Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I've been mulling over the subject of "hooks", that hard-to-describe quality that catches the attention of an agent, editor or a reader. Here are what a few people--an author, two agents, and an editor--have to say about it. Initially I wanted to separate the hook in a query, which usually is one or two sentences long, from a hook on a first page, but I realized that it's the same thing: the way to pique interest.

The headings are well-put and the examples, especially Hole in the Corner, are not your run-of-the mills ones. I also like how her emphasis is on the readers, on how we need to be "charitable" and not be "unfair." Sometimes my focus on the publishing process: writing queries and synopses, noting which agent liked what, what new imprints are created, that I lose sight of reaching actual readers. This is a good reminder.

No question Miss Snark knows what she wants, and spares no snarkiness in getting her point across. The sheer number of examples makes this a great tool. And if you have time to read the comments from her readers, it can tell you even more. No generalities, no cuteness, no trying to pass off an idea/list of characters as a hook: these are some overall impressions I got from this.

If you scroll down to the comments section, Nathan Bransford says something comforting (or disturbing if you really like things to be structured and well organized with clear Standard Operating Procedures for everything) about how people in publishing can differ on their ideas about queries and hooks and other mandatory, getting-your-book-published steps.

The word "snark" may not be in this person's name but she uses her sharp wit and sharper words to good use. These are her posts labeled "hooks" and she talks about the differences and similarities between hooks and gimmicks: which I don't think I completely get. I guess the word "gimmick" has such a strong turn-off factor for me that it is hard for me to consider some of them as "good." Interesting to read her comments on specific books, such as Speak and Fancy Nancy.

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