Use Emotional and Genre Hooks

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In my book “Creating a Fiction Book Cover That Sells” I discussed the importance of using your cover design to reinforce that your novel fits its genre. This effort continues in the book description. It’s important to reinforce that your novel is indeed a genre novel by including “genre hooks.”

To understand genre hooks, we need to think about what draws people to specific genres. People choose genre fiction because these novels provoke certain emotional responses and feelings:

  • Romance novels evoke feelings of love and passion and relationships and triumphing over adversity
  • Mysteries present puzzles and stimulate readers’ analytical minds
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy create worlds of wonder and show the triumph of good over evil
  • Thrillers deliver a roller coaster experience where the stakes are life and death
  • Horror novels frighten their readers and create feelings of terror

It really is all about creating an emotional experience for the reader. Recent smash hits like 50 Shades of Grey, Twilight, and Harry Potter haven’t won a ton of literary awards. No one talks about their masterful prose or sublime characterization. These novels were hugely popular because they connected with readers and delivered an intense emotional experience in keeping with their genres. 

But what does this have to do with your book description? Everything. The book description is your first opportunity to:

  • Reinforce that, yes, the reader is in the right place. This book is solidly in the genre he or she is looking for
  • Give the reader a taste of what type of emotional experience the book will deliver

According to Bookbub’s A/B tests, mentioning a genre in the book description increases its effectiveness by nearly 16%:

“If you love thrillers, don’t miss this action-packed read!” scored 15.8% higher than just “An action-packed read!” 

It seems simple, but the technique of adding the phrase “If you love” plus your genre is very powerful. Being specific about a sub-genre (“If you love small town cozy mysteries” or “If you love international techno-thrillers”) can work even better. It’s all about letting the reader know what they can look forward to.

Author Jackie King’s book description for An Inconvenient Corpse incorporates social proof and emotional and genre hooks all in this one powerful blurb:

“If you like bed and breakfast settings, friendly cats, delightful, quirky characters and a little tea thrown in with your murder, you’ll love The Inconvenient Corpse. –Bob Avey, author of Beneath a Buried House and Twisted Perception”


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