Readers of the Lost ARC

Paul Doiron here—

First, I’d like to apologize for the title of this post. Apologies also to John Dryden who accurately observed that puns are “the lowest and most groveling kind of wit.” Writers know a thing or two about groveling.

The acronym “ARC” (pronounced like the letters, not like “ark”) stand for advanced readers copies. It might surprise many people to learn that most book reviewers never actually read the final editions of the hardcover novels they write about. Instead they see uncorrected paperback versions of the texts. Given the length of the marketing cycle, it’s necessary for publishers to print and send out these ARCs months before the finished book is back from from the bindery. Sometimes the copies are beset by typos; sometimes they are missing information which will be added before the last proof. That’s because the editing process is still happening behind the scenes.

So even while the ARCs for my next novel were being printed, I was making corrections in the text. For example, a character who was summonsed by my game warden protagonist  for discharging a firearm a hundred feet from a residence is now summonsed for discharging a firearm a hundred yards from a residence (my brain cramp), on posted property no less, because I wanted to amp up the severity of the infraction. And there are the usual typos and omitted words, as well. The reader who only sees the ARC might notice a few blemishes that will have cleared up by the time the reader of the printed (or now digital) book finally gets a look.

For many authors, getting the ARC in the mail is the moment your novel finally becomes real. All the previous proofs you see (the copy-edits, the first-pass pages) feel tentative and ephemeral. For a very long time, your book feels like it might yet blow away on the winds of fate. But an ARC is solid. It might have its flaws, but you can crack it open and read it in bed.

My next novel—the third in my Mike Bowditch series—will be published on August 7, but the ARCs for Bad Little Falls just arrived, and I’m feeling buzzed. From this point onward, people outside my publishing house will be reading what I’ve written. (Gulp.) In a matter of weeks, reviews will begin appearing in the “pre-pub” journals, the Publishers Weeklys and the Kirkus Reviews. (Double gulp.) Publication is a process, not a date. And, for me, this is when it all starts.

Or rather, I should say, it starts this weekend when the Maine Festival of the Book gets under way in Portland. There’s a great line-up authors scheduled, with readings, lectures, and signings that celebrate the importance of books in our lives. This year, as in previous years, Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance is sponsoring a “Book-signing Bonanza” in conjunction with the University of Southern Maine.

I’m going to be one of many Maine authors there—including our own Lea Wait—on Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. I’ll be autographing the paperback of Trespasser (which also just arrived), and that’s very cool. But here’s the big news: I’ve arranged to get a box of ARCs for Bad Little Falls shipped to the event. And I’m going to give those away for free to the first twenty people who buy copies of my other books. So if you’re curious about what happens to Mike Bowditch next and can’t wait till August, here is your chance to get a sneak peek, even before the reviewers at Library Journal.

Just don’t berate me later about typos in the ARC. I think we got ’em all. I hope so anyway.

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2 Responses to Readers of the Lost ARC

  1. MCWriTers says:

    Very punny, Paul. (Auto correct just fixed this to read “puny” so I have to override it) It now is a process, or a cycle, and it now takes about half the year, during which we’re supposed to also be writing the next book, and promoting the last one.

    I wish I could be joining you guys at the Festival. Alas, I’m an a plane. JetBlue. Where I hope that no pilots or passengers go crazy. But if they do…as a writer, it will all be grist for the mill.

    And on Friday, when I think I’m next up to blog, I’m toying with the title: In the Beginning…about the adventure of starting a new book. Will I be struck down by lighting?

    Kate, who longs for an ARC of Bad Little Falls

  2. Lea Wait says:

    Looking forward to seeing you Saturday, Paul! And hoping (probably in vain) that not enough buyers show up, and I’ll be able to scrounge one of those valued copies …..!
    In the meantime, I’m off to Vermont to visit a school … and it’s supposed to snow tonight. Is this fair to the crocuses? To us? It’s almost April! In any case — see you Saturday!

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