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We had a blast at our first American Library Association (ALA) conference, and we thought it’d be fun to give some tips for people who wondered if this conference was for them.
UNDER A PAINTED SKY spotted in the Penguin booth!
For librarians, ALA annual is the BIG Library Conference of the year, full of everything from the World of Manga to Educating with Robots.
8 Diverse Debuts with Marie Lu, from left, Kelly Loy Gilbert, Holly Bodger, Stacey, Anna Marie McLemore, Marie Lu, I.W. Gregorio, Renée Ahdieh, Sabaa Tahir
Stacey: With a book recently out, I attended as a signing author, as well as a panelist for the 8 Diverse Debuts with Marie Lu panel. So, for one of the two days I attended, I was busy getting ready for the panel, as well as meeting readers/librarians. The panel was awesome – we had a filled room, and though I was super nervous, I managed not to croak. (One of these days, we will do a post on “How Not to Croak When Doing a Panel.”) In the evening, there was a special dinner where the Newbery and Caldecott awards are presented and speeches are given.
Snagging ARC of Alexis Bass’ new book WHAT’S BROKEN BETWEEN US, from left, Alexis, Kelly Loy Gilbert, Abigail Wen, Stephanie, Virginia Boecker
Stephanie: Since I wasn’t going to ALA as an author, my experience was significantly different than Stacey’s. To be honest, I almost didn’t attend the event; most of my friends were there as published authors and I was nervous that I would feel as if I didn’t fit in. But I’m so glad I went—and I’m not just saying this because I managed to snag ARCs of Amie Kaufman‘s ILLUMINAE and Rae Carson‘s WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER.
For me, the biggest highlight of ALA was getting the chance to talk to so many publishing professionals and connect with writers and authors who I usually only see on Twitter. When I first stepped into the Moscone Center I was both thrilled and terrified. With over 3000 booths and 25,000 people, I’m sure you can all imagine how massive it seemed. It truly felt like the Disneyland of books—magical, exciting and a little overwhelming. I would have probably felt even more overwhelmed if I was there as an author knowing I would need to do signings and panels, and that I wasn’t just free to explore and do whatever I wanted. So, in the end I was extremely grateful that this was my first experience, because I learned a lot just from walking around and talking to people. It was still a little intimidating, but by the end of the weekend, Stacey and I both felt as if we’d conquered the Exhibit Hall.
Both: Here are a few tips we’ve put together to help those of you who plan to attend ALA in the future:
1) HAVE A PLAN OF ATTACK. Rather than using the pinball approach of pinging around from booth to booth with no defined course—map out where and when you want to go. Most authors only sign for 30 minute to 60 minute periods of time, so if you want to snag a signed book or ARC from one of your favorite authors you’ll want to plan it out, using the guide that each attendee is given upon registration.
2) DON’T BE SHY. Most publishing professionals and authors are there because they want to promote their books, which means they are probably going to be thrilled to talk with you. If you don’t know what to say, “What books are you excited for?” is always a great start. That will generally lead to the exhibitor telling you all you need to know about their latest and greatest, and occasional they will even reach into a secret drawer and give you a copy of the book as well.
3) YOUR HOTEL IS PART OF THE CONFERENCE AS WELL. People at ALA like to have fun, so when you go back to your hotel instead of just heading back to your room and passing out, try to make an effort to hang out. One of our conference highlights was meeting a YA book buyer for Scholastic Book Club. We ran into her in Stacey’s hotel lobby and when we started asking questions about what it was like to be a buyer that she was happy to answer. That night, not only did we make a new friend, but we learned a whole lot of great things about Scholastic.
4) BUSINESS CARDS ARE NOT OBSOLETE. If you attend ALA and take our advice not to be shy, it’s a good idea to have business cards, so you can make sure to stay connected with the people you meet. *Other good things to bring include: comfortable shoes, fun pens if you’re signing books, snacks, and bottled water (so that you don’t end up paying a vender $5.00 for drink).
5) LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, GET A CONFERENCE BUDDY. Not only is everything more fun with friends, but ALA is so big it’s a great idea to have someone else help you navigate.
Those are a few of our tips, if any of you have any ALA tips or conference tips in general, we’d love to hear them in the comments!
And, since ARCs are not meant to be hoarded, we wanted to host a giveaway using some of the books we managed to grab while ALA. To win, please fill out the Rafflecopter below.
One lucky winner will be able to choose from among these books:
An ARC of OUT OF DARKNESS by Ashley Hope Pérez
An ARC of FOR THE RECORD by Charlotte Huang
An ARC of BLACK WIDOW FOREVER RED by Margaret Stohl
An ARC of THESE SHALLOW GRAVES by Jennifer Donnelly
An ARC of THE SCORPION RULES by Erin Bow (signed)
An ARC of THE FOXGLOVE KILLINGS by Tara Kelly
An ARC of FORGET TOMORROW by Philip Dunn
Paperback of MORE THAN MUSIC by Elizabeth Briggs (signed)
An ARC of SYMPHONY FOR THE CITY OF THE DEAD by M.T. Anderson
An ARC of BLOOD AND SALT by Kim Liggett
A SECOND lucky winner will be chosen from the COMMENTS to receive another ARC. And finally, a THIRD lucky winner will receive 2 ARCs from our top secret grab bag.
Two top secret ARCs, all packaged and ready to for you to win.
BTW, I am reading two books right now, How We Learn by Benedict Carey. Whoa! This book is an eye opener into the workings of memory and into the workings of Learning Scientists. Non-fiction always takes me longer to digest.
Show Me a Story by Emily K. Neuberger is about teaching storytelling to children. A lot of the activities in this book are about creating stories, rather than telling stories that you have heard or read. Still, the crafts are open-ended enough to appeal to a wide age range of children. And the games are great for sharing tales and getting creative juices flowing.
I have downloaded a couple of e-galleys that I am excited to get into soon. I still have some ARCs from BEA to which I should give my attention.
Any suggestions on how I can share these ARCs? Let me know.
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The Guardian has an article about collectors who go for ARCs. But I’m not sure the author really has a good grasp on it. The article says “you may get to read the book a month or so before publication,” but I get ARCs for books six or even eight months out. And in my experience, it’s not collectors who are seeking out ARCs, but readers who can’t wait to read the book.
Collectors pride themselves on never reading the book, because any sign of wear devalues the book.
I passed my arc of Fangbone on to a family member who teaches reading, primarily to children who need some extra instruction in the subject. I was aware that she had a student who is interested in becoming a cartoonist, and Fangbone is a graphic novel.
I learned this weekend that the first time he read the book, the boy didn't get much out of it. But he read it a second time, at which point it was clear that he was comprehending and enjoying what he was reading. In fact, he became an enthusiastic fan, anxious to read the second volume in the series (which has already been published) and wondering why their school library didn't own those two books. (Our family member suggested that he write to the librarian about the issue.) Not to worry. The young man's father purchased Kindle versions of both the first two Fangbones, so they're available whenever he wants them.
This boy is so taken with this book and has discussed it so often that now other children in his class, children who don't have difficulty reading, are interested in reading it. Our family member also thought it was noteworthy that this is a class of fourth graders, and the book is set in a third-grade classroom. She wouldn't have necessarily expected kids to be interested in reading about characters who are younger than they are. Certainly conventional wisdom tells us that children read up, not down.
But evidently the little barbarian in Fangbone can deal with that issue.
If you've read my blog for a while, you know I'm a pretty big fan of Maggie Stiefvater. When I heard about her new series, The Raven Boys, I was beyond excited. New characters, new stories to get lost in.
Since I actually have a job this summer I can't slip away to wonderful events like Comic-con or ALA, places where I could have snagged an ARC. So I can't even explain to you the joy I felt when this baby landed in my hands.
Isn't it be-yootiful??!!
Thank you, Book Loft! Seriously, if you ever find yourself in Solvang, best book store ever!!
I'm only on page 93, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to want the hard covers of all three books. Which means I'll probably be giving this lovely ARC away at some point.
Expect a review of Safekeeping by Karen Hesse tomorrow. And I apologize for not reviewing The Inquisitor's Apprentice. I know it made my booklists for a number of review sessions. It is an awesome book. SO HOW DO YOU WIN???? Simple. Post a comment on this blog asking to win. You get another entry if you share this post on Facebook and come back and comment by saying Shared! or some such thing. Please use an identifiable user name somewhere in your comment. If you already belong to Blogger, no worries. I will put all entrants' usernames into the Chobani Oracle Cup and Announce the Winner (and request an email with mailing address) on Wednesday, Sept. 19th. The Deadline is Monday, September 17th at 11:59 pm.
One of the best parts about being a bookseller is getting to sift through all the ARCs that we get shipped to the store from various publishers. I've never grown out of the stage in my life in which free=awesome, and so the novelty of ARCs has not worn thin for me yet. Reviewed below are three ARCs I've read in the last couple of months that I got a kick out of:
My threshhold for paranormal romance is very, very low, but I was invited to a dinner with Andrea Cremer, the author ofNightshade, by the awesome Penguin sales rep so I read it despite the subtitle: She can control her pack but not her heart, which gave me serious pause (as did the cover, which has more sparkles than I can reasonably tolerate). And even though I didn't end up making it to the dinner (softball game > free dinner) it was worth the read. Cremer utilizes the now familar trope of one girl/two-different-but-both-attractive guys to nice, tense effect, and despite the fact that I am not interested in the subject matter, and did not even particularly care for the sentence level writing style, I was still sucked into the story, in which romance and twists are plenty. The protagonist, Calla, is an alpha female set to mate with the alpha of a rival pack (Ren) in order to create an alliance, and her strength and comfort with her own power made her an appealing lead. But, of course, there's a new boy at school, who's smart (as his pedantic in and out of class eruptions are meant to illustrate) kind and handsome, and Calla finds herself struggling to give herself over to Ren, the cocky, lady-killer, babe-wolf with whom she's been matched. Lust, suspense and monsters aplenty ensue, Calla makes her choice, and a sequel looms on the horizon. A fun, light read with the page-turning propulsion of romance, I would totally recommend this book to lovers of Twilight, Shiver and other vamp/wolf/angel/fairy/zombie/ghost/whatever romances.
Also from Penguin (Dutton, specifically) is Matched, a new romance/dystopia from Ally Condie, which I picked up due to the promise that: "This is a perfect dystopian novel, sure to be a hit with fans of The Giver and The Hunger Games" from Colleen Conway, field sales. While I in no way agree that this book has the same appeal of The Hunger Games, I do see Colleen's point about the Giver; and indeed,
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I've got two ARCs up for grabs. Something old and something new :)
The something old is my ARC of Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. The sequel, Beautiful Darkness, came out earlier this month. Here's the blurb from Goodreads:
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
Please note, this ARC has been read by a few people so the cover has a bit of wear and tear, but it is still in fair condition.
The something new is my ARC of Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. This book has been getting a lot of buzz as well as some videos designed to take you into the world of one of the main characters, Shay Doran. Here's the blurb from Goodreads: Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything--including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?
In the comments, let me know which book you'd prefer to win. If you're a follower, you get an extra entry. Contest is open for one week. A name will be randomly selected at midnight PST on Tuesday, November 2. Okay, maybe not exactly at midnight, but you need to have your entry in before that!
Well, it's day 2 for most people--day 1 for me. I don't even want to tell you what ARCs I got my hands on... OK, I do, but really I don't want to sound like I'm bragging.
I'm flabbergasted. And Aly's back seat is 1/2 full of my stuff.
Then again, I was too busy to take photos, so you'll have to use your imagination.
Ok. Bragging commences.
MY FIRST ALA While Penwallace hied off to the Fulcrum booth to sign her books, Alybee and I ran around the YA/Kids booths about 4 times... I really had to pace myself; there was so much good stuff, and I wanted to make sure I was only picking up books that I am going to want to read and review--not random items I'm not even interested in.
Also, was mildly interested in not breaking my back.
BLOGSPOTTING We ran off to lunch at Masala (yum) and found MrSchuReads and 100ScopeNotes next door. They rock. Check out their blogs, especially
At Harper Perennial, we met Mitali Perkins and Melissa Wiley were signing a couple of the Betsy-Tacy books (for which they had written forewords)... LOVE Maud Hart Lovelace!
A little while later we saw Lisa McMann over by the Simon & Schuster booth. We knew we were going to see her in a month or so--but we stopped to say hi anyway. She's just too adorable to pass by without a big hug!
ARCs are marked "Advance Reading Copy, Not for Sale" - so is that true? NPR has a story that begins: ==== “Ever gone into a used record store and picked up a CD or LP with this stamped on the cover: "For Promotional Use Only — Not For Resale?" You wanted to buy it but you had a creepy feeling you might be participating in some kind of shady transaction — possibly even illegal. Turns out you weren't.
“This week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a lower court's decision that the sale of so-called promo records — usually advance copies of new releases sent to music critics and radio stations by record labels — does NOT violate copyright laws.” ==== Doesn’t that sound a lot like ARCs? I would assume the same legal decision would apply.
I used to get my panties in a twist when I saw an ARC of mine for sale on ebay. Now I’m a lot more sanguine. Whoever buys it is a fan, clearly.
What about the person who sells it? Now that I’m a reviewer, I get dozens of ARCs a month. Some I take one look at and know they’re not for me. A mystery solved by cats? Um, not interested.
I donate those books, but I always felt a little strange about it, because sometimes I donate them to places that might end up selling them. But it felt better to do that than to toss them.
Whether someone buys/sells/loans ARCs - it’s very similar to what happens with used books. I don’t make a dime from a book that’s resold. Or a book borrowed from a friend.
Errors in published book has been discussed at listservs for a few years now. The Price of Typos in The New York Times explains why copy editing ain't what it used to be.
I would like to suggest that librarians shelving Advanced Readers' Copies helps promote acceptance of typos and incomplete copy editing. Errors are supposed to exist in Advanced Readers' Copies. They're bound early galleys sent out prior to publicaton for review and inspection by groups making purchasing decision. When librarians add them to their collections because they got them for free at some conference (as I know happens), they are intentionally treating incomplete books as the real thing.
It's only a small point in a larger issue, but it does create a tolerance for error among readers.
I opened my front door last night and a package fell into the living room. It was an Advance Reader's Edition of Gabrielle Zevin's All These Things I've Done. I think AREs or ARCs or galleys or whatever they are called are the best things to find in the mail - except for long chatty letters from far-flung family and friends. (Hint, hint, far-flung friends and family!)
Zevin got rave reviews for her earlier book Elsewhere. Elsewhere examined the afterlife of a girl who died at fifteen. It was such a sad, thoughtful, wry and hopeful book that I couldn't wait to get my hands on All These Things I've Done.
I haven't gotten too far but I have learned an appalling aspect of the world in this book. Caffeine and chocolate are both outlawed. This book must be a HORROR story. I swoon to think of a world where chocolate is a controlled substance.
The heroine, Anya Balanchine, is the daughter of a notorious - and dead - crime boss. And the new delicious boy at school is the son of the new District Attorney of the city. Oops! Set somewhere in the not-too-distant future, this book promises a good read. And since the author is Zevin, I'm sure there will be some surprises.
My experience of Jack Gantos consists almost entirely of Rotten Ralph. I haven't read the Jack Henry books, and I have only gotten as far as borrowing Joey Pigza. It was returned unread, another victim of a hydra-esque TBR pile. I mention all this because Gantos' latest book, Dead End in Norvelt, features a character named, funnily enough, Jack Gantos. But this middle-grade story bears almost
ARCs are advance reading copies, and I've got a couple extra for Torched, which comes out March 5. ARCs are sent to reviewers and others who can help spread the word about a book. So if you had an extra copy, would you send it to a kid's lit blogger? If so, which one? Other suggestions?
ARCs are free the way radio is free. The end-user doesn't pay for it, so thinks "free." Those involved in creating it now that it costs money. So it's not really "free".
This week I asked some friends, What is an ARC and why do publishers print them?
Here's the teaser: Andrew Karre explains that an ARC "is a promotional piece and a sales tool." Brian Farrey adds, "it's primarily a marketing/publicity tool aimed at generating advance interest and excitement for a forthcoming title."
My head is spinning from the comments at Presenting Lenore and Reviewer X. Some stuff is familiar (the emails from publicists and publishers offering reviewer copies when clearly they have not read my blog enough to know if the proposed copy "fits" what I write about); others, not so much (bloggers who just boast about scoring ARCs and then trade them back and forth and never review/discuss the books).
A few scattered thoughts.
ARCS aka "review copies" are for books that will be published sometime in the future (usually within the next six to nine months, but I've seen ARCs up to a year ahead of time.) If you want to review a book that is already published, chances are the ARCs are all gone. Plus, the reason for the ARC -- advance buzz, advance reviews -- is gone because the book is out. Also, with the final version out, why read and review an earlier version that at best has typos and at worst is incomplete? Go to the library to get a copy.
Authors don't make a lot of money. They don't have ARCS (or extra hardcover/paperback copies) of books sitting around, waiting to send to bloggers (or donate to fundraisers or to underfunded school libraries etc.) The postage to send all those requests out could eat up a royalty check -- let alone the cost to them of the actual ARC or book. See, authors only get so many copies of the book itself; after that, they have to pay for them. Am I saying NOT to ask authors? Since bloggers often get emails from authors saying "can I send you a copy," I cannot say "don't ask authors." But with everything -- be realistic, be polite, be understanding.
Bloggers are doing this for free. No, really. I sometimes think that authors or readers don't get the investment of time a blogger makes: maintaining the blog, selecting titles to read, reading the titles, writing posts about those titles, etc. etc. So -- bloggers should NOT have to buy the books they intend to write about on their blogs. There are enough books in a public library that a blogger doesn't have to rely on ARCS, and doesn't have to spend his/her own money.
Bloggers don't need ARCs. No, really. OK, so I do review from ARCs. And I get them from a variety of places. Conferences, such as ALA and BEA. Publishers. Friends. Heck, I could do an entire post on that (and will if there is interest.) But I also review titles from other sources: books I've bought or checked out of the library. One of the good things about blogs as opposed to traditional review sources is our ability to blog about things other than upcoming books.
Both the comments in Presenting Lenore and Reviewer X refer to these mysterious blogs that boast about getting ARCs and trade them but never review. A recent review I did based on an ARC I borrowed from a friend was pretty well received by the author, so a borrowed ARC can fulfill the purpose of an ARC. ARCs being passed back and forth is not a bad thing for the author.
Based on the number of ARCs I get, it would be impossible to review them all. I've frequently considered posting the titles of review copies I have received. Actually, come to think of it, I have done it sometimes, with books I get from conferences. If these comments are talking about things like The Story Siren's vlog "In The Mailbox," I don't get the negativity & snark in the comments. That's just a very clever, entertaining way to share new and upcoming titles with people.
A blogger isn't obligated to review/discuss every ARC/review copy they get. Now, you may argue that an obligation exists because of how one gets an ARC -- but I would respectfully disagree. Why? Well, a book can sound awesome. You request the ARC or respond to the email soliciting the ARC. And then you dislike the book. Maybe don't get beyond the first few chapters. What is your "obligation"? What do you "owe"? Keep in mind I am not talking about the always-ongoing debate about writing reviews that are critical/negative about a book.
That said, c'mon, if you've said "yes" to getting a specific ARC/review copy, they are being sent to you for a reason. To review that book. Personally, I prioritize posting about the ones that are sent to me as the result of "direct contact", and then aim to do a percentage of the ones that get sent unsolicited. (But the hows and whys of what I read versus what I finish versus what I post about is an entire other post).
OK. That's a lot of scattered thoughts. So my final bit on this tl;dr post: while some comments (usually anonymous) talk about these entitled bloggers who are using ARCs to no longer buy books and treat them like the finished product and don't review, etc., much as I clicked through links, all I found were book blogs with interesting discussions and content and I ended up adding a ton of new-to-me blogs to my bloglines account.
So, I am sharing the full, uncut, unedited interviews here as an "Extra." Not only are ARCs made available to librarians; they are also being provided to many bloggers. Blog readers aren't always familiar with what is -- or isn't -- being reviewed. So, more information is always good!
Andrew Karre: Thanks for letting me chime in. I hadn't heard of [the] practice [of adding ARCs to a library collection] ,and I'm a little shocked. It's not an exaggeration to say that shelving ARCs is an existential threat to the whole practice of distributing ARCs widely.
Liz B: What is an ARC?
Andrew Karre: An ARC ("advance reading copy," also called a "galley" or a "bound galley") is a promotional piece and a sales tool. It's a book bound using a similar process to regular trade paperbacks, often with cheaper paper and cover stock. The text can be at various stages of editorial development, but ideally it's a close-to-final manuscript that's only lacking proofreading. It often has a final cover. Instead of reader-focused backcover and flap copy, it probably has details of release date and promotional plans as well as copy more akin to catalog copy, where the audience is librarians and buyers, rather than readers (for example, I don't throw a fit when ARC copy gives away too much detail, but I do on the actual book).
All ARCs have some variation on a banner that says "Not for Sale: Advance Uncorrected Proof."
Liz B: Why do publishers create ARCs? Who is the audience?
Andrew Karre: ARCs serve several purposes for several audiences. Least known, in my experience, is that book designers like to use them to fine tune their designs. Farther down the line, these are the books that often go to pre-pub trade review venues like Kirkus, PW, SLJ, etc. Awards committees get ARCs. Authors and publishers send them out for blurbs. Sales people like to have them to show and perhaps leave with bookstore buyers. Foreign and subsidiary rights sales people use ARCs. And, of course, we give them away at tradeshows to librarians, buyers, other book industry types (from a cynical POV, BEA is basically a giant redistribution of ARCs among publishing professionals). In YA, publishers also participate in YALSA's excellent galley program, which puts ARCs into the hands of teens.
The purpose for any of these audiences is to create buzz and eventually sales. Ideally, every ARC will earn its keep by creating a book sale or two (a librarian reads an ARC, digs it, talks about it to her teen reading group, buys copies of the real book for her collection, etc.) Let me repeat: ARCs must create sales of actual books.
Liz B: How many ARCs do publishers create for each book?
Andrew Karre: Publishers print between a dozen and thousands, depending on their plans and expectations for the book. It varies hugely.
Liz B: How much do they cost compared to the final book?
Andrew Karre: It depends on the sizes of the print runs for each. The basic thing to know is that, the larger the print run, the cheaper any single book in that run will be to produce. It could easily cost a lot more per book if the run of ARCs is very short (in which case they might be done POD, where you pay for speed and the ability to do short runs). If the ARC order is large, they might be printed like regular books, in which case the per book cost would be lower than POD per book (but there would be setup costs, etc.). In any case, the ARC is probably going to cost more and maybe several times more.
Liz B: What kind of changes happen between ARC and final books?
Andrew Karre: Ideally, very few changes are made--mostly proofreading and adding details like bios, art, design tweaks, dedications, etc. In practice, a lot can change. I've seen covers change, major plot points change, and even titles. Making these kinds of changes compromises an ARCs ability to represent the book, so it's almost always undesirable to make big changes. Book publishing can be a bit like that famous I Love Lucy episode in the candy factory(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wp3m1vg06Q). The conveyor belt generally does not stop for anything.
If I can add done thing, I'd like to say that there is almost nothing a librarian can do that's more damaging than shelving an ARC. Like I said, an ARC is expected to make a sale. If you shelve an ARC, then that ARC has the opposite effect. I think the relationship that's developing between publishers and libraries in YA trade publishing is very exciting, but misusing ARCs will kill it. I know budgets are tight, but shelving ARCs is stealing.
Liz B: I think that it's a common assumption that an ARC is identical to the final book; at most, there may be some copyediting or a dedication that has to be filled in.
Sarah Prineas: It's a wrong assumption. The ARC--as a physical object--often looks very different from the final book, which is usually more aesthetically pleasing. The ARC is usually a paperback, cheaply bound, with cheaper paper, and often without even any cover art. The glue must be cheap, too, because ARC pages seem to come loose and fall out of the book easily.
On the back of the ARC is information relevant to booksellers, but not to readers--things about publicity and marketing plans, for example. Apart from that, the ARC quite often is an earlier iteration of the book, so might contain a lot of sentence level and continuity errors and infelicities of prose that will be caught in a later copy edit.
Another difference is that if a book has internal illustrations, these will often be either missing from the ARC or present only as rough sketches.
Liz B: At what point in the publication timeline for your book did the ARC get created and sent out?
Sarah Prineas: My situation with The Magic Thief: Lost was a little different than usual. I'd originally turned in the LOST manuscript much earlier and my editor and I finished our edits on the book over the summer. But then, sadly, my editor was laid off in June and I was assigned to a new editor, for whom I offered to do a new round of edits.
I turned the book in again for her in September, and the ARC went out during the third week of October. That's a pretty quick turnaround, and as it happens, my new editor and I were not finished with our edits yet. Still, the ARC had to go out then because the book itself comes out in May, and the booksellers and librarians need that much lead time to place their pre-orders for the book.
Liz B: What are some of the things that changed from the ARC of your second book (The Magic Thief: Lost) to the final version?
Sarah Prineas: My book is a middle grade fantasy, and after some thoughts and second-thoughts, my new editor realized that she was uncomfortable with the fact that some things in my book resembled things in the Harry Potter books (which I have not read!). The resemblances were common fantasy tropes, but my editor felt we couldn't take any chances (in the end, I realized that she was right about this). In addition, we both decided the last third of the book needed to be tightened and some of the plot points clarified.
An example of something we changed is the snakes. I used snakes in LOST for the sorcerer-king's magical familiars and spies, and his name, Aspeling, sounded snake-like to show that connection. I also had the protagonist, Conn, marked by a snake-bite so the bad magic could find him later. Apparently snakes play a big role in the Harry Potter books, so I changed the snakes to something else entirely, and changed the sorcerer-king's name.
Liz B: At what point did you realize that the ARC and final version would be different?
Sarah Prineas: Even before it came out. My editor and I were making further changes to the manuscript as the ARC was going to press.
Liz B: While ARCs commonly have language such as "check all quotations against final bound book," that's a bit different from saying "the final book is different." Were you able to let ARC readers know that the final version was going to be different?
Sarah Prineas: I've tried to offer caveats when I see that friends have gotten copies of the ARC--"beware, the final version of the book is very different!" Also, my editor wrote a letter that was included with the copies of the ARC that went out to reviewers and booksellers. The letter basically said that the ARC and the final book would be more different than usual.
Liz B: Often, people who get a copy of an ARC from BEA, ALA, or other conference don't like to throw out the ARC after they have finished reading it. It feels wasteful. So, many share them with colleagues or readers, being sure to let them know what an ARC is -- and isn't. Sometimes, though, we hear of people who have taken the extra step of adding the ARC to the library collection, classroom collection, or bookstores selling ARCs. What are your thoughts about that? Is the reader being cheated?
Sarah Prineas: I think it's great when teachers and librarians share ARC's with their most enthusiastic kid readers, and with each other. They're the ones who fall in love with books, and their excited comments after reading an ARC can, in turn, get others excited. That's what "buzz" is all about!
However, I do think adding the ARC to a permanent collection isn't a great idea, mainly for the reasons I point out above: the ARC just isn't as nice a book as the final version. Most ARC's are going to fall apart after just a couple of reads, and this isn't a great way to promote love of books.
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, was one of the few books of 2008 I felt actually deserved the hype it got. The hype for its sequel, Catching Fire, began almost immediately, with the buzz lately reaching a roar as Advance Reading Copies have gone out to the lucky (relative) few.
My librarian pal S. shared an amusing comic from Shelf Check about the frenzy. All I can say is: let's hope it doesn't come to that. Me, I'll patiently wait my turn. It's not like there aren't five million other great books out there for me to read in the meantime.
Given their roles within the industry, as reviewers and the like, I understood why Carlie, Monica, Cindy, Lynn, and Teri received ARCs in the mail. And I did not. As I told Carlie, jealous in a good way.
It's interesting how, for each of their online reviews at their blogs, the personal experience of reading the book enters into the picture. If someone would ask me, "what is the difference between a 'professional' review and on online 'review'" I would point this out and note that when reviews appear in Kirkus, SLJ, Voya, Booklist we won't see that personal note. That, and wordcount. Among other things.
BEA had copies available; I can attest to the fact that no, you didn't have to arrive super early on Friday to get a copy. Mine is now in a UPS box, making its way to the Jersey Shore.
There is no doubt that Scholastic's marketing campaign to create buzz is working. The buzz, she is here. Collecting Children's Books examines the marketing scheme in greater detail, as well as the "hunger" for ARCS, even though as we all know - the ARC is not the final book. If you still don't believe me, after all I've posted here, go, write it down an 100 times and then come back to talk to me. And CCB has an intriguing idea for what to do to promote the third book's ARC...
Apparently, people are selling their copies vie Ebay. Ebay itself says the item is hardcover and the final book. Liars. Prices are from $15 to $75. Some note it's not the hardcover in their seller notes, but c'mon, people. Calling this a true first edition? With the note to the general public of "Read the sequel to Collin's The Hunger Games 4 months before everyone else!"? Really, you should say "read the sequel with typos, errors, and possible changes in content before everyone else reads the final, polished, revised, edited version!"
The problem with using ARCs to create buzz is that Scholastic loses control. Does anyone here think that Scholastic gave you that ARC at BEA, along with the pin, for you to turn around and sell it on ebay? Really. And, as the ARC goes from those who know what an ARC is to those who think its just a paperback copy of the hardcover, exactly the same, only earlier and free, the readers will think that the ARC is indeed the hardcover. And let's not even get into who is going to be the first who thinks a "review" of this book is a "play by play plot description with spoilers" and posts it.
Me? I'm betting that with the huge buzz for this book, combined with the movie, adding the appearance of ARCs for sale and being treated as final copies, and the possibility of pre-September spoilers, we end up with no ARCs after this one, like Harry Potter (Scholastic's other baby) and Percy Jackson.
At this point, I've been to enough professional conferences to have a preferred method of navigating the exhibition hall. As I mentioned in my last post, I find exhibition halls as bad as shopping malls. And considering how much I hate shopping malls (there is no faster way for me to get blood-shot eyes and a headache than to step into one), that says a lot.
So, this year I made some commandments for myself:
Thou shalt not pick up any more tote bags, even if they are free. Instead, I carried my usual shoulder bag with a pocket-size (when stuffed) reusable bag for overflow.*
Thou shalt not pick up any cheap schwag. No keychains, no pencils, nada. Don't need it, don't want to carry it.
Thou shalt not swipe thy exhibit card, even if it will enter thou into a really cool raffle. More likely it will only get you promotional emails and snail mail for the rest of your life.
Thou shalt peruse only the publisher side of the hall. I don't make decisions about automation software or carpeting for my library, so why should I spend time looking at it on the trade floor?
Thou shalt not pick up any publisher catalogs. This is because my library orders trade originals almost exclusively based on journal reviews. Catalogs would be useful for ordering paperback reprints, but I'd personally be better off with a brief list of what's coming out this fall/winter.
If thou cravest ARCs, thou shalt ask publishers if any ARCs are available, even if they are not lying in plain sight. Especially as the conference draws to a close, many publishers have just a few remaining ARCs hiding under their tables. You won't know they're available unless you ask.
However, thou shalt only pick up ARCs that look like things thou wouldst want to read personally.
Thou shalt not stand in line for a signed copy unless thou really feels like it at that moment in time, no matter how cool the author is.
It worked pretty well. I didn't end up with more than I could carry. I didn't end up with anything I didn't want. And yet I still ended up with a goodly stack of goodies to read and, I hope, enjoy.
ARC of The Monster Variations, by Daniel Kraus (Delacorte, August 2009). I'm very excited about this one, not only because Dan is a friend of mine but also because I heard him read a chapter at the conference. It is beautifully written, and I have the feeling people are going to be talking about it.
Signed ARC of Ash, by Malinda Lo (Little, Brown, September 2009). Ash has been getting a fair amount of buzz and is pitched as a lesbian retelling of Cinderella.
ARC of Solace of the Road, by Siobhan Dowd (Random House, October 2009). I have to imagine everyone who has read Siobhan Dowd's previous books (among them The London Eye Mystery and Bog Child) is heartbroken that she won't be writing wonderful books for the rest of our lives. Fortunately, here's at least one more.
Signed copy of Leaving Paradise, by Simone Elkeles (Flux, 2007), with the snazzy new cover. This was a gift from Flux; thank you!
Signed copy of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart (Hyperion, 2008), which was one of my favorite books of 2008.
Copies of Inferno, by Robin Stevenson (Orca, 2009), and Gravity, by Leanne Lieberman (Orca, 2008). Is it just me, or does Orca manage to publish more lesbian teen fiction than all US publishers combined?
Copy of Frequently Asked Questions: An Unshelved Collection, by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum (2008). I bought a cute "read to me" Unshelved T-shirt, too! I was able to meet Bill—nice guy!
Now I just need some time to read all these books... but that's nothing new!
*My small reusable bag is something like this, but I got it at Whole Foods for about $3. I carry it in my shoulder bag. When unstuffed, it's about the size of a plastic grocery bag. In the two weeks since I bought it, I've used it at least half a dozen times. Highly recommended!
I don't want you all to think I don't like publishers. I do! Some of my best friends are publishers. Er, I mean work for them.
And I feel very, very strongly that blogs should have access to ARCs. One reason is that if blogs don't have ARCs, then it creates a monopoly by newspapers and magazines. Also, some bloggers may get ARCs because of other hats they wear (i.e., librarian, reviewer), so those blogs would be privileged over non-other-hat-wearing blogs. And I believe the bottom line about blogs is not so much WHO is writing as WHAT they are writing. And the kick-ass blog can come from NotNYC and NotLibrarian, and ARCS help make that happen.
Anyway. Point. Click over to Tasha's Kid Lit blog (the original!), and read about her exchange with a publisher at ALA. Here is the objectionable, bad behavour from publisher part (with me=Tasha)
Her: And if the numbers are good enough, we will send you ONE BOOK and IF WE LIKE HOW YOU HANDLE THAT TITLE YOU CAN HAVE ANOTHER ONE.
Me: (Blankly.) Oh?
Her: You can see that our titles have been embraced by the blogging community (Yes, there were several that were HUGE on blogs.) That’s because of this policy. It really works for us. (Yes, I bet it does. Didn’t doubt that for a moment.)
Me: I’ll have to think about that. I don’t do that with any other publisher I work with. It’s not how I do business.
Her: (Sudden change in demeanor. I think she just replayed our conversation and realized that she had completely misread the situation.) Well, we could send you hundreds of titles at a time. We wouldn’t hold you to one, necessarily.
Me: Well, I’ll think about it.
This is a problem; the idea that the publisher is treating the blogger NOT as an independent reviewer writing for a reader, but rather as someone auditioning for the job of official publisher reviewer writing for the publisher.
The further problem? This has CLEARLY worked with other bloggers. (Tho it is also possible that there are indeed new bloggers who are saying they are several years old and misrepresenting themselves...and that some people name their blogs things that sound like other people's blog names so that publishers get confused.)
I get review copies from the publisher Tasha spoke with. I have never had the publisher say to me that reviews had to be a certain way to get copies. I imagine it's what employee someone talks to; but it is also bloggers who not only accept being treated this way but who feed into it by saying, "send me a copy and see how I do, it's totally OK to act this way." No doubt publishers get mixed messages.
My message is clear: Thank you for the ARCs and Review copies that allow me to blog early about titles. And also thank you for realizing I am, as Tasha said, an independent reviewer.
And I hope other bloggers start thinking, seriously, about what they do, who the write for, and who they answer to.
In December, 2007 and again in April, 2009 I did some guest blogging at ForeWord Magazine's ShelfSpace Blog. While ForeWord Magazine is going strong, they have discontinued doing that guest blogging. So, I am going to rerun those posts here at Tea Cozy. Any edits to remove confusion about things like dates is in brackets.
ARCs: Just like the Hardcover, only Free!
Part One: What is an ARC?
Lurk at a few book listservs or read some book blogs, and you begin to see one word over and over: ARC. Soon, you realize that people are reading books before the publication date by getting these things called "ARCs". What are they? And how come these people are getting them?
I asked several people to share their publishing wisdom about ARCs: Brian Farrey, a Flux Acquisitions Editor; Andrew Karre, Editorial Director for Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group; Sheila Ruth, Publisher, Imaginator Press; and fantasy author Sarah Prineas.
What, exactly, is an ARC?
At its most simple, an ARC is an Advance Reading Copy. Or Advanced Reader Copy. And it's also called a galley. Yes, even amongst the experts there are variations on this answer!
Andrew Karre explains that an ARC "is a promotional piece and a sales tool." Brian Farrey adds, "it's primarily a marketing/publicity tool aimed at generating advance interest and excitement for a forthcoming title."
Brian Farrey clarifies that technically speaking, a galley is a version of the book that is made up to six to twelve months before the book's release while the ARC appears four to six months prior to release. Farrey notes that many people use the terms ARC and galley interchangeably. "[Galleys] are for hot, hot, hot books where the publisher wants to generate buzz," Farrey says. "They're meant to get people talking about the book itself, not necessarily to generate reviews (although that does happen too)." With the recent cutbacks in publishing, Farrey speculates that we will start seeing fewer galleys and more ARCs; and that they will be done digitally, via PDF.
Brian Farrey says that both galley and ARC are "typically printed on low quality paper and materials (they're not meant to last; they're meant to be read once and tossed)." Galleys often do not have any cover art, while ARCs usually do.
Sheila Ruth, Publisher, Imaginator Press, notes that technology has also impacted the production of ARCs. Full color covers are the "result of improvements in technology reducing the cost and improving the quality of digitally printed color."
It's more than just appearances and quality of paper. Andrew Karre explains that "the text can be at various stages of editorial development," observing that "ideally it's a close-to-final manuscript that's only lacking proofreading." Farrey points outs, "there will be typos and other errors." The ARC is not meant to be the final book, but rather "give a feel for the final book."
Fantasy author Sarah Prineas illustrates how the difference between an ARC can be more than a misspelled word: "the ARC quite often is an earlier iteration of the book, so might contain a lot of sentence level and continuity errors and infelicities of prose that will be caught in a later copy edit. Another difference is that if a book has internal illustrations, these will often be either missing from the ARC or present only as rough sketches."
How do you tell the ARC from the finished book? As Karre says, "All ARCs have some variation on a banner that says "Not for Sale: Advance Uncorrected Proof."" If that's not evidence enough, "instead of reader-focused backcover and flap copy, it … has details of release date and promotional plans as well as copy more akin to catalog copy, where the audience is librarians and buyers, rather than readers."
In December, 2007 and again in April, 2009 I did some guest blogging at ForeWord Magazine's ShelfSpace Blog. While ForeWord Magazine is going strong, they have discontinued doing that guest blogging. So, I am going to rerun those posts here at Tea Cozy. Any edits to remove confusion about things like dates is in brackets.
ARCs: Just like the Hardcover, only Free!
Part Two: What's the big deal?
Last week, I wrote about what an ARC is: an advance version of a book, printed to create buzz, reviews, and sales.
Let's talk about what an ARC isn't: the final published version of the book.
Once again, I spoke with Brian Farrey, a Flux Acquisitions Editor; Andrew Karre, Editorial Director for Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group; Sheila Ruth, Publisher, Imaginator Press; and fantasy author Sarah Prineas.
Despite the language that appears on ARCs, some bookstores seem to think an ARC is the final book. Stories abound of people who order a book via an online bookstore, and discover that they've been sold an ARC.
Some libraries, likewise, seem to think that an ARC is "good enough" for their patrons.
Keep in mind, I am not talking about informal galley groups with patrons and students. Sarah Prineas sees positives in sharing ARCs with young readers, as long it's not a formal sharing. "I think it's great when teachers and librarians share ARCs with their most enthusiastic kid readers, and with each other. They're the ones who fall in love with books, and their excited comments after reading an ARC can, in turn, get others excited. That's what "buzz" is all about!"
I am talking about libraries that make ARCs part of their formal collection, complete with spine label.
Oh, some librarians I spoke to said "never!" But others told me of seeing ARCs in collections, or waiting to be processed, and educating both directors and technical staff of why ARCs shouldn't be on the shelf. Suzi Steffen of Oregon is an avid library user. She checked out a recent nonfiction book from her local public library. "I was shocked & pretty annoyed to see it's an ARC."
On a professional library listserv, a librarian justified adding ARCs to her permanent collection because low budgets meant fewer materials. I wonder – as budgets continue to fall, with other people adopt this "but I cannot afford the final book" attitude?
And really, what's the harm? It's just a few typos, right? Isn't putting books – even if they are ARCs – into the hands of customers the most important thing?
Brian Farrey explains that "in theory, there aren't many substantial changes between ARC and final copy. Most changes are to correct typos, clarify text (eliminate confusing or inconsistent plot points/character traits)."
Andrew Karre says that while "ideally, very few changes are made--mostly proofreading and adding details like bios, art, design tweaks, dedications, etc. In practice, a lot can change. I've seen covers change, major plot points change, and even titles."
Publishing is a business; and like any business, many factors go into the process and a tight timeline exists. An ARC is needed at a certain time, ready or not. Andrew explains, "Book publishing can be a bit like that famous I Love Lucy episode in the candy factory. The conveyor belt generally does not stop for anything."
Typos do matter. Sheila Ruth agrees, saying "even such minor errors reflect badly on a book, because they make the book look unprofessional."
I've read ARCs with grammar and spelling errors, knowing that those things would be corrected in the published book. But to read them in what is the final version of the book can take the reader away from the story and creates the impression that the writer and publisher are sloppy. One young adult author I spoke with e