Tuesday, March 24, 2009

ARC's and Galleys a How to Guide

While I generally enjoy working with Michael's publisher the one disappointment I have is their lack of utilizing ARC's and Galleys. While unconventional, my plan is to take this on myself and for Michael's third book: Nyphron Rising. The mere fact that I'm willing to do this "on my own" as it were should be a testament to their importance.

A galley looks like and is the same size as the final book but has a plain cover. The cover may be white or colored. If you are using a colored cover, be sure the black printing is easy to see on it. (Red or dark colors are not a good idea. Use white, yellow, buff, light blue). The cover doesn’t indicate what the final book will look like instead it contains important information about the book to help the reviewer (genre, page count, release date, etc - more on this momentarily).

ARC stands for "Advanced Reading Copy" it looks almost identical to the finished book (i.e. full color cover etc) except that the first page of the book has all the information that would normally be found on the galley cover.

In both cases the book is usually "still in editing" and the reviewers are aware that there will be mistakes and typos here and there. That's not to say that you can put out complete trash - after all you want to garner a good review, but they do realize that there is still some work to do on the book.

The ARC/Galley has really one purpose only - to get your book reviewed before publication. All of the major reviewers: BookList, Foreword, Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, etc have zero interest in hearing about your book on release date. They need that information 5 - 6 months so they have time to review and print their opinions. If you send them a "completed" book they won't bother - they really need the additional information that only an ARC or Galley can provide.

Whether the galley cover or first page of the ARC, the information to provide is the same. The format is very straightforward - don't make it pretty - just make it easy to see the facts. The Front (or first page in the case of ARC should include:
  • Name of book
  • Author name
  • Category (e.g. Fiction—Mystery; Nonfiction—Memoir)
  • Size specifications (e.g. Trade paperback 6 x 9, # pages)
  • Price
  • ISBN
  • Publisher (name/mailing address/website address)
  • Primary Contact
  • First print run (number of copies)
  • Promotional plan
  • Promotional budget
  • Available from
  • Statement: “Uncorrected Proof—Not for Sale” (Make this bold and easily seen)

A few of the above need further attention:

  • First print run: many large pre-pub reviewers will only review books of 5000+ copies on the first run.
  • Promotional plan: (i.e. direct mailings, book tours, bookstore displays, book release party, etc.) The competition for reviews is fierce and those with a more comprehensive looking plan will get more attention than those without one.
  • Promotional budget: again this helps to make them decide whether to "spend the ink" on reviewing your book. If you have little or no budget just omit this line
  • Available from: (i.e. a distributor such as Baker & Taylor or Ingram)
  • Primary Contact (publicist, consultant, author—name, address, email address)

The back cover should have:

  • Blurb (The hook—same as on the book)
  • Author Bio

The spine should have:Name of book Name of author Publisher

When sending a copy for review you should put your absolute best foot forward. Again the competition is tough (Foreword Magazine receives 3,000 books for review for each issue and publishes only 85 reviews!) Your "packet" should contain a media folder, press releases, author bio, book data sheet at a minimum. That being said it is common for these materials to get separated from the book itself so make sure ALL the important data is on the Galley or ARC information page.

There are many organizations online that provide Galleys...But they are costly ($40 - $60 a piece). The good news is that POD is again your friend - use CreateSpace or LightningSource (see multiple posts on this forum about them) and get them done for $4 - $5.

A positive review by a major publication is HUGE for authors, especially new and starting out authors. To use this medium effectively takes a dedication to prior planning to ensure you have something readily available 4 - 6 months before the release date.


Amanda Spake said...

Excellent information. And absolutely critical to promotion of a book.
As a former senior editor and writer at two large national publications (pre-layoffs and buy-out), I can say I both read and wrote about new books, and I used upcoming books for stories in magazines and online, and I also looked for and bought and/or recommended publications buy first serial rights for new books.

All of this material was excellent for the magazines I worked for, and certainly like gold for the book authors. This type of promotion is simply not available at any price--except through advance copies of the book and galleys.

The only thing I would emphasize more than Robin has is the crucial importance of the ancillary material in the press kit. Editors,reviewers,and article writers--here's the ugly truth--often SKIM the book and borrow heavily from the press release, the author's bio, and as much other CONDENSED information as they can get, such as other reviews if they exist. These materials can be as important to getting a book reviewed, mentioned or written about in an article as the book itself -- of course, you have to have the ARC or galley of the book as well. But I can't empasize enough the importance of spending ALOT of time on a complete, well-written, and packed with detail press release and bio.
Thanks for the info, Robin.

Joe Boltersdorf said...

Wow, am I clueless on the publishing process! Thanks so much for this information about ARC's and Galleys. I'm still pumping out query letters trying to get my manuscript read. The fact that I wrote a children's book that I can read to my young granddaughter is reward in and of itself, but it sure would be nice to get published. Do I keep plugging with the hit & miss query letters before pursuing an ARC? I'm not sure what I should or shouldn't be doing right now. Thanks so much for the great advice. I look forward to meeting you at your next gathering.

Robin Sullivan said...

The ARC/Galley comes between "being publised" and "release date". Regardless of whether you are self-publishing or someone else is.

For Now Joe I would concentrate on a "targeted" query campaign. There are lots of tips on this site on writing query letters. I would Highly Recommend Noah Lukeman's Free Amazon short which can be found in the links to the right of this page.

Robin Sullivan said...

The URL for Noah Lukeman's Free Amazon short is...http://www.amazon.com/How-Write-Great-Query-Letter/dp/B00122GU86/ref=dp_shrt_new_0

Anonymous said...

Hello there,

Thanks for sharing the link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at write2publish.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Thanks for sharing this link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at write2publish.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Thanks for sharing the link - but unfortunately it seems to be not working? Does anybody here at write2publish.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?


Anonymous said...


I have a message for the webmaster/admin here at write2publish.blogspot.com.

May I use some of the information from this post right above if I give a backlink back to this website?


Robin Sullivan said...

Sure Alex - feel free to share any information you find here.

Therese said...

Question: I seem to remember reading somewhere that prepublication reviewers will not bother with paperbacks, only hardcovers. True? Not true? Depends? I hate to think I'm going to all this bother to put together bound review galleys for my author if the reviewers are just going to automatically trash them as soon as they realize they're for trade paperbacks ...

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