Friday, August 9, 2013

Book Matter

John Updike once noted that, among the author's various responsibilities along the book publishing trail, he enjoyed those that involved the creation of the final product.  Included in these tasks are, but not exclusive to, selecting a book's cover copy and style, the book's type, the cover color, and even writing the back cover copy. 

I am at present embroiled in these final steps--and when the author is invited to weigh in on them, or even create them, there is a flush of exhilaration that one doesn't always feel during the arduous weeks (or even months) when one is actually writing the book.  These final selections do create a flutter in the heart, though they are now to me--or to any writer who has authored 30+ books--familiar territory.

Still, the invitation to be involved in the book's appearance (especially as we are talking about paper and ink now) awakens the sense that a writer is, somehow, connecting to his flesh-and-blood readers.  There is the knowledge that a reader will soon be holding the book, or turning crisp pages, or--if even subconsciously--interfacing with an item that will offer some type of an experience, either pleasing or helpful or frustrating.  A writer hopes that the book's appearance will not, from the outset, be a turn-off, but that the reader will encounter a type that is readable, paragraphs that are well-positioned and centered on a bright page, and a firm binding that will not only make a lasting impression, but will itself last.

The final selections--and especially writing the back cover copy for the book--is a reminder that the journey is nearly complete.  The writer must let go of his commodity and release it into the world, for better or for worse.  Let the critics have it.  

Well, so it begins.  Or, perhaps, ends.  

And if the author is not an author (but a writer, like me) then he knows that with the completion of every book there is another waiting in the wings for a beginning.

And tomorrow is that day.  He shall begin another.  And another after that.

Gloria Patri

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