Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Teaser and Sample Chapters


I recently picked up a book I originally had no intention of reading. I’d seen the cover, read the back of the book copy and decided it wasn’t for me. Until it was... 

Here’s what happened:

I picked up a Kindle edition of the latest Eli Marks mystery (The Magic Square by John Gaspard). I really enjoy this series about a professional magician solving murders so was happy to see there was another book for me to read. I enjoyed the book and was ready to close it when I noticed the author had included the first four chapters of his book, The Sword and Mr. Stone, at the end.

Generally, I ignore those teaser chapters at the end of books, mostly because they’re usually the first chapter of the next book in the series. By the time I finish a book, I’ve decided whether or not I intend to read the next one so those sample chapters mean nothing to me. But this time, it was for a different book, one I’d been curious about, but had rejected as not my thing.

For some reason, I decided to read those four chapters. I enjoyed them so much that I bought the book to see how the story ended. So, this time, those teaser chapters did their job and I ended up buying a book I had previously decided not to buy.

I’m pretty sure this is the first time that I’ve bought a book based on teaser chapters at the end of a book. I do occasionally download a sample of the beginning of a book from Amazon when I’m deciding whether or not to buy a book, but that’s pretty rare and usually for non-fiction books so I can see what’s in the TOC. From there I decide if the book is what I was looking for. If I were in a brick and mortar bookstore, I’d be flipping through the book to get a sense if I wanted to buy it. For fiction, I might read the first page to see if I liked the characters or the author’s writing style.

I read a couple interesting blog posts on these teaser chapters that brought up points I hadn’t thought of. In this one by Elizabeth Spann Craig she noted that, when reading an ebook, these teaser chapters can make her think she has more of the book to read than she does. She also notes that a reader could be annoyed that the teaser chapter is for a book that hasn’t been released yet and might not be for many months.

In this one by Jami Gold she noted that there were circumstances when she read the excerpt for the next book in the series, it ruined the satisfied feeling she’d gotten at the end of the book she’d just read. She was all happy about the ending and the teaser chapters indicated that things weren’t as hunky dory as it appeared. This particular book was a paranormal romance. She noted: “However, if the next book unravels the end of the arc of the current book, we’re messing with the reader’s memory of this book.” I don’t think this is a problem with mysteries because they usually include a different crime. Each book is usually self-contained so they can be read out of order.

This got me wondering what other people think of those teaser chapters. For the ones at the end of a book, do you ignore them or read them? Do they annoy you? Has reading them ever resulted in you buying the book that was previewed? Has it ever ruined things for you?

What about those samples you can download from Amazon? Do you ever use that option to see if a book is for you?


Tanya said...

I do read some teaser chapters at the end of books. If it's from a book in a different series, it helps me decide if I want to read that series. If it's the next one in the series I'm reading in order, then I don't read it.

I have to think that in most cases, the teaser chapters do serve a valid marketing purpose.

Sybil Johnson said...

Hi Tanya. Thanks for the comment. Sounds like we're kindred spirits when it comes to teaser chapters.