Hi - I have a question regarding excerpts. I offered to feature a book with an excerpt for a new author and he asked how to choose and excerpt and how long it should be. Are there any limitations or rules to be aware of? Any info would be greatly appreciated.
I provided an excerpt of my nonfiction book during my blog tour. I picked what I thought was the most well-written and informative section and kept it around 1,000 words.
I was reading an article on writer's digest on this. The article asked this very question to several agents and publishers. The general consensus was to include the first chapter only. If you have a prologue, you may want to include that as well. They say this since your book should hook the readers within the first couple of pages. So, by having this as your excerpt, if its good then you have a better chance of someone wanting to read more and buy your book.
I like this. I always put the first chapter (or a little more) on my web site as a hook, and it is what I like to offer bloggers who ask for excerpts. But sometimes, they ask for another excerpt -- something that isn't on my web site. I guess they're looking to give their readers a little extra, but I'm not sure it works out. Without context, I don't believe excerpts shines in any way. My favorite scenes aren't stand-alone. I like the emotional turning points for the character the most, but of course, these mean nothing without the history.
If you're a blogger, I humbly suggest having the author submit his first chapter, unless he feels there is a scene later in the book that, taken out of context, would really showcase his book.
I try to choose something building up to something exciting that's going to happen - so it looks like a cliffhanger. And I usually keep it to a paragraph or two, unless the blogger requests something longer, like an entire chapter. Hope this helps.
I choose the excerpts that introduce the theme.
It needs to be comprehensible on its own, it needs to be interesting, and it needs to leave the reader wanting more. Given that the opening scene of a novel should accomplish all those things, it may often be a solid choice.
I agree with the others - the beginning is best. I usually just give the first scene, since it has plenty of action but doesn't reveal too much about the story. I think it's kind of like a movie trailer: show some gripping scenes but don't expose any key plot points. Just enough to get 'em hooked :-).
For my fiction book I'd like to take out the first few paragraph of the first chapter and a paragraph or two from the book which I consider as a part or parts among the most interest scenes that would give curiosity to the readers, keeping in mind that other parts are not less interest scenes.
Thanks everyone for your replies. This was a great help, and very useful info for me.