Students learning needlework used to demonstrate their skills in samplers that showed examples of what they could do. Traditional samplers included motifs, borders and alphabets in various kinds of stitches. Those of us who like chocolate see the same approach in the famous Whitman’s Samplers, the boxes of candy with a representative assortment of the company’s many varieties.
Vanilla Heart Publishing is taking the same approach to its novelists’ and short story writers’ work. The publisher is bringing together samples of a writer’s work in free PDF documents that can be easily downloaded and then sampled.
I like the idea. As publishing transitions from bricks and mortar bookstores to online bookstores that provide either paperbacks or e-books, it’s nice having a way to see what we’re buying before we click on the BUY button. In a neighborhood bookstore, you can pick up a book and see what it’s like, browsing, reading a bit here and a bit there. Amazon has addressed the issue of excerpts with its READ INSIDE service. Smashwords gives readers a free look at the first chapter or so of each book.
The samplers, though, bring multiple works together in one document. My sampler, for example, includes examples of my Jock Stewart stories, excerpts from my two Glacier Park novels (“The Sun Singer” and “Garden of Heaven: an Odyssey”) and some of the lunacy from my satirical “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.”
I can’t demonstrate my skill with the many variations of chain stitches on a decorative square of fabric. But my publisher’s sampler brings a bit of humor, adventure, description, and excitement together in one file. In an e-book world, it’s a good way to get the feel for a book before you decide to put it on your Kindle or your Nook, or order the paperback version for your shelf.
You can find more novel samplers for Vanilla Heart Publishing’s authors here.