Give Me One Reason: 3 Ways to Hook Readers

Remember the song by Tracy Chapman, Give Me One Reason To Stay Here?

I think of that song when I'm writing book promotion copy.

In the song, Chapman sings that she'll turn right back around if she just has 1 reason to stay.

Now, think about your Product Description on your Amazon book page. Is that first sentence a reason for the visitor to stay there?

In the song, Chapman wants one reason. On your book webpage, you better have more than one reason, or the book browser will exit and move on to the next book.

Always make sure everything on your book's webpage is a reason to stay there, reading it all, checking out the reviews, checking the price, and finally clicking BUY.

What makes a reader stay on the page?

3 Ways to Hook the Reader

1. Create excitement about your book.

Does the first sentence make you read the second? Does the second make you read the third, and so on? If it's boring, poorly written, grammatically incorrect, contains misspelled words, or its confusing and muddled, you'll lose the potential buyer.

2. Tell the reader what kind of book it is.

Don't be wishy washy and try to make the book sound as if it appeals to every reader or to romance and women's fiction readers or mystery and romance readers, or any combination thereof. That won't work.

You'll lose romance readers because they'll think the book is too much women's fiction. You'll lose women's fiction readers because they don't want that romance stuff. There's a reason traditional publishers always labeled every book specifically.

That's so readers could find the book in stores. Romance readers knew to go to the romance section. Mystery readers went straight to the mystery section. The only authors who successfully wrote mixed genre books were talents like Dean Koontz.

Remember, Amazon is just a giant bookstore. Romance readers want to find a romance easily. They don't want to guess whether it's a real romance or not.

3. Use a marketing hook, like a trope, when writing the book.

A trope is a common literary device or motif that is universally popular with readers.

Start thinking about what kind of marketing hook, or trope, you can use before you write the book.

When using a trope, be sure to emphasize the trope in the product description and use it as a keyword especially in your marketing copy.

Here's a short list of the most popular romance tropes. There are many others.

* runaway bride
* secret baby
* ugly duckling
* amnesia
* debt of honor
* Cinderella
* evil twin
* love at first sight
* bad cop
* ripped from the headlines
* woman in jeopardy
* marriage of convenience.

Other than the 3 marketing hooks above, the rest is more or less a guessing game because there's no consistent evidence about ROI.

Authors roll the dice and try these marketing protocols with varying success.

* Give away copies in the hope of getting good reviews. Unfortunately, readers hardly ever leave reviews for various reasons. Also unfortunately, good reviews don't translate into good sales.

* Buy ads on websites and newsletters with lots of dedicated genre readers. The ads that work are usually very expensive. You can easily drop almost a grand on BookBub.

* Blog about a book. If you write an entertaining post that hits the reader's imagination, this actually can pay off by gaining you a reader for your posts.

Chances are if your posts are found interesting, readers will keep reading you. Soon they'll experience the "I know that author" feeling and are more apt to give one of your books a chance.

Takeaway Truth

Consistently use the 3 Marketing Hooks listed. Using a trope wisely and well is a good way to gain readers for your brand.


  1. You always offer wonderful advice, Joan. You are my guru!

    1. Thank you! You're my guru for publishing frequently.