Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Importance Of Checking Those First Copies Hot Off The Press

STATUS: Crisis averted!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SELF ESTEEM by The Offspring

Yesterday I talked about an author of mine who had found two uncorrected errors in her acknowledgement page. But now there is more to the story. Concerned, my author continued reading and discovered, to her horror, that the copy of the book she was reading was the first pass used in the ARC.

As many of you know, the ARC is the uncorrected proof—as in the author still needs to get the final page proofs from the copy editor, review, make corrections, and then return to the publisher by that deadline. That becomes the “final” copy that heads to the printer.

In this case, there had been a huge snafu and the wrong document was used for the final printing. Ack and double ack. This is a really costly mistake because the publisher is going to have to trash the initial print run and redo it.

Which they are doing (and unfortunately the release date is going to be pushed back a couple of weeks because of it). An instance of a Publisher behaving wonderfully!

When a book is about to release, often the editor will send out a copy or two of the soon-to-be released book just hot off the press, and thank goodness my author opened up what was supposed to be the final book and gave it a close read. And double thank heavens that she did this right away, the minute the book had arrived in her mailbox because the error can be corrected right now as none of the books have shipped from the warehouse.

One or two weeks later and it would have been a real disaster.

So when that first copy arrives, absolutely admire your final work in print but you might also want to open the cover and give it a read just to be sure.

And don’t panic folks. This type of error is fairly rare but as you can see, it does happen.

25 Responses

  1. Susan said:

    Wow, what a situation (and all those poor trees who died in vain!)

    Thanks for sharing the scary story–I’d have never thought to read my own book on arrival.

  2. John Arkwright said:

    What are the odds that the publisher will end up charging the erroneous print run against the book revenues for the purposes of deciding if they made money off the book? I would not think such a thing would decrease the royalties, but I would worry that in a year when the author is ready to sell another book that the publisher might look at their accounting figures and say, “Oh, the first book lost money.”

  3. Daniel said:

    What? The publishing business is run by fallible humans? Go figure. Good thing your author caught it in time. Smart lady.
    Please permit me to ask an audacious question. Being a teacher of Latin American studies, I’d like to know why there aren’t such theme literature. (I’m not about to expound about why I don’t read Marta Acosta or Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, but I am a guy.) I”m not talking about the perennial immigrant-comes-to-the-US story, either. I’m curious if there isn’t a strong enough market for stories that take place elsewhere in the Americas. Yes, I know of Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende–the usual suspects. Aren’t there any new and fresh authors? If you’ve any knowledge on this subject, please share. Thank you.

  4. Maggie Stiefvater said:

    Kristin, thanks for this reminder. I’m about to see final copies for the first time (Eeek!) and it’s good to know that I can have a reason for lovingly fawning over the pages when they arrive.

  5. karen wester newton said:

    Gasp! You mean editors, copy editors, and proof readers are all only human!

    I don’t understand how I can read something 47 times and still miss the fact that I left out a word.

  6. Jessica said:

    Kudos to the author for doing her job and checking stuff!
    And you seem like you’re being a good sport too.
    Have a great weekend!

  7. Steve Booth said:

    Wait. I thought there was supposed to be proof copies before the actual first run. You know.. the ones with registration marks and that looks exactly like the final copy. Was this not done? Do you usually go directly from final submission to first imprint?

    Or am i deranged — which isn’t altogether impossible…


  8. Gerb said:

    So happy she checked, but also very bummed because I was soooo eager to get my hands on this book. OCtober. Sigh.

  9. Anonymous said:

    That’s very interesting to read your own ARC for mistakes.

    Someone on this blog posed an interesting question. Is there a market for Latin American stories? As a hispanic, I’m very interested in commercial Latin American (or is that an oxymoron?) stories–not the highly literary stuff from Allende and company. Believe me, I’ve looked, and I’ve no taste for Dirty Girls Social Club. What gives?

  10. Ginger said:

    Oooh, I read Dirty Girls Social club. I didn’t like it, but at least it was a little better than Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, which was disappointing. (My best friend, who’s a latina and one of the smartest people I know, was actually offended by this last one. She said the main character was a “shallow slut”–sorry if this last word offends someone. I have to agree.)
    I wish there was something a little more serious than chica-lit. I’m ready for a something a little more serious from our Spanish-speaking friends. I mean, I know every story out there has been written and told at least once, but can’t some of these stories do away with the same Caucasian twist? I’d like to read something fresh–something a little more exotic. Give me a little spice.

  11. Anonymous said:

    I’ve always wondered if these latin people read. I know most know how to read, but WHAT do they read? Do they read English or Spansh? According to some census I read or heard somewhere, aren’t they already the largest majority? Heck, they’ll be all mighty ready to take over in a decade. Watchoutthen!!

  12. Dawn Colclasure said:

    It’s definitely fortunate she caught those mistakes early enough for them to be fixed. One thing that happened with an ARC of mine: The pages fell out. Literally. A fuss was raised and an assurance was made by the publisher that this was a mistake that would NOT happen with the final books.

  13. Arovell said:

    *Shudder* I would scream. How on earth did that happen??

    The first thing I’m going to do when my book arrives (okay, if, the possibility of being unpublished still exists for me) will be to read it… and, surely spaz over all of the new things in it that I find to worry about, for they will exist forever, I know. =) But I will also hug it and squeeze it and call it George (except its name is Sunrise). So if something messed up for me, I know I’d catch it.

  14. Editorial Anonymous said:

    No, that cost would NOT be passed back to the author in any way, and certainly should NOT be factored into whether the author’s next work should be acquired or not.

    If that cost mistakenly gets applied to that book in any meaningful way, believe me that the editor will be bending some ears about that, because she doesn’t want what was a production f— up on her record any more than you want it on yours.

    And for the record, my goodness is this rare. As the Ranting Diva says, good to check just in case, because checking doesn’t take much energy. It’s like an asteroid falling on you: you know it’s all kinds of unlikely, but if there were a very simple thing you could do to make it impossible, you might do it, right?

    –Editorial Anonymous

  15. K. M. Walton said:

    I just can not imagine having my novel in ARC form. Ahhh, the dream of it all. You can be darn sure I’d scour that copy, like a maniac. Maybe someday…maybe someday.

  16. Katherine said:

    All’s well that ends well (within reason, given that it happened.. eek). I hope the author holds on to the “mistake” copy of the book. I don’t know about her, but when I do happen upon “mistake” copies, I think they’re kind of fun. Of course, they’ve only ever happened to favourite authors of mine, in cases where I would gladly buy two copies of the same book anyways. I used to have a copy of Thomas Pynchon’s V that had two copies of the first signature and no second signature… had to ditch it to make room for more complete books. Pity.

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