November 25th, 2007

Ahhhhhh, look what’s arrived:

Uncorrected Manuscript Proofs, Advance Reader Copies, Galleys, all used pretty interchangably to describe things like these, nearly finished but still slightly unfinished books sent out to reviewers, booksellers, other writers (and a few lucky competition winners) to promote a title.

It’s a book. It’s an un-proofread book, which means it has a few errors still in it (hence uncorrected manuscript proof). It’s printed on less good paper than the final one. It isn’t properly typeset, so the lines are further apart, and hence the book ends up a fair bit thicker than an actual trade paperback will do, as you can tell from this superb photograph of an ARC (on the left) and a trade paperback (on the right) of BTAH.

You might also be able to tell from this that the ARC has a glossy cover rather than a beautifully textured one, it has no embossing or foil or any of those other wondrous inventions that cause fantasy fans to flock to my books like moths to a flame. It has no quotes from reviews or other authors on the back, like the finished book probably will, but instead features the usual synopsis plus thrilling bullet points (of slightly questionable truth, but hey, who’s counting) intended to promote the book to booksellers, reviewers, and industry-insider-types. The Last Argument of Kings proof says, in fact:

“The gripping conclusion to this must-read fantasy trilogy”

“No-holds-barred action that will set the fantasy world on fire”

“Addictive reading for fans of George RR Martin and Robert Jordan”

“Highly promotable author who has received great critical acclaim”

“100% sales increase between Book 1 and Book 2”

Make of those what you will …

There is also, as it happens, a disclaimer inside every proof that goes out, that says something like, “This reader’s copy is for promotional purposes and review by the recipient. Any duplication, sale, or distribution to the public is a violation of law.” But it doesn’t stop a flourishing market in these things on e-bay and the like, with proofs often reaching very high prices. 130 of Her Majesty’s Pounds Stirling? They must be mental. Everyone turns a blind eye to this because, well, it’s all publicity, ain’t it? Not that authors or publishers see a penny from such sales, he moans with little grace. But hey, if you expected grace, you can’t have been following this blog very closely.

Anyway, the bottom line as relates to this particular title, is that some (though not yet all) proofs of Last Argument of Kings will now be in the mail. To reviewers and bloggers (so we may see some early responses relatively soon) and, of course, to competition winners (yes, I’m talking about YOU Josh Meyer).

Remember, the dice shall be selecting a new winner in 5, count them, FIVE, days. Can you taste the excitement? CAN YOU?

Posted in process by Joe Abercrombie on November 25th, 2007.

16 comments so far

  • Aidan Moher says:


    Ahh, ARCs. Such a beautiful sight to behold!

    A Dribble of Ink

  • Juan Ruiz says:

    So, are you saying that If I had a blog, I will recieve tons of books… free!!!!!???????????
    I will take the dust off from my old blog, call all my friends to visit it to make it look popular and…
    Plan B in case the dice failed to honor the contract I made with them…

  • moonwitch says:

    That looks scrummy.

    It wouldn’t take me long to devour that little beauty. If only I could get my hands on the bastard book……..your such a tease Joe.

  • Yep, my copy is right here and I’ll be onto it as soon as I finish Robert Redick’s Red Wolf Conspiracy, which is frankly excellent. Yet another winner for Gollancz.

    The 100% thing I assume refers to hardcover/trade paperback sales. Or did twice as many people overall read Book 2 as Book 1? That really doesn’t seem to make much sense :-O

  • He he he.
    You never know – the dice will choose a new winner tomorrow.

    Yours should be going out shortly with a second batch. Not that you’re not just as valued as everyone else, but they came in the printers in two blocks and the publisher already had a set of names for the first lot.

    Hope you like it. And yes, the 100% thing refers to trade sales. It would as you say, be very weird if it was overall sales. Usually, though, they see a gradual tail off in trade sales as series go on, so they’re very pleased about the sharp increase. So am I, of course.

  • On the bullet point front, perhaps the Best Served Cold ARC will come with:

    * Absolutely no fucking maps!

  • I’m actually toying with the idea of a map in Best Served Cold.

    Or am I?

  • Isis says:

    “Highly promotable author who has received great critical acclaim”

    Highly promotable? That’s a euphemism for what? Being easy?

  • “Highly promotable” is how they refer to all authors that do not have a crushing speech impediment or nauseating facial disfigurement.

    My being easy is incidental.

  • Damn you, Abercrombie!

    I have to agree with what your editor said at the Gollancz Party:

    “Irritatingly good.”

    This is the first book in two years I read in one sitting and now find my eyes no longer work properly. So I suppose, “Blinding reading,” also qualifies.

  • Adam,
    Glad you liked the book, man.

    Ah, eyes. You don’t need them now you’ve read Last Argument of Kings. In fact you’re better off without them – everything else you could ever look upon would be a profound disappointment…

  • …even Best Served Cold?

    Hmmm 😉

  • isis says:

    Ah, I see. It’s even more shallow than I thought then.

    Nice to hear LAOK lived up to expectations. Wertykins is going to read me a chapter of his ARC each night over the ‘phone, aren’t you mate? It’ll be just like the Book at Bedtime.

  • I prefer to call it “Jackanory With Glokta.”

  • Oh, man, we’ve got to make this a conference call.

    Do you do the voices and everything?

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