Proofs of The Heroes have arrived:
Have some of that. Aren’t they beautiful? Chunky, though. Don’t know if it’s the paper, or the way they’ve been set, but it’s way the heaviest proof I’ve produced even though the book is actually one of my shortest (well, 202,000 words, it’s not short by any estimation, but it’s about 12% shorter than the last couple).
For those of you unfamiliar with the workings of the industry, bound proofs, ARCs or galleys (basically different words for the same thing) are the rough versions sent out to booksellers, publishers, and reviewers prior to release in order to build excitement, stimulate orders, and ensure review coverage at the time of release. The text is the vast majority of the way there, though it hasn’t yet been proof-read or, in this case, copy edited. Sometimes proofs will be bound in anonymous brown paper, sometimes will have rough versions of the covers though usually without any specials (things like embossing, texture, and foil that will be found on the final edition). Typically they will have various persuasive stretchings of the truth on the back cover to entice would-be buyers. Things like, in the case of this proof: “Abercrombie has a unique, smart, wry voice and an ability to make fantasy cliches his own.” or “The Heroes is his best novel to date: a stunning war novel, impeccably written, with superb characterisation.” “One for fans of George RR Martin and Bernard Cornwell alike!” Actually those are all true. Understatements, really.
Now, oftentimes proofs will be sent out to reviewers straight away, but I suspect in this case we might hold off for a month or two to prevent a spate of reviews sweeping the interpipes in early september followed by three months of stony silence prior to release. Still, folks at my publisher, at other publishers, and key booksellers around the place may well already be reading it. Not to mention my wife. That gives me a bit of a shiver, I must confess (people reading the book, not mention of my wife). I mean, obviously, the book is objectively ace, I have never doubted that for an instant. My publisher’s carefully wordered marketing spiel on the back of the proof prooves it and my mum agrees, or at least says she does. But will the fickle readers realise its aceness? Or will, as has occasionally happened with my other books, the sheer onslaught of aceness, the crackling electricity of quality, overload the aceness recognition centres of the brains of some readers (possibly rendered over-sensitive by years of reading dross), causing them to come away with the badly mistaken, if not to say sadly deceived, impression that the book is actually quite poor. Only time will tell…
Naturally, I will be scouring the internet for any early opinions, and will report back as and when they should appear in all their gory glory. Unless they’re negative opinions, clearly caused by neurochemical imbalance. In which case I will treat them with the contempt they deserve.