One funny thing about writing a book is how hard it is to reduce 300+ pages of prose to a one- or two-paragraph description. So the good news is that when your book is bought by a publisher, someone else takes on that task.
I remember when I got the “catalog copy” for my first novel, The Language of Light – a book I’d thought of as primarily a father-daughter story – it did not include the word “father.” So the first publisher-generated description of my work is something I’ve held my breath for ever since: What is this thing I spent so much time writing actually about?
The first description I saw for The Four Ms. Bradwells was for the ARC (or ARE? See “Part 7: It’s a … Well, Not a Book, Exactly, but an ARC. Or an ARE?”). It came by email from my fearless editor, Caitlin Alexander, on May 9, and it started with “Meg Waite Clayton’s The Wednesday Sisters was a word-of-mouth sensation and a book club favorite. Now the beloved author is back with a page-turning novel…”
I emailed Caitlin back the moment I read it, with “I’m a beloved author! How lovely.” – followed by a little winky thing so she wouldn’t think I was taking myself too seriously.
But honestly, I was having a Sally-Field-at-the-Oscars moment. It’s the same feeling I get every time I open an email from a reader, but on a bigger scale. Of all the words that might be used to describe what kind of author I am, I can’t imagine anything better than “beloved.”
Really, I must have asked Mac a hundred times that day if he knew that he was living with a “beloved author.” Or maybe not quite a hundred, because we’re still married, but…
So from my perspective, this describing-my-book process was off to a pretty good start. I didn’t know who exactly wrote it – it came from Caitlin, but it looks suspiciously like the marketing department had a hand in it. I sure would like to lay a big fat kiss on whoever it was, though – which is, perhaps, why no one has claimed authorship.
The rest of the description was pretty terrific, too. The only real thought I had on it was that one bit about how many women U.S. Senators there were when wasn’t quite exactly accurate. (The lawyer in me.) So Caitlin and I tinkered with that.
The final copy looks like this:
Meg Waite Clayton’s national bestseller The Wednesday Sisters was a word-of-mouth sensation and book club favorite. Now the beloved author is back with a page-turning novel that explores the secrets we keep, even from those closest to us, and celebrates the enduring power of friendship.
Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger, best friends since law school, are gathered for an impromptu reunion as Betts awaits Senate confirmation of her Supreme Court appointment. Nicknamed “the Ms. Bradwells” since their days at the University of Michigan in 1979—when only three women had served full Senate terms and no woman had ever been appointed to the Court—the group has long supported one another through career changes and failed marriages, births and deaths. But when the Senate hearing uncovers a thirty-year-old skeleton in the friends’ collective closet, the Ms. Bradwells find themselves reliving a much darker period in their past—one that stirs up the secrets they’ve kept for, and from, one another, and could change their lives forever. Once again, Meg Waite Clayton writes inspiringly about the complex circumstances facing women and the heartfelt friendships that hold them together.
Doesn’t that make you want to read? – Meg