Advance Reader Copies

I came back from my Newbery experiences to find an email from one of my former students asking me if I’d gotten an ARC for the forthcoming Percy Jackson book and if not could I please, please, please get one. Wanting to be sure of the title before making my request, yesterday I went to Rick Riordan’s blog where I discovered that there are no ARCS for The Battle of the Labyrinth. In “Raiders of the Lost ARCs” Rick gives some very good reasons why he doesn’t like them. He writes, “What bothers me is giving away the story before it is time.” Do read his post as he has some very solid reasons to be bothered by the ARC business (although I do hope he won’t go all legal if word gets out before May 6th about The Battle of the Labyrinth as happened this past July with …um…another…book).

But it isn’t just authors who are ambivalent about ARCs. I have an editor friend who detests them. She will send me one and then warn me repeatedly that it isn’t the final book. She worries that committees and reviewers will base their opinions on the ARC, still very much a work-in-progress, rather than the finished book. I understand completely because these are indeed often quite different and it often does seem unfair to overly pass judgement on the former. On the other hand, I have other editor and marketing friends who happily give them to me, eager to see what I think.

This post was prompted by Bookwitch on Proofs. She writes of the excitement of getting those advanced copies and I totally agree with her. While most of my fellow Newberys (they called us that at the photo-op Monday AM and I loved it!) used our few hours off Saturday afternoon to rest or reread I charged over to the exhibits to snap up a few. And with the buzz building before the official pub date it is hard not to want to get your hands on a hot item.

While I didn’t start this blog to review books, I do enjoy mentioning books I like, especially those that might otherwise get overlooked. So far I’ve commented about one book that I received and read as an ARC and will, no doubt, reference others now that I’m again free to do so. But there is another reason I debate doing so; I hate to frustrate people. There have been occasions when I read a rave review of a book not out for months and I did feel very frustrated having to wait. So I do my best to excite and not frustrate when mentioning forthcoming books.

But some ARCs are truly special. Last June I was first in line at BEA to get a signed ARC of Elijah of Buxton. The inscription? “To Monica, This is the 1st one I’ve signed! Christopher Paul Curtis.” Serendipity? Fate? Kismet? Whatever, I think I will bring it along to ALA in June where I suspect I may meet up with Mr. Curtis again.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Advance Reader Copies

  1. I put the question of ARCs and timing out to my readers at Tea Cozy about a year ago, esp. the “do you want reviews before you can get the book?” And the response was pretty much “yes.” So what I did was label them with the pub date, posted the review, and then reposted a link to them when the pub date came around. And kept them spoiler free.

    As for Arcs and content, if I don’t like something from an ARC I’ll wait to see the final copy to see what the final version says. But if I like it, I’ll review from the arc, labeling it as an arc, under the theory that the editors will change bad stuff but keep the good.

  2. I think British proofs are much more like the finished book, than what you are describing. They will mainly change the odd thing that’s incorrect, etc.

    I started asking for free books, as I realised I couldn’t afford to buy them myself once the blog got going. And now publishers are very eager to send me almost anything. But the proofs I get are for my consumption, and not to be handed out to everybody I meet. My family will read them too, but I count that as more publicity for the book, once it’s out.

  3. RebeccaS.

    As a first-time novelist, I had no idea at what point the manuscript went to be bound as an ARC. I remember having less than a week to review the manuscript while vacationing (in one house) with about twenty-two relatives, and I remember my editor telling me not to worry, that we’d have a couple of other passes at the book . . . and that, it turned out, was my last word before the ARC.

    Although folks have been kind enough not to mention it to my face, my ARC has plenty of continuity and writing issues, nearly all of which were resolved somewhere down the road before the book was finished. I do get a slightly sick feeling when I think that people have read my ARC and think they’ve read my book.

    R.S.

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