Some twenty-three days after the presumptive official publication of my latest book, Loyalty, I received actual copies of the book. Under normal circumstances, I would have held the book in my hands at least four weeks prior to publication. The reason for the delay? Not clear. Let us put it down to those infamous supply chain problems and leave it at that.
How did the book arrive?
I am at my desk working on a new book.
There is a knock on my door. I open it and see a UPS man moving away having left on my threshold a large box. It had come to Colorado from Indiana. Ah yes, from HarperCollins.
I open the box and there are some twenty copies of my new book. As per the standard contract, I get 20 copies. From here on, if I want more, I have to buy them, all be it at a hefty discount.
(I will send copies to family, and even some extended family. Some friends. Will they read it? Sometimes I know. Sometimes I don’t. Once that distribution is done I’ll have about five copies left.)
How does it feel to have a book in hand that I began—in one sense or another—more than two years ago?
To begin, it’s gratifying, and though I have published a lot, it’s always exciting in a muted way.
But while it may seem odd, when I glance at the book my first thought is, Did I really write this? It seems extremely big—word-wise—and since I am working on another book and, as always, struggling to make it happen, I truly wonder how I did it. I kid you not.
I note the dust jacket. Some slight suggestions for changes I made were done. That’s gratifying.
Then I examine the book itself, the paper, the print, the binding, its heft and feel. Feels good.
I pay particular attention to the maps in the books. I’m seeing them for the first time. I have always enjoyed maps in books. (I knew a book collector who exclusively sought out books with maps). In this instance, designing the maps was not so easy. When I wrote the book, I had tracked down a (replicated) map of 1775 Boston for research. It was sent to the book designer in Brooklyn, New York. It never arrived. We searched for another map. But since my original map store had closed—Covid?—it wasn’t easy. Map found, but then, since Boston itself has undergone a physical transformation, we had to identify sites.
Map enjoyed, I flip through the book, and sense how the book reads. Looks good. I try to identify the font. Not sure I can.
Then I go to the title page, sign the book, and date it, “2-22-22.” I like that configuration.
All that done, I put the book on my shelf in chronological sequence with all my other books, next to Ragweed and Poppy, my previously published book. Utterly different.
Loyalty looks good. It will sit there, quite untouched. But I will note it and feel satisfied. There, I think, that one is done.
Then I return to my desk and continue working on my next book.
I wonder, Will it ever be finished?