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Help a Publisher Out


Where should the excerpt and blurb go in an efile?

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An ebook publisher contacted me about the post I had regarding   “What An eBook File Should Contain“.   Specifically, many of us asked for a blurb or excerpt to appear at the front of the book.   The publisher isn’t sure where to put it though.   The blurb and excerpt are going to be listed in the table fo contents, but should the blurb and excerpt be separate files? Should it be placed at the front of the book?   In what order? ie., blurb first, excerpt first? Would it be okay to be in the back of the file?   What’s your thoughts?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Maggie
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 20:40:01

    LOL. I think it would be pointless if it was at the end of the book.

  2. cecilia
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 20:44:23

    Blurb first, then TOC with link to excerpt.

    By the time I’m reading the actual e-book, I’ve already bought it. An excerpt in an e-book isn’t going to serve the same purpose, it seems to me, as it would in a tree book. If I’m browsing in a bookstore, I might look at the excerpt, but with e-books, I want the excerpt on the site where I’m browsing, not in the file itself (this btw is too rarely available). A blurb in the e-book file is to refresh my memory about a book I’m already interested (and invested) in, so an excerpt is unnecessary at that point.

  3. theo
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 20:45:47

    Depends on the excerpt. Generally, in print, the excerpt is for the next book and it goes at the back. The blurb that’s usually on the back cover could go at the front, before the TOC, though why you’d want a TOC, since you don’t have on in a PB, is beyond me anyway.

    If it’s a short one paragraph excerpt from somewhere in the ebook itself, then you don’t really need the blurb and put the excerpt at the front.

    Clear as mud? *snort*

  4. Shannon Stacey
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 21:00:07

    I don’t see any point to an excerpt in the front of an ebook since you can’t look at it until you’ve bought it. At that point an excerpt in the front just means more thumb swipes to get to the story.

    If it’s for the next book or another book, then definitely at the back.

  5. Silver James
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 21:05:47

    Browsing ebooks is so different from picking up a paper book from the shelf in a book store. The publisher should have as much info as possible on the site where you can buy the ebook. Blurb, excerpt, etc. Make it easy to browse. I also question why a novel would need a TOC. If this were a reference book or non-fiction, I could understand, but why would a fiction novel need it? Set up the ebook just like the paper book, if you ask me. Cover art, blurb, praise and reviews, acknowledgments, dedication all in the front. Body of the novel. And then an excerpt for the author’s next book and a bio for the author.

  6. joanne
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 21:36:11

    As cecilia said above, if I already own it I don’t need an excerpt and I also don’t see any need for a table of contents with a romantic fiction.

    But the cover blurb… OMG please!

    I buy ebooks most often for an author’s backlist then anything else and if I get three or four books by the same author I have no idea what title comes next…… not to mention if all the titles are similar or have the same word/words in them. (yes I love you Kresley Cole, but your dark, darker, darkest titles made me koo-koo!)

  7. MaryK
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 21:49:42

    I’ve always thought they put a TOC so you can easily jump to the chapter you left off at.

    Yes, blurb at the beginning so I can flip just past the cover to see what the book’s about.

  8. Kaetrin
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 23:42:24

    Blurb first, excerpt, then TOC, then book.

    On the one hand, I can see what people are saying about “I’ve already bought the book so I don’t need the blurb/excerpt”.

    However, I am a shocking impulse buyer. I have 124 books on my reader and I only got it 3 weeks ago! I get all these books and forget what their about. When I’m trying to decide what to read next, if there’s a blurb and an excerpt, I can browse through my list, refresh my memory with the blurb and read the excerpt to see if that’s what I’m feeling like today.

    Ooh, I’ve just had an idea… how about the cover page has a link to either the blurb/excerpt, the TOC or the first page of the story. (um, can you do that? probably you can’t…, bad idea, sorry… *she says, talking about technology having already fried her brain…*)

    Anyway, me, I like the blurb and excerpt, just after the cover thanks, like a paper book.

  9. fiona
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 05:33:04

    One of my pet hates (as someone who reads ebooks almost exclusively, and generally on my mobile phone) is a book that is loaded up with a heap of guff at the beginning. I want the title page, then the TOC, then the book to start. Throw the blurb and the imprint info and the “praise for the author” to the end – I’ve bought the book, I don’t need to know that I just want to start reading without paging down 20 or 30 times! If you MUST have it up front, at least put it after the TOC so that I can jump over it without my poor thumb getting exhausted before I even start the story.

  10. Jusy
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 06:43:07

    The blurb needs to be part of the metadata or the information section about the book. As for excerpt, I do not need one about the current story. As promotion for the next book, it should appear at the end of the story.

    Like Fiona, as a long-term reader, I want to get right into the story. I’ve bought the book already. However, I’ve seem to have accumulated a soft TBR, too, and most likely would find a blurb very helpful. I do understand about including all that other stuff — copyright, acknowledgments, book list, it might as well be placed in the order that it would appear in the hard book. If this is the case, the TOC with links is a must for quick navigation.

  11. GrowlyCub
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 07:31:40

    The blurb ought to be right after the cover page, no excerpt for the current book.

    Excerpts for new books at the end, but PLEASE not multiple excerpts that take up a third of the ‘book’ space! Nothing more annoying than when you think there’s 50 more pages and you then find yourself at ‘The End’ and the rest is excerpts to make this book look longer than it is!

    Actually, I’d prefer if excerpts were in a separate file!

  12. MoJo
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 09:04:06

    As a reader, I say it should be on the very first page that opens up when you first open the e-book. There should be the title and the blurb and the author. I want to know why I bought it even though it’s been languishing in my ebook reader for a year or more.

    As a writer, I say the same thing. I don’t want the reader to forget why s/he bought my book.

    We put mine ON the title page.

  13. veinglory
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 09:14:11

    I don’t think ebooks need a blurb in the full copy; the blurb is on the webstore for browsing. And I *really* don’t see why you would need an excerpt inside the ebook when you have the…um actual book, in full.

    If in doubt I would suggest going with the norms as extablished by EC et al.

  14. Joy
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 10:26:50

    I get all these books and forget what they’re about. When I'm trying to decide what to read next, if there's a blurb and an excerpt, I can browse through my list, refresh my memory with the blurb and read the excerpt to see if that's what I'm feeling like today.

    I totally agree. I have a bunch of books on my reader and don’t know if I’m in the mood for a book until I start reading it. Even though I have 100+ print books on my TBR, I still read the blurbs/excerpts to decide what to start.

  15. Jill Myles
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 11:03:01

    I want a blurb. Ditto with the ‘dozens and dozens of books on my e-reader’. I download stuff and then forget what I have, and having to go back to my computer to research the book to see if it’s what I want is kind of irritating.

    I’m simple, though – all I want is a quick back-cover blurb (even a paragraph would be lovely). I don’t need an excerpt.

    This is one of my biggest pain-points with the e-reader — I desperately miss the back cover blurb.

    IMO, put it on the front page next to the title.

  16. Jody W.
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 11:38:03

    Blurb, no excerpt.

  17. LinM
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 12:38:27

    I’m making wild assumptions about how people read books based on their requirements.

    The readers who don’t need a TOC must read books sequentially on a single reliable device. I need a TOC:
    – to skip around from chapter to chapter at will. I felt like I was in jail the last time I read an ebook without a TOC.
    – to resume reading when my family borrows my ereader and I’m forced to switch to my laptop.
    – to resume reading when my palm corrupts the annotation file and doesn’t know where I left off.

    No blurb? – OK – some of you have fabulous memories, or great organization skills, or non-existant TBR piles, or never re-read. I need a blurb. But, I agree with jusy that the blurb should be part of the metadata. This assumes that my library/catalog program displays all of the metadata (yay for Calibre). Without a decent catalog program, I would want the blurb at the beginning of the book.

    An excerpt is a different beast. I generally don’t want excerpts so they had better NOT be at the front of the book causing problems in getting past them – excess thumbswipes indeed.

  18. zelda
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 13:17:53

    This poll was linked at and it’s very timely, since we were just talking about precisely this topic in a thread over there. I really miss having blurbs in ebooks since I tend to load several at a time onto my reader and load even more before I’ve read the ones i already had on there. With all those unread ebooks, often by authors I’m not familiar with, it can be really hard to remember what the book is about. This makes choosing what I want to read next tricky, since I can’t just flip over my reader and read the back cover blurb (alas). ;-)

    Ideally, I think a blurb (the same one on the back cover of a paper book, for instance) should be included in the meta-data of the ebook, and there should be an easy way to access it from the reader.

    But, since this is currently not the case, the blurb should be included in the ebook at the very front, just after the cover, and before the TOC. This way I can take a look to refresh my memory and see if that’s the book I’m in the mood for, or not. I can understand people who don’t want to have more pages to flip through before they begin the book ; that can easily be avoided by putting a link at the top “Start reading” (or “Go to first chapter” or something), so the blurb can be skipped.

    Note that if we are talking about excerpts of *other* books (like, the next one in a series, or new books from the same author or publisher) I think those are nice too but they should go at the *end* of the book.

  19. Andrew Tillinghast
    Feb 19, 2009 @ 14:49:25

    I would also like the ‘blurb’ as part of the standard metadata.

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