When I figured this out, I clicked away from that site with the same nervous determination I would exhibit if I saw a snake in our pool enclosure. Not freaking out, just deciding that I needed to be someplace else. Like NOW.
Needless to say, I am afraid of snakes. Which tells me that my, uh, reluctance to read writers' excerpts is more about fear than it is about anything rational.
Now, I'm not going to ask you to tell me what I'm afraid of and why. I suspect I am afraid of reading something bad, something painfully ill-advised, something I could have written. (I shudder just to imagine it.)
But I was just reading Justine Lee Musk's post about social media, authorial brand awareness, and so forth. It's a bit cerebral, even for me, but it reminded me of my excerpt-phobia.
I'm working on my own website, which I daresay will include excerpts. And if I hadn't already convinced you that I'm completely bonkers, this will: I am not afraid to post excerpts of my own writing on the Internet. Not at all. Not even if I imagine someone reading them. Not even, incredibly, if I imagine someone reading them and hating them. (Of course, this may be like trying to recall specific physical pain. There's a good reason why our brains can't easily remember pain. Perhaps the same synaptic failure is keeping me from really comprehending the humiliation of having people read an excerpt of my work and hating it.)
Here's where you can help. Do you read author's excerpts? Only published authors you like, or authors you don't know yet? How about unpublished writers? And if you do read excerpts, how do you feel about the good ones, the bad ones, and the stuff in between? Does it help you decide whose book(s) to read, or do you do it solely out of curiosity?
I can't assume other peoples' reactions are like my own. After all, the one thing I will never have to do is read my own excerpt as if I'd never seen it before.