Help Me Pick My Hook


We’ve reached that point. The dreaded point. I need to have a one line summary of my novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin, for my promotional materials and my newly-created Facebook Author Page.

I despise one line summaries. How do I boil 400 pages down to a sentence? How?! How?!

Okay, sorry for venting.

I wrote out a couple dozen attempts. I’ve whittled it down to my top four with the help of a few people that read the manuscript.

But then I realized I really really need  input from people who haven’t read it. Because this one line summary has to grab potential readers’ attention.

So I’m putting up my first poll ever in this blogs three year history. Do you hear the trumpets blaring?

Please let me know what you think by voting or commenting on what didn’t work with any of the one liners. I really appreciate hearing your thoughts. 🙂

And if you like my writing, would you please click on the  “like” button for my just launched Facebook Author page (it’s to the left)?

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36 Responses to Help Me Pick My Hook

  1. Ok let me see which grabs at my attention as if I were picking up the book to read off the shelf!.. Oooh I voted and it seems 3 others chose the same as I.. so that tells you something! …. 😉 Good Luck with your book… and I know the pole will reveal that which you will use.. 🙂

  2. jmmcdowell says:

    I like No. 1 best. It gives me enough information about a major story element (her telepathy) and the potential risks to the relationship. I might take the last part of No. 2, though, and use it at the end of No. 1. To my ear, that reads better.

    Nos. 3 and 4 make no mention of the wife’s telepathy, which I suspect is an important part of the story. As a reader, I want to know about that “paranormal” element. If it wasn’t my “thing,” I’d like to know up front that the book might not be for me. I know that sounds counterproductive to what we’re trying to do with these hooks. I might be a statistical outlier here, but I appreciate it when I can see right away what are the key elements of a story.

    • I really feel like the telepathy is important too. I wanted to try a few different formats, but I think you’re absolutely right about readers wanting that information up front. Cool idea about splicing the end of 2 onto 1. 🙂 I’ll try that tonight.

      Very true. I don’t want to bait and switch on the reader. Then they just get angry. Or at least I do as a reader. Excellent points, JM! Thank you so much for voting and commenting. 🙂

  3. I voted for no.1, the first two definitely tell you more about the story. Good luck, I feel your pain they are really hard to write!

  4. Gwen says:

    I think #3 and 4 are best saved for a closing line, perhaps for wrapping up back cover copy. Even though #1 and #2 are similar, I chose #1 because I think it packs a bit more punch.

    Congrats on this exciting and important step. Be sure to post which one you ultimately choose. I hope to post a similar poll someday in the distant future 🙂

    • Oh I like that idea, Gwen! Thanks. It’s suddenly feeling so real. For some reason creating the FB author page made everything concrete. 🙂 Will do. And I will stand in line to vote in that poll. 😉

  5. winsomebella says:

    I voted for #2—-congrats on this milestone step 🙂

  6. Carrie Rubin says:

    I chose the second one, but I also liked number three. It has such nice syntax and flow to it. But I went with number two because it offers more specifics. That being said, they are all great. It’s amazing how difficult writing that blurb can be!

    • Thanks! I studied the one liners used on Bookbub and tried to emulate them. Maybe I can use the rejected ones for tweets about the book? 🙂 I thought the back cover was tough. LOL. But this was a whole new level. 🙂

  7. Great story I can’t wait to read in full! I really dig the one that’s in the lead: “When his wife’s telepathy…” Nabbed my interest straight away—compelling. Good luck!

  8. Pete Denton says:

    Great idea to run a poll. I voted for the first one (glad to be in the majority) I agree with jmmcdowell about splicing the first part of one and the last part of 2.

  9. Ok, I picked the one that grabbed my attention the most. 🙂 Great idea to poll!

  10. (Cowering in corner with blanket over head: ONE sentence summaries. TERROR)
    OK. I like the “when his wife’s…” sentence. It reveals a lot about the book and conflicts that they are facing. And the reader knows telepathy is causing a problem. There’s a number of specifics although the reader will wonder what’s in his past he is hiding and what the potential/impact for the marriage is
    But the “Kai and Oliver…” First the characters are introduced (and such great names…wonder what these people are like?…already getting to know them…). This one promises romance and “secrets from their pasts” (both of them have secrets! People love secrets – wonder what those are…?) This one is more open ended. More mysterious – wondering….
    But then again, I’m the one who cannot say anything in a one sentence summary…and I’m under the blanket…..

    • LOL. I’m right there with you. I spent a month tinkering with these. I wrote 10 awful ones, several bad ones, and a few muh ones. Eventually something decent popped out. 😉
      Including the wife’s name in #1–good catch there! I do like how many questions that one invokes…I think I will probably use it on Twitter and Facebook as a teaser. If I ever get around to making a book trailer this might be the one for that maybe? Just a thought. 🙂

  11. EllaDee says:

    The first words of #1 have a lot of pull 🙂

  12. Since I have struggled with exactly the same issues, I tried to throw away everything I know about writing blurbs and go with my gut… I don’t know if I was successful. I like # 4 because of its simple grammatical structure, but I see that it may not give all the information a reader might need. Can you make #2 simpler while still keeping the content? (By simpler, I mean not starting with a conditional clause. I keep hearing echoes of the writing workshop I went to last year!)

    • I liked 4 from a big picture perspective but it didn’t feel like it got to the heart of the story. I loved #1 until I realized the opening and the closing both had save in them and then it felt a smidge redundant. I ended up combining one and two. 🙂

      What did you hear about conditional clauses at your workshop? I’m curious–have they fallen out of favor?

      • Not at all! It’s just that the workshop leader (Nora Profit of The Writing Loft…I may have blogged about her) was really big on simple, straightforward sentence structure. Which I think is fine advice for beginning writers, but once you have mastered your craft, you are free to experiment. And as a marketing writer, I always aim to get to the meat of the matter in as few words as possible.

        • That makes sense. 🙂 I can definitely see the merit of a short simple sentence. I had one for my YA book. But that was more high concept. I’m not sure it would work as well for this novel. 🙂

  13. 4amWriter says:

    I’m going to be a pain and say that I like a combo of #1 and #2, the opening of 1 and the end of 2. The other ones weren’t as appealing because they weren’t as dramatic. Good idea to poll us, Kourtney. Hope you make some headway with this.

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