My Book Excerpt Led to An Assignment By Diane Craver

Recently, I was invited by Rebecca Vickery of Victory Tales Press to write a story for one of their anthologies in exchange for a share of the royalties. It was quite an honor to be asked to join this group of talented writers. My story will be included in a Christmas anthology. One reason Rebecca asked me was because she had read several of book excerpts that I had posted on her yahoo group.

I’ve heard of writers acquiring agents from their posted excerpts at various places, so with what I’ve recently experienced, choosing your excerpt might not only inspire someone to buy your book but might also land you a book contract. There are two things I want to alert you to so that your excerpt will reflect well on you as an author. Using spell check is good but it’s not enough to catch all misspelled words. Spell check doesn’t catch homophonesówords that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. You should always proofread at least once after you’ve spell checked your excerpt. It’s helpful to print a hard copy of the excerpt ñ I seem to catch errors better this way.

The second thing you should do is to change curly (also called smart quotes) quotation marks to straight quotation marks. These curly quotes make for a nice printed document but will cause symbols to appear when you post your excerpts electronically.

Before buying a book, I like to sample the author’s writing. The best way to do this is to read an excerpt. Have you ever read a book excerpt that drew you in so quickly that you wanted to read more immediately? I’m sure you have. As authors, that’s our goal to post excerpts that will entice readers to buy our books.

Attention span is the amount of time a person can concentrate on a task without becoming distracted. The average adult who is engaged in an interesting topic will remain focused for twenty seconds. However, when people are doing something enjoyable, like watching a movie or TV, they are able to stay focused for much longer periods.

Here are guidelines for posting the perfect excerpt to sell your book:

  • Choose a short excerpt for a sample of your writing. If the excerpt is too long, the reader will skip over it.
  • Having a hook at the beginning is imperative.
  • Leave them wondering and itching to read more. Some kind of a cliff-hanger at the end is what you should aim for.
  • Pick one that contains dialogue or action, not just narrative.
  • Choose an example of the overall theme of the book and the underlying conflict.
  • 300 words is a good length. Select a few excerpts and ask your friends or fellow writers which one they like best.

Diane Craver enjoys her life with her husband and six children. Her books, Whitney in Charge and Marrying Mallory are her newest releases with Desert Breeze Publishing. Diane is also the author of How To Run A Profitable Preschool Without The Hassle, Celebrating And Caring For Your Baby With Special Needs, Never the Same, No Greater Loss, and A Fiery Secret. To learn more about Diane and her writing, visit her website & blog at: and

Have a Freelance Success Story to share? We pay $40 on acceptance, non-exclusive electronic rights only. Success stories run around 300 words but we’re very flexible. Our guidelines are here:


BAM Advanced Fiction Techniques: First Pages
There are three basic ways to hook readers. Do you know what they are?