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?