Discussion: How do you feel about excerpts?

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…about excerpts.

Excerpts are sort of a Thing now, huh? Maybe they’ve been a Thing for longer than I’ve really been paying attention to them as a Thing (does that even make sense?), but it seems like, more and more often, I’m seeing more and more excerpts used as The Next Exciting Marketing Promotion For This Awesome Upcoming Book. Case in point:

Excerpts, excerpts, everywhere!

A lot of people are fond of excerpts — obviously, they’re a pretty popular marketing tool — which I totally understand. They’re a sneak peek at a book you’re looking forward to! Or they give you a good idea whether you’d want to pick up the book — you get an early look at the writing style, characters, etc. But, well…

I can’t read excerpts.

I just can’t do it! I can’t deal with them! Why? A few reasons.

1) If I’m excited for a book, I don’t want to read PART of it! I want the whole dang thing! It’s excruciating to read part of a book and not be able to continue.

2) I have no idea how to “count” an excerpt when I read it. What I mean is: Say I were to read an excerpt of the first hundred pages, or the first five chapters (or whatever) of a book. Well, the book doesn’t come out until one or two or four months later, so there’s no way I can just pick up where I left off. Too much time would have passed between when I finished the excerpt and when I’d be continuing the story. So, I’d have to read that first hundred pages or five chapters (or whatever) again! But the question at that point is, how many times have I read the book? Fully, once — but really, 1.xxx times. That bothers me. (shut up)

3) My final point relates back to point #2 — déjà vu. If I read a significant excerpt, forget most of it, and then re-read it when I can read the complete book, it gives me this weird feeling of déjà vu that is not enjoyable for me. I feel like I should remember more, because I’ve read it before, and I do recognize bits and pieces — but I don’t remember enough to skip re-reading the excerpt altogether. It’s WEIRD when you’re forced to re-read when you’re not actually purposefully re-reading an entire book.

Ultimately, my reasoning boils down to this:

Why waste time reading the first chunk of a book that you can’t even finish until X months from now, when you could be reading the first chunk of a book that you are able to finish?

I have one teeny tiny exception to this excerpt rule, which is: very short teaser excerpts. A quote here and there? Awesome! A short scene (from the very beginning of the book — we don’t want spoilers!) that whets my appetite for the full book? Sure, I’m down for that. …An entire chapter? Ehhh, you’re sort of pushing it with that. The first hundred pages? NOOOPE CAN’T DO IT, I won’t put myself through that!

What’s your stance on excerpts?
Do you read them? Do they help you in any way?
Or are you like me? Do you avoid them?

Let me know in the comments! I know a few people who fall on either side of the spectrum, but I’m really curious to hear everyone’s reasoning and preferences!

I would also like to know whether anyone else, like me, is now utterly convinced that excerpt is not a real word. Excerpt. Excerpt. Exxcccerpt. Excerpt, excerpt, excerpt. Nope. Not real.

41 thoughts on “Discussion: How do you feel about excerpts?

  1. Like you, I never read excerpts- unless I’m looking to buy a book on Amazon and want to read the first few pages. How in the world am I supposed to know if I’ll like a book from a few, measly paragraphs anyways? Or if it’s longer, I’ll just want more! I don’t mind déjà vu, but it’s true much of the time I won’t even be able to recall reading an excerpt- unless I read it right before I bought it, in the case of ebooks.
    Great discussion post!
    ~Litha Nelle

  2. YES THIS. Nikki, you practically read my mind. I have never read an excerpt in my life, unless it’s like a few paragraphs or something. But if it’s like 50 pages or something, NO. I am not doing that to myself!! What if I completely fall in love with the story and need the rest ASAP? I’d rather wait for the book to come out and then it read it in all of its glory. Recently Netgalley put up the excerpt for TRUTHWITCH, and even though I’m dyyyyyying to read it, I didn’t download bc I’D RATHER WAIT than read half the story! Love this discussion post, Nikki! <3 Very well written :)

    – Jen

    • Yeah, no, excerpts do more harm than good, for me. As if I’d want to make my excruciating wait any worse!! And yeah. Those Netgalley samplers… I really do not understand them. You can’t review a book if you haven’t read the whole thing. What’s the point?! >_< Although Cassi, below, did make a good point -- if you have a longer sampler, you could theoretically start reading it a couple days before the actual book is out, so it's like you get the book a little early. ;)

  3. If I start a story, I want to continue and I don’t want it to simply stop. It feels like.. a bit of a spoiler to only read the first 93 pages – and then it feels even longer before you are finally able to read the whole thing. I don’t do excerpts either.

    • YES!! It’s totally like a long spoiler — and those excerpts that are from, like, chapter 5+?! NOOOOO!!! Not okay!! Now I know what happens in chapter 5, how is that NOT spoiling things?! X_X

  4. I love this topic! I HATE excerpts too:-) They feel like teasing to me. Hey you want to read this book? You do? Here, start reading! Oops! That’s it, now you’ll have to wait for the rest!” Maybe they’re ok for the general reading population, but for book bloggers who are used to getting review copies, it just seems mean.

    • Even before I was a book blogger, I’d see excerpts in the backs of books and be like, “…why would I do this to myself, exactly????” If you can buy the book right away, okay, fine — but if not, WHY?! You’re exactly right. It’s just teasing. It makes you NEED the book even worse, which I suppose is the point from a sales perspective, but UGH, it’s so cruel!! lol

  5. I’m with you! The only time I read excerpts is if they’re in the back of the first book in a series for a second book that’s already been released; that way if I like it I can go get it immediately anyway! I totally get it from a marketing standpoint though. It’s a great way to show off if a book is actually good or not, and to generate some hype.

    • Ahhhh, yes, those are good — if you don’t already have the next book, you can get started, and then make plans to go buy the actual book the next day. ;D But yeah, I totally understand excerpts as a marketing tool, but at the same time… I avoid excerpts like the plague. So that marketing tool reeeeeally doesn’t work on me, lol.

  6. I totally agree with you. My mom every now and then gets excerpts on freebie days for Kindle books, and I won’t realize they’re an excerpt until I get to the end and it says to buy the book to read more. Agh! I’m like you, I don’t like reading those. But I do like short teasers (max of one chapter) from the beginning of the book. That’s typically more than enough to get a sense of writing style and whatnot.

    • At least those Kindle samples are available to buy right away! But I agree — a chapter is more than enough. None of this crazy first-five-chapters or 100-page nonsense — that just makes it worse!!

  7. I feel you Nikki. But sometimes you are just powerless to resist an excerpt or sampler. Like you know I’m not going to pass up a preview of Shadows of Self! That’s just crazy talk.

    But in general excerpts are such a tease! Like if I am reading a book I want to be able to read the whole thing. It makes the wait even worse if you read part of the book and then you have to wait for the rest of it. How is that even any relief? Well I guess unless the book is terrible and you’re like “well, I’ll pass.” But when does that ever happen?

    And I think I’m usually pretty good at waiting. I try to read my ARCs as close to release date as possible, like even if it’s a highly anticipated book. I still haven’t read Six of Crows. I think that’s my thing with samplers too. I’ll get them but I’ll wait to read them until right before the book is released so it’s just like I’m getting it a few days early. It worked for ADSOM and ACOTAR.

    But yeah, the fact that every anticipated book has an excerpt these days is just adding to the hype. Hype that usually never ends well. I get you’re trying to get people interested in the book but there are so many other ways. Like the little quotes. I think excerpts are generally just frustrating.

    • Hahaha, see, my most-anticipated books are actually EASIER for me to pass on excerpts than less-anticipated ones. I DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING, I’M ALREADY DYING FROM THE WAIT, I WILL NOT MAKE IT WORSE. I didn’t read the ADSOM sampler, not reading Shadows of Self… nope. Can’t do it.

      And YESSSSS, I forgot to mention your point about how samples CAN be like getting the book a day or two early — start reading a 100-page sampler a day or two before the book is actually out, that’s perfect! There’s no excruciating wait between the end of the sample and when you can continue the book. But otherwise… GAH. It’s so frustrating to have to wait even longer after reading a really good excerpt.

  8. I don’t like excerpts for exactly the same reason. I read the preview blurb and of course, I’m obsessed right away. A blurb just isn’t enough! Or worse, if a book starts off slowly and you only got 60 pages, you basically read the uphill part and never got to the really, really GOOD parts! So I then go into the book later having to REREAD the build-up, and then I get bored, and then I don’t like it as much as if I’d read it all at once and just waited. So now I wait, ESPECIALLY if it’s a favorite author.

    The only exception is when someone posts something like “first lines” because that’s intriuging. That’s interesting. I’m cool with first lines.

  9. To be honest I don’t really care for excerpts. I prefer waiting for the actual book because my memory sucks and I won’t remember those tiny 100ish pages ten months from now. ._.

    I’m okay with teasers since it allows me to see whether or not I’ll buy the book but excerpts that are 100+ pages are too much. It’ll make the waiting even worse. >.< And I don't like rereading those pages because it feels too weird. I haven't finished the book… but I'm starting from the beginning again??

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  11. I agree with you COMPLETELY!! When I finished Fairest by Marissa Meyer a few months ago, there was an excerpt from Winter at the end. I STAYED AWAY FROM IT!! I am already dying to read Winter and it doesn’t come out until November. Since this was months ago, I knew that reading that excerpt would just make me even more impatient for the release.

  12. Excerpts I don’t really like to read unless as you said there only small glimpses. A few months down the line am going to have to read the whole thing anyway so reading a few pages here and there would really annoy me. I don’t want an excerpt I want the whole book.

  13. LOL I’m the opposite, and apparently in the minority. I dislike teaser excerpts that are just a line or two but I love longer excerpts. They can get me excited to read the book and add it to my wish list or make realize that,”Nope, I do not want to read this book.” thereby saving me time and money.

    I do get what you’re saying about the deja vu, that happens to me too. It can be frustrating when you recall bits and pieces, just enough to make you nuts. Still, I enjoy them. :)

  14. I’ve never read an excerpt before! It is just so strange to me, I’d rather spend my time reading a story I can complete! There were people waiting in line for experts at BEA and I just couldn’t figure that out. No thanks.

  15. Well, it depends for me… sometimes I just cannot help it and I’d read anything about a certain book because I’m so excited, so even if after reading the first 3 chapters I will be in agony waiting for the rest of the book, I end up caving in… my curiosity gets the best of me! But sometimes an excerpt of an upcoming book can be good because it answers the horrible questions of a massive cliffhanger in the previous book…

    Other times, I’m curious about a book but not entirely sure about it, and if I can get my hands on a excerpt to see if I like the writing, voice and story, I’ll take it. If the book is already out so I can one click-it if I really liked the excerpt!

  16. I personally don’t read them. I can’t stand the little piece. It’s like dangling a carrot in front of a rabbit. I want the whole book. Not a tiny piece. Plus, it seems like it would ruin the book for me. I would know about it before it’s published. Not fair.

  17. Excerpts are the bain of my existence as a blogger… I hate when you do a blog tour and you have to add an excerpt! They are so bulky… I’ve experimented a couple different ways with them… As a reader… I think excerpts are useless. If the author has not won me over with the title, description, and cover, and excerpt will just annoy me…

  18. I am SO with you on number 3!!! I’m not a fan of re-reading anyway (unless it’s Harry Potter– the only exception really). I am actually less likely to pick up a book if I’ve read a fairly long excerpt because I know I will have to re-read the entire thing when the book releases a few months later, and that is such a waste of my time. Whenever I preview a book, I really only read two paragraphs. That’s all I really need to be enticed.

  19. I like the idea of shorter, teaser excerpts. I’ve never seen an “ad” about a 5 chapter or 10 page long teaser that I’ve decided to go and read, for all of the reasons you mentioned. If it’s an author I love for a book I’m anticipating, I’d rather just read it ALL at once. I could see reading a short teaser to get a feel for a NEW (or new to you) author’s writing style to see if you may want to pick up the book. That’s really the only time it makes sense for me! I also don’t bother to read excerpts when they’re featured as a part of a blog tour, for the same reasons. I’d rather read all or nothing!

  20. The longest excerpt I ever ended up reading was the first 150 pages or so of A Darker Shade of Magic because I just couldn’t wait and dove in. When I got around to reading the full book, I started reading from the beginning because too much time had passed. And then I also remember reading the first four chapters of (I chose not to read the fifth) Queen of Shadows because, again, I just couldn’t not.

    Generally, if I really want to read a book, I wouldn’t read the excerpt and if I don’t want to read a book or I am slightly interested, reading the excerpt would just be pointless. I do get why they’re a marketing tool but I don’t think it works for bloggers all that well.

  21. So I was totally going to write a discussion post about excerpts for next week lol! But I basically agree – I don’t do excerpts. I don’t want to read part of a book, and I feel like they’re a waste of time, because I’d re-read those pages anyway. I only like short teasers that romance authors sometimes give us. :P

  22. I neeeever read excerpts. The ONE I did was for Six of Crows (I blame peer pressure from Fierce Reads!)
    I don’t like starting a book and then stopping it. I have to re-read it at some point once I actually read the book and I’d rather just have that all at once than reading an excerpt and forgetting what I read!

  23. I totally get the deja vu feeling you mentioned, which is why I don’t like long excerpts either, or excerpts in general really. I have a couple exceptions and that’s it. I will DEVOUR anything George R R Martin posts about his next book. Like, I can’t stop myself. I also like (short) teasers or excerpts for Throne of Glass and The Raven Cycle. I think I read the 3 chapter excerpt of BLLB 4 times haha. But otherwise, I’m good with a couple sentences or a paragraph. It doesn’t entice me to read a whole chapter and definitet not the first 100 pages of a book.

  24. I don’t read long excerpts…like chapters. I will read and like the short ones…like two pages. Those give me a flavor for the book and they’re quick. So I can read them in a couple of minutes and decide if the book is for me. But chapters? No. Don’t read the first chapter of the next book that they put at the end of books either. Same reasons as you. I will not be happy about having to stop. So I don’t do it.

  25. I’m with you on excerpts! DON’T JUST TEASE ME, I WANT THE WHOLE DAMN THING. If I’m really hooked, I’m not going to want to stop. But I’ll have to, and THEN I’ll be rereading that same portion once the book is finally out anyway. So why not just wait until I have it all? BUT I do love teaser quotes/short scenes. I’ve come to realize that, when I finally find them in the story, I’m not turned off or mad that I already read that. They’re small bite-sized chunks that aren’t big enough to give me deja vu feelings and I enjoy them because they just make me even more excited about a book than I already am. I’ve also picked up books BECAUSE of them before, so they do help with promo (probably better than excerpts of 5 chapters do). Great post, Nikki!

  26. I feel exactly the same way! The only excerpt I’ve read is the one for ADSOM. It bugged me because I had to reread it anyway once the whole book came out but it was sort of familiar so I skimmed…but then I missed things and had to go back and reread everything from the beginning again. Ugh.

    It feels like a chore trying to remember what you already read so you can get to the good stuff. Why not just wait for the book to come out so the whole thing can be the good stuff? I thought I was the only one who wasn’t a fan of preview excerpts, so I’m really glad there are so many others :)

  27. I hate excerpts! For a lot of the same reasons that you listed, I never read them. I hate the idea of being teased and not being able to finish the book until I get my hands on it. I hate feel like something is unfinished and I hate feeling like I’ve wasted my time and have to reread something.

    Great post!

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  29. I am exactly the same way! I really like the short ones ( few paragraphs or so) because they give me a sense of the author’s writing style, but anything more than that is too much. I despise the teaser chapters for upcoming books in a series that always appear at the end of books!

  30. I’m exactly the same way. I’ll read a few pages, or even a whole chapter of I’m trying to decide if I want to read a book, but no more than that. I always end up having to reread the entire book from the beginning anyway because I’ve forgotten what I read so it isn’t worth it for me.

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