May 2nd, 2009


What are galleys for, anyway?

People have been asking me what galleys are for. Why do I have them, why would I need them, what am I planning to do with them, and—most commonly asked of all—why can't they have one. (Seriously.) So:

Galleys, ARCs (Advance Reader/Reviewer Copies), and other pre-release forms of a book have exactly one purpose: to drive up the book's visibility, and hence, sales. They're primarily given to bookstores, especially independent bookstores (where a good-looking ARC can potentially increase their order by quite a lot), reviewers (both print and online; the blogging community has been getting an increasing number of pre-release review copies over the past few years), and authors, who are a little crazy at the best of times, and are likely to get crazier as our book releases approach.

As authors, we're expected to distribute our ARCs and galleys in whatever way will do this most good. Also to our mothers. So we send them to smaller bookstores that our publisher may not know about, we give them to bloggers we know well enough to ask for reviews, and we hand them to other authors in hopes that they'll find our work appealing. And we try to keep the cats from using them as furniture (although this is basically a lost cause). ARCs are interesting, because they have—simultaneously—a very high importance and a very short shelf-life. Once the mass market edition hits shelves, dude, it's better-printed, better-designed, better-able to stand up to stress, and best of all, it's better-edited, because ARCs are printed before page proofs are returned. Once the mass market edition exists, the ARC is an interesting curiosity, and you'd better pray you found them all good homes. Or that the cats really, really like them.

Right now, I'm in the "reviewers I know personally" and "setting up competitions and give-aways" stage of our program. I'll have a few copies with me at BayCon and DucKon, naturally, and much like the art cards at Wondercon, there will be a Secret Password that gets me to give you a book (if I have one on me). I'm also questing for places where books need to go, and have found some fun promotional channels that I'm testing out.

Galleys. They're not just to keep the cats entertained while I'm at work.