To Hook or Not to Hook, That is the Question?

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Robert Hendry is the author of 26 published non-fiction titles and three novels. He asks some fundamental quastions about the way literature is going. With modern demands for "the Hook", POV and so on, would the classic authors of the past get published today?

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About Robert Hendry

Hi there.

My name is Robert Hendry, and over the past 30 years, I have 26 published Non-Fiction books in paper form. I recently decided I would like to branch out into the Fiction field, initially with a subject I have studied for a similar length of time, the Soviet Union.

During that time I got to know a good deal about Soviet military hardware and operational doctrine, and after the break up of the USSR, it was interesting to actually see at first hand the stuff I had studied at a distance.Seeing a Termit Surface to surface missile fired for real beats any number of photos!

The majority o COl War Era novels have a Western hero and Soviet baddies. In the 1980s, as the Brezhnev era ground to a stand, various factions view for power, and my novels have brought in a limited CIA or MI6 involvement, but the main action is between good guys and bad guys in the USSR.

The First Novel to be relesed on Smashwords is "To Kill Our WOrthy Comrade", which covers a plot to assassinate the General Secretary at his dacha in the Crimea in 1981. The real 1991 plot took place at the replacement dacha just a few kilometres along the coast.

The novel introduces the C-in-C of the Black Sea FLeet, Admiral Petrov who is drawn into the fight to defeat the plotters and a 19 year old girl communications rating, Lidiya. She is one of those girls who just seem to attract trouble, as you will discover in the Lidiya Petrova Series No 2 and No 3.

I managed to get No 2, The Admiral's Woman on line, and if you felt that Lidiya had a pretty easy time in No 1, and landed on her feet, you will fidcover that things get a bit more hectic for the lovely Lidiya in "The Admiral's Woman".

As you will have gathered I have these two very different publishing careers and I have thoroughly enjoyed both of them. As a historian, I have to rely on available sources, and imagination is not on. As a novelist, it is important to get facts right but after that the more imaginative and original the storyline the better.

All the Best
RObert H

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Review by: Risa Attrell on Jan. 23, 2011 :
I totally agree with what Robert Hendry writes here. I think it's sad that the literary agents insist on the 'hook' right in the beginning. That certainly isn't my style of writing. Why does every story have to start off with excitement? What happened to the 'nice cozy story' to read by the fireplace?

There's a problem though with e-books. In days gone by, you could go to the bookstore, sit at a table, and read as much of a book as you want-maybe even the whole thing, before you decided if it was worth spending your money to take the book home with you.

When it comes to buying e-books though, (or even buying hard copy books online) one cannot just read the whole thing before buying. And why would someone who just gets to read a sample, buy the book, if there is nothing to 'hook' the reader in the sample? I consider this a real problem.
(review of free book)
Review by: Peter Salisbury on Jan. 23, 2011 :
I have just finished reading this most interesting, amusing and highly readable essay on the 'requirements' of modern literary fashion, including the 'need' for a dead body to be found on the first page.

One of the most gratifying things about the e-publishing revolution is that the literary agent and his or her current preoccupations can be circumvented entirely. The solution is to upload your carefully edited file to one of several highly reputable ebook publishing sites and watch appreciative readers download what you have written. At least you hope the readers will be appreciative. If you have written with conviction and skill, there may be at least a handful of readers who do enjoy what you have produced.

If a reader offers an opinion on what or how you have written and/or is kind enough to give you the benefit of his or her reaction in detail, it may be immensely helpful in making improvements. That brings me to the second most wonderful thing about the e-publishing revolution: if someone spots a typo, or the author decides to re-write a paragraph, the newly revised book can appear within minutes after its completion.

In answer to the question the author poses in this book, I have to say that I agreed with pretty much everything.
(review of free book)
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