I’m giving a talk on this topic next week at the San Diego Writers Conference and I thought I’d start a conversation here with our dear authors.
When I receive a book or series proposal from new (and sometimes seasoned) authors, the first thing I ask is: What is the hook?
By hook I mean: What is a 1-3 sentence pitch I can give my sales people that they can give the buyers, that answers the question “What is it about your book or series that makes it really stand out and grab the attention of potential readers?”
Here’s the sobering reality: The competition is extremely fierce. Last year over one million (1,000,000!) new titles were published. You’d need several lifetimes just to read all those books, even if you never had to do laundry or the dishes (or go to work)!
Packaging a work of art is of course counter-intuitive, but if we’re going to get your book into the hands of as many readers as possible, it’s got to stand out. It has to be positioned properly in the marketplace and that’s what the hook does. Your hook makes your book shout “Look at me!” “I’m a must-read!”
Even if your work is complex and straddles genres, you must position to one or the other. Where does your book fit in? Then: how does it stand out?
Robin Kaye’s contemporary romantic comedies feature alpha heroes who are the nurturing one in the relationship because every woman wants a man who’s as good in the kitchen as he is in the bedroom.
Sharon Lathan’s Pride and Prejudice continuations feature a sensual, romantic Darcy and Elizabeth inspired by Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFayden, amidst a wealth of unusual Regency historical details that you won’t find anywhere else.
Catherine Mann’s military themed romantic suspense series features the PJs, the most elite force in the US military, trained in high risk rescues—these guys are hugely manly, taking Alpha male to a whole new level.
Lydia Dare’s new Regency paranormal trilogy features gentlemen vampires—they’d never bite a young lady to whom they weren’t properly introduced.
Grace Burrowes’ Regency romances are beautifully written, reminiscent of Laura Kinsale or Georgette Heyer, and feature the sons of a duke obsessed with the succession. As he tries to force, manipulate or cajole his sons into marrying and producing an heir, each one finds a different way to avoid matrimony…until he loses his heart.
Terry Spear’s werewolf romances are so steeped in research on the way wolves behave in nature that her werewolves behave the way wolves behave in the wild—including pack dynamics and mating behavior.
One of the most important things your publisher can do for you is to position your book to succeed in the marketplace.