Skip navigation


4 Posts tagged with the hook tag


If your book is done and published, you've already learned that the first question most people ask when they find out you've written a book is, "What's it about?"

Do you have a good answer to that question? If not, you might have a problem.

Coming up with a good hook (or angle, or one-line description) isn't easy, but it's important. Movies are supposed to have good hooks, but sometimes they can get away with "STARRING INSERT HUGE NAME HERE." That doesn't fly with a book, especially one that doesn't have a massive marketing machine behind it.

To come up with a compelling one-line description, I suggest you brainstorm a handful - they don't have to be polished or even grammatically correct at first - and then try them out on people you trust to be straight with you. This is important, because while many people like to help, not everyone is cut out to provide honest feedback. Do you have a friend who has no problem sending a meal back at a restaurant if it's not cooked just right? That's the kind of person you want for this job!

Even if your helpers haven't read your book, you should be able to tell by their facial expressions if they find your description interesting. Your initial options should be quite different, which will allow you to pick one that generates the best reaction. For example, should the one-liner be about a fire that devastated a neighborhood, or a burned jewelry box that revealed a family secret? Those things could both be true about your story, but which one gets the best reaction from your test group?

After you've narrowed down the options to one or two key angles, play around with a handful of descriptions for each angle, then whittle the overall list down again. Keep repeating this process until you have a winner!

-Maria Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at

You may also be interested in...

Grab Readers' Attention with Your Hook

Kick-start your year with these two marketing ideas

1,073 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, marketing, writers, hook, one-liner

The word of the day is "portable." It's a word you wouldn't think has much to do with the marketing world, but it's a concept that fits with the way people communicate today. Whether it's social media or texting, people are primarily using volleys of short messages to communicate. If you want your book to be part of that conversation you have to develop a marketing message that is portable enough to fit into this environment.

Today, more than ever, the one-sentence book description is essential to spreading the word about your book. Impossible, you say? There's just no way you can convey the complexity of your multi-layered story into one sentence, you insist? I'm here to tell you it can and must be done, and you do it by ignoring the complexity of your story. You want to concentrate on the main theme and the main theme only. Forget all the layers but one--the surface.

What is your story's hook? What was the "What if" question that compelled you to start writing? That is what you will build your portable marketing message around. The intricacies of character don't matter. A hint of a possible plot twist doesn't matter. There are only two things that you want to make clear in your one-sentence description: the main plot and the genre. Identifying the genre in such a small window may prove to be tricky, but it's just a matter of finding the right adjectives.

To be frank, making your marketing message portable enough to fit into today's world of texting, tweeting, and updating isn't easy, but it is well worth the time and the effort. Be concise. Be informative. Be portable.





Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.




You may also be interested in?


Grab Readers' Attention with Your Hook


I'm Sure Your Book Is Wonderful, But Don't Tell Me So





1,571 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, publishing, writing, media, promotions, social, hook, marketing_ideas, marketing_strategy, writing_tips, marketing_advice

Hook vs. Gimmick

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Sep 19, 2012

Does your book need a better hook or gimmick? Which one will engage your readers and keep them reading? Before you can decide which you should pursue, you should know the difference between the two. And, yes, in the world of books and publishing, there is a difference between a hook and a gimmick.


A hook is an element that draws the reader in. It does the seemingly impossible by conveying a simultaneous feeling of familiarity and uniqueness. It is a clever turn of a phrase or a simple yet intense sentence that practically slaps you in the face. It is bending language in such a way that sets the tone and tempo of your story in a single sentence. One of the best examples of a hook comes from Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind:


Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.


That is a sentence that is compelling enough to read on. That is a hook.


A gimmick isn't so much a writing tool as it is a marketing tool. It is an element that uses something other than your writing abilities to sell a book. One example of this is to coordinate online material to reinforce your book's story. A thriller about a serial killer may insert web addresses throughout the book that will allow readers to see crime scene photos, videos of key eye-witness testimony, mug shots of suspects, etc. These are devices that set your book apart from the traditional thriller. This is a gimmick.


So, ask yourself again: Do you need to spend more time perfecting your book's hook or creating a gimmick? Which one will help you sell more books?


-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


You may also be interested in...

Don't Insult Your Readers

What Is the Tone of Your Novel?

1,447 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: authors, author, writing, craft, hook

If a complete stranger walked up to you on the street and said, "I've written a scary novel that is a real page turner...You should totally buy it," chances are you'd nod politely and quickly walk away. However, if that same person pointed across the street and said, "Is that George Clooney?" I'm willing to bet you'd turn and look. Am I right?


The same principle applies to book marketing. Whether your work is fiction or nonfiction, to get people to pay attention you need to come up with a brief, compelling description. In industry jargon, this is called a "hook," and a good one will encourage your target audience to pick up a copy of your book and start reading. Now.


Here are some excellent examples I've seen:


·         Easy-to-follow financial advice for young professionals just getting started

·         A thriller set in a small town where the women have mysteriously stopped having children

·         A step-by-step guide for women looking to reenter the workforce after raising kids

·         A must-read for anyone who has ever run into an ex looking like crap (full disclosure alert: this is for one of my novels, Perfect on Paper)


As you begin your marketing efforts, the first thing everyone is going to ask you is "What is your book about?" so it's important to get this down early. You can tweak and refine as you learn what resonates with readers, but you should have something ready from the get-go. And even if you do zero marketing (which I don't recommend!), people in your life are inevitably going to ask you this question as well, so it's worth taking the time to prepare an answer.


Remember: the description doesn't have to appeal to everyone, but it should pique the interest of those who would most enjoy your book.


- Maria Contributors/MurnaneHeadshot.jpg

Maria Murnane writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at


You may also be interested in...


So You've Published Your Book - Now What?

New Blogger on the Block!

12,272 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, books, books, books, books, books, authors, authors, authors, authors, authors, authors, authors, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, marketing, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion, description, description, description, description, description, description, description, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, promotions, hook, hook, hook, hook, hook, hook, hook