You hear it all over the Picture Book Publishing World, "You need a hook." Check out Erin Dealey's "Writer's Rap" about it. (Scroll down on her page) So, what's a hook?
In a Query letter the hook is that first sentence designed to grab the agent's attention. It's that "something" that makes them want to read on.
In a Pitch it's what will get the listener/reader to say those magic words, "Tell me more." Maybe it's the angle, maybe it's the interesting MC, maybe it's the kid appeal, maybe it's just "something" that intrigued and excited.
In a Picture Book itself, it's the first few pages, or beginning that gets your reader to want to continue (and your buyer to put down the money – just so they can finish the story).
In an Acquisitions meeting (which I have never experienced personally) a hook seems to be those points about a book that will convince an editor to take on the project. For examples, what "kid appeal" does the book have? Are there any Common Core Connections? What gaps will this book fill? Where on the bookshelf will it be?
For a Writer, all of the above are important hooks. We need to have a polished manuscript, query, and pitch that hooks whichever reader lays eyes on it. We also need to be aware of the hooks that an agent or acquisitions editor will use to sell our manuscript.
Want to know what else I think about Hooks?
One piece of sound advice for those agent hunters (like me) is to never say any agent is your "dream agent." This can hurt the chances of finding the best agent for you, because other agents think, "What, am I chopped liver?"
The dream agent should be the agent you sign up with for years and years, who continually gives you satisfying deals, and communicates with you on a level you are most comfortable with. That means one author's dream is going to be another's nightmare.
Sometimes, however, I think we point to those agents who have an impressive list of best-selling books and label them "dream agent" much like we label George Clooney "sexy actor." Sure he's got good looks for his age, but would I even consider dating him? Yuck.
Now, my hubby is another story. He is the sexiest, most awesome man I know. (And you can't have him; he's mine!)
So, Writers... Dream-Agent Hunters, just be careful what you say.
A mom sent her little girl down a busy hallway toward her father.
From the mom’s perspective, it was not far and the goal was clear. But as the little girl walked through a sea of strangers, she nearly broke into tears. People of all shapes and sizes passed her, and none of them looked like her father.
The girl spun around, wanting to run back to the safety of her mom. To her dismay, she had lost sight of everything she knew (though her mom had not lost sight of her).
Suddenly, a familiar face emerged from crowds. Her big brother had come to rescue the little girl. He offered his hand and she took it, trusting him to lead her to their father.
We are like that little girl, seemingly sent adrift in a confusing world. While our heavenly parents and older brother can see the way, you and I are just too spiritually young. That is why God has sent His Son to walk with us and show us how to get back to Him.
You may know that I’m taking an online course called “Writing for Love and Money” at The Children's Book Academy.
Wow, talk about a wealth of info! Lists of publishers that took years to compile and update. Assignments and Homework, Blog lectures and videos that show step by step, and help get me ready to submit. I even got some of my cover letter critiqued by the instructors! The course is only half over and already there’s so much stuff, I’ll have to revisit after the course is over. Luckily, class members have six months access after the class is live.
As excited as I am about the course I’m taking now, I’m even MORE enthusiastic about the next one offered at The Children’s Book Academy.
“Writing Children’s Books”
Why am I looking forward to this course so much? Well, Take the wonderful Dr. Mira Reisberg who always over-delivers on her courses, and add acquiring editor Kelly Delaney, who WORKS at dream publisher Random House/Knopf! Talk about the inside scoop. Could it get any better for a Picture Book writer like me?
The course is chock full with guest instructors, critique opportunities, worksheets and handouts, and skip-the-slush Golden Ticket opportunities where every student gets to have their pitch in front of acquiring editors and agents eyes! Yep, I can’t wait for the first live training June 29th. If you are picture book writer - or want to be – here’s all the info you need to register for the course: "The Craft and Business of Writing Picture Books"
Hope to see you there!
One of the great inspirations for writers is music. But how we use it is impressively different.
Get in Character
One writer creates a playlist for each character. Whenever she wants to get into a character’s head, she puts on the correct playlist. She says it helps her differentiate between characters and really get a feel of the voice.
One writer creates a playlist that she listens to on loop while she’s writing. When she gets sick of the same songs over and over, it becomes an incentive to GET THE BOOK DONE.
Movie Overtures and Lyrics
One writer loves how songs can almost have a character of their own. She likes to channel that into her writing, so she picks several mood pieces for her playlist.
Sweet, Sweet Silence
I don’t write with any music on. The stuff in my brain is loud enough. In fact, I’ve caught myself trying to turn OFF the radio, when it was just me losing my mind – I mean thinking.
How does music inspire you?
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)