One of the hardest things for an Indie Author to learn is how to write a hook. Unless you've spent a great deal of time writing headlines for newspapers or online news services, your headline-writing skills are either absent or not often used. Novelists don't write headlines. We should--it's the best method to "hook" a reader on Page One of our novel--but it's a completely different set of skills than say, waxing prosaic for 150,000 words. Click through the jump break to read 3 tips for how to force yourself into hooking the reader so they'll click through to take in your whole pitch.
1) Don't Bury the Lead
This is a phrase we've probably heard in popular culture even if we've never worked in journalism, but any newsie knows, you never preface and prologue and preamble. Just cut to the chase--so the reader will chase your story from Page One through to The End.
A mistake often made by new authors who want to try to be clever is to withhold information from their readers. I remember doing this--I shan't say how long ago (smirk)--and I remember the rationale. I wanted them to yearn to know more. Unfortunately, as I found out with age, experience and much disappointment, readers don't "yearn" for more of nothing. You have to give them enough actual meat to bite into before they'll want to chew on the rest of the story to get to the payoff. Don't bury the lead is a tried and true journalistic rule of thumb for a good reason. You don't have to give away the punchline, but deliver the punch up front so you get a chance to deliver the rest of the lines.
2) Sell, Don't Tell
I've mentioned this before and I'll mention it again. When you're trying to get readers to click through to your sales page and buy your book, you have to actually sell something. You don't have to tell them a long, drawn-out explanation of your book and why they should want to read it. You have to sell them on the idea of your book and trust them to want to read it on that basis.
A sales pitch is never long. Less than 10 words, maybe less than 5 words. Try coming up with a phrase, a question, a comparison, an offer of some reward your reader will want to obtain enough to click the link through to your book's sales page. If you ask a question, make it a yes/no question--and one to which the reader will answer "Yes!" is far more likely to get you the click. Then actually ask for the click. Say the words "Click here!" Amazing that we still have to tell people to actually click and where but we do. Accept that and just do it ^)^
3) Be Specific
This is extremely hard to do in 10 words or less but do try to specifically tell the reader what your book will give the--a rollercoaster ride? That's a fairly common promise but if your book has twists and turns and grips a reader by the throat, say it--just say how, why, with what mechanisms your product is different from mine, and the next guy's. Be specific about your book's uniqueness. Otherwise, there's no specific reason the reader should click your link and not mine.
Tomorrow's Tuesday Tip will be my first book review in the new format. I'll be reviewing the anthology of romance short stories SEAL of My Dreams for you.
I'll also post information about how Indie Authors can request an opportunity to be featured here. I hope to see you tomorrow!