Thursday, August 28, 2014

Advance Reader Copies

What exactly is an advance reader copy, and how are Cassy and I cool enough to get one to review for you?

Advance copies are printed early for several reasons, and they almost never look exactly like the finished product will.

Pictured: Not at all what the cover of the book we read looks like.

They have different covers, partially for promotional reasons, but also to make it easier for libraries and booksellers to keep them separate from the ones they're supposed to put out for the public.

They tend to be riddled with typos, because they usually haven't gone through their last round of editing yet. (I gotta tell you, I stopped counting after 15 spelling errors in our ARC of Trial by Fire. It was just getting distracting.) The cover of an ARC usually even says "uncorrected proof" on it.

So we know they're different, but how do you get your hands on one?

The big three audiences for ARCs are bookstores, libraries, and other authors. They're distributed about six months in advance. A lot of them come packaged with posters, stickers, bookmarks, etc. so the bookstores and libraries can start promoting the book's release and plan programs/events around it if they want to. You already know the covers don't look the same, so it makes sense that other authors get ARCs so they can submit their quote blurbs. (You know, the little things on the cover like "Excellent!" or "Tour de force!" or "[Author] is a rising star!" Things that end in exclamation points, mostly.)

The media also gets a lot of ARCs. Movie/TV execs get them if the book people are hoping for an adaptation. Talk show hosts get them if the book tour will allow for TV interviews. Newspapers, radio shows, book review publications like Choice, they all get ARCs.

If you aren't a part of any of these groups, you can also find digital ARCs pretty often now. NetGalley is one pretty useful place to find them. Sometimes, like with Trial by Fire, the author gives them away in contests on their website. I got one by a local author when I was at a Virginia Library Association conference a couple years ago. I fully expect to run across some at New York Comic Con in October. They're everywhere, if you know where to look!

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