Okay, that title’s a little misleading because we also have ARC-related thoughts from other EMLA authors who’ve already gone through the full publication process. But I haven’t gotten a sniff of my book’s future ARCs yet, so with this post and Mary Lindsey’s post we have the full spectrum of ARC-related wisdom for y’all! Huzzah! Let’s hear from author/illustrator/sage/dispenser of bonhomie/Ellie McDoodle creator Ruth McNally Barshaw. Go Ruth!
When Bloomsbury sent me 75 ARCs for my first book, Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel, I knew there wouldn’t be enough to satisfy even my (huge, sprawling, Irish Catholic) family. I’d have to ration them. As is my usual solution when faced with a sticky problem, I started a list.
I considered every friend, family member and acquaintance I’d ever met, either online or in real life. From the vast list in my head, I sorted out those who are: well-connected hub people, my crit group members, teachers and staff at my kids’ schools, siblings, librarians, booksellers and teachers, book reviewers, early adapters of new technology, salesmen types, those who love information and love sharing it, my closest friends, favorite relatives, and my most ardent supporters.
My list totalled 77, even though I tried to be stingy. I reserved five ARCs for my kids and me. Then I got ruthless. I culled from the list anyone who I thought might just put the ARC on a shelf, unread, or who might be thrilled to get one but not share it with others. Each person who got an ARC got the directive to not sell it on Ebay (my editor’s concern) and to please share it with teachers, librarians and booksellers if they enjoyed it.
I’m occasionally asked to sign an ARC at a book event. It always takes me back to those early days of anticipation, when I was aching to hold the real book, proof I was an author. Funny thing: four years later I realize author anxiety and insecurity never ebb. Nor does the thrill. – Ruth McNally Barshaw
Don’t you just love Ruth? But wait, WAIT, THAT’S NOT ALL – we also have some ARC perspective from Joanne Rocklin, whose new novel One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street just hit the shelves to massive acclaim. Go Joanne!
My view of ARC’s is that in my experience they are as important as the finished book itself! I caution everyone to examine your galleys as carefully as possible to prevent careless errors from being printed in the ARC. It’s really your last chance to find them before your baby goes out into the world. I used all my own copies of the hardcover of my middle grade One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street, the “free” copies owed me by my publisher, to send out to important contacts. But I scooped up as many copies of the ARC as possible from my publisher, so I could mail them out to anyone interested in children’s literature, especially blog authors. I gave away sets for book clubs, and participated in giveaways online. When the birthday of the “real” book came around, as beautiful as it is, the experience was somewhat anti-climactic.
If any ARC’s are left after all of this, I use them in writing workshops with young students, to give a sense of the steps to a finished book. There was a major scientific error in my last novel, and it was printed in the ARC. Someone found it just in time (Thank you! Thank you!) I often mentioned that there was an error in that ARC to recipients with whom I had personal contact, suggesting they direct kids to be on the lookout for the the Big Mistake. Kids just love doing that! – Joanne Rocklin
So these very informative, valuable words of advice spur a few thoughts for me. In classic Mike Jung fashion, I confess to feeling a certain amount of chagrin, because authors have sent me ARCs in the past – Kate Milford, for example, or Eric Luper, or Julia Devillers on behalf of her twin sister Jennifer Roy – and while I was flattered and gratified and determined to do my part, I didn’t fully grasp how much it meant to be one of the people selected to receive one of those precious ARCs.
And now I’m going to be on the other side of the ARC equation, ticking off names like Ruth, helping kids spot the Big Mistakes like Joanne (fun!), weighing my professional priorities and my emotional proclivities. Making choices. Handling the ARC process is just another of those confounded parts of the writing game where we have to make choices, eh? Sometimes hard ones, even. You’d think the writing process itself would have driven that “making choices” concept deep into my psyche, but no, like a dingbat I say “whuh? I have to make a choice?” every time it crops up in a new context.
I will honor this process when it’s my turn! When I’m ruthlessly culling my list I’ll probably feel regret over some of the names that hit the floor, but hey, I’ll also feel thrilled over the opportunity to share an ARC with the names that remain. I hope the day when I first hold a bound copy of my book is as amazing as Mary’s was, that I have Big Mistake hunts with kid readers like Joanne does, and that the thrill remains as ever-present for me as it does for Ruth. I can’t wait.