Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Galley, a Proof, and an ARC Walked Into a Bar

Once a book is completed and edited, proofs, galleys, or advanced reader copies (ARCs) are typically distributed to book buyers, reviewers, book sellers, sales representatives, and magazines to assist in the marketing and sale of the work. Both advanced proofs and galleys will typically include a summary, author biography, and helpful marketing information on the back cover, and they are released three to six months in advance of publication.

Though the terms ARC, proof, and galley are often used interchangeably, at one time there were distinct differences between them. Galleys were only used in the editing process and were typically low quality black and white photocopies. Proofs were typeset copies that may or may not have artwork that were distributed to reviewers and booksellers to promote the book. ARCs were finished copies that were sent out early for promotion purposes.

Today the differences between the three terms are less clear. The term ARC now appears to be used as a synonym for a proof, leaving only galleys distinguishable because they are typically printed in black and white and without any artwork.

There is a thriving market online for galleys and proofs, which frustrates many authors since edits might still occur before the book is released. These edits might be limited to spelling, but there could also be factual errors that are fixed or substantive editorial changes. In addition, authors don't receive any royalties for the sale of the galleys and ARCs.

4 comments:

kathie said...

Yikes! Another thing to fret about...here's to having that problem next. So, how are these items getting out there? Just a careless reader who tosses it aside after reading? I assumed the galleys only went to the author and agent and then back to the publisher.

Ryan Field said...

It's happened to me, this online printing of a galley, with a short story, in a book that was part of a series of anthologies. And I found out about it through a private blogger review I came across by accident. There it was, in pdf, and it looked strange.

Brian Jay Jones said...

It's still freaky to me to see my ARCs for sale up on ebay -- and as "valuable collector's items," no less. Not that they're really bringing in the boucoup dolores for their sellers (most go for 10 bucks or so), but it's STILL bizarre to me. And I still always wonder how they got 'em in the first place...

Chumplet said...

I received my first ARC (someone else's book) from Random House a few months ago and I'm not going to let anyone pry it from my hands. It's mine, I tell you, mine!

When a fellow author saw an ARC of her book on EBay, she said she was rather flattered.