Have you ever read a short excerpt from a book that intrigued you so much, you ended up buying the book? I’m talking about an extremely short chunk — no more than 140 characters.
If you wander through Twitter-land, you might see direct quotes pop up in your feed. It’s also possible to seek out those tiny samples of books. When you do a search on hastag novellines, you get 140 characters lifted from novels—minus the chunk taken up with that hashtag.
I’m surprised by how random these little tidbits are. I see a lot of descriptions of weather. Eyes show up, often. People post lots of steamy bits. I’m struck by how even a line or two taken from a love scene seems . . .random.
Some of the choices are clever. Many strike me as haphazard.
I asked several people if they ever bought a book because of one of those short excerpts:
Linda: Nope. But I don’t use twitter. I’ve bought books because of covers and blurbs. Does that count?
Jess: Never. I avoid twitter.
Mike: Twitter does nothing for me. Have I bought based on a longer excerpt? Um, no. No wait, maybe?
So much for that random sampling of real people in real life.
I went over to the source of short and pithy and asked the people who count: Tweeters—specifically the ones who follow me.
@KateRothwell Know that #novellines thing? 140 characters lifted from a book? Have you ever clicked on the link? Have you bought a book because of it?
Then, a half-hour later:
@kathyf No, no, and no.
@kathyf I have, however, bought books from blog posts. Seems to be best way to intrigue me, rather than short tweets.
I tried again. My next Tweet:
@KateRothwell for an article: Do you read tweets lifted directly from books? Do you click on links? Have you bought a book as a result?
I went over to a Facebook group that’s all about e-books and excerpts and asked,
“Have you bought a book as a result of seeing a short excerpt at twitter? Or even facebook?”
That question got lost in about ten minutes, drowned in a sea of excerpts.
My own response to the question would be: Yes, and in fact thinking about the two books I bought inspired me to write this article. I’d heard great things about a particular author, but I’m not sure I would have looked her up without noticing the quote.
Because of a very short excerpt by @gailcarriger, I clicked on the link. And then I clicked on the buy button. Two series and six books later, I’m looking forward to clicking on more buy buttons.
The tweeted quote that sold me (and ended up buying Gail Carriger at least a pizza or two):
“Lord Maccon was built like a brick outhouse, with opinions twice as unmoving and often equally full of crap.” —Blameless
Another tweet that sold a book to me was from Colson Whitehead (or one of his followers).
“New York City in life was much like New York City in death. It was still hard to get a cab, for example.” —Zone One
I ended up getting the audiobook of that one. One of the best zombie books I’ve read (although to be truthful, I haven’t read many).
Here is a random sampling of #novelline and #excerpt tweets I’ve copied and pasted (please forgive any typos!):
- But like your mother downstairs, you still need someone to give you a hug.
- 'the only way to deal with her reaction was to mock his. A half-smile! Wow! Could he spare it?'
- “Yeah, 2 birds, 1 stone. Promise you won't let me eat those birds with the feathers still on, ok?”
- TJ still remembered how Mario’s body hit the wall when she shot him.
- He almost hated how beautiful she was. If it wasn't for her looks, they might actually become friends.
- Wiping her tear stained face with grains of putrefied earth, she willed herself to continue.
- Katie looked at him like he was a moron. “That’s so idiotic it’s stupid.”
- I stare at the open door, the sunlight cascading into the dusty studio like her happiness left a wake of sunshine behind her.
“To compete, you have to be better than others. You’ll develop ways to improve your products.”
- “Me wanting you naked in my bed has nothing to do with business.“
- “Can you say more than two words?” asked Goldberry. “More than two words,” replied the Gryphon. [I clicked on this one]
- Her clothes slowly fell away one piece at a time, like a finely orchestrated striptease.
- “I'd appreciate it if you stopped eating my citizens.” Ailis [I like this one too.]
- “The sky was a dome of lapis lazuli etched with high, white cirrus clouds.” ROCK KILLER
- Sparkles from the sunrise accented the brown flecks in his hazel eyes
- It was his eyes. Warm brown eyes which lit up whenever he smiled
- His eyes. She hated his eyes the most. They commanded & threatened with subtle variations.
What lines have persuaded you to purchase a book?