|The print above my name: |
"Uncorrected Advance Copy • Not for Sale"
But it feels so much like a book—and mine have arrived! Oh, to hold this book in my hand.
ARCs are typically made available 3-6 months before publication, often on the longer side for a debut author. The Art of Falling is still seven months out, but Sourcebooks wanted to have copies ready for Book Expo America (BEA) last weekend, since it’s the largest industry trade show in North America.
For today’s self-publishers, who are able to finish a manuscript one week, format it the next, and have it for sale online soon thereafter, creating an ARC may simply seem like a way to add considerable time and expense to the book launch process. I asked Anna Klenke, Assistant Editor at Sourcebooks, how this intermediary step still plays an important role in traditional publishing.
One word explains it: buzz.
“The success of a book is often tied to buzz and momentum,” Anna said. Literary agent Donald Maass spoke a bit about momentum in his recent keynote speech at the Pennwriters Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, when he said that books that hit the New York Times Best Seller List are chosen not by gross sales, but by rate of sale in any given week. “ARCs distributed by a publisher allow influential people to see your book and know that it exists well before publication,” Anna said. Knowing that the first three months after release are crucial, and with the stakes so high—the publisher has already invested fully in the advance payment, editorial time, and design work—this is no time to scrimp on promotional efforts.
Events like BEA are all about creating buzz for a book. “Our marketing team will develop a giveaway strategy for each ARC to make sure that we’re gaining as much momentum as possible,” Anna said. “We’ll be targeting your ARCs at people—readers, bloggers, librarians—who we think will be specifically interested in your book.”
Sourcebooks will also send out copies to the long-lead industry reviewers, such as Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and Kirkus. While they are not obligated to review anything a publisher sends them, Anna says that Sourcebooks generally hopes to get reviews from three out of the big four for their fiction titles. Depending on the book, they’ll also send ARCs to other media outlets, such as the New York Times Book Review, National Public Radio, and consumer magazines such as Newsweek.
While I already wrote of trying to get blurbs that might be placed on the ARC cover, at this point the search for blurbs is far from over. Because they can be so influential in getting the book onto bookstore shelves, we will seek cover quotes until the final book goes to print, which for The Art of Falling will be October 1. Since at this point the reading experience is greatly improved, thanks to the principles of book design, Anna says that most people respond better to a printed ARC than to a bound manuscript or electronic file.
|Holding the ARC! Kathryn with the principal of her agency,|
Donald Maass, at the Pennwriters conference
My personal copies have already acted as a ticket to ride, connecting me with speaking engagements, book clubs, readers (the woman sitting next to me at my son’s master’s graduation typed the title right into her smart phone reading list), and I’ve sent copies to key leaders among special interest populations who might have an interest in the book. I predict a few copies will find their way into Goodreads giveaways later this year, so feel free to connect with me there.
Just catching up? Here are links to the other posts in this series:
Countdown to a Book 1: Joining Hands
Countdown to a Book 2: Pitching
Countdown to a Book 3: Getting My Agent
Countdown to a Book 4: Developmental Editing
Countdown to a Book 5: All About Image
Countdown to a Book 6: From Writer to Author
Countdown to a Book 7: Five Tips for Getting Blurbs
Countdown to a Book 8: The Manuscript Becomes a Book
Kathryn Craft is a developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com, an independent manuscript evaluation and line editing service. Her work is represented by Katie Shea at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. Her monthly series, "Countdown to a Book," details the traditional publication of her debut novel, The Art of Falling, by Sourcebooks in January 2014. Connect with Kathryn at her Facebook Author Page and Twitter.