Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Funny Hooks

I know enough about the world of publishing to know that editors are looking for "hooks." That indefinable something that lures the reader into 1) buying the book and 2) reading the book. Back cover copy should be laden with hooks. You need to entice the reader. Ultimately, even with reviews and word of mouth, I believe it's these hooks that sell a story to a reader.

But it's funny sometimes what ultimately jumps out at us isn't it?

Case in point - yesterday I was browsing through publisher/distributor catalogs when I came across We'll Never Tell by Kayla Perrin, which is due out in March.
Essence bestselling author Kayla Perrin delivers a novel of suspense where a night of revenge turns deadly... Shandra James is a man stealer. As a pledge of the exclusive Alpha Sigma Pi sorority, she should know her place, and know not to throw herself at one of her sister's boyfriends. Phoebe, Miranda, and Camille decide to teach her a lesson one night. A lesson that involves humiliation but nothing more. Soon, the lesson turns deadly and the three women find themselves facing three new rules: never mention what happened that night, protect each other, and tell no one. Yet when a murderer comes calling, they each discover that rules are meant to be broken. We'll Never Tell is Kayla Perrin's most provocative, suspenseful novel yet.
Now this sounds OK. I'm not much for sorority girls (personally, I liked hanging out with the fraternity guys more - but I'm a ho like that), but the suspense sounds promising. So what's selling me on this story? Doesn't say it in the description, but the story takes place on a college campus that just happens to be my alma mater. Then of course I had to find out how Perrin came to set her story on this particular campus. I mean, we're not talking Notre Dame or UCLA here. Turns out she lives in Canada. Ahh, it all makes sense now. But thanks to my curiosity, my need for nostalgia, and the suspense thread that sounds like it might be fun - well I'll be reading it.

Sometimes it's just that simple - where the story is set. I plan on reading The Collector by Cameron Cruise as soon as a library copy rolls my way. Why? Remember all those wacky library stories I used to regale blog readers with? Let's just say I'm familiar with the story's setting OK?
She lies in a pool of her own blood. More blood decorates one wall in macabre finger paintings. The victim is a fortune teller from the Little Saigon community of Westminster, California--a seemingly random murder. Detective Seven Bushard wonders cynically if she saw it coming.

When local artist Gia Moon shows up at the precinct claiming to have had visions of another murder yet to happen, Seven doesn't buy it. Some say Gia's paintings give a glimpse into the next world, but all Seven knows is cold, hard evidence. But when her prediction comes true, his investigation becomes a hunt for a serial killer.

But Gia is not all that she seems. A link to her past points to a lunatic whose desire to complete a bizarre collection has become an obsession. Now, Seven is locked in a game of greed and murder with a woman he can't entirely trust, and a killer who will silence anyone who gets in the way.

And I think we all know by now that I'll read/buy just about anything if it's a western. I'm so predictable.

So thinking on "hooks" - what hooks you as a reader? If publishers wanted a guarantee that you were going to buy the book, what key words would they have to put on the back cover?


Big Sis said...

"It will keep you guessing" usually works for me when it comes to mysteries. But I typically only believe this line in reviews, not something printed by the publisher.

I also like women in positions of authority. So, if the cop, P.I., medical examiner, etc. is a woman, I'm sold. Well, not "SOLD". You know me Wendy' I'm all about the library. I don't buy much.

Amie Stuart said...

I'm with the big sis there on women of authority. Also quirky books get my attention

LinM said...

Back-cover copy only works for me if it starts with the story.

Essence bestselling author Kayla Perrin ...

I'm gone - the book is back on the shelf and I've moved on. I had to force myself to actually read this blurb (and it took 3 attempts at that).

Wendy said...

Big Sis - Yeah, I like my female cops, PIs, medical examiners etc. My mystery reading is chock full of them.

LinM: I'm assuming the back cover copy will be different. Since the book isn't out until March, I had to steal that blurb from the publisher's web site. Perrin didn't have an excerpt or back cover blurb posted on her web site yet (tsk, tsk).

LinM said...

I hope that the publisher does fix the back-cover copy (particularly since I love books set in acedemia - early Amanda Cross - oh yum!)

But I browsed through a list of blurbs at Fictionwise (I prefer ebooks) and found the following first lines that didn't work for me:

In this, the 15th book ... (pass, unless this is Terry Pratchett)

Delightful #1 bestselling (blech - pass)

... publisher proudly presents (oh help - pass)

... has emerged as one of today's foremost authors (pass - oh wait, this is an author I like)