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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The Huffington Post posted the fourth installment of the Once a Spy serialization:

In other news, Doubleday published the actual book this week.
congrats, Keith! And thanks for keeping us updated on the installments
Thanks, Edward. HuffPost will run the fifth of five installments next Friday.
Congrats, Keith. Saw your book in Costco this afternoon. Glad the mega-store recognizes quality. Hello, NY Times list! Am enjoying the book.
Thanks re: the book, Charles. Let me know if it holds up. And if so, let all your friends know. And enemies. And complete strangers.

Sounds good re: Costco, though I'm not sure what to make of it. My thesis project was published by St. Martin's. Called Pirates of Pensacola. A small press run, the vast majority bought by Costcos in Florida, in the Pensacola vicinity.
That is interesting -- I assumed some sort of centralized purchasing with stores nationwide shoving Dan Brown out of the way to make room for cases of thomson!
It must be an interesting marketing process and one in which the large publishers can really operate to advantage.
Costco is a VERY good place to be according to these numbers from this post on Sarah Weinman's blog:

Over a three week period this summer, the following sales numbers were recorded for a NYT bestselling thriller writer's most recent book:

B&N: 4,140
Waldenbooks: 4,888
Borders: 3,993
Anderson Merchandisers/Walmart: 47,671
Target: 16,341
Price/Costco: 17,291
Sam's: 14,108
Amazon: 320

BTW, I saw Once a Spy on the new fiction table last Friday at my local (tiny) Borders. Heading down there today to pick it up!
One of my kid's nursery school classmates is the manager of the local Costco, and is tight with corporate; I'll have to get the scoop from him. The world of co-op and compliance is totally new to me. Glad to hear Borders is coming through on their end of the deal. Speaking of which, I appreciate your support/look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Hi Keith,

I'm gonna answer this as author then reader.

The author in me says, GO FOR IT. I used to think like you and I was also with a big publisher. I thought authors were CRAZY for doing this. You know what, I was crazy for not doing it. Free samples and excerpts of books encourage sales tremendously! For my next deal, you can best believe I'm gonna work something out with the pub and make sure that we're doing the "freebie" sample for promotion. It helps, believe me.

The reader in me says, YES, YES! I am discouraged from buying a book if I can't read something about it. I either go to the author's web site or I visit Amazon and check to see if the book has the "Search Inside" Feature. If it's an author I've never read, no matter how popular, if I can't read even one paragraph of the writing, I'm not interested. It gets frustrating to buy books and you end up disappointed for various reasons. Life is too short to waste money on books you don't like so samples let folks know if they will end up satisfied with a particular work or frustrated with it.

Samples encourage sales. They also work well with reviews and you get more exposure because folks put your samples on literary blogs etc. I'll tell you why it works:

1) The economy and books are too expensive for people to shelve money out for a book where you can't get through even half of it.

2) If a reader's never read you, they get to see an author's writing style to see if an author's prose or pacing is something they will want to follow for three hundred or more pages. More readers would like the option of doing this than buying a book they cannot finish. I know I do. I wanna see if I click with the author's writing style so that's why I want samples.

3) Samples encourage sales for following releases. Say you release your first book in your series right? Say you're already contracted for the second book but it won't be released for a year? Some pubs will allow authors to upload a sample of the upcoming book, so while readers are checking out your first book and enjoying it, that sample of your second or upcoming book will wet their whistle for the series. This is how a lot of authors get followings for series these days, samples.

Samples sell your work! What you're doing is teasing them, not pushing them away. If they like what you show them, then they are going to buy that book. I speak from author experience and from reader experience.

Now a days I rarely buy a book unless I've read something from it. If I do it's either because I love the author or I know the author personally and I've told them I'd check out their work. But I shop by samples. I am also a reader who prefers ebooks so whenever I read a sample, if it hooks me, I'll order the book right then and there.

Do it, do it! It's a must these days with promotion.

Best Wishes!
Today the Huffington Post posts the fifth and final excerpt from Once a Spy (Doublday, Mar 9, 2010):


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