They’re here, they’re here!
We’ve printed the first round of ARCs, or advance reader copies, of Stevan Allred’s A Simplified Map of the Real World, a linked short story collection about a small, rural town. Forest Avenue Press, my small press, is releasing the book on Sept. 12, so this is the time to send copies out to major reviewers, who request them three or four months in advance.
Publishers Weekly, I found out, counts the months from the first day of the month of publication, so we pushed our timeline to make sure theirs would arrive by May 1.
I’ve talked quite a bit about print on demand services, and in particular the Espresso Book Machine at Powell’s. While we’re working with another printer to get A Simplified Map of the Real World distributed more traditionally (and included in the book buying catalogs and Amazon, among others), I’m printing all our ARCs on the Espresso Book Machine. Four of us went over the proof and we made a few minor changes, but we had differing opinions about one potential added feature. So I printed a few with that feature, took a look, and decided absolutely, that was one thing too much in a book packed with extras, such as illustrations, a map of the fictional town of Renata, Oregon, and “story trees” hand-drawn by the author.
Once the decision was made, and a rogue “every” changed back to “ever” in our book club questions guide, I printed a few more. And when those looked good, I placed a bigger order.
The other wonderful thing about printing ARCs through the EBM is that there’s no policy about needing a bar code, unlike the other service we’re working with. Advance readers should never be sold; they cost the publishers a lot of money, they are courtesy copies meant to build buzz, get reviews and blurbs, and generally make people aware that a particular book is forthcoming. If a bookstore sells an ARC and profits off what is essentially a draft, labeled as an uncorrected proof, that’s not fair to the author or publisher, because only the bookstore profits. Nobody gets royalties. And it isn’t very polite.
So I felt very strongly about not printing a bar code on the back cover of our ARC. The other service I’m working with requires a bar code on the back of each book that’s printed. So I could have printed a small run of ARCs, and we could have used an SKU number instead of the ISBN, theoretically reminding bookstores that this isn’t for sale, but to me, a bar code is still a visual cue that the book is salable.
The Espresso Book Machine allows me to print one at a time, if I want, to pick my books up locally, avoiding shipping charges, and tweak a few times, which satisfies my perfectionist nature. I recommend this method of getting ARCs out for any publisher or indie author. It’s a great way to have total control over the process and to be able to fix tiny little things.
I’ll be sending more ARC packages out this week, and at some point I’ll do a giveaway here, reveal the cover, and tell you about the process of coming up with the back cover description for A Simplified Map of the Real World. I’ve been working on this launch every day for months, and it’s so exciting to have a book now. A real book, bound and ready for others to read. A book I love by a wonderful debut author with fine-art illustrations by an amazing Seattle artist. I started Forest Avenue Press because I love editing, but I can’t wait to have finished copies in my hand and say, “Here, you have to read this book.”