Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Writing Tips: Hook, Line & Sold!

For me, a "hook" is that one sentence (or two, no more than) that sells your book to whoever you're talking to. (Some other marketing material may also refer to the "hook" as a "pitch")

Take yesterday for me. I went to get my hair cut and styled and brought my writing notebook. My stylist said, "Whatcha' doing?"

"Writing a book."

"What's it about?"

I've got 1 chance to tell her about my book and "hook" her in and grab her interest.

Now that's a challenge. You, the author, have 1 sentence (possibility 2) to "sell" your book to either a reader, an agent, a publisher, a representative at a book store whom you're trying to arrange a book signing.

Your hook better be pretty "snazzy" to grab that person's attention.

The pros? A 1 line sentence about your book is easy to remember and easy to draw on when people ask.

The challenge – your hook needs to be in an "active" voice, not a passive one. Active voice will grab that potential buyer, where a passive voice may make them snooze.

What's an active voice? Stay away from "was" "has been" and "to be" as verbs. When crafting your sentence use a thesaurus to give you "active" verb word choices. Stay away from "ly" adverbs. The stronger your verb, the less you need an "ly" adverb.

It usually takes me a good 20-30 minutes focused time to develop my hook.

When people (in person) ask, "Hey, what's your children's book, The Giving Meadow, about?"

I say: "It's about a caterpillar who travels through a meadow learning to share and care. Young children really enjoy the story.

I have a 99 cent short story called Journey of the Heart.

Here's my blurb: Can World War II veteran James help Rachel save her winery or will he drift out of her life the same way he drifted in?

I usually use that blurb when I'm on the Internet. If I'm in person, my hook is a lot more "conversational."

"Rachel's going to lose her winery, and only has one chance to save it – World War II vet James. Does he care enough to stick around?"

I usually try to end the "hook" with a question if I can – inviting the person to find out the answer by buying the book.

Question: Do you use hooks? How to come up with your hooks? I'd love to hear your thoughts.



  1. Stephanie, I always need more practice at pitching my hook. It seems that in the moment I get a "duh" brain freeze and just ramble. Thanks for the post.

  2. Laurie, I have the same issues. I really have to think about it for a bit before coming up with something that works.