I've just arrive home from ten days in Berlin and Prague to find a box of advanced reader copies of The Four Ms. Bradwells on my doorstep! Woo hoo!!!
For those of you who aren't in the publishing or bookselling business, I had no idea what an advanced reader copy was before my first novel was bought, so: it's a paperback copy of a semi-final version of a book, which is used for early publicity. A publisher sends it out for reviews, and sometimes also to generate early bookseller enthusiasm. They're sometimes plain wrapped versions of the "first pass pages" - more on that in a later post - but mine have all come wrapped in pretty covers. Someone once told me that the pretty cover makes it an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) as opposed to an ARE (Advanced Reader Edition), but it seems to me people in the business toss the terms around like they mean the same thing.
A few weeks ago, I shared a preliminary cover in a blog post titled "What's in a Cover?" I'd have been delighted if it were the final, but I actually saw one interim version and the final. Funny how, once you start looking closely, you see all sorts of things a quick glance misses.
I loved so many of the changes in the interim "Dreamy Boat" version of the cover (above): The book in the boat was now better sized and was poetry (there is a poetry book that plays a bit of a role in the story). A path was added at the far shore, and the flowers made brighter white, with a slightly more visible fence. The brighter yellow at the bow of the boat was nice, too, as was the sharper focus there. But my editor thought - and I agreed - that the back of the boat was now too "dreamy," and I also preferred the middleground water of the first version, which was in crisper focus.
Really, can you believe I am looking at these things so closely? But if you've ever redone a kitchen, remember how carefully you considered the differences in kitchen knobs once you had to choose one? (And did you ever notice kitchen nobs before? But now you always notice them, right?) And honestly, you should see me worry over particular words and phrases in my writing. God is in the details.
When I got the final version of the cover, I sent it out to my mailing list, but the first public peek at it is at the end of the post (so it can be big).
The other part of what I'm admiring in the ARE or ARC or whatever you want to call it is how lovely the inside looks. "The inside design." This is a mysterious process in which someone who understands these things - in the case of The Four Ms. Bradwells, the designer is Victoria Wong - decides what font and size to use where, what interior decorations to use, and all the things you don't realize make a book gorgeous.
Caitlin emailed me pdf of the book’s interior design on March 24 and asked what I thought. I thought it was lovely. The main text is set in a typeface called "Caslon" which was first designed in 1722 - how cool is that! The itals in it are especially beautiful.
Since one of the things I worry about is that the four 1st person narrators might be difficult for readers to get a grip on, I asked if we might move the names on the chapter headings down closer to the text, which was done. But the designer had already given the reader some subtle cues for the narration changes, including a different number of little squiggly lines under the name of each narrator.
Caitlin and I also discussed fonts for the “law quad notes” scattered throughout the story. Some of them are meant to be from an alumni magazine, and others handwritten. So those fonts were adjusted a little bit for the final interior.
Mac’s response to the interior design was: “Lovely. Your name is getting bigger.” With a little winky guy. Or it might have been a smiley guy. In any event, he was talking about the title page, and poking fun at me because he knows I feel goofy about my name being too big and bright white on the cover.
Much as it kills me to do so, I'm resisting the urge to sneak in a photo of my son's choir singing in a beautiful old church in Prague - but they sang SO beautifully! And forgive me for anything that doesn't make sense in this post. I'm jetlagged, and off for a nap. - Meg