Monday, July 28, 2008

Why is your hook so important?

Del Rey Books senior editor Liz Scheier was interviewed recently over at the new Novelists, Inc. blog. She has some excellent advice for writers throughout the interview (particularly genre writers), but this paragraph in particular struck me as something that new writers really need to keep in mind when writing a query:
I’m only the first in a long line of people who are going to have to sell a book – to the marketing and publicity departments, to the sales force, etc. – and I need to be able to envision a quick, snappy hook that’s going to get the attention we need, and to have the passion for it that’s going to make my pitch stand out.
Indeed, the sales process for a manuscript is a time-consuming and seemingly never-ending one. The writer needs to first sell his/her book to the agent; the agent sells it to an editor; the editor must sell it to marketing and publicity; marketing and publicity must sell it to the sales department; the sales department must make chain and independent book buyers love it enough that they will put in a sizable estimated order so that the publisher can then justify printing enough copies to make it worthwhile for the marketing and publicity department to spend time and money promoting it; the chain and indie book buyers must sell the book to their customers; customers read your book and try to sell it to their friends. And so on and so on.

A strong hook in your initial query is going be the most effective tool you'll have to help all of these other publishing and bookselling professionals sell your book. A great hook will get used and passed along the food chain, appearing everywhere from an agent's pitch letter to an editor's initial tip sheets for launch to the catalog and sometimes even the cover copy of the book.

Need a quick refresher course in crafting a hook? Reread agent Nathan Bransford's excellent post here.


Nathan Bransford said...

Hey thanks! And sounds like a great interview, I'm off to check it out.

Joya said...

That was an excellent, informative interview. Thanks for linking. :)

pseudosu said...

That is such a useful perspective. Your pitch really is a tool you're handing to your perspective agent. The better it is...

nymeria87 said...

That was a great interview and we all love to read and link to Nathan's posts of awesome, don't we? :D

S. E. Ward said...

knitters are shady, shady characters.


Oh, nothing, nothing. Nothing at all. *glances furtively at a particular half-finished shawl*

So. How can I work this to my advantage? ;)

clindsay said...

:: knitters are shady, shady characters :: Your surname isn't Defarge, by any chance, is it? :-)

(And being a shady knitter does not mean you get a pass on cutting that last 30k words from your manuscript, missy! Yarn be damned!)

S. E. Ward said...

(And being a shady knitter does not mean you get a pass on cutting that last 30k words from your manuscript, missy! Yarn be damned!)

Darn you! Daaaarrrn yooooouu! (And I have the darning needles to do it!)

Julia said...

What do pirates knit with?


Wait a minute, do pirates really knit?

No, they pearl.

Says who?

Says AYE.

clindsay said...

::: head desk :::

S. E. Ward said...


'Nuff said.

S. E. DeFarge

clindsay said...


::: stomps foot and storms off :::