Recently I had a consultation with a new client, "Jane Doe," whose first novel came out in hardcover last year. She wanted to discuss promotion options for the upcoming trade paperback.
I looked over Jane's website and suggested that she rewrite the book description on her home page. She'd lifted it from her publisher's catalog, and the first two sentences were in--eek!--passive voice. And the protagonist, who's also the narrator, wasn't even mentioned till the second paragraph.
How to fix the copy? First, I needed to know more about the book.
"Well, how old is your main character?" I asked.
"Umm..." Jane racked her brain for a few seconds, then could only recall the nearest decade (as in 30-something).
I said, "If you want to do readings and interviews, don't you think you should know your own book? Journalists and audiences are going to ask you about it."
"Um, yes," she admitted sheepishly.
"Have you read your book lately?" I asked
"Um, no," she admitted, even more sheepishly.
I didn't blame Jane. She'd finished writing her novel more than two years ago and is hard at work at another one, in a different genre. Plus she'd recently gone through a lot of big changes in her life.
But still, I reminded her, if she's going to go on the road promoting her novel, her audience expects her to be the expert on it. So she'd damn well better know it, inside and out. And the way to do that is by rereading what she wrote. Now.