I’ll say it again. The hardest part of this writing and publishing process for me is always the description of the book–that paragraph beside the cover image on the Amazon or Barnes and Noble page. Those few words are supposed to perfectly define the book and simultaneously demand it be purchased. Out of millions of books languishing in the mists.
Before Stable Relation came out, I spent a laborious week scrutinizing each word of that one measly paragraph, but when the first reviews came in, I realized that they described the book better than I had. My words failed my own words.
So a manuscript of eighty thousand words–think about what a huge number of words that is to wrangle into a meaningful order in the first place–lost forever if that tiny preview blurb doesn’t sell hot and fast. No pressure.
In defense of writers, sometimes there’s a gap between what we think we wrote and what the readers finds. We can never control, or even guess, how the book will be received. I did a good deal of tongue-biting when I was writing Stable Relation. I wanted to tell the story in a way that was meaningful and interesting. I thought about pace, I edited entire chapters out, and I wanted to make sense in a non-chronological way. Most of all, I didn’t want to talk down to readers; I wanted them to have their way with the book. Then those eighty thousand words got squeezed to a blurb, quickly becoming my least favorite word ever. Blurb sounds too much like burp.
Same drama for the second book Relaxed and Forward: Relationship Advice from Your Horse. Only this time it isn’t a story but rather a collection of essays. Publishers will tell you that format is even harder to sell than memoirs, if that could be possible. With that dismal vote of confidence, I spent the two weeks tweezering words and fussing with clauses until I finally sputtered to a halt at this particular blurb. I didn’t finish it so much as surrender to it, letting my finger finally collapse on the finish button. Then I waited.
Sure enough. Within a few days, one of my favorite readers referred to Relaxed & Forward as a Daily Devotional. What she said! Exactly.