of 60% Kindle and 30% paperbacks 10% hard cover ... For the life of me I do not know why a Kindle cannot have proper page numbers. The percent read is helpful. I must say, for the most part this has not happened to me that I can recall. And I do like the free samples offered by authors. That's not being cheated at all. Think positive, readers. The brain has a negativity bias. I see it all the time. And on the internet, in spades ...ReplyDelete