For authors: 10 tips to get the most out of your ‘snippet hop’

iStock_000013528921XSmallA“snippet hop,” is an online event in which authors present short (6-10 sentences) excerpts from their books and visitors go from one blog to the next to read and comment.  I estimate I have visited thousands of snippet blog posts in the five years or so that I’ve participated as an author. I’ve been wanting to slap some sense write this post for a long time.

On numerous occasions, I’ve left a snippet hop post without leaving comment. After reading the snippet, the only thing I thought was, “I’ve got nothing.” The excerpt was so mundane, so ordinary, I had nothing to react to and I wondered, why did the author bother posting it?

Your excerpts have the potential to reach readers who might be interested in your book. You should always present your best stuff.

With that in mind, I offer 10 suggestions to get the most out of a snippet hop:

  1. Select an excerpt with a hook. The excerpt needs to stand alone, and there should be something interesting going on. You need to create conflict or tension, raise a question in the reader’s mind, show a unique character trait, present witty dialogue, or leave the reader with a cliffhanger. The reader doesn’t know the story, doesn’t know what came before or after that snippet. What you post must have a hook!
  2. You don’t need to present your story chronologically. You can jump around from week to week  because it’s all out of context anyway. You might think visitors remember where your story left off last week, but they don’t. I refer you back to point No. 1. You want to present a hook, and a chronology won’t do that. It’s probably best if you don’t tell the story chronologically because if a visitor can get the Cliff’s Notes version of your story from reading your blog, why buy the book?
  3. Ground the reader with a sentence or two of introduction about the scene. But if a snippet requires more than sentence or two to clue them in, it’s not a good excerpt. Pick another one. Again, I refer you back to point No. 1.
  4. Too long? Edit from the middle. Sometimes the excerpt you love exceeds the sentence limit. Here’s a trick. Instead of resorting to “creative punctuation,” which makes your excerpt look unedited, eliminate the nonessential words/sentences from the middle.

Example –This excerpt from Mated with the Cyborg (Cy-Ops Sci-fi Romance 2) that I want to use is 14 sentences, 4 too long for the rules of Weekend Writing Warriors. So, I edit:

His cough could not mask his snort of laughter.

Fear vanished. Rage filled the void. She balled her fists and rounded on him. “I was concerned for your safety, and you mock me? How dare you! All my life, if I wasn’t ignored, I was ridiculed. Your customs and concepts are foreign and strange to me! I don’t make fun of you! Don’t try to reshape me into a…a…Terran. My beliefs are the only possessions I own. Do not take them from me!

She snatched up her veil and rushed for the door.

“Mariska, wait!”

Voila! Ten sentences! (And it’s stronger. I should have written it that way in the first place).

  1. Polish your excerpts. Authors often use excerpts from WIPs (Works in Progress). That’s all right, but edit your work. The excerpt should be as polished as you can make it, because people will judge you by what you present publicly. Your goal should be to hook a reader with your story, not to get editing help or an online critique.
  2. For God’s sake, if the rules allow it, include a blurb. Again, it grounds the reader with context to what they’re reading and helps to sell your book. That’s why you’re writing, isn’t it?
  3. Let visitors know if the excerpt is from a WIP or a published work, and if it’s published, for your sake, put a buy link out there. If someone is hooked by your story, don’t you want them to buy it?
  4. If it’s not obvious from the title or the book cover, let the reader know what genre you’re writing.
  5. If you want people to come to your blog and comment on your posts, you have to go to theirs. It’s the unwritten rule of reciprocity, only now it’s been written.
  6. Follow the rules of the hop, but use the rules to your advantage. If the hop doesn’t suit your marketing purposes, there’s no reason to do it.

I currently participate in Weekend Writing Warriors, a Sunday hop. If you’re interested in other hops, my author friend Renee Rose who blogs for Write Sex Right has compiled a list of the different hops. You can get that here.

Have you participated in a hop? Do you have other tips to add to this list?

 

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25 Responses to For authors: 10 tips to get the most out of your ‘snippet hop’

  1. I always enjoy your tips for writers. Great advice!

  2. Great advice, Cara! I participate in three different snippet hops; Mid Week Tease, My Sexy Saturday, and Weekend Writing Warriors. I follow many of these tips. Though with #2, I often remember those I read from the previous week. Well, those with a great hook, anyway. 😉

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Some of them, I do too, if the hook is there. But other times I have to go back and look, especially if I’ve missed a week.

  3. Great advice as always, Cara!

  4. Rhonda Ralston Griffith says:

    Great advice for people just getting started:) thank you! I’m always making notes from you blogs:)) haha!! Hopefully one day I’ll get to participate with y’all:))

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Didn’t you start a novel? Don’t you have a WIP? Polish up eight sentences and jump in!

      • Rhonda Ralston Griffith says:

        Yes ma’am I have started one. I’m in the home stretch of being finished with it 🙂 maybe I’ll get brave and join in. I thought you had to be an actual writer/author to participate.

  5. Lisa Wells says:

    Hi Cara,

    Great advice. I’ll be sure and put it to work on my first release with Entangled.

    Lisa

  6. Good post and I’d add two more things – set your blog structure up so people can EASILY tweet or FB Share the post if they’re so inclined. And secondly, not everyone can see fancy fonts and unusual backgrounds – there have been snippet posts I just can’t read for that reason. I’d stay more on the basic side myself. I do Weekend Writing Warriors and Sunday Snippets, plus the once a month SFR brigade hop.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Good tips! Red type on black is the absolute worst. I would also add that on some blogs finding the comment block is challenging. And I hate captcha — although the pictures are an improvement over the squiggly letters.

      • Lisa Medley says:

        I agree about finding the comments section. Sometimes it’s just impossible! Or I read on my phone and can’t go through all of their hoops to comment. I’ll tweet or share though…if they make that an easily available option 😀

  7. Some very good advice. I’m fairly new to blog hopping, and it took me several weeks before I could even understand how to join the Linky Link. I suppose I could be described as technologically challenged; either that, or because when I graduated, personal computers were not around! Thanks Cara.

  8. I mentioned this over on Cara’s FB but also, give your snippets a catchy title so that if I tweet it or share it for you, readers will be enticed to come read. “Snippet #127 Febr 12 2016” doesn’t grab anyone LOL. Sometimes I’ll give your post a title in a tweet myself if I liked it enough….Cara does good snippet titles, as an example.

    And yes, I have the worst time finding the comment area on some posts! Glad to know it isn’t just me.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      That’s a great tip! I’d noticed that too, but didn’t remember it when I wrote this post. Thank you for mentioning it.

      Snippet 127 has no hook!

  9. Great advice and that excerpt you shared IS powerful! I love to do these short hops, but I find myself with too little time to comment on all blogs so I often just don’t participate. But it is a great way to write a quick post and get your book in front of a new set of eyes.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      It is time-consuming, I agree. I limit my visits to those in my genre and friends. And I check out new ones every now and then.

    • I used to be on a hop that had 150+ snippets! My advice is, pick ten (or 5 or whatever you have time for) and go read and comment. Next week up that number a bit, or try some new ones, or just comment on the ones that left you a comment and add one or two new ones. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing!

  10. Brilliant tips! Now checking out weekend writing warriors haha! Might come and join you guys 😉

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