Authors work hard on their books. It is, therefore, natural for them to be very protective of their manuscripts. However, all the authors, especially the new, unknown ones, have to carefully balance the threats of piracy and the threats of obscurity. If the book is not known then you can be sure that the book will not be pirated. But in that case it won’t be bought by anyone either. How much to open up your book and how much to protect it is probably a matter of endless debate. So, right now we will not get into that, but we will focus on a small feature at Pothi.com called “Preview”.
When submitting their books the authors can specify certain portion of the book to be exposed for people to read online as “Preview”. We mandate a minimum of 10 pages to be included there. The idea is that most people publishing with us are first time authors. Plus the manuscript has not been vetted by a third-party. So, it is important that the potential readers get to see enough of the book to make a decision about whether or not to buy the book. We have put a minimum number there, because we feel that the exposed content should be enough to let users make up their mind about the book.
Some authors make good use of this feature. Let’s say you have written a novel. And you expose 60-70% of the novel, or even 90% of it on the site as “Preview”. What is it that you should be scared of? That people will read it for free and not pay for it? Consider this – if somebody actually reads 90% of your book, then he is probably sufficiently interested in it and would want to read the ending. He might end up paying for it. But if you circumvented the minimum 10-pages mandate by only exposing your table of contents and preface, the reader never had a reason to get interested in the book and hence would never consider buying it.
The logic will have to adjust for different genres and forms, of course. Exposing 90% of a short story collection will not have the same effect (it may still be useful for other reasons – e. g. the person may be induced to buy your next book). But exposing around 40% of the book would be worthwhile. Somebody who read 2 of your stories online, might be interested enough to pay for the remaining three too. Somebody reading only the preface and table of contents may never bother.
Similarly, one should expose at least one chapter (more the merrier) with substantial content for non-fiction. Don’t put “Introduction” and “Foreword” in the preview. If there is something about the book you want the readers to know “Description” is the section to do that. Make good use of “Preview” feature and put in an actual chapter in there. Let the reader find solution to an actual problem and decide that she wants to read the rest of the book too.
So, if you want to update the “Preview” of your book to make it more meaningful, here is the FAQ detailing how to update your book.