David Lubar (davidlubar) wrote,
David Lubar

The awful truth about ARCs

Last week, I got the galleys of Dead Guy Spy, the second book in the Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie series. Two days later, I got a package in the mail, containing a couple advance reading copies (aka ARCs). For those of you who don't already know this, the timing of these events should illuminate a publishing fact that probably scares and surprises every author when it dawns on him. The ARC is made from the first-pass galleys. To show why this is scary, here's a quick look at the process. I write a draft. My editor suggests changes. I revise. This cycle repeats until we're both satisfied. Then the book goes into copy editing. Up to this point, each revision pass is written on my computer, even though the line edits arrive in a printout. (I'll intersperse paper revision passes of my own during this process, but the point is that everything ends up on my hard drive.) The copy-edited manuscript also arives as a printout. But changes have to be made by hand in pencil. Sometimes, whole paragraphs get added or heavily revised. Then, depending on the publisher, these changes are either entered by hand into an existing electronic version, or the entire manuscript, including all the hand-written changes, is typed into a file (a vestige of the days when everything was mechanically typeset, and a practice that might even have become extinct). Either way, there is the chance for human error, along with the dismaying habit of prose to look entirely different once printed in galley form. Bad sentences that escaped detection over multiple revision passes suddenly leap off the page and scream, "I'm sucky writing." And that's the version that gets printed and bound into an ARC. Even though I've known this for years, it still made me a bit queasy when the reminder came in the form of those two packages in the mail. Happily, this ARC was pretty clean.

My Rotten Life will be released a week from Tuesday, launching the series. I have no idea how to celebrate this.
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