EA, can you explain what a hook is? We all hear about hooks, but is it in the concept (what you can use to sell the book to the sales force, what makes someone pick up the book), or in the writing? There is so much talk of hooks. And I hope it's not one of those kinds of questions that if you have to ask, it means you don't have one. I can see them most of the time in the books I'm reading. But sometimes, not. I just read Twisted by Laure Halse Anderson and loved it. But what is the hook? Maybe you haven't read that book but have read something where the hook was more subtle. Can the hook just be really good writing? Voice? Thanks!
A hook is what is going to make people buy this book when they have so many other choices. Often it’s in the concept. Sometimes, if the writing is very strong, it can be in the writing alone. Occasionally it’s in the author. Usually publishers are looking for books with more than one hook.
But figuring out what the hook is and how strong it is is a matter of much experience. Authors sometimes are very bad at this part of the biz.
Try imagining yourself standing in a bookstore, surrounded by hundreds and thousands of books that people want, and trying to recommend this book here in your hands. The person you talk to won’t know you and won’t particularly trust you. Saying “it’s lovely writing” or “it has beautiful illustrations” will mean absolutely nada to this person.
What will you say? It may not be the thing you love the best about the book—it can be like trying to describe a husband of 20 years to a 20-year-old and trying to make her jealous. It’s easy to convince someone that you love the book. But what would make her think that she might love the book?