Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | January 1, 2012

Drafts Or Online Excerpts–Which One Do You Prefer?


For the past 10 years almost, I’ve been posting draft chapters of my work online for people to see and read.

The primary purpose of such an exercise–naturally–is to gain gradual exposure as a writer–by giving people a chance to read something new, unique, original, or exciting. 

The secondary purpose was simple word of mouth: “I am a writer with a book coming out soon. And this is what it is about.”

Forget for the moment the usual advertising shticks and schemes that are as old as the internet itself that comes from continuous self-promotion. Those things are hit and miss. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. But for most writers and authors, it’s a roll of the dice that often doesn’t lead to the big payout.

But a useless gamble instead.

Draft chapters for me is my way of showing people what’s going to come out, what’s happening next, “stay tuned”, that sort of thing. I know that most people who visit my sites only read about 1% of what’s there, 10% at most and forget the rest. (No, I don’t get upset!)

Like I told Mark Allen Shaffer earlier this evening on my Facebook page: “You have to continuously bombard your readers with the same information before it starts to sink in.”

Excerpts only go so far and they don’t always tell the story that you really want to see or hear these days. They are designed to give you a teaser of things to come–promising a good read once the book comes out.

99% of established and self-published authors use this trick to lure in their readers. 

But unfortunately, online excerpts leave out a lot of critical information necessary for readers and book worms to make a decision on whether or not to buy that book. The first paragraph–or page if you’re lucky–won’t tell you diddly squat about the entire book.

But draft chapters? They give greater access to a book that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Instead of just having a short excerpt on Timmy chasing the ball down the well (poor Lassie!), ensuing draft chapters would open the reader to a whole new world and provide them with all the details necessary for a solid book.

No second-guessing. No indecision.

Now…I don’t know for certain if showcasing my draft novels online will lead to a depreciation in future book sales (another point made in the conversation) or I’ll end up losing valuable readers (if I haven’t already), but I learned early on that excerpts don’t always satisfy the reading audience.

Like a pride of lions, readers hunger for more than what will initially satisfy them–a mere morsel as it were. They need meat and lots of it to make them happy. Politicians often throw their constituents a bone when it conveniences them, so why not provide readers with something more than a brief expose on the subject at hand?

As you may or may not know, a lot of my draft work online has been there for years. I’m not even published yet. But the sole reason for my work to be here is to not only entertain, but to inform: “Hey! There’s a new book out there! Go read it while you can!”

But if book sales were to go downhill as a result of these free postings of mine, it’s not necessarily because I post draft chapters of my work online for all to see–that’s the cause. It’s something else.

Fortunately for me, I don’t live my life by money alone. Having it is a good thing, but expecting too much based on old assumptions is only going to lead to greater disappointment down the road.

Once the edits are complete, I expect my books to sell. How well depends on the customer and reader. But in order for me to have these book sales, I first have to buckle down and get the word out about what I write.

Show them what they are going to be spending their money on–instead of just waiting till the last minute (seen this happen many times over the years) and then try and entice people with a completely foreign read that no one’s heard of before.

Let alone read it.

So I’m guilty.

Guilty of doing things differently than most writers and self-published authors would do. But it’s the only thing I know how to do best: Share.

Sure, there are free books out there for people to read. Mine are just drafts. Incomplete, error-filled, mistake-prone drafts. (If you find any of the aforementioned, please let me know.)

Nothing’s perfected yet.

But what’s here on this site (and others) should give interested people and parties an idea on what’s coming.

This is how you generate interest and future sales in the world of writing and publishing. You don’t give your audience pieces of something and expect them to be happy. You give them the whole thing.

That’s what keeps them coming back. ^_^

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Responses

  1. I absolutely agree about posting early drafts. I’ve been doing that on my Live Journal blog for over a year. I’m switching now, to my WP blog because it’s easier to post here, and the stats tell me if anyone’s actuallly reading.

    I wonder why you haven’t taken the next step — finish and publish. I owe the sales of my first book, as slow as they are fter the first flurry, to having serialized an early draft. I’m just starting the serialization of my most recent NaNo novel–two chapters a week, while I’m working on the final draft. When it’s published, readers will have the choice of buying, so they can have the whole thing in one fell swoop, or reading online over the next few months.

    Posting my writing online the first time was scary as hell, but it turned out to be the right thing, and I love doing it.

    • Because my books aren’t ready yet. I’m not talking about *perfection* here, but there’s still some loose ends to tie up in regards to editing. I should have a first book out by next year–a four year delay because of housing and financial issues–but the process takes time.

      But I’m patient.

      I’ve been posting my work online since 2002. And I’ve gotten a lot of interested readers that way. But the process of “word of mouth” is still taking longer. ^_^


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