Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Week of October 2—Recent Lessons Learned from Editors
Wednesday, October 5—Every Picture Book Needs a Hook

Yes, we’ve heard about hooks before. We’ve heard about the hook of the story that captures the reader’s attention, the hook that we use to pitch the story, and more. But this hook is different. A note I recently received from an editor at a major publishing house said:

“We don’t publish any book that doesn’t have a marketing hook that gives a reason for it to be displayed on shelves.”

Think of those displays in front of the children’s section at Barnes & Noble (and other book stores). Maybe the displays feature seasonal books, a holiday theme, back-to-school titles, books about moms, or another topic. Book stores need a reason to put a book on the shelf and a promotional hook can give that reason.

If one major publishing house is thinking this way, then a promotional hook might vcry well be something everyone is looking for (and it could mean that’s what book sellers are telling publishers they want). As writers we also have to be marketers. We have to be able to say, “This fun story about pirates also has an anti-bullying angle that could make it even more marketable to schools and libraries” or “This counting book also explores the wonders of Spring.” Make sure the editor knows there’s a reason to put your book on the shelf (in addition to your great writing and your wonderful story line).

Hook 'em, baby!

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