Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On getting my first copies...

A few pictures, and some reflections below:

Unpacking the box that took eight years to arrive . . .

First copy + author's pen from Judson Press!
Wow, different color from what I expected (draft cover designs were dark maroon):

Splurged on a fruit tart from a local bakery (La Farine) to celebrate:

Later big shipment on my front porch:

Especially nowadays, it's a privilege to actually have something professionally edited and designed, and in print by a commercial publisher. I feel very fortunate and very blessed.

I think of myself as a pretty meticulous writer but there's no question that my editor (Rebecca Irwin-Diehl of Judson Press) and her team helped me make this a vastly better book than it would have been otherwise. (For starters, they pushed me to divide four original chapters I had into more than double that.) At very many places they pushed me to clarify points, add further section divisions, and make things generally more reader-friendly. And they did this while applying what felt to me like a pretty "light hand." 

It was also fairly astonishing how much work it took by how many different people to just get the proofreading, formatting, layout and such up to commercial publishing standards--this for a book with no illustrations or footnotes. I will henceforth be fully in awe of new books I see!

Probably in every area of human activity there are subtle gradations of quality and nature that loom far larger for "insiders" than for "outsiders." In some settings I am very aware that this is not a fully academic book (no footnotes, limited interaction with related literature, not published by a university press or academic imprint). If I were up for tenure, would this count in my file? Who will take me more seriously and who less seriously now that this book is out?

Words and ideas feel differently when printed in a book compared with being in my head or spoken aloud. Ideas in print take on a different authority and life of their own. There is I suppose the "imprimatur" of being deemed worthwhile by an established publisher. But there is also the actual physical sensation of it: holding the book, the fresh smell of the ink on the pages,* the look of the cover and book design, the effect of seeing other people holding it and looking at it.

Someday I'll run into the first copy I see on a remainder pile or in a used book store. And I will smile: that's part of the experience too.

*Maybe personal nostalgia there for me too, since I have some history in printing and graphic arts (during my college years I ran an offset print shop).

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