Monday, November 15, 2010

Don't Miss The Ark...I Mean ARC

When we had torrential rains in this part of Texas recently, I was worried that we might need an ark. But lately, my thoughts have been more about ARCs. Advance reader's copies. Most publishers provide ARCs to reviewers, influencers, and endorsers. In order for endorsers and reviewers to read them and provide feedback, ARCs must go out several months before the publication date of the finished book. And if they're delayed, that's one more cause for author heartburn.

You might have noticed that I said "most publishers." I've discovered that some publishers no longer furnish ARCs as printed, bound copies. Instead, in this age of Kindles, Nooks, and computer-friendly ebooks, they make the material available electronically. And at least one of my author friends tells me that her publisher no longer provides ARCs at all, sending out copies of the finished book instead.

The first time I received an ARC of a fellow author's work, I was excited. I'd obviously been included in a select group, receiving this material before members of the general public. Imagine my surprise when I found that ARCs aren't perfect. They are printed from the uncorrected final manuscript provided by the author, a manuscript that will later have mistakes corrected and discrepancies cleaned up. I don't know about other authors, but in my case I appreciate the editorial team that discovered errors that were corrected between the ARC of my about-to-be-published third novel, Diagnosis Death, and the final copy.

In addition to the wave-of-the-future electronic copies, bound ARCs go out. They are sent to reviewers, endorsers, and influencers via a number of carriers: FedEx and UPS, first class mail, or media mail. Since the publisher may be sending a couple of hundred copies, you can understand that they may need to economize by using the least expensive of these methods--media mail--but that may cause the material to be a couple of weeks in transit. In the meantime, the author is pacing the floor, waiting to see what the reviews and endorsers will say.

Diagnosis Death will be my third novel, and I have engaged in the floor-pacing with each one of them. The ARCs are always a bit later in production than predicted at first, a bit slower in being sent out than we'd wish, and thus slower in arriving at their destinations than I or any other author would like. This was the case with this latest group of ARCs, but that's just part of the process and I've learned to accept it.

You may have been asking yourself, "Who are these reviewers, endorsers, and influencers he keeps talking about?" Glad you asked. Come back next time for a discussion of all that.

8 comments:

Jody Hedlund said...

Wow, I didn't realize some publishers were going digital with their ARCs. That makes sense! I've learned that ARCs are so key in generating pre-publication buzz, especially from book buyers. I think that's one of the things that's really helped my book.

Richard Mabry said...

Jody, my publisher, Abingdon, has begun to post galleys on the site NetGalley.com (in addition to sending bound printed copies). To see the online versions, it's necessary to sign up (there are various categories, including reviewer) and be approved by the publisher, which limits access. I understand that other publishers are doing the same. One author friend of mind tells me that her publisher doesn't even do printed ARCs anymore. Indeed, the times they are a'changin'.

Mocha with Linda said...

I don't have an eReader, and I just can't get into reading a book on my PC - it's just not the same. I usually have to pass on the books for review that are only available digitally. I'm looking forward to Diagnosis Death; I guess I may have to wait and buy it myself.

Richard Mabry said...

Linda, I'm with you regarding eReaders. Still enjoy the feel of printed pages in my hand.
You won't have to wait much longer before you'll be able to get your copy of Diagnosis Death, but in the meantime I'm waiting to hear the opinions of reviewers and endorsers who've just received the ARC. (Who are these people? More about that on Thursday).

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I'm so glad you posted on this subject! I'm waiting to find out when I'm going to get my ARCs--it's all a little mysterious for this newbie.

I hope it's soon. That will be an exciting moment. But it sounds as if I just need to keep my publishing patience. :-) When they're ready, they're ready.

Richard Mabry said...

Rosslyn, even though ARCs are prepared from unedited manuscripts, and are put together about the time the editing process for the finished book gets going, they still come out a lot later than an author expects or desires. Meanwhile, we're sitting here chewing our fingernails, wondering what kind of reviews and endorsements we'll get--if any.
But look at the bright side. At least you have a finished book, about to be published. Remember when you weren't that far along.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I'm so glad you posted on this subject! I'm waiting to find out when I'm going to get my ARCs--it's all a little mysterious for this newbie.

I hope it's soon. That will be an exciting moment. But it sounds as if I just need to keep my publishing patience. :-) When they're ready, they're ready.

Richard Mabry said...

Jody, my publisher, Abingdon, has begun to post galleys on the site NetGalley.com (in addition to sending bound printed copies). To see the online versions, it's necessary to sign up (there are various categories, including reviewer) and be approved by the publisher, which limits access. I understand that other publishers are doing the same. One author friend of mind tells me that her publisher doesn't even do printed ARCs anymore. Indeed, the times they are a'changin'.