The books page of a popular news web site is interested in serializing, in five installments, the first 50 pages or so of my spy novel that Doubleday is publishing next month. 

I'd appreciate feedback as to whether this is a good thing.

Obviously, if readers get a taste and are hooked, it is. But might it be a case of Why buy the cow when you can get enough of the milk to determine you'd rather not buy milk?

In which case, is 50 pages too much? If so, what is the ideal amount? 

Are there case studies that might be informative one way or the other, i.e. does anyone know if there been any other serialized thrillers on the Web, or at least since the days of Dickens and Conan-Doyle?

Is there anything else I should take into account?

Thank you. 

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What do your agent and editor think? I'd follow their advice on this one. To me it's free publicity, and I'd be willing to gamble on the first 50 pages of my book setting the hook, as opposed to driving readers away. Congrats on the forthcoming book, by the way--very exciting!
I agree with Jon. You have to believe the first 50 pages will hook them.
Jon is right to ask your agent and publisher, but beyond that. . .

Are you kidding? Of course! Ask Cory Doctorow or Scott Sigler whether giving far more than that away for free has hurt them on their road to New York Times bestseller status. Those guys would tell you give the whole book away and still have it help them. Giving away fifty pages is a no-brainer.

As for serialization (which is a slightly different question than whether or not to give it away), the key to it is generating fast word of mouth. I released my thriller as free serialized audio on my web site and Hundreds of other authors have also done so - some generating tens of thousands of fans and others not very many (I fall somewhere in between). Some of them also released their work as serialized text online. Tony Eldridge I believe just finished the text serialization of his thriller the Samson Effect, and you could do worse than checking out his site on book marketing in general.

For my book, I created 26 episodes, so it had half a year to build, and five installments may not be enough to generate a major buzz. The key for me was working with other audio authors on cross-promotion. In your case, try contacting other thriller authors to help promote it on their blogs - you may want to offer them some sort of reciprocity now or in the future. I don't know if you're a member of the International Thriller Writers, but they seem like a supportive bunch. To mangle a metaphor, the key is to get a bunch of irons in a bunch of online fires.

Assuming I like the first ten pages or so, I'd be happy to give you a plug on my podcast and web site - just a few hundred listeners, but I'm happy to do it. Email me at if you're interested.
I see absolutely no problem with that. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Since the publisher holds the rights, it would be courteous to make sure it's all right with them.
What a cool opportunity! Your book sounds terrific. And if I may make a plug . . . . if you haven't already done do, you should join the International Thriller Writers and check out their debut author program. I was in charge of the program last year, and it's terrifically helpful. ITW has given their debut members a special section on their website to help draw attention to first-time authors, features them at a special breakfast at ThrillerFest every year, and even offers mentoring opportunities to the group at a private discussion forum. They partnered with to create a program called "Breakout Thrillers" where established authors plug new ones - sponsored an anthology called FIRST THRILLS which will be coming out from Tor in June that's a mix of stories from established authors and new authors (including me!) - just all sorts of good stuff.

I'm deeply involved with ITW (website chair, and managing editor of their Webzine and monthly newsletter, The Big Thrill), and can only say that for all I've put into it, I've gotten much more out.

Congrats again, and good luck!
I'll chime in with Jon and Jude, since A) I agree with them and B) they're rarely wrong. I've seen too much evidence that giveaways can help. Fifty pages doesn't seem like too much, and you want the sample to be enough for the story to build a little. Hooking readers in the first page or chapter is important, but you can reel them in over fifty pages.
It's a venerable principle--the more you give away, the more you sell. The New York Yankees and the Metropolitan Opera discovered it in the 1930s, when the medium was radio.
That sounds wonderful, and congratulations on publication of your novel. If I read the first 50 pages or so of a novel, I'll know if I'd like to read the rest, and I certainly would buy it if it 'hooked' me. That's a great way to give readers a small taste. Everyone before me is correct though with regard to checking with your agent and publisher, but it sounds like something that could only help you.
This seems to be an open and shut case.

Thank you.

I'll post the link, etc., when it begins.
I'd call it a "no-brainer," but what would that say about you? ;) Congrats again!
The Huffington Post is going to run the first 17 chapters of Once a Spy in five installments, beginning today:
Chapters 4 through 7 of Once a Spy go on The Huffington Post today:


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