Sunday, May 9, 2010

Reviewer's Tip - Advance Reading Copy - Part 1

We see lots of newbie authors asking on various publishing lists what should be in 'Advance Reading Copies' of their books?  How should they be formatted, what about a glossary, or an index?  Does the layout need to be in final form?  Should it be bound like a proper book?  Can it be a finished copy with a sticker on the cover noting its status as an 'Advance Reading Copy'? 

I thought it would be helpful to discuss what some of the 'Big Boys' do with their advance reading copies.  First, let me say that it is all over the place!  From finished, properly formated, finalized covers to white covers with boring text and little "bubbles" that note "uncorrected proof - not for sale." 

Interiors, from the 'Big Boys,' tend to be finished, or pretty darn close.  The only time we see manuscripts in their original Word/WordPerfect form is from very small presses or self-publishers.  The big review journals may not like this, but at Feathered Quil, we understand the pressures small presses are under.  As long as the text is edited, we're okay with the format.  But watch out if the text hasn't visited with an editor!  We have to review what is in front of us, not what it will eventually (possibly) be like after being edited.  (And yes, we did once have an author argue that we should forgive all the errors because the book would "eventually" be edited!)

What about a 'Contents' page?  How can you possibly put together a list of chapters when content is, at this point, still changing from day to day?  Follow the example of a book I'm currently reviewing that's from an imprint of HarperCollins.  The book has 25 chapters.  All the chapters are noted by name on the 'Contents' page.  But where do those chapters begin?  All of them can be found on page "00."  Obviously the layout, while looking finished, is still in flux and the publisher does not want to wait any longer to get out the advance copies.  As a reviewer, I expect this and I certainly won't find fault with this in my review.  It's SOP (standard operating procedure).

Next time - just what should you put on the back cover of your advance printing???