|A self-portrait of my juggling act:|
writing, revising, marketing,
taking little breaks for R&R.
So I’ve been trying to let the creative part maintain the upper hand, partly by feeding it with good fiction in written or video form. (I’ve found that watching stories is much easier, but also much less rewarding, than reading them.) The problem is that my book budget these days is $0, while I can find episodes of all my favorite TV series (and many others) free on the internet, so you can guess which I find more time for. And although there are plenty of books available free for Kindle (my book-reading medium of choice), most of them are pretty bad – derivative, poorly crafted, unedited, trite, or implausible (all the things I’m hoping my current work-in-progress will avoid). Fortunately, all Kindle books have a free sample that can be downloaded (or read online), so that you can get a good taste of the book before downloading or paying for the whole magilla.
The problem with that is that Kindle authors (unless they are self-publishers) don’t have much choice about what part of their book gets included in the Kindle sample – it’s going to be the first 10% of the total page count, which includes the cover, title page, all the front matter and table of contents, as well as whatever comes after that – acknowledgements, foreword, introduction, and finally, if there is any room left, the beginning of the actual book itself. So the sample may or may not include enough of the book for prospective purchasers to get a feel for whether they want to spent time and money on the entire book.
So, for some time, I’ve contemplated writing Kindle sample reviews – reviews based solely on the form and contents of the free sample of the e-book. These reviews will critique the sample essentially as a marketing tool:
- How well does the sample entice the reader to go ahead and purchase the book?
- Is it cleanly and competently formatted, providing a distraction-free reading experience?
- If the Table of Contents is included in the sample, does it provide chapter titles that create an outline of the book’s contents, or does it simply list Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.?
- Does the sample contain enough of the book for the reader to get a feel for what they would be getting into, or does it contain mostly extraneous front-matter?
- Is the text well-written and engaging, so that the reader is genuinely disappointed when s/he reaches the end?
- If it’s a novel, have we met interesting characters in an interesting situation, so that we want to continue on their journey with them by buying and reading the rest of the story?
- If the book is non-fiction, does the sample give us reason to believe that the whole book would provide information, insights, and ideas that we can’t easily find elsewhere for free?
Tomorrow, I’ll post the first of these: Kindle sample review of John Scalzi’s Old Man's War , published by Tor Books.
N. B. The online presence of Tor Books includes Tor.com, is a great web site for scifi fans. They’ve got free original stories, book excerpts, and and a great blog with fun discussions of your favorite scifi and fantasy stories, movies, and TV shows. Check it out.
P. S. If you'd like to help a starving writer out, at no additional cost to yourself, click any of the embedded links to Amazon on this blog (book titles, etc.) and any purchase you make on the Amazon web site during that visit will earn me a small affiliate fee -- at no cost to you!