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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

On the hook

From Jessica Faust at BookEnds Literary Agency:

"Publishing is not about selling a good book. Publishing is about selling a book that will sell, and rarely does that have to do entirely with how good the book is. Usually it has a lot more to do with how marketable it is. Sure that has a lot to do with how the book is written, but it also has a lot to do with plotting, characterization, and hook." (boldface my addition)

One thing I see commonly from unpublished authors who are trying to break into NY houses is the lack of a commercial hook in their work. The story might be really great--wonderfully written, fabulous characterization, page-turning plot. And perhaps that's enough to get some editors to take a look. But generally, editors won't buy unless they not only believe the book will sell in a highly competitive marketplace, but are able to convince anywhere from one person to a whole committee that it'll sell really well. NY houses buy books that will sell.

Want to make an editor's job easier?

My advice: Write the book of your heart. Write it well. And look for a commercial hook to work into the story.

What's a "hook"?

Let's take a look at an example. Dorchester has just launched a four-book series of paranormal romances. Do you know what the series is called?

That's right, it's The Immortals.

Do you know what the individual book titles are?

I'm not afraid to admit I don't. But I can picture the four covers.

Why do so many people know about the series? Because the brilliant minds at Dorchester did a fabulous job with creating a marketing hook--by connecting the four covers in a way that they create in large image when placed side-by-side, and then using that hook to gain media exposure.

Granted, in this case, the hook is related to the cover, not the stories. But I can think of one obvious example of a storyline hook--The DaVinci Code. That book sold so well for Dan Brown, and launched him to bestsellerdom not because it was the best written book ever, but because of the subject matter. The controversy.

My challenge for you today (for those who dare to accept it, lol): Take a look at the commercial fiction in your fave bookstore and find at least three that have a compelling commercial hook.

posted by Tawny Taylor at 8:41 AM |


Commented by Blogger Babe King:

lol- you are so right. Sad, but true. Book Ends spark some interesting discussions, no?

and btw how come I'm not on your diva blog list? Just saying....

12:56 AM 

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