It never gets old

I’ve had a lot of my own books hit my hands. With 28 novels and dozens of books containing my shorter contribution, I’ve received a lot of hardbacks with my name on the cover.

But in case you’re wondering, no: it never gets old. I still open the box or envelope and pull the weight of it out with a thrill. Still run my hands over the dust jacket to feel the matte texture or the gloss sheen. Still admire the cover that I’ve been looking at, digitally and on stacks of ARCs, for the better part of a year. Still open it to check on the design of the title page and the look of the dedication and the crisp sharp print on the page.

What I don’t do is settle down to read it. Some writers do, but not me, for that way lies madness, because the moment I begin to read, I spot my first error, my first clunky phrase, my first missed opportunity for some clever plot point or clue….

Other than that, no, it never gets old. And I always take that first copy and write, just inside the flap, the words Author’s first copy. I add the date, and I sign it. That copy then goes into the file box stuffed with all the notes, printouts, articles, maps, and photos I used during the writing. It often contains an ARC, if I managed to hang onto one, as well as the first-draft typescript and what the publishers call the “foul matter”–a printout (what we old-school types have instead of e-edits) marked up with the dialogue between the editor, the copy editor, and me: comments, corrections, suggestions, queries, and quite a few of my own testy STETs, riding in the margins where I do not want something changed, thank you very much.

One of the next copies I receive will get a signature and a place on that shelf you see above (or rather, shelves, since they have now hit the end of my study’s second wall and require a start on the third.) But that first one goes into the master box, saved, to mark the project as complete.

If any of you are writers, tell me–what do you do with your first author copy?


Riviera Gold (excerpts and more here) will be out June 9, world-wide, print and audio: you can order a copy signed from Bookshop Santa Cruz or Poisoned Pen—or from your local Independent bookshop, or Barnes & Noble/Nook, or Amazon/Kindle, or CD or audio.

(And have your local Indie write me if they’d like some signed bookplates.)






  1. Alan Gordon on May 21, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    I usually get a box of them, so the first one goes into my dedicated author shelf in our book case. Every time, I think of Steve Martin in “The Jerk,” yelling, “The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here … I’m somebody now!” [And congrats!]

    • Laurie King on May 21, 2020 at 1:35 pm

      Every little bit of affirmation a person can get…

  2. Wendy Martin on May 21, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    I was THRILLED to receive an ARC but, yes, have preordered both a signed copy from Santa Cruz (love that these seem to always come out just in time to call it a birthday present for myself!) and the audio version. The new copy will join all the others that have a prized place on my bookshelf that are frequently taken down and reread with that wonderful feel of a good, solid “real” hardback book.

    • Laurie King on May 25, 2020 at 1:12 am

      Thank you, Wendy!

  3. Suzy Thompson on May 21, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    I’m not a writer but I am a musician who has been making records (including vinyl back in the 1970s!) for a long time. When I get my copy of a new record, I look at it and then put it on the shelf. I never play it, I can’t stand to hear myself — after decades have passed, I can listen and it sounds pretty good (sometimes better than pretty good). However — there was one time in the 90s when we had a new CD coming out on the Arhoolie label, with the California Cajun Orchestra. It was due to arrive when the core of the band was going to be teaching at a music camp in West Virginia, so we had a box shipped to a friend in Washington DC who would bring them to us. He called to say that the box had arrived and asked if he could have one, he said “I’ll just make sure that it’s the right music”. OF course I said, fine, and guess what? The label said it was us, but the music was the sound track to Les Blank’s film “Chulas Fronteras” — Mexican music!! Postscript: Many years later, Danny Poullard, the wonderful Cajun accordion player who was the heart of the California Cajun Orchestra, died. At the reception following his memorial service at the church, I noticed that Mexican music was playing. I looked in the boom box, and there it was — a CD with the Arhoolie label that read California Cajun Orchestra and then, written across in felt pen: JOKE. Danny had the last laugh.

    • Laurie King on May 25, 2020 at 1:13 am

      Yeah, so far I’ve never had a complete book replaced within the dust jacket…

  4. La Donna Weber on May 21, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    And as an archivist/librarian and the family’s estate manager (really? all of that generation wants me to?) … I thank you for organizing your papers. (although acid-free box rather than plastic would make me happier …)

    Book is on order, rereading the series chronologically this time, half way through Locked Rooms, will I finish in time for a trip to the Riviera? … roll on June 9 …

    • Laurie King on May 25, 2020 at 1:15 am

      Acid free boxes work fine in libraries, but in homes where sometimes mice move in from the woods…

  5. Claudia Mastroianni on May 22, 2020 at 8:01 am

    Ah! My pre-order means I just got a notification that the book release has been delayed to June 20. I’m very curious, what happens behind the scenes to delay a book this close to publication date?

    • Laurie King on May 25, 2020 at 1:08 am

      Who did you order it from?

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