Unpopular book opinion: Excerpts/Previews


Have you noticed the trend recently of authors and publishers releasing excerpts/previews/sneak peaks? They’ll market them as huge news! or a giveaway! or even a pre-order bonus. When I go to book conferences, many authors give them away at their signing tables.

But here’s the thing.

I don’t read excerpts. In fact, I prefer as little preview of a book as possible. That wasn’t always the case. As a kid, I didn’t know a lot about book news, but I obsessively followed the trailers and hype for movies. And eventually I learned that I enjoyed a movie less when I’d seen all the good parts first. The jokes are less funny when you’ve watched clips of them ad infinitum. But in my early years around the book community, I did the same thing. I’d read the synopses and the previews and follow all the pre-release hype. And no joke, I have sitting on my shelf right now 2 books that I pre-ordered last year and still have not read.

I’ve realized that excitement about a release often has more to do with the event than it does the story in the book. When I get caught up in hype, it’s normally about being part of the community–fangirling with other fans, getting likes and retweets from authors, participating in the collective hullabaloo.

Enjoying stories, on the other hand, happens most often when I pick up a book out of curiosity. “Hey, I think I’m in the mood for this.” “Oh, I remember people posting about this. Let’s see what it’s about.” Some of the books I’ve enjoyed most are the ones I didn’t know much about ahead of time.

So I don’t read excerpts or synopses anymore. And I kinda wish publishers would stop making such a big deal out of them. Even if, from a marketing standpoint, I understand why previews are an easy move.

Side note: nonfiction is a different story. I read The Undoing Project 100% because of excerpts released as articles.

What about you? Do you love excerpts and previews?

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