Writing your book might be the easiest part of your job as an author. Everything that comes after, the publishing and marketing of the book, are often where authors struggle the most. One of the steps in that time is to select an excerpt or two of your book.
The purpose of the excerpt is to give prospective readers a taste of your writing. Even more important, the purpose of an excerpt is to hook those prospective readers into your story so they want to buy and read it.
To help you select these important passages, here are a few tips to consider:
1. Hook the Reader
Choose a passage where, at the end of reading it, the reader will immediately want to find out what happens next. This may mean ending in the middle of the passage. But make sure the excerpt ends in a way that people say, “What happens next?”
2. Make the Excerpt “Exclusive”
Don’t select an excerpt that either highlights what the reader can already glean from the book blurb, or is a passage they can get in the “Look Inside” feature.
3. Choose an Active Passage
Active means something is happening. Don’t select an excerpt which is a long description of the setting or a character thinking. Select one that has something happening. Interactions between characters or a minor pivot point in the story are good places to start.
5. Demonstrate the Genre
Highlight the type of book you wrote. Is it a mystery? Make the excerpt highlight that aspect. Is it a romance? Maybe think about showing how the couple meets or how they interact? Is it non-fiction, include one of the interesting facts.
4. Avoid Context Needs
Try to pick an excerpt that doesn’t need context to understand what is happening in the scene.
5. Cut & Trim As Needed
You don’t have to copy/paste your excerpt word-for-word. You can trim and cut as needed so that the excerpt is relevant, not confusing, and enticing. The reader will get anything you cut when they buy the book
6. Think About Length
Most new readers will not spend time reading a long excerpt. They want to know quickly if your writing will interest them. Try to keep your excerpt on the shorter side. 500-1000 words is a good rule of thumb.