Let me begin with an honest caveat. I’m a self-published author and have spent ten years cultivating my online presence, learning tips of the trade, finding quality partners to help polish and edit my manuscripts, researching the market and my genre, and investing in the health and longevity of my stories. I may not have a well-known publisher behind my work, but that doesn’t make it any less worthy of enjoyment. There are many self-published authors who invest time and energy to ensure readers get the best quality story at a reasonable price.
Self-publishing is not easy or cheap. Cover art, editing, formatting, marketing, and time all come at a price. I’m fortunate to have a husband who supports my artistic endeavors, both emotionally and financially. But I want to show him, and new readers, that my work is a worthy investment. Because it is. And so are the books of many other self-published authors.
With the expansion of self-publishing, it’s becoming harder and harder to have confidence in trying a new-to-me author. I get it. I often encounter this problem as a reader. When I find a book that catches my attention, I’m always cautious before hitting the purchase button. My solution: download a sample of the book.
Sample downloads are a game changer. If you haven’t been utilizing this feature, I highly recommend you try it. Amazon, Smashwords, and most other retailers allow you to download a 15-20% sample of the book before you purchase it.
When I start a new book, if I’m not hooked by the end of the first few chapters, I’m not going to be invested in the story. I used to be one of those readers who would finish a book, even if I wasn’t enjoying it. But I realized life is too short to read books that don’t resonate from the beginning. Thus began my DNF pile, but it also made me painfully aware of the cost of my unfinished hoard of books.
I don’t remember when I started downloading samples. But it changed the way I approached reading for pleasure. There are a lot of sample downloads waiting on my kindle, and that’s fine. I’ll get to them when the mood strikes and should they catch my interest, I’ll purchase the full book and continue reading. No harm, no foul.
With so many wonderful books flowing onto the market, it’s hard to decide what to spend your book money on. I understand it can be a difficult choice. But by downloading a sample, we’re trying a new author at no cost but our time. And since that sample is on our eReader, we’re reminded of its presence every time we open the application. This keeps the author’s name at the forefront of our minds.
Have I found wonderful new authors doing this? Yes. Have I found ones that didn’t meet my expectations or standards? Also, yes. I use this method with all types of authors, traditional, independent, or self-published. Even those with a publishing house behind their name are susceptible to the DNF pile. It’s nothing personal. I just know what I like.
Because I’m a reader, I know this also applies to me as an author. There will be those who find my work too steamy, too sweary, too brash. My books may not be everyone’s cup of tea. That’s perfectly fine. For those who find my stories and fall in love with them, I’m honored to have your support and love. You are my community, and I treasure your presence in my life.
Have you used the sample download feature? Does it help you find new authors to love? Tell me in the comments.
Kirsten S. Blacketer