Friday, December 19, 2014

It Takes A Village to Make a Really Good Book

Yesterday the UPS man brought me three large, heavy boxes, and a small padded envelope. The large boxes contained a total of 96 hardcover copies of my novel, The War That Saved My Life, for me to sign for the First Editions book club of Lemuria bookstore in Jackson, Mississippi, which is my new favorite place in the entire state of Mississippi, which is one of the very few states to which I have never been. (Alaska, Arkansas, Oregon, Idaho, possibly North Dakota. That's it.) The small padded envelope contained two hardcover copies of TWTSML, for me personally, sent by Dial's Marketing department to keep me from stealing books destined for Lemuria. They're the first hardcovers I've seen.

They're gorgeous. This is, physically, a very beautiful book. I love the muted blues and browns of the cover illustration. I love the cover illustration itself, including the pony and the funky font of the title. I love the illustration on the back, which wasn't on the ARC, and I am completely over the moon about the blurbs, which come from--hold your breath--Karen Cushman, Patricia MacLachlan, Sheila Turnage and Gary Schmidt. It's pretty much all my favorite authors professing their love for this book. I'm thinking of getting the blurbs tattooed somewhere private, so that whenever I feel down I can strip and reread them. (Maybe I'll just keep a copy of the book nearby.)

It's a red book with grey endpapers. Someone named Jasmin Rubero designed it, and the text is set in Imprint MT Std, which is not a font I know well but which seems clear and easy to read. It has a deckle edge, meaning that the sides of the pages appear to be hand-cut, not perfectly flush, and my editor has pointed out that there's a grey cloth edge on the binding that has something high-class to do with how the book was manufactured.

Last week when Library Journal put up the post I've already blogged about (CORN, CORN, CORN) I got an email from someone in Dial's publicity department saying, "Congratulations, team!" My first, ungrateful, thought was, "Team?" I'm sorry, but I wrote the book. It's my name, right there on the cover.

My second thought was, holy heck, she's right. This was completely a team endeavor, and while right now I'm getting a lot of funky happy strokes and all the corn I can manage, a great big chunk of this book's probable success has absolutely nothing to do with me.

First I had my fabulous editor, Liz, the one who completely rejected my first draft. I didn't bother to show Liz my next several drafts, as I couldn't even get them past my daughter, but when I finally captured Ada's voice Liz rejoiced with me. Then she put me to work. Liz also edited Jefferson's Sons. She makes me crazy because she absolutely will not let me stop working until she's gotten the best possible book from me. This is of course every author's dream, to work with someone so smart and trustworthy.

Liz had a baby and abandoned me for him, but then I got Jessica, who jumped in when the manuscript was finished, or so I thought, and happily sent me a list of stuff to improve. Then it went to Copyediting, and they got back to me with their own list of issues. Copyediting caught a really big continuity error in addition to fixing all my improper commas. I love Copyediting.

Then someone drew the cover, more than once as someone other than me disliked the first. Jessica sent copies off to Big Name Writers for blurbs, without telling me so I wouldn't stress over it. Marketing produced a three-page plan that included all sorts of stuff--galley giveaways, common-core unites, advertising, all sorts of stuff. That woman who wrote nice things in Library Journal's blog? It wasn't me who got her a copy. It was someone in Marketing. Someone on my team.

Thanks, everyone. You all did a wonderful job.