Teaser Chapters

Photo of a book open to a page. The corner of the page is folded down. The title of the post'Teaser Chapters' is superimposed on the top of the photo.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Back when I was writing the Southern Quilting Mysteries for Penguin Random House (I’m writing the series independently now), I knew that I would need to have to have a teaser chapter ready for the next book in the series by the time the current book was in production.

This was a bit of a challenge for several reasons. For one, I knew the next book in the series wouldn’t be coming out for a year. That’s the way traditional publishing worked. For another, it required me to already have an outline in place for the next book.  For another, I knew that Penguin Random House wouldn’t want any major changes in that chapter–I needed to have a lock on the character names, etc.

Their focus at the time was mainly still print.  The teaser chapter was a gimmick from an earlier day in the print world.

I’ve used teaser chapters in my self-published books in the past, but now I’ve moved away from the practice…mainly because I’m not wild about teaser chapters as a reader.  Since I read most books digitally, a teaser chapter at the end of a book can make me think that I have more of the book to read than I do.  Besides, reading a teaser for a book that hasn’t yet been published can be frustrating.

Maybe back cover copy would be better. Wouldn’t use up as much room. Or even something like “Next book is “Title.” For updates on the story as I write it, subscribe to my newsletter at _______.

Here are my thoughts currently on the better use of teaser chapters:

If we do include a teaser at the end of the book, consider making it a short one so that readers won’t think they have a lot of book left to read.

Perhaps we should be sensitive to readers and not include a teaser chapter if the book’s release is anticipated to be many months or a year away.

To reach more readers (and not irritate them by including a teaser for a book that won’t come out for a long while), we could consider trading short teasers with another author in the same genre (for theircompleted book).

Or, if we write more than 1 series, put a short teaser of the first book in the other series in the back.

If we put a buy-link in that we can track (through bit.ly, etc.), we can assess how well the teaser is working.

Do you use teaser chapters in your books?  What are your thoughts on them, as a reader?


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17 thoughts on “Teaser Chapters

  1. That would’ve never worked for me – I never even started the next book until the current one released.
    Maybe really short excerpts of the next book in a series that is already done would work better? Or the synopsis of the next book?

  2. Hi Elizabeth – I’d be frustrated I was being partly coerced into buying another book – but I’m sure these would work for some authors. I think the idea of an extra to the book – eg a recipe, or a quilt tip, or Christmas thought – if the next one was around that time … and an offer to sign up for further information … as so many are now on-line …

    Cheers Hilary

  3. I can certainly see why some people include teaser chapters, Elizabeth. Frankly, though, I probably wouldn’t. As a reader, I don’t care much for them; they don’t help me decide whether I like a given author’s work, or am going to buy that next book. As a writer, I think it can detract from the story at hand. But that’s just my view…

  4. Hi Elizabeth,

    I cannot imagine having to write a polished chapter for the next book as soon as I’ve finished writing the previous one! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. And I agree with you about not wanting to frustrate readers with a teaser that they have to wait months for. But I think I’ve found a workaround for that….

    The beauty of publishing indie ebooks is being able to go back, make changes, and republish, so what I’ve done is gone back and inserted chapter ones and buy links at the end of the previous books, but the chapter ones are only for those already published. The buy link is specific to the store the book is loaded to (Amazon, BN, etc). Vellum lets you customize the store links when you are formatting your book file, which I love. If you include chapter 1 of the next book only if that book is already out, there is no lag time…it’s all about instant gratification, baby! LOL. I do think it has helped boost my sales, so when I publish book 6 of the Concordia Wells series, I’ll go back and insert chap 1 of book 6 with the buy link into the back of book 5. I also have a newsletter signup link with a novella freebie offer at the end of every book, but that’s a different discussion.

    I don’t add chapter 1 of the next book in print books, or links, obviously, because the reader can’t just tap on the link to purchase. (Maybe one day, who knows?). For the print version, I put in a short blurb and an “available now” for those books that are already published, and a “coming fall 2017” for an upcoming one.

    Hope I’m making sense…I may not have had enough caffeine yet…. *wink*

    1. You’re making perfect sense and your process (although I’m sure it was a time suck for you!) would work so much better for readers. That way they’re able to preview a book that’s already published and the buy link takes them exactly where they want to go without wasting their time at other retailers.

      I don’t use them in printed books, although I think Penguin did with my books.

      Hope you have a great weekend!

      1. Thanks, Elizabeth, you too! (And yes, it was a little time-consuming to get them all up to speed, but from now on I’ll only have to re-do the book immediately preceding the new one).

  5. If I don’t want the book to end, I do read the teaser chapter. But then I’m frustrated that I can’t buy it right away!

    Maybe include a teaser chapter for the first book in a different series? With a buy link, of course. ;-)

  6. I’ve sometimes confused myself by thinking I’d already read a book based on the familiarity of the first chapter, when in fact it had only been a teaser in a previous book. This backfires for the author, as I’ll put a book back on the shelf that I had planned to purchase.

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