In the last few years ebooks have taken off, rising 366% in the UK last year. One of the benefits of ebooks is the ability to try a sample before parting with your money. Unfortunately some authors seem to be making the most of this opportunity and I have noticed some changes in the content of fiction released recently.
Amazon allow a reader to try 10% of a book before deciding whether or not to buy the rest. This has led some authors to deliberately create an exciting scene, ending with a breath-taking cliffhanger, at the 10% cut-off. Readers desperate to find out what happens next are therefore more likely to buy the rest. I have seen several mentions of this on Twitter, but admit that I haven’t noticed it much myself. This is perhaps because it is more likely to occur in thrillers, a genre I don’t read that often.
I can see why authors are tempted to do this. If you’d written a book and noticed that you had a suspenseful scene 15% of the way into your book, wouldn’t it be tempting to move it forward a bit in the hope it would encourage more people to buy it? Kindle samples are changing the structure of books and unless another major retailer comes into the market with a different sample cut off I can only see this sort of behaviour increasing.
Amazing First Chapters
One thing I have noticed is the increase in fantastic first chapters. Authors seem to be putting a disproportionate amount of effort into honing the beginning of their book and neglecting the rest. I find this really frustrating. It shows the quality the author is capable of producing; they tempt me with amazing writing and then fail to apply that same level of scrutiny to the rest of the book. I know authors have always put extra effort into the first line/page of their book, but now they seem to be extending this to the first 10% of the text and then, once the reader has purchased the rest, they fail to insert that magic spark to the other sections. This is such a shame as all pages of the book should be given the same level of attention. Authors shouldn’t be concentrating on a single purchase, they should ensure their entire book is as good as it can be. That way I’ll buy the next book they produce and recommend it to all my friends.
Once Burnt, Twice Shy
In the last few months I’ve lost count of the number of books I’ve had to abandon after the quality of the middle section failed to match that of the start. I am now deeply suspicious of any book that has a suspenseful scene just before the 10% threshold and in future will try a random page in the centre to judge the quality of the writing.
Have you noticed any recent changes in the way books are written?
Do you trust ebook samples?