Skip to main content
Publish date:

Are You Writing a Book With a Hook or a Gimmick?

I was reading a piece on the Guide to Literary Agent's blog today that made me panic. It talked about how books that sell have hooks and books that don't have gimmicks, and helps you figure out in which camp your work falls (that's the correct way to use "in which," right?). What freaked me out is this: What if my writing projects don't have hooks and, instead, have gimmicks? Yikes!

I was reading a piece on the Guide to Literary Agent's blog today that made me panic. It talked about how books that sell have hooks and books that don't have gimmicks, and helps you figure out in which camp your work falls (that's the correct way to use "in which," right?). What freaked me out is this: What if my writing projects don't have hooks and, instead, have gimmicks? Yikes!

GLA-Hook-screengrab

The article, written by creative writing teacher and agented-writer Traci Borum, defines both as such:

A hook: is creative/original, it “rings true” (feels genuine), and it’s well-executed (flawlessly sustained through the rest of the plot).

A gimmick: is clichéd, it doesn’t ring true, and it’s poorly-executed.

She offers up several examples of each here on this post and, after reading them, it really helped me break down my stories to find out which ones had hooks (four of them) and which ones were just gimmicks (two of them). Finding out which ones had gimmicks now gives me time to restructure and revise (two words I hate more than green beans, but swallow down because I know they are good for me).

Of course, occasionally you'll run across a book that may actually fit both, like this one. (Was this a brilliant idea or ridiculous that people actually bought it? Would love your thoughts in the comments section.)

Here are several more great references on making sure the hook of your book (and query letter) is strong enough to entice an agent:

3 Exercises for Defining Your Book’s Hook

Pitch Perfect: How to Craft Your Book's Hook

Developing the Hook in a Query Letter

Find an Angle to Bring Your Subject to Life

Follow me on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Read my Dad blog: TheLifeOfDad.com
Sign up for my free weekly eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

wd-Brian-web-19.jpg
15 Promotional Ideas for Nonfiction Authors

15 Promotional Ideas for Nonfiction Authors

For the introverted writer, the process of promoting your book may seem to be a daunting, even frightening undertaking. Here, nonfiction author Rick Lauber lays out 15 promotional ideas for authors to get their books into as many hands as possible.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 26

For the 2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a Well Blank poem.

Black Friday Savings 2021

Take Advantage of Our Black Friday Deals This Weekend

At Writer's Digest, there's no need to get up early or push and shove at stores to get your Black Friday deals. In fact, we give you the whole weekend to take advantage of them. Check them out here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Break

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Break

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, your character receives an unexpected break or benefit.

The Joys and Challenges of Writing About Food

The Joys and Challenges of Writing About Food

Food takes on a main role in Annabel Abbs' novel, Miss Eliza's English Kitchen, where research incorporated all the senses. Here, she discusses the joys and challenges of writing about food.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 25

For the 2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a thankful poem.

How To Turn an Idea Into a Chapter Book Series

How To Turn an Idea Into a Chapter Book Series

From finding the idea to writing the manuscript and sending it off to agents, author Christine Evans maps out how to turn an idea into a chapter book series.

8 Tips for Developing a Thrilling Espionage Premise

8 Tips for Developing a Thrilling Espionage Premise

Maintaining tension and high stakes requires careful attention in the writing process. Ambassador Philip Kaplan offers 8 tips for developing a thrilling espionage premise that helped him in writing his debut book, Night in Tehran.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 24

For the 2021 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a response poem.