Copywriting is challenging. If you’re having trouble crafting an ad that converts, this post is for you. Learn why the hook is so important, and how you can write a winning one.
You’ve just uploaded your manuscript to Amazon. You’ve devoted weeks if not months creating a vibrant world, dynamic characters, and eye-opening plots. You’ve spent every waking moment, if not writing, then thinking about writing.
You’ve awoken in the middle of the night with brilliant ideas, and either scribbled them down on a notepad or groggily dictated into a recorder. You’ve devoted your life to making the story come alive. It’s your baby.
And now there’s a blank box staring at you from the Amazon page demanding you place copy for an ad blurb. The nightmare begins.
How are you supposed to condense an 80,000+-word novel into a 250-word blurb?
Where’s the creativity? How can you possibly convey the depth of emotion which guides your character’s actions? Surely, no one can appreciate the complexity of the plot when distilled into three small paragraphs. Why, oh why, is such a tiny number of words so incredibly difficult?
And it is hard. There is no getting around it. But there are some perfectly good reasons for this.
Copywriting is a Different Beast
The very nature of a novel is different from copywriting. Each writing form taps into a different side of the brain. When diving into dialogue, whipping characters into crazy circumstances, and designing breathtaking solutions, the mind pulls from its creative side.
It brings an endorphin rush when a scene comes together. Ad copy on the other hand is more like outlining or solving a math equation. Switching from using one part of the brain to the other isn’t something that comes naturally. And it makes it all too easy to settle for a long-winded summary instead of a concise but tantalizing peek into the excitement awaiting the reader if they’ll just click on that Buy button.
But it’s not hopeless. You can train yourself to generate ad copy which will attract readers rather than drive them off.
For this article, we’ll start at the top, with what is usually referred to as the hook. This is a pithy highlight of what awaits the reader.
What is the Hook?
The hook should be no more than 150 characters, and we like to keep it even shorter if possible. One to three sentences will act as the initial lure in drawing attention. What follows are a few key elements to focus on when staring at that blank page.
In the hook, you don’t want to get too personal. As a general rule, don’t include any proper nouns. You do want to mention the galaxy spanning feud, but the players involved shouldn’t be named.
You do want to end with how the hero/heroine of the story is the deciding factor in how things turn out, but at this point do not give their name.
Examples of Hooks
To help you see the words in action, here are a couple of example hooks for you.
In this first example, we’ll be following the adventures of a young wannabe actress.
A glittering Hollywood blockbuster. A leading man who takes a deadly bow. Can a young starlet catch the culprit before she’s typecast for murder?
From this we get a good idea of what we’re in for. There’s a big budget film involved. A hunky leading man ends up dead. A naïve actress just starting out must find out whodunnit or take the fall. And the word choices suggest it’s a bit humorous despite the stakes involved. It’s 146 characters, which falls within our parameters. With some extra thought it could probably be shortened up a bit more, but for our purposes, it gives a good base for the sort of thing we’re after.
Okay, one more example. Let’s get back to our science fiction adventure.
When a leech wrangler is the only one standing between Earth and feuding aliens, will the world end with a big bang?
You laugh, but I know a guy who raises leeches for medical applications. Getting back to our hook, it’s just a single sentence. In those 115 characters we know something quirky about our hero, we know there are feuding aliens (which also tells us it’s science fiction), and we know the stakes: if our leech wrangler fails, everybody dies. That’s some high stakes.
What Your Hook Needs to Succeed
In a hook, keep those stakes as high as possible. Death is the ultimate. In a romance, it’s going to be whether the couple hooks up. In literature, it’s generally something akin to enlightenment.
But always, when constructing the hook and the paragraphs that follow, remember to focus on keeping the risk factor high. In our previous hook, we had death and the threat of going to prison.
Always keep the drama and the characters as the focus. Everything else is supporting information or gristle. Always trim the gristle.
In part two of this look into getting over the difficulties of copywriting, the main body and the selling paragraph will get some love.
Check back to learn how to go from that interest-grabbing hook into the main meat of the blurb: the PoV character.
And for even more copywriting tips, make sure you grab your copy of our free Top 10 Amazon Advertising tips!