The ARCs (advance reading copies) of A Darkness Forged in Fire arrived this week and I feel like a proud parent. I’ve constrained myself, so far, from carting one around with me wherever I go, but it hasn’t been easy. I wish I could show it here, but I don’t know how to load images yet. Anyway, in my very biased opinion, it looks darn spiffy. I imagine most folks here know this, but ARCs are used to generate buzz in advance of the actual pub date. They are sent to reviewers at newspapers, magazines, websites etc., select books stores, buyers for various accounts, other publishers for subrights like translation rights in foreign markets, and even Hollywood. They can also be used to increase awareness as giveaways at conventions. In fact, Pocket will be doing that at New York ComicCon and BEA this year.
On a more technical note, an ARC is typically printed as a trade paperback on a lower grade paper and sometimes, though not always, features the cover in color on the cover, although added effects such as embossing, foil, die cuts etc. are often not done at this stage. On the back cover you’ll often find early blurbs, cover copy giving a brief synopsis of the book and marketing information which is aimed mainly at the accounts (but also signals to reviewers the level of support the book is receiving from the publisher).
The ARC is comprised of the first set of page proofs which means the book has been edited and copyedited from the original manuscript, but is by no means in final form. Changes big and small can still be made to the book even after the ARC has gone out, although usually the revisions are minor. For this reason the publisher prints huge warnings on the cover stating:
UNCORRECTED PROOFS – SPECIAL ADVANCE READER’S EDITION – NOT FOR SALE
(Please do not quote for publication without checking against the finished book.)
By sending ARCs out months in advance it hopefully allows for that all important buzz to form. If things start to roll the accounts have time to look at the number of copies they’ve ordered and increase it (or decrease if the buzz is gawd-awful.) Naturally, I’m hoping the book gets a positive response.