A Happy Surprise

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The very nicest thing happened yesterday. I heard a loud thump on my front doorstep when our mail woman delivered the mail. A thump is always promising (and unlikely to be bills), so I immediately got up from my desk to investigate. And there it was on the doorstep: a nice fat envelope containing four advance copies of my new book, Forever Paris: 25 Walks in the Footsteps of Chanel, Hemingway, Picasso and More. I stared at them, a little giddy, a little breathless, a little bit unsure what to do next. All that blood, sweat and tears—finally bound up in a tidy little package with the Eiffel Tower on the front. It reminded me that, even after all these years working in publishing, I am still entranced by the magic of books. Although this is not a total epiphany, I sometimes lose sight of that fact, especially when working on my own projects. When I am in the trenches with my own book—securing photo permissions, working feverishly toward a looming deadline, laboriously identifying points of interest in Google Maps—it is easy to forget why the idea appealed to me in the first place. (Much as my friends want to believe otherwise, writing a book about Paris was not all sitting in literary cafes dunking croissants in café creme.) Once I had the book in hand, however, all those trying details seemed a distant memory.

The arrival of my little book reminded me that, for all the trials and tribulations the book business has endured in recent years, it still manages to delight and inspire me. I love working behind the scenes to help people nurture an idea. I love polishing and buffing a manuscript to create a seamless experience for the reader. I love rereading something I haven’t read for decades and understanding it from an entirely new perspective (currently To Kill a Mockingbird). I love the smell of Powells when I go in for a late-night browse. I love the collaborative experience of turning an abstract idea into a concrete and handsome object. I feel lucky most of the time that I get to do the work I do but still, hearing that thump on my own doorstep was a concrete reminder of the visceral satisfaction that comes from transforming a kernel of an idea into something real. It's what every aspiring author dreams of and something I want all of my clients to experience. What publishing moment do you dream of?