May 20th, 2009


Coyote girls sing the blues, coyote girls bring the news.

Item the first: at least four—yes, four, which is a number higher than two, so yay—reviewers/bookstores have received their ARCs of Rosemary and Rue, along with the snazzy watercolor cards that Alice so helpfully "helped" me finish. Thank you, Alice. Thank you so very, very much. (As an Alice-related sub-item, my puffy Halloween ball of trouble turned twenty weeks old yesterday, and celebrated her failure to get sucked into the vacuum cleaner by falling off the cat tree. Again. Maine Coons, unlike boa constrictors, have gravity.)

Item the second: Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon will not be attending BayCon this year, due to being really, really sick. Nobody's dying, I don't have all the details, and also, I didn't do it. If I were going to start the pandemic, there are other people I'd target first, and I'd have published my cackling manifesto by now. "Yay, swine flu!" does not count as a cackling manifesto, it counts as a really weird idea of what constitutes entertainment.

Item the third: speaking of entertainment, Kate and I watched the season finales for two of our season-pass shows last night—America's Next Top Model and Fringe. (Never let it be said that I am ashamed of my taste in anything.) One of the girls on this season of ANTM was totally a Toby-universe Daoine Sidhe, I swear. Real people aren't supposed to have ElfQuest eyes, but she somehow managed to pull it off. I will miss you, freaky alien-elf-eyed girl! Although I won't miss the nightmares you gave me about Toby tracking me down with a pair of pliers and a smile!

Item the fourth: So You Think You Can Dance returns to television tomorrow night. In supposedly unrelated news, I'm getting ready to get back to work on Discount Armageddon. Hmmmm...

Item the fifth: Dawn Metcalf to the white courtesy phone, dawn_metcalf to the white courtesy phone. It has now been forty-eight hours, and I still don't have a mailing address for you. If I don't hear from you within the next twenty-four hours, I will be choosing a new winner for the signed cover flat of Rosemary and Rue. In actually related news, the poetry contest to win an ARC of Rosemary and Rue is still going. Please drop by and vote, if you haven't already.

Item the sixth: I am still the Rain King.

Thoughts on the distribution of ARCs.

So here's the basic skinny: recently, an ARC for Rosemary and Rue (which is, y'know, not available until September) showed up on eBay. I stomped around, I glared, I made hissy noises, and I got on with my life, because that's what I do. (Behold the Irish temper in action! On the plus side, you can distract me from world-destroying fury with something shiny. On the minus side, that something shiny may well be a death ray.) My dear friend trektone had a question. Namely:

"I'd be interested to know (in your spare time, of course) your opinion of the buying/selling/trading/etc. of ARCs & book proofs. If they are by favorite authors, I love them. ... Regarding your stated urge in #6 above, is it because the official book has yet to hit the shelves? Or because you're not getting your nickel or whatever from the sale? Both? Something else?"

Now, in my spare time, I'm going to provide an answer. Because I can.

The buying/selling/trading/rendering into art installations of ARCs actually makes me happy...after the official book has hit shelves. Beforehand, it both seems like a rather pointed way of taking advantage of people with poor impulse control—look! You don't have to wait, if you're just willing to pay three times the cover price!—and sort of counter to what ARCs are for. I guess I see the "R" as standing primarily for "review" where ARCs are concerned. (While I'm not going to say "oh, sure, re-sell that ARC when you're done with it" to every reviewer on the planet, I'm also not silly enough to think that every person who receives an ARC is going to love it and treasure it and call it George. Lo, I am a slightly smarter blonde than that.)

The giving away of ARCs, or the re-selling of ARCs after they have been read, strikes me as a totally natural part of the book's life cycle. I mean, I don't "get my nickel" from used bookstore sales, and I believe that used bookstores are quite possibly proof of the divine. I don't "get my nickel" from the reviewers and bookstores and con goers and contest winners who receive ARCs through normal channels. Instead, I get reviews, early readers, and people talking about the book...which, if the book is worth talking about, is a good thing. (Presumably, a book could be bad enough that the author would want to collect and burn all the available ARCs. I'm trying to avoid becoming so neurotic that I worry about this particular issue, and I'm worrying about sensible things, instead. Like the idea of Godzilla eating New York, and hence, my publisher, before book two can come out.)

I guess I'm just not all that sanguine with the idea of ARCs showing up on sites like eBay, totally unread and unreviewed, because a) my publisher isn't getting paid for it, b) my publisher, in fact, paid to have it printed, and is hence losing money if the person who buys the ARC doesn't proceed to buy the official version, and c) it didn't get the chance to do its job before it was ripped from the nest and thrown to the wolves.

trektone also says:

"I'm aware "Not for Sale" is typically printed/stamped on the ARC cover. I've obtained ARCs in many ways: free from authors/book folks, purchased from used book stores, winning bidder in charity auctions. For most of the many ARCs I own I have purchased multiple copies of the official version(s)."

And see, as far as I'm concerned, all these are totally understandable and legitimate ways to obtain ARCs. As I've said before, they have a limited but vital shelf-life: until the official versions of the book comes out, they're worth their weight in kittens (mew), but after the "real" books are available, they're interesting paperweights, collector's items, and things for the cats to sleep on.

In the end, I suppose my feelings on ARCs are very convoluted things, I should go find something shiny to distract me, because now my brain hurts. Hope that helps.