Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is it cool to post online sample chapters of your work before submitting to it to an agent/publisher?

The Lyons Literary LLC Agency (see blog archive for original post) posed a question on their site. Do free online sample chapters sell books? It’s a short article (my favorite kind) backed up by a comment section and a link to the Libre Digital web page. Notice, I said a short article, but with long arms reaching deep into the traditional publishing and book promotion market.

I followed the link to the LibreDigital and discovered that this is a company that boasts over 500 million page views of online book samples/chapters. They also hold book chapters for major publishing houses, authors and social networks. Some publishers are using their web site to promote upcoming books.

Libre Digital research shows that an average book purchaser spends over fifteen minutes reading sample chapters of books online. The number of pages they read before deciding to purchase the book is forty-six. Yikes, that means I would have to put six chapters of my current WIP online.

Comments on this article ranged from, I wouldn’t have purchased this book if I could not read a few sample chapters to you try shoes on before purchasing them, so why not read a few chapters of a book you are contemplating buying. The consensus of the commenter’s was that it is all right to put sample chapters online for everyone to read.

I agree that a sample chapter (or two, not six) will help sell e-books. It makes sense for a reader to want to read some of the author’s words check out his voice and read what the hook is. Add to this discussion the fact that more and more authors are putting up sample chapters on their WEB and BLOG sites. Are they giving away the store? Not according to Libre Digital and echoed by Lyons Literary Agency. They claim that books are selling. Not at record rates, but the way is now set to sell e-books and advertise books ready for publication. It’s the new wave of book marketing and as all things new will catch on as time goes by.

What are your thoughts on putting sample chapters online for all to read?


  1. Hi, David. You know, I've heard both sides of this argument. I think as long as you don't post the whole darn novel, this is a good marketing tactic. What publishers don't like is authors putting up the entire ms and then expecting to receive a royalty check for a hard copy publication. From the publisher's pov, the horse has already left the barn and there's no reason to publish the ms anymore than the author has already done.

    Saw your post on Agentquery.com. I'm on it, too. I'm in the S.F. group. Are you?

  2. Hello Victoria

    Thank you for your comments. I agree you can not sell an agent/publisher, the idea of taking you on as a client, if you have already given your book away on the WWW. Many authors post excerpts from their book to entice the reader, leading to a purchase. I am on ACQ and a member of Clippership’s SiFi/Fantasy group. I am Umennre, a name from my novel.