Your Hook

Dynamics of a Successful Book Lesson 5

Well, since we’re calling it a hook, let’s go with a fishing analogy.

  • The bait you’ll be using is the promise your book makes.
  • The fish we’re trying to catch is your potential reader.
  • The hook, what actually catches your fish, is the short story you’ll tell potential readers, your “elevator speech.”

Steve Spillman, Founder, True Potential

“And that’s the secret to thriving on the edges: Build something that people will look for, something that people will talk about, something we would miss if it were gone.

Not for everyone.

For us.”

Seth Godin

Author, Entrepreneur, Teacher, Founder of Squidoo and Yoyodyne

Lesson 5:

Three questions to ask about your hook:

Question 1: What’s my promise?

People don’t buy books. They buy the promise a book makes.

If your sales and marketing plan is basically throwing up a cover on Facebook or your website and “Buy my book,” you’re going to fail.

If you try to sell your book, people won’t buy it. That’s because people don’t buy books. They buy the promise your book makes. Your book is a narrative; it’s a story. It could be the story of your life or the story of your idea.

If it’s the story of your life then it will need to pass on some lesson or inspiration that will resonate with your reader. That connection, lesson, and inspiration is the promise your book makes to the reader.

If your book is about an idea or instruction, then the realization of that idea or the learning behind the instruction being passed on to your reader is the promise your book makes.

A book titled How to Find God, for example, makes a promise that this book will help the person who reads it find God.

The promise your book makes is to fill a gap, solve a problem, enlighten, inspire or otherwise add value to your reader’s life. That promise is what your reader is buying. Your book just happens to be the package it comes in.

Question 2: Who is my reader?

Of course, in order to sell a book, there must be a potential reader out there who is interested in solving the problem your book is promising to solve.

If your book promises “How to Find God” it will only appeal to people actually looking for Him. Those who believe they’ve already found God, and those with no interest in finding God are probably not interested in the promise your book is making. Your book isn’t for them. They’re not the readers you’re fishing for.

If How to Find God is your book, the promise it makes is meant for those who are searching for … something … for peace, for meaning, for a purpose. You know what they’re searching for, you wrote the book! That’s your audience. Those people are your readers. That’s where your focus needs to be. Your book is not for everyone. No book is for everyone. Your book is for who it’s for. Identify those people. Focus on them. They are your audience, your readers. Your fish.

Question 3: What is my elevator speech?

An “elevator speech” is a 30-second story – the time it takes to ride an elevator to its next stop. This is the time you have to sell your story to a potential reader. You don’t have to do it every time you ride an elevator; most folks would prefer you didn’t. But … if the opportunity presents itself, an elevator is as good a place as any to tell your story.

The idea behind an “elevator speech” is to effectively tell your story to a potential reader in 30 seconds. Remember that you’re not trying to sell your book in those 30 seconds; you’re trying to sell the promise. If your listener resonates with your 30-second story, if it communicates that this promise might answer his question or solve his problem, there’s a chance he’ll buy your book – it’s the container the promise/his answer comes in.

Elevator speech for How to Find God.

“You know, it seems like everyone is searching for something; peace, meaning, purpose, or happiness, but what they’re really searching for is God. That’s because all those things they’re looking for, come along free when you find Him.

I looked for those things for a long time. But eventually, I discovered that peace, meaning, purpose, and happiness don’t come by searching for them. They come from finding the One who gives them freely. I also discovered that finding Him wasn’t that hard. He was waiting for me. That’s why I wrote this book. I wanted others to find the source of every other thing they’re looking for. It’s pretty easy to find what you’re looking for once you discover where to look.”

30 seconds exactly!


  1. Write down the promise your book is making. Be specific, be singular (one promise), be succinct (a promise is a sentence, not a paragraph).
  2. Identify your reader. Write up a short “bio” for your reader. Your reader is the person searching for the answer your book promises. It’s not “everyone.” Think in terms of an individual, not a vague group. 
  3. Draft your elevator speech. Focus on the Promise. Be succinct. Keep what absolutely has to be there, cut everything else. Use a 30-second timer (I used the timer function on my phone for the sample elevator speech above). Keep paring it down until it falls within the 30-second time limit. 31 seconds is a fail. 30 seconds is a win. Once you’ve got the 30 seconds nailed, practice your elevator speech until you’ve memorized it.

Click here for lesson 4: 

Your Network

Click here for lesson 6: 

Your Home

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