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Friday, February 4, 2011

Reading an ARC

Last month, I talked about electronic publishing. (I'll be doing a blog/workshop/Q&A on the topic at the Savvy Authors DigiCon on Feb. 15th, btw). So, this month, I thought I'd look at the process for my print book, WHERE DANGER HIDES, due out in May. In my December post, I mentioned I was waiting for the ARCs to arrive, the next step along the road to publication.


The publisher puts these out in trade paperback size, with the full color front cover image. This is the Last Chance to catch typos. This is also the copy that the publisher sends to reviewers, hoping for some advance buzz that will sell books to their target market—libraries.

Reading an ARC isn't like reading a book. There's that sword hanging over the head feeling. Miss a typo, and it's forever in the book. And they're often hard to spot. No period at the end of one sentence? Two periods 3 pages down the road (must be a 'conservation of punctuation' thing)? Quotes facing the wrong direction? You're expected to find them all.



It's a totally different kind of reading. Plot and continuity should have been addressed already. The publisher isn't going to want to deal with rewriting scenes. Unlike a pleasure read, where I like to have large blocks of time to immerse myself in the story, when reading the ARC, I could only read for a short time to make sure I wasn't getting caught up in the book. Some people will actually start at the end of the book to make sure they're not distracted by the story.

Punctuation matters. Italics matter. What about hyphenation? I gave a copy to my husband to read, and since he can be very nit-picky about proofreading (coming from a scientific background), he caught a few things I didn't – such as italicizing a phrase in one place, but not in another.

Then there are the things that start looking "wrong" even though you're pretty darn sure you checked them before the edits began. Is it blue and white or blue-and-white? Is it a sportcoat, a sport coat, a sports jacket or a sports jacket? (According to some Googling, all are 'correct' but will a reader assume whichever you chose is 'wrong' because it's not the way they refer to it? Writearound: change to blazer?)

Now, after spending over a week reading, I have a 4 page document of things that slipped in, slipped out, or I questioned, which I turn into the publisher. Then I try to stop worrying that I missed something. And hope that if I did, a reader will be forgiving.

For more about WHERE DANGER HIDES, you can check here.

For more information about these and other of Terry's books, visit her website. She can also be found at Terry's Place blogging about writing and life in general.

6 comments:

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Terry,

I just went through the same thing with THE TRUTH SLEUTH which will also be published by Five Star/Gale in May. My husband does not normally read my books, although I wish he would. Two sets of eyes are always better than one. I honestly found only three small errors in my ARCs. Hope I didn't miss anything! I certainly took my time and read with care.
I also hope and pray we both get excellent reviews and therefore many library sales.

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Jacqueline. It's definitely a different kind of reading. And finding someone with a nit-picky eye is helpful indeed.

Terry
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Fred said...

Terry,
That was very helpful. I love the reading backward tip. I have already sent my ARC back to Five Star. I hope I caught the sportcoat/sport coat thing!!!

Fred

Terry Odell said...

Fred - I've turned mine in as well. I left a note for the editor to use her best judgment for sportcoat sports coat sport jacket -- and I suggested using blazer. Will have to wait until May to see what they did.

Terry
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Joyce Moore said...

Terry: My ARCs came at a bad time, and I had to rush through, but my editor was so good, and then the copy editor, I just ran through it. So far, good reviews and no "gotcha"s. I think, though, I'd have to read, like you said, back to front to have it matter.

Terry Odell said...

Joyce - After finding Blackstone instead of Blackthorne in the ARCs for When Danger Calls, I made a point to read as carefully as I could, busy or not. And the 'best' ARC reading process seemed to be short bits of time, so I would do a few pages here, a chapter there rather than settle in for a marathon read.

Terry
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery