A Hook For A Book

Reading & Writing

My publisher wants me to write ‘something big’, so I’m sitting here staring at the screen with my four thousandth cup of tea today, wondering where the flying flip I am going to find a killer hook, and I realise that the books I’ve written which have spiked sales all have aspirational and slightly sexy ideas. These are possibly the hardest things in the publishing world to come up with. So, I idly turn to a pile of paperbacks left by a friend, and read the first few pages of the smash bestseller ‘Labyrinth’ by Kate Mosse. And I start to think I’m going mad, because this is actually the very worst book I have ever, ever read, a novel that makes Dan Brown look like Franz Kafka. So I check out her reviews on Amazon, and they’re hilarious. ‘Truly Awful’, ‘Drivel’, and ‘A Waste Of Paper’, say the top three! And there are hundreds more stinking reviews from angry readers.

Now, I understand Ms Mosse is a lovely person and intentionally set out to write a supermarket blockbuster, but this Book With A Hook is physically impossible to actually read. So I uncharitably start to wonder if she managed it through her extensive publishing connections. And there seem to be dozens of Holy Grail adventures still out there. I remember reading one Book With A Hook where the McGuffin turned out to be Hitler’s head in a suitcase.

My question is how? How do these dogs get published? And of course the real answer is that they have pickupability – the next time you’re online or in a supermarket and spot the paperbacks, see which one most encourages you to lift it (virtually or otherwise) from the shelf. I bet it’s often the tacky guilty pleasure and not the worthy issue-driven drama. Sometimes it’s a book where the hook defies rational belief: ‘Pride & Prejudice & Zombies’ or ‘Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter’. Now, those are hooks, and that’s what I’m having to look for in these tougher writing times. ‘The Werewolf Christmas Carol’, anyone?

8 comments on “A Hook For A Book”

  1. Alan Morgan says:

    First Blood Werewolf Templars Escape From Atlantis Templars On Friday The 13th With Unthreatening Vampire Templar Boys.

    Pt 1 of a five part trilogy?

    With Templars.

  2. admin says:

    I can see a flash panel on the cover “NOW WITH ADDED TEMPLARS”.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    How about “The Zombie Whisperer”?

  4. Alan Morgan says:

    Big Trouble In Little Dorrit?

    Simon Templar?*

    Holy Blood And Joachim Phoenix?

    Norman Wisdom, The Modern Prometheus?

    A Room With A View Of Zombies?

    Zulu Dawn Of The Dead?

    *25% More Templars!

  5. Mike Cane says:

    >>>I remember reading one Book With A Hook where the McGuffin turned out to be Hitler’s head in a suitcase.

    *raises hand and Ooh! Ooh! Oohs! like Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter*

    Would that have been The Day After Tomorrow? I recall that got a whopping huge advance, had a lonnnng line of holds at the NYPL, and was a total piece of crap to read!

    Really, I want to yell at you, for what you’re hurting your head trying to do.

  6. Alan says:

    “Pride etc with Zombies”.

    Dear Lord – I almost bought that. Bless you, Amazon.

  7. Alan says:

    And I’m still waiting for “Interview with the Werewolf”.

  8. admin says:

    Mike, Yes – it was The Day After Tomorrow, and it got a HUGE advance – and it stank to high heaven!

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