Friday, February 19, 2016

#11: It's Galley Day! Best Day Ever!

If you're like me, you probably had a fantasy like this one all your life. One day, your editor calls you up to say:

"Hey, we're sending your galleys to the Times today!" 

Or Vogue or Publisher's Weekly or wherever. Or maybe this one is closer to your dreams: You open your inbox to see an email from your favorite author. "Your pub sent me a copy of your galleys this weekend. You're a genius! Come out to the Hamptons. We'll do lunch!"





I think at least a small percentage of the whole reason I became an author in the first place was to be able to talk about 'my galleys.' However, nobody I worked with at either Simon & Schuster or MacMillan - editors, agents, publishers, publicists - called the early proof of a book a 'galley.'


I think that's an old-fashioned term that actually refers to an earlier stage: the manuscript is typeset, but still on regular paper, which is how the book will look during copyediting. In my experience, the 'galley' was always called an "A.R.C."- short for:

Advance Review Copy or Advance Reader Copy. 


The ARC's are usually distributed about 3-6 months before your book hits the shelves.

Depending on your publisher's lead time, when your ARC arrives, you'll probably still be copyediting. (If you haven't read it, check out Beware Your Copy Editor.) 

The ARC's can also be distributed in electronic form. Whatever the case, they go out to major literary publications like PW, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, etc., and other relevant pubs that do reviews.



Getting ARC's out early is a really important stage of promotion because ...

Any good reviews will be used for 'blurbs' on your book jacket.



Since all writers want lots of nice blurbs, this part of the process can really help the success of your book. 

A physical ARC looks a lot like a trade paperback.  

It will be identified as an ARC in some way. My first one said "Uncorrected Proof: Not For Sale" on the cover. The cover art will probably have already been designed, so that will be on the front as well. Though the back and spine may still need work.

On the back will be a synopsis, the price, ISBN, your bio, number of pages, publisher, and the upcoming release date, since that's important for reviewers to know. btw there weren't any author photos on my ARC's, but some publishers may include those too.


The ARC looks exactly like a finished book inside.


Except for the fact that the typos you and your copy editor are correcting may still be there. So the book's not quite a finished product.

Truly, getting your ARC's - or come on, let's do it, just because it sounds glamorous - getting your 'galleys' for the first time will be one of the most remarkable days of your entire career as a writer. Indie writers know just as well how wonderful it feels to hold an early proof of their self-published books in their hands. It's a real highlight.



Of course, my 'galley day' didn't exactly turn out as hoped ...

Go figure. Before I go on, I want to say that I adored my editor, my publisher, my agent, my publicist - well, frankly, I adored everybody involved in the process of publishing my first novel - so I don't want this to sound like sour grapes. Because even if the grapes were a teensy bit tangy at first, they've matured into a very fine, drinkable wine. :)



But I think everyone involved in publishing my first book will admit that it was dogged by more than its fair share of problems. To. Put. It. Mildly.
And 'galley day' was no different.

I was sitting at home, suffering through the second round of copy-editing (at big publishers, there are at least four rounds of revisions over the course of 12-18 months: two with your editor, then two with your copy editor), when a package from my publisher showed up at the door.

Having opened one copy-edited manuscript already, and having almost had a nervous breakdown as a result, this time I was a little leery emptying the big, padded envelope.

Imagine my delight when 5 copies of my galleys fell into my lap!

Zowie, that's a day you'll never forget! Actually seeing your words in a book? Well, sort of a book anyway. I wasn't expecting the ARC's - nobody warned me they were coming - but compared to many of the surprises I had during the process, this was a great one!



So there I was, sighing happily away, flipping through my ARC, feeling like such an 'author,' when I started noticing little typos in the text.

"Well, these are uncorrected proofs," I thought.

Says so right on the cover. Okay, no biggie. I keep flipping. "Hmmm ... I thought for sure I changed that ages ago ... and that ... and that ... and ... wait a second ..." Even for an uncorrected proof, there were a lot of changes that should've been made. Not just typos, but actual creative changes in the text. I quickly flipped to the back of the book.

It had the wrong ending!!


The ARC actually had the second last ending I'd worked on - not the final version - and a totally different resolution to the story. I emailed my editor right away. "Uh, I know these are uncorrected proofs ...

"But should they actually have the wrong ending?"

She wrote back just one word:




Somehow the wrong disk had been sent to the printer. It was an enormous, costly, time-consuming mistake. I'm not sure how many ARC's had been printed - but I wouldn't be surprised if there were dozens or more. The publisher really got behind the book.

And they all had to be recalled!




Not only that, new ones had to be printed and then mailed out asap. I can only imagine that harried journalists whose desks were already piled high with ARC's really enjoyed fishing out the old copy of my book, sending it back to the publisher, only to wait for the updated version to be printed and mailed back weeks later.



I assume the reprint cost me at least a few reviews since most big magazines work on long lead times and the delay could've meant I missed by window.

At any rate, what a huge, expensive mistake!



The way my agent and editor reacted, it was clearly the only time they'd even heard of such a thing. So I'm sure this sort of oversight is extremely rare. However, it did happen to me, so be prepared for anything! Most importantly ...

... you shouldn't rely on anybody else to make your book a success.

Not even publishers. I think there's a tendency for writers - being creative, sensitive, (occasionally) lazy people - to think that somebody else is going to look after things for you.



And if you get a book deal, nothing is going to go wrong, and that, yes, you'll soon be having lunch with your favorite author in the Hamptons. 

But YOU are the most important part of your book's success.


Accept the responsibility, be realistic - and work your buns off!

btw if you were turned off by my Valentine's Day blog hop last Sunday, I apologize. I'd had too much pink champagne. It's the first blog hop I've done, so don't lose respect for me. I mean, come on! Vampire LeStat as my favorite character? Or Quint from Jaws? Pretend I said Madame Bovary. Jane Eyre? Scout Finch? No, wait, I have it. My fave character of all time: Gatsby!



btw I've changed this series to Book Deal Boot Camp. 

It sounds catchier and takes up way fewer characters in a tweet than Book Deal Survival Guide. But also because of Private Benjamin. Did anyone see that funny 80s flick with Goldie Hawn? 




I think it's a good image to leave you with because - like Goldie, who thought she'd get stationed at some swanky tropical base when she joined the army - she had a huge wakeup call in boot camp. 

That's just what getting a book deal is like. Waaaaaay harder than you thought it was going to be!  


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1 comment:

  1. Nice post. I was terrified to read my ARC, I don't know why. It felt so big, so immense. It scared the hell out of me.
    P.S. When I worked as a newspaper editor we called the galleys dummies. The corrected copies were referred to as proofs, which makes more sense. The first time someone asked if I had received a dummy, I had no idea what they were talking about, lol.

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