A“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:
- 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!
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
Voila! Ten sentences! (And it’s stronger. I should have written it that way in the first place).
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- If it’s not obvious from the title or the book cover, let the reader know what genre you’re writing.
- 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.
- 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?