IAM Guest Post…The Joy of Sampling


Guest Feature

Today on Indie Author Month we welcome author Sara Zaske as our guest. Sara is an expat American writer living in Berlin, Germany. Her debut novel, The First, is available at all places that sell fabulous books. She’s currently revising a scorcher of a second novel called, Spitfire. You can visit her book blog at YA Fantastic Book Review.

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The Joy of Sampling

I’ll admit it. I’m a serial sampler.

I often cruise Amazon or Smashwords to download free samples of books. I probably have hundreds on my Kindle. Of course, I’m a book blogger, a writer, and an all-round reading addict, but I think every reader should sample books with the same abandon.

Why sample? Because you can. When you pick up a book at a bookstore, what’s the first thing you do? Look at the cover? Read the flap stuff? I open it and read the first line or paragraph. For me, it’s the only way to tell if it’s going to be a good book. Usually though, I like to read 10-20 pages before I decide to get it. But by then, the bookstore employees are looking at me funny.

With ebooks, you can read the first couple chapters of nearly any book that catches your eye and read them at your leisure. This is one of the best ways to discover Indie authors because let’s be honest, there’s a lot of chaff out there in both traditional and Indie publishing world. And who wants to spend time and money on a dud?

No Kindle? No problem. Even if you don’t have an ereader, you can sample books on your computer, iPad or smartphone. Smashwords allows you to sample books in almost any format. And Amazon has free apps that will turn almost any device into an ereader. (So does B&N, see the image next to Nook book buy link: example.)

Of course, sampling is super easy if you have a Kindle or a Nook. Just click Send sample on the right of a Amazon Kindle book page (example), or the Get Free Sample link next to the Buy Now button on Barnes & Noble (example).

What to look for in a sample? I probably don’t have to tell you. You know it when you read it. But here are some of the things I look for:

Grabber opening—Sets up an interesting problem from the get go, usually in the very first line

Great character— A main character who is sympathetic but flawed (problems are always more interesting than perfection)

Voice—A confident storyteller who makes no mistakes, earns my trust, and generally gives me the feeling that my imaginiation is in good hands

Start Now! A great place to begin sampling is right in front of you: this very blog. Cruise the Indie author postings from this month, click their links, download free samples, and start reading.

The First by Sara ZaskeI’ll give you a taste right now. Here are the opening lines from my YA urban fantasy novel, The First:

“I should have never gone to the new girl’s house. The walls didn’t need to melt, and the ground didn’t have to disappear under my feet to know that I should have stayed far away from Violet Starkey . . .“

Want more? Download a longer free sample of The First from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords)

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