From the time I first contemplated the story that would become Sophia’s War, and the moment when the published volume came into my hands, it has been more than three years. By contract, I get some copies of the book, which usually arrive about one month prior to the official publication date.
What do I do when I get the first copy in my hands? I look at it. This is to say I get a sense of the physical book, the binding, the paper, the cover, the printing. (There is good printing and bad printing.) Does the book open flat enough? Is the gutter wide enough? How is the font? What does the book look like under the dust jacket? In this case I looked at the maps, because I had not seen them in place before.
(Once I discovered a huge printing mistake in my first copies of The Man Who was Poe, so bad the whole print run had to be called back, and redone!)
Then, what I always do is take that first copy of the book, sign the title page, add the date I received it. It then it goes on shelves of similarly signed books—and it just sits there.
In all probability—unless there is a particular reason to do so—I won’t read the whole book again. I have, after all, read it a few thousands of times. Yes, I may be called upon to read excerpts at various occasions—as I just did in NYC—and I enjoy that. But now, the book belongs to readers.
Besides, I’m working on something new.