As P-Day approaches (pub day if you’re wondering) the last chance to make revisions draws nigh. It’s a wonderful feeling, but there’s also some apprehension because my ability to tweak is almost gone. In conjunction with that is the crafting of the flap copy. It’s a selling tool and a chance, sometimes the only chance, to engage a reader who picks up the book and decides to give it a quick perusal. Get it right and a reader’s curiosity will be piqued. Get it wrong, and you have a serious problem. We’re fine tuning the copy now, and it’s as intense as editing the whole book. It’s a lot like the pressure to nail your query letter to an agent or an editor. I reject mss daily based on poorly written query letters. It’s a shame, but judgments get made that fast, and flap copy is similar. If it doesn’t intrigue the odds get longer that a reader will keep reading. Not unlike a movie trailer when you think about it.
In other news (now wearing my editor hat,) I have three books on the war in Iraq coming out this fall – Red, White, or Yellow?: The Media and the Military at War in Iraq; Achieving Victory in Iraq: Countering an Insurgency; and the trade paperback reprint of probably my most successful book to date, Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq. I also have a big book coming on immigration and border security titled The Border: Exploring the US-Mexican Divide. The books are strong by themselves, but with Iraq and immigration/border security likely to be major election issues they should all get extra attention. Timing books to coincide with events is often a very useful marketing tool, although it’s much tougher if not close to impossible to do with fiction. For the most part, fiction just isn’t news worthy. Not to say it isn’t worthy, but it’s the very rare novel that attracts any kind of attention from news outlets (fictionalized memoirs notwithstanding) so again, getting the flap copy right is critical.