Those 200 words

My publisher says they want 200 words to describe the book. This is what we’ll use to promote it, they say, so no pressure. Just make sure the words tell the story, and please don’t refer us to your preface or introduction because we might not have access to that (really?), and while you surely know a lot about your topic, refrain from getting too much into it — think of the general reader if you can and try not to use jargon.

Okay, I got it. Just have to have to say in 200 words what my book says in 60,000. Plus end notes. Easy enough. And also keep in mind the general reader. Hmmm. General reader in mind. I am now wondering who general reader might be. Is it, like, a Canadian? Is general reader gendered? Does it wear glasses? I am remembering something someone at the Australia NonfictioNow conference said in response to a project pitched for general reader. “The general readers for this book,” he said, “could be counted on the fingers of a leper’s hand.” I hope general reader isn’t a leper. Not that I have anything against, um, well, leprosy. My book just isn’t about that. Nobody needs bad reviews after all.

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