A Hook For A Book
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?