When should an author celebrate the completion of a book? What’s the moment deserving of a ceremony or ritual to acknowledge the accomplishment? I’ve found it hard to pinpoint.
When you sign the book contract? But actually writing the book still looms.
When you cash the advance check? Ditto (plus, how much would it actually pay for? :) )
When you turn in the manuscript? But your editor will request changes.
When you finish those changes? Now copy-edits loom.
When you finish the copy-edits? Then there’s proofreading.
On Publication Day, the day the book is officially available in stores? This is an important milestone, but it really marks the beginning of a new relationship the author has to the book, in which you have to market it, and accept its shortcomings, and send it off to live its own life, having its own relationships with readers.
I am finding that the best day to celebrate is the day that the “author copies” of the book arrive from UPS. Here is the chance to experience the physical form that my idea and vision have generated, thanks to the work of so many allies.
For my first few books, which were paperback originals, my satisfaction was muted, because my first reaction was, “Boy I hope there’s no big mistakes in here—it’s too late to change them now.” But in my two hardcovers with Pegasus Books—Wonderlandscape and Natural Rivals—opening the box has brought me a sense of joy at the beauty and craftsmanship that have gone into the physical product.
The entertaining thing about Box of Books Day is that it has always hits me by surprise. Sometimes it’s three to four weeks before Publication Day; for Natural Rivals it was less than a week ago (and I was out of town, so the celebration came just two days before the public book release party). I suppose I could demand that the publisher give me a tracking number. But there’s something serendipitous—almost heaven-sent—about having the delivery-person knock… and knowing you won’t want to do anything else for the next few hours.
It’ll be just you... and the physical result of this idea you conceived. Celebrating that individual relationship you have had.
(Then, when Publication Day rolls around, you celebrate the change in that relationship, bringing other people in… perhaps in part by publishing a blog post like this one. Happy Publication Day to Natural Rivals!)