Wednesday, February 6, 2013

On reading an ARC

ARCs.  I read a lot of ARCs—which are bound galleys—uncorrected proofs of books--and are not for sale but are sent out by the publisher to potential reviewers at newspapers, magazines, libraries, bookstores, blogs, etc.  Basically, if you’re lucky, your publisher prints a good deal of these.  They want to get a buzz going.  The people who might be most interested in your book get to read it first.  And therein lies the rub.
              A lot of work goes into the final book, rewrite after rewrite, and we writers want readers to read the perfect gem we have been working on for years.  Pull you into our story, captivate you with the characters and plot, keep you in our dream world.  Show you how brilliant we are.  It’s a piece of art, worthy the reader’s time.  We don’t want you to see the imperfections, the missing or misspelled words.
              There are a lot of words in a novel or book, and up until that last, hopefully perfect version, we do make mistakes.  The words are in our heads but haven’t made it to the page, or we’ve typed boot when we mean boat but just haven’t caught that mistake yet because the word boat is in our head and the mind wants to see boat, so it does.  It takes agents and editors and copy editors to tap us on the shoulder and say, “Ah, you screwed up here.  Did you notice?”  And we thank them.
              But the process isn’t done by the time that ARC is printed, and sending it out to readers that I really want to impress makes me wince.  Because I know when I’m reading an ARC for a review, I see those mistakes, and suddenly I’m a line editor, not, say, a charming and verbose kidnapper, or girl waking up in the future.
              So here’s the question, for those of you who do read ARCs.  How forgiving are you?  Have you ever read the final version after reading an ARC?  Is an imperfect version of a piece of art not a big deal?  Or, am I making too much of it all?     

1 comment:

Rae said...

Fascinating subject. But I can't answer the question. I've never seen an ARC. Maybe some day...