Previewing Your Book — “Look Inside”

magicbookOne of the more powerful sales features of Amazon is its ability to let on-line shoppers take a lengthy peek at your book. A couple of clicks and the shopper can read your title page, your copyright statement, your preface, introduction, dedication, acknowledgement, prologue, frontispiece, and foreword. And, if they’re lucky, they can see some of your first chapter.

To participate in a Books Go Social promotion, I agreed to buy someone else’s book. I listed 18 candidates that looked interesting based on their description in the promo thread. I used Look Inside to preview each book and rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being boring and 10 being peachy keen. I then made a short list of the five novels that scored the highest, 8s or 9s, in this case. I was pretty sure that any of those would be a worthwhile read. Here’s my shortlist, if you’re curious:

Book                               Author                     Score         Notes     
The Donated,           by William Knight,   8/10   Well-written; zombies?
Last Cut Casebook, by Gail Williams,      8/10   “Forward??” Fairly good.
A January Killing,   by Paul Toolan,         8/10   Good.
Red Hope,                by John Dreese,         8/10   Wandering POV?
A Different Truth,  by A.Oppenlander,    9/10   A grabber. 

The notes give some clues to the scores, but not much. These are all five star books, or close enough to it not to matter.

The other 13 books, nameless here forevermore, scored between a 3 and a 7. If you want to see the list of 7s, let me know. Some of the reasons for the lower scores: didactic material; a slow opening; an early flashback; bad layout; excess jocularity; style problems; insufficient editing; verbose or turgid prose; incoherency; too much narrator.

But the most common reason for a low score was that I couldn’t read enough of Chapter 1 to make a rating. In a couple of cases, less than two pages were viewable.

Bottom line: check your Look Inside pages and see what the shopper sees. The amount of your novel that may be read via Look Inside can be varied from 10% to 80% by the publisher in increments of 10%. The default is 20%. Front matter (or back matter) is not counted in these percentages. If you want more pages (or fewer) shown, have your publisher contact Amazon: Include Publisher Name or ISBN, and the desired percentage.

More information on Look Inside is found here:

In the end, I bought A January Killing for the NOOK. Any questions or comments?


Image by Brian Ochalla,
Inside the Ni No Kuni ‘Magic Master’ book

Complete-in-box copy of Banishing Racer for the Nintendo GameBoy

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