book jackets, milestones, and millstones

I guess I haven’t seen many authors blog about their book jackets, but this feels like another milestone to publication that I’d like to share—plus I’m just so pleased that Fair Coin is more than a pretty face and my first novel won’t be naked out in the world. (If you buy the book and strip it down to the bare hardcover in the privacy of your own home, that’s your business.) Let’s consider this a bonus cover reveal:

The beautiful cover art is of course still by the amazing Sam Weber, the fabulous jacket design is by Jacqueline Cooke, and the author photo is courtesy of Monika Webb. (OK, it’s a little weird to have my picture on a book, but at least it isn’t on the back cover!) The copy is probably too small to make out on the back and flaps, but you can read it all here.

I suppose the next big milestone for me is holding the final book, when I will likely find out if this book jacket is waterproof. That’s what it’s for, right?

Another recent milestone was the ARC (Advanced Reading Copy). I know some people have received galleys and review copies already; I’ve seen pictures of them online and they look real pretty and distinctly, wonderfully book-like. Some people are even reading the actual words on the pages inside those covers right now, which doesn’t make me nervous in the slightest.

These are some of the many steps that foreshadow a book appearing on store shelves. There are lots of others, all the way back to the beginning. After the writing, there’s the revising. And the revising and the revising and the revising. Then there’s the agent querying process, and going on submission, and oh yeah, some more revising. There’s also a lot of waiting. And waiting and waiting and waiting…

But in the months leading up to publication, in many cases following years of writing and waiting and worrying–things finally start to happen, weirdly all at once: each moment a small but tangible proof that your book is real, a cherished marker of progress toward realizing a dream. You get to see cover sketches, cover art, cover copy. Last month, one of the big milestones I was looking forward to came around: copyedits.

Yeah, I was actually happy to receive them. How foolish! But I still remember watching my writer friends toil over their copyedited pages and wanting to be at that stage of publication too. I was a little disappointed that the copyedits were electronic with tracked changes; though I’m happy to save a tree, I felt deprived of the ritual of working through a stack of paper with a pencil, approving changes and stetting as authors have done for years. One thing hadn’t changed though: the requisite short turnaround time. As I dropped everything else to read through the exhaustive notes, I was struck by two thoughts:

1) How can there still be mistakes in this manuscript?! I and several others had read and edited the book many times, and yet my attentive copy editor, Gabrielle Harbowy, discovered some embarrassing continuity errors and a host of other minor problems.  I am extremely grateful for all her excellent catches, which have helped make the book as good as it can possibly be.

2) This is the last time I will read this before it’s published. This was kind of a relief, to be honest. I love my book, but as I just mentioned, I’ve read it so many times. It’s time for someone else to have a chance at it, eh? If a novel is like your child, eventually you want it out of the house, off to college or wherever, seeking its destiny without you.

I soon discovered that I was completely wrong about #2, because there was one more milestone ahead: page proofs. Proofreader Julia DeGraf was our last line of defense, making sure that Fair Coin really is as perfect as these things ever get. Don’t underestimate the value of a good copy editor and proofreader! Because the author, editor, and agent have probably read the book repeatedly in various incarnations, we’re no longer able to see all the tiny little flaws as well as a trained, fresh set of eyes can.

This time, I’m pretty sure, I won’t have to read this particular novel ever again if I don’t want to, except for snippets here and there at readings and stuff. And I think that, too, is a milestone worth celebrating.

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9 Responses to “book jackets, milestones, and millstones”


  • I love the jacket! The deep red and black are lovely. I am surprised that you put The Viewscreen in your bio, though! Can I just start writing anonymously there? Like, from behind a rock or something?

    In any case, I am SUPER EXCITED for this book and have already preordered copies. I can’t wait to have it in my hands!

    • Thanks! I never even considered leaving The Viewscreen out–I’m very proud of it, and it represents a significant amount of the words I’ve written in the past few years and a good portion of my time :)

  • Great jacket! As for #1 and #2, I started feeling like I couldn’t possibly read mine ONE MORE TIME. While checking for errors, the last thing you want to do is start skimming. lol

    • Even worse: Once while proofing the manuscript, I actually started to doze off, which I took as a really bad sign… But I was probably just tired. Yeah, that must have been it.

  • Eugene, I am beyond thrilled for you. You’re the hardest working writer I know and deserve this and much more.

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