Whenever I’m on an agent panel someone will ask what we’re looking for, and almost always one person, or everyone, says, “A really well-written book.” But is good writing really enough to sell a book?
The truth is no. It’s not good enough to find an agent, sell to a publisher, or find a reader. I’ve seen lots of criticism on the blog lately, a lot of anger toward publishing professionals. Anger that we can’t look beyond the hook. That judging from a query letter alone isn’t enough and that what really makes a book good is execution. And yes, that’s right. What makes a book really work is execution, but a lot of things go into executing a good book and one of those things is a hook.
Agents and editors aren’t the bad guys here, folks. Our job is to try and bring books to the public that readers will want. Let me ask you this: How do you pick up a new book? One that hasn’t been recommended and one from an author you’ve never read before. I’ll bet it was the hook.
If it weren’t for a good hook new writers wouldn’t be discovered. It’s the hook that brings readers in and the writing and execution that keeps them coming back for more.
And I am curious. When was the last time you tried out a new author you’d never heard of and what was the reason for picking up the book?