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The One Thing That Will Kill Book Sales Dead—And 10 Ways to Avoid it.

14 January 2018

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog:

I never have as much time to read as I think I will, and my trusty old Kindle is pretty loaded up. So I’m a picky book-buyer. Unfortunately, there are a lot of readers like me out here, and you don’t want to lose us.

I’m often intrigued by a book’s cover and blurb, and sometimes a glowing review on Facebook or a book blog will send me to a buy page.

But I never buy without checking out the “LOOK INSIDE!” On most retail sites, that’s 10% of the book—which anybody can read free.

That  “LOOK INSIDE” freebie is your most important book sales tool.

Make sure it’s going to snag readers, not kill book sales just as you’re about to close the deal.

With many books—not only self-published, but trad-pubbed as well—the first few pages will stop the sale for me.

. . . .

I’m a grammar freak, so a misplaced apostrophe or verb/object disagreement will stop me.  I know not everybody is such a stickler.  But I think all readers want to see that a book looks professional and polished. They don’t want to invest time in a book—even if it’s free—unless they feel they’re in competent hands.

. . . .

1) Consider Chapter Titles

The first thing the reader sees when he hits LOOK INSIDE is your “Table of Contents” (unless you have a formatter who will put it at the end. Unfortunately the Big Five don’t ever seem to do this.)

Why waste your first four pages with Chapters titled:

  • One
  • Two
  • Three
  • Four
  • Etc?

You might consider going back to the old-fashioned device of text in chapter titles. Yes.  I know they’ve been out of fashion for a century or so. But ebooks are bringing them back.

You don’t have to go all 18th Century and write:

“Chapter the Tenth, In Which Our Intrepid Hero Encounters Several Not Terribly Nice Ladies, Some Very Strong Spirits and a Face Full of Gravel, as he Searches for his Long-Lost Brother Murgatroyd, and their Father, who May or May Not be Lord Mayor of London.”

But modern chapter titles can give an idea of the action to come.

Chapter titles can also be a major sales tool. Here are the first four chapters of my rom-com mystery The Best Revenge

  1. The Color of Fresh Money
  2. Debutante of the Year
  3. Something in the Woods
  4. King of the Chickenburgers

You know there’s something weird going on with rich people, and it’s probably funny.  Isn’t that more informative than a list of numbers?

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog

PG doesn’t use Look Inside very often, but he may be aberrant.

PG would be interested in knowing how many visitors to TPV are regular users of Look Inside and what they are particularly looking for when they do.


85 Comments to “The One Thing That Will Kill Book Sales Dead—And 10 Ways to Avoid it.”

  1. I seldom use “Look Inside” but 99% of the time I have a free sample sent to my Kindle. What I look for is writing that pulls me in immediately. Sometimes people tell me about a book that starts slowly, but builds by the second or third chapter. I don’t bother with the sample. It’s a no-go for me.

    • I believe that is the exact same text as the Look Inside feature.

      • Yes, I think it is. But I would forget the book if I just checked the LI and decided I’d like to buy the book sometime down the road. With the sample on my Kindle, I read the sample when I’m looking for something new to read, then it takes me to the store. It might be weeks after the book caught my eye. Also, I go to lots of book product pages that are linked in Amazon emails, so I often have a bunch of samples lined up to check out. I do likewise when I see a book reviewed that I suspect will be interesting.

    • Same. I send the sample to my Kindle and if it grabs me I hit the buy button at some point. It’s right there on the Kindle in front of me so I remember it.

    • Tatianna Guerrero

      That is my general rule as well. The look inside function on my phone irritates me, so the sample gets sent and then I read in peace. My last three book purchases came from the fact that I didn’t want to stop reading the book after the sample ran out.

      I agree with the article though, a badly presented ‘inside look’ will kill interest faster then a fart at the dinner table.

  2. Most of the time I do, and I agree with seeing pages of table of contents, acknowledgements, preface or other trivial stuff, rather than actual content. But that’s applicable to eBooks. Even Kindle skips that stuff and send you right to the first chapter.

  3. I have yet to use the “look inside” feature. I know what I’m looking for – a specific title or topic – and go from there.

    Since 90% of what I read right now is non-fiction, gripping chapter titles and dramatic opening scenes are not important. (Let’s face it: there’s a limit to how much drama you can write into statistical analyses of Russia’s medieval fur trade, no matter how good of a historian you are. 🙂 )

  4. It isn’t make or break but I do like to see chapter titles if the book has a table of contents.

    A TOC of nothing but chapter numbers strikes me as redundant. Conversely I see chapter titles, especially cute and whimsical ones, as a sign the author is willing to go an extra inch or two. Good for a couple of brownie points.

    The same applies to chapter epigrams.

    I see them as mood settings and hooks.

    • Geez. After five books in a series, I gotta say, writing interesting chapter titles gets harder and harder. I was thinking of never doing it again. Although when I thought of a really good one, it was fun.

      • It’s not make or break.
        Most of my favorite authors don’t do it.
        And for some stories it might not even be appropriate.
        I guess my position is: don’t do a TOC page if you don’t have chapter titles. It offers little value and takes up space up front.

    • I feel differently about chapter titles. I’ve never liked them. They influence how I feel about the chapter before it even starts and while some people probably do enjoy that, I do not. I also find they interrupt my flow when I’m reading. I hate being dragged out of the story to read a chapter title and always end up trying to figure out what it means in the context of the story. Then I have to re-immerse myself in the story. 🙂

      I send samples. I don’t bother with the look inside except for print books. For them, I like to skip around (“surprise me”) and see if there’s anything interesting there. Most are nonfiction. I’ve actually had this influence my decision to buy. I skipped a book I really wanted just a week ago because the look inside showed me the information I most wanted to read in the book, and it didn’t live up to my hopes. It was a book about writing.

  5. Ah, the click bait is strong with this one.
    On a personal note, I can’t stand books that have chapter titles especially where the author is trying to be cutezy or clever.

  6. Unless there’s good reason not to (trusted author, long awaited book, etc) I read the LI. If I buy a book, I feel obligated to read it, and if I start it, I feel obligated to finish it. I’d rather not start that whole cycle when it’s clear within the first 10% that I’m not going to enjoy the ride.

    • Richard Hershberger

      My life became much better once I realized that it is OK to start a book and not finish it.

  7. Putting the table of contents at the end of an ebook is against Amazon’s ToS.

    I use the Look Inside only to find out who the cover designer is. Most authors don’t credit their designers, unfortunately. I do download samples occasionally.

  8. Anne and I are as one on this. I always read Look Inside before buying, and all my books have chapter headings. The first four chapters of the wip:

    1 Stood up
    2 An alternative Liam Roth
    3 Bad attitude
    4 A fin breaks the surface

    I’ll just have to manage without Anon reading it :o)

    • Thanks Lexi! Love the chapter headers!

    • Color me strange, but coming up with chapter headings is one of my favorite things about putting the novel together. I love pulling a phrase from each chapter that lends a little intrigue to it (I hope) without giving anything away. It’s almost like writing a two- to seven-word poem. (And I agree with Anne; I like your headings, too.)

      • I see chapter titles as hooks to get readers to go “just a few more pages”.

      • Same. They’re supposed to intrigue you without spoilers, and I’m glad to see they’re coming back. In e-books they aren’t even optional, the reader needs them just to be able to navigate the book.

      • I agree. They add resonance, can pique curiosity, give an aha as the chapter goes along. They’re awesome little tools to enhance the experience.

        And why not enhance the experience in the Look Inside?

  9. I agree with Anne Allen.

    For books I consider, I
    1. check the cover,
    2. read the 1-star reviews, and
    3. read the Look Inside.

    In the Look Inside sample, I want
    1. action (I would have rejected Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone),
    2. grammar, and
    3. a style I like (that is, not Faulkner, not early Poe, not Victor Hugo, not Bruce Sterling, but definitely Hemingway (short stories), Heinlein, Wodehouse, and Verne (even with his mistakes)).

    Prefaces, acknowledgements, and ‘thank you, thank you, thank yous’ that take up space and keep me from sampling your prose count against you. Heavily. If they keep me from sampling your prose, I reject your book.

    In my experience, indies get the Look Inside right. They treat it as prime real estate. Big houses screw it up two out of three times.

  10. I use Look Inside regularly. I tolerate TOCs with nothing but numbers, but not extended review quotations or other nonessential preliminaries.

  11. I disagree with labeling Anne R. Allen a click-bait artist.


    • Many thanks, D. C. 🙂 Although if I managed to write something click-baity, I should probably crow about it. As a Boomer, I’m not exactly a whiz at all that SEO stuff

    • Anon is clearly confused about the meaning of clickbait.

      “Clickbait | Definition of Clickbait by Merriam-Webster
      Definition of clickbait. : something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.”

      Anon, by contrast, seems to think a clickbait title is a title that gives the reader a clear idea what the post is about.

      That, surely, is exactly what a title is meant to do.

  12. I like having a sample of the actual story. I want to see if the story piques my interest enough to continue. Likewise, with non-fiction, I need to know if the book suits my needs. NF is where I’d rather have a TOC with some indication of what’s where, especially when the chapters are hyperlinked.

    • I agree with Rhonda. I’ll add that I download 6-8 Look Insides for each book I buy. And I pretty much buy from among the books I sample, those I subsequently read to the « 10% mark »… provided they leave me tempted… to turn the page….


  13. I use the Look Inside 99% of the time too. Not put off by TOC but too much front matter bothers me if it keeps me from getting to the writing. The reason I use the LI is to make sure the writing quality is worth the buy.

  14. Terrence P OBrien

    For fiction, never read reviews, never look inside, never download samples.

  15. If it’s an unknown author, I use the look inside. Unless I don’t have time to really follow up at the moment. Then I’ll download the sample, hoping I have remember to look at it when I have more time. The look inside, though, is the same stuff you get when you download the sample–10%, so it still applies.

  16. I’m with Anne, also “Antares,” always read the one and three-star reviews first and then the LI, where grammatical errors and/or trite anything will kill the sale. Statistically rare three-star reviews are often by somebody with expertise in the book’s field and point out interesting insider flaws that, oddly, up the likelihood that I’ll buy.

  17. I always look inside. I want to read the first few pages so I can tell if the writer can write. I also only read first person if it’s done really well and so often it isn’t. I look at the cover, blurb, the reviews and then INSIDE!

  18. If it is an author I’ve never read before, I always click the look inside and read the full 10%.

    I rarely read reviews to decide if I want to buy or not. Frankly, I don’t trust the reviews either on Amazon or Goodreads (unless I know the person giving the review).

  19. I never look at the LI. Either the description captivates me or it doesn’t.

    • Agree, Alec. Well, for fiction. For nonfiction, I nearly always look inside. For fiction, I only glance at covers as a general indication of genre/subgenre. Bad grammar in the blurb is an automatic no-buy, and I read 1-2-3 star reviews to see why other people didn’t like the book. Sometimes those reviews convince me I won’t care for it, either – sometimes they convince me to give it a try.

  20. If I’m rushed for time, I’ll send a sample to my ereader. If I’m not in a hurry, I’ll use the Look Inside feature.

  21. I always use the LI even if I know and like the author’s work. Even the best produce duds and I can usually tell from the LI excerpt whether it’s going to be worth my time.

  22. I’m in the read the low-star reviews, then check the Look Inside camp. Since, as Andrea Pearson pointed out, putting the TOC at the end of the book is against Amazon’s TOS (and they were pulling books where it wasn’t at the front for a while), I don’t count a numbered TOC in the beginning against the book.

  23. Every time I’ve been so beguiled by cover and blurb that I’ve skipped the Look Inside, I’ve regretted it.

    What do I look for?

    1) Do the first few paragraphs draw me in?

    I’ve found that inexperienced and unskilled writers tend to leap right into either pure action or else pure description. Sometimes pure dialog (characters talking with no indication of who they are or where they are). All these bore me. What I need is action plus a heavy dose of character opinion or setting plus character opinion or dialog plus same. Or some mix of action/setting/dialog plus opinion.

    2) Are there grammar errors?

    I don’t specifically look for these, but if they are present they leap out at me and throw me out of the story. I figure if the author can’t manage grammar in one of the most important sections of the book…then I’m not in good hands and don’t want to waste my time.

    3) Do I feel interested and intrigued and desirous of MOOAR? 😉

    If so, then I’m very likely to click that buy button.

    • What you said about the inexperienced writers, yes. I hate being told that a character introduced on the first page is acting out-of-character on page 2, and the narrator drones on for five more pages to establish this point.

      Sorry, but I need to see Mr. Spock being cool and unemotional long before you claim that a comedian is so funny and insist it’s true because Mr. Spock is rolling on the floor laughing out loud, “and he never does that!” I’m looking to see how the writer establishes characters rather than having them try and argue me into believing X, Y, or Z about them.

  24. I always use the “Look Inside,” and, yes, it is a deal-breaker for me. Not so much for typos and punctuation, but for the story.

    The narrative voice has to compel me, right from page one. I generally loathe first person, especially present tense, so a story in that POV has to stand out to overcome my built-in bias.

    I read mostly women’s fic, romantic comedy, and chick lit, and I encounter a lot of the same old, same old. If the plot, characters or writing are cookie cutter, I pass, and I usually decide by page two or three.

    Reviews come second to the L-I. I find the three-stars to be most helpful and best thought-out. Few books with lots of five-stars live up to their hype.

  25. I collect titles and authors that I want to check on, not necessarily purchase, from articles, etc. Then I check the LI to see if I like the writing.

    I also tell people to check out my books by Looking Inside if they’re not interesting don’t press the buy with a click button.

    I could download a sample but anything you download eventually has to be deleted and how many snow days are there for projects like deleting files.

    Look Inside gives a quick clean look at the contents of the book with no strings or labor attached.

  26. Always do. Why not? Though I must admit that I am usually unfamiliar with the author’s work, so it really pays to get an idea of what the story and writing is like. And sadly, being a crotchety old man who knows what he likes, and what he doesn’t, what I find almost never induces me to buy the book, be it indie or traditionally published.

  27. I purchase non-fiction mainly. Whatever I think to purchase, I use Look Inside. Yes, grammatical mistakes will kill the deal for me, but more importantly I look for layout.

    I’ve found that that correlates well with quality of writing–not perfectly, since some beautifully arranged books are worthless and some ugly books are worthwhile. But, on the whole, layout has proved to be a good indicator of an indie author’s writing skills.

  28. I feel you need a TOC even just for numbers chapters, just to make the navigation easier, but there’s no reason for it to take up valuable real estate in the front of the book.

    I provide a “short TOC” at the front which gives a link to the “full TOC” (in the back) and a few entries (the 1st chapter, Glossary of names, excerpt from next book). Takes up half a page, at most.

  29. Thanks so much for the shout-out PG! And many thanks for all the kind words, everybody.

    I forgot that the ToC at the end is now verboten for KU because of KU gamers. I’ll add that to the post.

    • Anne,

      I posted on another thread about Kindle Create. The videos they use do not show them forcing an actual page for the TOC.

      When I tried out the software with a clean copy of Great Expectations, the program did not force me to create a TOC “page.” It simply created a standard ebook TOC.

      Look at the videos on the link and see what I mean. Thanks…


  30. Having been caught out one too many times by a highly ranked book with glowing reviews and an interesting blurb, which turned out to be terrible, I now read the Look Inside religiously. Simply can’t afford the time, money and disappointment of buying a ‘dud’. 🙁

  31. “…misplaced apostrophe or verb/object disagreement will stop me. I know not everybody is such a stickler.”

    Maybe I’m being too much of a stickler, but perhaps she actually meant subject-verb disagreement here? 🙂

    I don’t generally use the Look Inside feature for casual fiction because I either know the author already or have seen the book or author favorably reviewed by someone I trust (i.e., not an Amazon reviewer). I do sometimes use it for a new-to-me author who turns up in the also-boughts, and I’m more likely to use it if the book is expensive.

    I definitely want to see a thorough and descriptive table of contents in non-fiction books. For novels, I can take them or leave them alone.

  32. i usew LI and samples regularly. For fiction, to see if the story interests me and the writing doesn’t put me off. For non-fiction to tell if it’s something I’d actually read – I read non-fiction for my own interests so dull writing means no sale.

    I hate, hate, hate samples and LI that show only front matter: prefaces, acknowledgements, TOC, why-this-book-is-wonderful, etc. I want to get a look at the meat of the work. Even for non-fiction I want more than a table of contents, especially if it’s on a subject I’m mostly ignorant about.

  33. I have a hard enough time coming up with book titles that aren’t horrible. If I had to come up with chapter titles, too, I’d never publish anything 🙁

  34. For what it’s worth, I probably buy 100-150 Kindle books a year and I have never once used ‘Look Inside.’ What’s more, I don’t know anyone who has.

  35. I use the “Look inside”, but even that is no guarantee. I bought a book that drew me in in the first couple of chapters and was awful the rest of the way. Didn’t have the heart to leave a bad review or return it. I think I only paid 99 cents.

  36. I always check the Look Inside feature, to make sure the story is well-written. I don’t read first person present tense, for example, and absolutely despise the modern insistence on misusing (and overusing) participle phrases.

  37. FWIW, I’ll evaluate a book normally – does it look like something I want to read, and are the reviews reasonable. I either pull the trigger or request the sample. In the sample cases they might sit for months before I open them and try them. For me, a sample is sort of a placeholder. It’s “I might want to try this book, but I don’t feel like thinking about it right now, maybe later”, and IMHO, it works very well for that. Never bothered with look inside, although in at least one recent case I probably should have.

  38. I always check the LI feature as most commentators do here, and it has helped me save time. I found Anne’s advice on this to be spot on.

    Yet, bottom line, let’s face it, the LI feature simply tries to duplicate the experience of walking in a physical bookstore and opening a book that has drawn your attention because of the book cover and title. It’s nothing new or unusual for any book lover to use the feature…And all rules for writing a good opening apply – regardless of LI!

  39. For fiction, there are a few authors for whom I buy any book they put out (and the same goes for one or two series) and these mostly are bought as pre-orders where there is no “Look Inside” available. For almost any other fiction – unless I’ve already read the book and am just picking up an e-book version – I always look inside and what really decides me is if I want to keep reading when the extract ends. So I want to see the extraneous fluff at the start of the book eliminated as far as possible, not because I’ll read it – Look Inside normally starts at Chapter 1 and I don’t scroll back to see the TOC, a list of the author’s other works, or whatever – but because it cuts short the sample.

    Non fiction is another matter. I still use Look Inside to see whether I want to buy but also to try to work out whether an e-book will do or whether a paper copy might be better. For the former a TOC with text in the chapter titles is often a useful guide as to the book’s coverage. The latter is harder to evaluate though sometimes clicking for the “Print Book” version of Look Inside can be helpful. It just revealed to me that the maps and genealogical charts in chapter 1 of a history book had not made it to the e-book.

  40. I often use Look Inside, always to get a feel for the writing. If it grabs me, I buy. If it doesn’t, I pass.

  41. I only use li for non-fiction. And in that case, chapter titles give me a much better idea if what I’m looking for is even in the book. For fiction, it’s between the author name, title, cover (a bit) and most importantly, the blurb .

  42. I use LI sometimes, but most often I download a sample. If I get a book with a boatload of front matter (Preface, Author’s Note, etc) before I get to the meat of it, I’m done. Start me with the good stuff. Recipe books are HORRIBLE about this. They will go through all the basic kitchen stuff (all of them) and sometimes I don’t even get one recipe to see what it’s like.

    So yeah. Hit or miss for me.

  43. I use the Look Inside all the time. If the writing is the good, then all I’m hoping for is a book that matches my mood. And no sadism! I hate that particular trend in suspense and thriller novels, where in the opening scene some psycho is shown doing unspeakable things to a woman or child. Click out of those as fast as I can.

    As for the ToC in ebooks, they are a necessary evil. Newer ereading devices have built-in navigation (and self-publishers need to make sure their books are formatted properly to take advantage of it), but a lot of older devices do not have that feature. Readers depend on the publisher-generated ToC to navigate the book. As tiresome as a list of chapters can be, it’s one of those things that readers can ignore if they want, but it’s there if they need it.

  44. I despise chapter titles. I also don’t care for quotes, poems, POV, or locations. It all takes me out of the story, and if I can’t stick with it, I’ll stop reading. Bad for future books from the author.

    I always check the Look Inside. Right after I finish reading all the one, two and sometimes three star reviews. I don’t trust five stars, and look askance at four stars.

    Apparently I shouldn’t expect my foibles to extend to anyone else in the world. Finally, I am unique! Film at eleven.

  45. Chapter titles are a lost art. They do help create a certain whimsical tone that may not suit all genres. As a writer, I find them useful in keeping track of what I’ve put in previous chapters and they serve as a crude outline/plan of chapters to come. As far as readers go, I sometimes worry that they’ll give too much away of the upcoming chapter.

  46. I won’t buy a book without checking inside. How is the first chapter? Is it riddled with spelling or formatting errors? Do I want to read more at the end of the sample? I also look at 3 star reviews, since they’re not gushing and usually describe any issues the reader had with the book. I want to see if it’s something I’d have a problem with, too. (Slow start, a certain kind of character or plot I don’t care for, etc.)

  47. I look inside the book if it is a tech book, research volume, scientific treatise. Recently skryed ten books on science of scent, animal and human. They are freakin expensive books, even in kindle, ridiculously priced at 80 and over 100 dollars. Without ‘look inside’ one could blow a lot of money on either outdated instead of more recent works, language that is incomprehensible, or just poor research like swiss cheese.

    Novels, meh. Might or might not. I tend to fast glance at reviews most recent, ten or so, and go by recomm’s that are thoughtful.

    Not a ‘grab me or else I wont buy’ person… Im willing for novels esp to build a world, or define atmospheric characters etc… hoping the storyline fuse once lit, will ignite from there.

    really the only thing that keeps me from reading/buying just about anything is if it is poorly made, seams falling apart. clothing/ books. same and same.

    • Not a ‘grab me or else I wont buy’ person… Im willing for novels esp to build a world, or define atmospheric characters etc… hoping the storyline fuse once lit, will ignite from there.

      Those things grab me. I don’t interpret “grab the reader” as necessarily meaning car chases and explosions in the first five pages. But good dialogue, descriptions, atmosphere or world building, etc., those things need to be present from the start, too.

      I didn’t get fully into “The Fellowship of the Ring” until about 100 pages in, when Frodo fears he’s seeing a Ringwraith on the road, but it’s actually Merry. Merry has saddled up to see if his friend has fallen into any ditches during his journey. That moved me, because it proved the characters were people and it would matter what happened to them. I can’t stand it when writers treat their characters like checker pieces*** to be moved around per the needs of the plot.

      I’ll give a writer time to establish characters and setting, but I want to see the seeds sown early on. These days I just need to see proof that a character isn’t going to spend hundreds of pages wallowing in a problem she can’t be bothered to solve.

      ***Checkers and not chess, because chess implies thought and deliberation, which is the opposite of what’s happening when writers disrespect their characters.

  48. ok read the whole article. Couldnt disagree more. Most wont write to one poetaster’s needs, and they are right to resist. For each person is pulled by their own star. They could have t of c or none. Number them or not. It doesnt matter.

    The material about ‘do and dont’ is flat out trivial, has been stated a million times in far more engaging ways. Scolding tone just isnt my cup of Joe.

    Just saying, when an actual editor, not a ‘editorial assistant’ or a grad student intern read your mss back in the day, they were not looking to be grabbed on the first page. aThat’s Writer’s Digest’ 1 inch deep ‘advice.’

    Back in the day, editors were people who loved to read, were not jaded but excited to find new writers and to read new works by estab writers. They would row through the manuscript looking for tone, affect, texture and the nuances of writing, getting a feel for what the writer was saying, not a mono-style they wanted all writers to adhere to.

    That came later with the corporatization of publishing, the godzillas who ate all the strongest publishers and stomped around treading on authors, killing their spirits, all to speak only of ‘units’ no longer speaking of river of life, or magical worlds, or love that lasted or didnt, the tragedy and beauty in most all things.

  49. I read a lot of Regency historicals, and when I remember, if it’s an author I’m not familiar with, I Look Inside. Bad grammar definitely puts me off. Likewise boxes of chocolates, Hampshire skunks, “snuck”, “pled”, “gotten”, “a new book by Miss Jane Austen”, titles passing through the female line, and girls who ride astride wearing breeches are all off-putting.

  50. The way I select books is to look at cover, blurbs, reviews, and then, for fiction, give the first page or two a try. For nonfiction do that and look at the TOC.

    I’m an impatient reader. So the first page has to grab me.

  51. I don’t often use the look inside. If the blurb really sucks me in, then they have a sale. Anyone who can write a good blurb can write a good novel. However, if the blurb is so-so but the idea is intriguing, then I’ll use the look inside. With KU it is a little easier just to borrow and start reading than it is to bother with the look inside.

  52. I use Look Inside for almost every book I buy through Amazon. Gives me a real handle on if the book is worth buying or not.

    Since I read — and buy — mostly non-fiction, good chapter titles are an indication of what the book covers, in what detail, and its level (amateur simple basic or expert professional). This is why I want the TOC in the front of the book, so I can see it in LI. The various advice I’ve read about putting the TOC at the back of an ebook is dead wrong, IMHO.

    One thing that bugs me is page after page of testimonials that I have to scroll through to get to the meat. It’s blah-blah overkill. My advice is to keep testimonials to a max of one “page”. The book’s content is what sells me, not a plethora of testimonials.

  53. I don’t usually use the Look Inside (I don’t like to download samples because then I have a sample file to deal with). When I do, I’m pretty much just scanning the first paragraph or page to make sure it’s not horrible.

    I wonder if anyone here has (as reader or author) experimented with Look Inside samples intentionally set to more than 10%. Say, 40 or 50. If so, any opinions?

    • I didn’t know that could be done. I wish it could because of all the front matter issues everyone else mentioned; I don’t want the LI to be taken up with the preface and acknowledgements and blurbs about the book’s awesomeness. Especially for nonfiction, where the front matter space is an issue, I wish it could be set as you suggest.

      • It can, at least on Amazon. Just e-mail them and ask them to set it to a different percentage. They don’t seem to have any problem with setting it at more than 10%; it’s probably if an author requested to set it at less that they’d have a problem.

    • shawna, we do 20% even tho our books are long often [500+/- pages]

      Agree: loathe seeing only cover, t of c, preamble and then, no more.

      • So you can do bigger samples?
        Good to know.

        Does the sample file absolutely have to be a straight cut from the beginning or can it be a separate file with, say, chapters 1,5,9…?

        • Good question Felix. I dont know. We put in straight 20% from first page to that far in.

          I would imagine one could layer odd/even chapters as one wishes. I’ve not tried to do that. Maybe someone else here knows…


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