Begin With A Bang/ Guest Post by Margot Finke

Hi Friends!

Boy! Are you ever in for a treat today! I have with me Margot Finke, the Marketing Queen, I mean THE Promo Queen of writing with me here. She is best known for her picture book critiques and runs in more circles than I ever knew of. So, that is my introduction for now we have, Margot Finke!

Begin With a BANG!

by Margot Finke (The Promo Queen)


Some of Margot 's books

Some of Margot ‘s books

Okay mates, hold onto your computers – I am about to tell it like it is.

You are frustrated, and pissed off.

You have MS that are NOT earning their keep. You have sent them out to various publishers.
Yet you have received enough rejection letters to paper your bathroom walls!


You are ready to bite the head off the next person who asks what you do.

Do you like fishing?
What do you want to HOOK?
What sort of bait do you use?
Where do you go to fish?

Do you prefer your catch fried or poached?

And what the!@#$% does all this “fishy” palaver have to do with
getting your books published and read?


So. . . Let’s drag all those dirty little fishing secrets outa the bag.

*Are You a Good Fisherman?
Fishing is the art of knowing what the reading fish likes to read, and writing books with the right lures – ones that HOOK the largest pile of readers, with a variety of lures and an assortment of readable bait.

*Begin With a . . .

There will be tens of thousands of authors competing for the same readers your book hopes to woo. So your book has to stand out from a multitude of others. It needs to shine. A first page that is, for whatever reason, riveting. To make it through the publisher’s vetting process it must stand out as a beacon of sales potential. It must first grab the editor’s gut feelings: “Wow! This could be a publishable book.” The BANG need not be a gun shot, but it does need to rivet attention on the potential of your plot and characters.

A first chapter should retain the editor’s interest and intensify it. Your plot and characters need to jump off the page with authenticity. The ebb and flow of your story must fit the genre, and your writing style needs to complement all of it. Sound easy to you? No way! It takes a whole lot of rewrites, reworkings, critique sessions, sheer hard work and pure determination to finally get it right.

Like any other task you take up, writing has to be learned. And each genre holds its own quirks and secrets for us to discover. So many people think it is only a matter of an idea, a few characters, and applying your fingertips to the keyboard, and hey-diddle-diddle, a best seller is born! Utter Rubbish!

It takes time (years) to learn the craft of writing + grammar, punctuation, and how to dig up fresh new ideas and weave them all into an awesome story. Yet good grammar and a few ideas do not a story make. The art of taking ideas and stringing them together with the right words is one that eludes many. Writing that is as tight as your granny’s new girdle, and YOU having the guts to CUT those waffling paragraphs, soon separates the beginner minnows from

the writing sharks. Joining a good critique group is also worth its weight in prime bait. Their writing suggestions, advice and support, will help you land the BIG ONE!

*What Sort of Bait Do You Use?
This depends on what reading market you are fishing for. Study the genres you write. Read piles of books in that genre. Pick apart the plots, the characters, and the settings until all that is left are bare bones. Are they first-class bones? Are they strong? Intriguing? Tension building? Will they hold your plot and characters together until the last page?

If you bait each chapter with the right HOOK, avoid waffling on about unimportant stuff, and lure them on with tempting new tidbits in every chapter, you WILL HOOK READERS – even (gasp) publishers! And the most important test of all: readers will feel satisfied, and want to read more from you?

Offer fresh ideas, new twists, out-of-the-box drama, fun and adventurous doings. Humor and truly ageappropriate and realistic dialogue. POWERFUL words are top flight bait. They will HOOK your readers on the deliciously real and evocative mental pictures you create with every potent sentence, page and chapter. Are you getting the picture? You must master the art of painting vivid word pictures. Artists do it all the time with paints, why not writers like you – WITH WORDS!

Where Do You First Pedal Your Fish?
There are large ponds and small ponds, bubbling brooks, and huge rivers that flow on and on. Each fishing place needs the right bait on your hook. Research these places and see where your bait will enjoy the most nibbles. Diving into a large and fast flowing river with your lure at the ready can be hazardous to your self-esteem. I mean, just how many bathrooms in your home really need repapering? Smaller fishing holes are often more welcoming to a beginning fisherman. The big thing here is to make sure what you offer fits the discerning palate of the EDITOR fish that prowls each waterway. Research is the way to success!

*What Do You Want to HOOK?

After you haul in an editor or two, you have to grab prospective reader attention. BOOK PROMOTION, like a killer whale, can gobble up your time and talent. An eye-popping cover is a great start. Craft a first page that is an instant HOOK into the rest of your book. You want readers to tell their friends, and get blisters on their fingers from their fast flicking of those pages. Be as sneaky as necessary.

Make your synopsis, tight, terrific and memorable. Hit the high points of your story. Look for that niche market that has been waiting for a book like yours for years. Like the avid fisherman/woman that you are, go where the fish swim: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Goodreads, Google+ and MORE. Set up your own Blog Pond, where your books can swim proudly and be admired. Look for water where book clubs, schools, libraries, churches, and the ever more hard to find PRIVATE BOOK STORES are willing to let you drag your literary lures and bait through their waters.

*Do You Prefer Your Catch Fried or Poached?

Who the heck cares! How did this dumb question swim into MY pond anyway?



Margot's Finke's author photo

Margot’s Finke’s author photo

Margot Finke is an Aussie transplant, now living in Oregon with her husband and family. She has 13 published books (PB to young teen), and runs a well known Manuscript Critique Service. She also offers FREE Skype Author Visits to schools and book clubs.

*HOOK Kids on Reading:
**Autographed books come with her FREE “Fairdinkum Aussie Recipe Book” – tucker Margot loved to eat as an Aussie kid.

*FREE “Sneak Peek” inside all her books:
*SKYPE Author Visits (schools etc) :


About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
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13 Responses to Begin With A Bang/ Guest Post by Margot Finke

  1. Margot Finke says:

    I left a comment and thanks earlier., but it has not registered??? So here goes again.
    Thanks so much for allowing me to chat with your wonderful (and faithful) readers. Your blog is a terrific resource for writing ideas, books, and friendly comments. I am honored to be invited IN.

    Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques


  2. Nice post, Margot. Lots of good reminders here. Thanks.


  3. Margot Finke says:

    Thanks Rosi. After 13 books published, I have learned a lot along the writing highway. It takes time to absorb everything and then put it into practice. If the passion is there the the rest will come.

    Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques


  4. Hi, Margot,

    I love your article, an original on hooking readers. You’re so right! We sometimes forget that our writing must be riveting from the start.


    • Margot Finke says:

      Many thanks Jacqueline. I even use the fishing theme when I do Skype Visits to schools. Kids really “get’ the analogy of hooking fish and hooking readers and editors.


  5. What a great post! Thanks to both of you ladies!


  6. Great post! This will really help me. 🙂


  7. Janet Smart says:

    Great post and everything you said is so true. We all need your enthusiasm and ‘go get ’em – go fishin’ attitude.


  8. Margot Finke says:

    Janet, you are a writer after my own heart. We know each other – right? didn’t I critique an MS for you a while back? What are you writing now?


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