Get them hooked!

Clothes hangers

A hook to hang something from

The hook – the opening few paragraphs that drag the reader in – is an absolutely vital part of your book and merits having time being spent on it. How you tackle this section will, to a large extent, dictate whether someone will want to read your book or not and, more importantly, whether that someone will part with their cash in order to buy it.

No-one can give you a hard and fast rule for what you should or shouldn’t put in an opening – whether it’s pure dialogue, a description of the time, place or events occurring – it all depends on you. The book’s genre, your style, the plot and your target market are all key factors in the nature of the hook you choose to create.

To get you thinking, go to a site like the Gutenberg Project which provides free e-books of classic literature, and download a few that cover your genre. If nothing else, just read the opening paragraphs and note which ones draw you in and which ones don’t. Now read some more modern physical books you’ve got on your shelves (even if you’ve read them recently, re-read the opening two to three paragraphs) and then, finally, use Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature to do likewise with the top-selling books in your genre.

Now analyse your results. What’s the common element other than that the books are (or have been) successful? Have tastes changed?

The whole thing will take you a few hours but cost nothing and quite probably make all the difference in the number of copies of your own book that you subsequently sell. It’s well worth the effort.