Friday, October 10, 2008

Have You Read Your Book Lately?

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.


Doreen Orion said...

I recently was invited to a local book group for a discussion about my recent book. When I got there, they surprised me by saying, "We not only read that book, but your first book, too!"

I should have been pleased, but I panicked - and for good reason. That first book came out 11 years ago and I remembered not a thing about it. I could not answer one single question. Taught me to always be prepared (and I've never even been a Boy Scout).

Bella Stander said...

Yowzah! Sure hope you still have a copy. A gazillion years ago, I reviewed Tony Horwitz's first book, ONE FOR THE ROAD. I liked it so much that I kept it. I interviewed Horwitz when his BLUE LATITUDES came out in 2002, and he told me that he didn't even have a copy of ONE FOR THE ROAD anymore. You can be sure I'm never getting rid of it.

Doreen Orion said...

I sure hope you had him sign it!

Bella Stander said...

It was a phone interview, so no.