Friday, November 16, 2007

Finding the Hook to Make the Sale - Guest Post by Diana Holquist

So, you wrote a beautiful love story about two opposites who overcome their differences and fall in love?

Yawn.

What’s missing from this story is a hook. One element that no other book has. A totally original idea. Sure, if you’re an established writer, you might get away without a great hook. But if you’re trying to get published, you must set yourself apart. And the only way to set yourself apart, is to set your manuscript apart.

Thus, the hook.

My hook for the One True Love series (Make Me a Match, Sexiest Man Alive, and Hungry for More) made the difference between selling these manuscripts and not selling my previous manuscripts.

Here’s how it happened:

I started following the story of a woman looking for a husband through her website. She wanted him to be a certain height and make a specified income and on and on. I knew it was a good story, so I started writing it. But there was no spark, nothing distinctive—no hook. Then, I read a short story about a man who curses a town by telling every citizen the exact day they’ll die. I loved the idea of knowledge as a curse. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I realized that this web-searching woman’s greatest curse would be to learn that there actually is a man destined to be her One True Love on this earth—but he’s her worst nightmare. Thus, Amy, the psychic gypsy who can tell you the name of your One True Love was born. It was a fun, magic hook that let me explore a theme that had been done to death in a way that had never been done before. Once I had the hook, I made the sale.

What’s your hook? Do you have one? Try to find it, and you’ll sell that manuscript.

Here’s how:

1) Ask yourself, what is different about my manuscript? What story element do I have that no other book has?
2) As a writing exercise, write the back cover copy for your manuscript. Now, analyze it. Cross out every clichĂ©. Cross out every adjective. What’s left? Has it been done before?
3) Read everything. Watch everything. If something sparks your interest, chances are, it will spark the reader’s interest too. Kelley St. John is a master of this. Go to her website http://www.kelleystjohn.com and look at how relevant and different her books are. You’ve never read anything like a Kelley St John story.

Good luck! Now go out there and SELL THAT MANUSCRIPT.

Diana Holquist is the author of SEXIEST MAN ALIVE (Warner Books, Oct. '07). You can visit her website at http://www.dianaholquist.com/. You can purchase her book at Amazon by clicking here.

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