The Importance of ARCs

I recently received the advanced reading copy of my  March 2017 thriller, Echoes of Terror. It has been a while since I read through the manuscript, and since I’m sending some copies out for review, I wanted to make sure there were no glaring errors. Actually, I didn’t want any errors,  glaring or not, but, alas, I found one that created a domino effect.


Advance Reading Copy

Advance Reading Copy

Many of the chapters in Echoes of Terror start with a time/day indication, such as: 3:00 P.M., Thursday. The story itself takes place in less than thirty-six hours (except for the last chapter). It’s set in Skagway, Alaska, late June when it is light for almost twenty-four hours.

I’d read through more than half of the ARC when I found a glaring error. The previous time notation had been 11:30 P.M., Thursday. The next one should have been 2:15 A.M., Friday. A.M. because that chapter takes place two hours after midnight. But no, above the first paragraph of that chapter it said 2:15 P.M., Friday.

I went back to my edited (final edit, it says) manuscript and saw the time was correctly indicated. Somewhere along the publishing process the change was made. And, of course, once that time was changed to P.M. all of the following ones were also changed to P.M.

The reason I’m writing about this situation is to remind all of us (myself included) DON’T ASSUME. Just because there are no errors in the final edit doesn’t mean the printed book won’t have errors. Read through those galleys or advance reading copies. Read carefully.

I always see things at this stage that I wish I could change: a word I repeated too often, a sentence that could be rewritten so it would be more active, or something I’ve learned since submitting the manuscript that I wish I’d added. If a writer is working with a traditional publisher, those changes generally can’t be made at this stage, not unless the change is really necessary for the story and the writer is willing to pay for the changes. Most traditional contracts indicate errors the publisher makes will be corrected without charge and that a writer can make a small percentage of changes at this stage; however, it will cost the writer if those changes are over that percentage and are not the publishers fault. I also think a publisher wouldn’t be too happy if a writer did that too often at this stage of production. This is why publishers expect a polished piece at submission.

The advantage of self-publishing is the writer is the publisher, but even so, this is not the stage when you want to be making a lot of changes. Nevertheless, sometimes errors do slip by the editor and/or the writer. Most of the time the reader won’t notice or care; that is if the errors are minimal. It’s the glaring errors, the missing words or sentences, the changing of a character’s name or description, or an inconsistency in the time frame (as I discovered) that the writer should correct.

I know by the time a book reaches these final stages, I’ve read the story so many times I don’t want to see it again. It would be easy to simply set the ARC aside and let whatever is be, but don’t.

My words of warning for traditionally or independently published authors: Do one last CAREFUL read through before you give your final okay.

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14 Responses to The Importance of ARCs

  1. Maris, you are so right about reading the ARC carefully. Errors can creep in at any stage, and they mar the final book. I want my readers to be happy with the story, as you do, and not distracted by typos or errors in dates. Your post is a good reminder for all of us.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Thanks, Susan. There have been times when I’ve received an ARC and thought, “Oh, I just can’t read through this again.” I’m so glad I did read through the story again, this time.

  2. Great post, Maris. I am at the stage where I may want to create ARCs, but I would like more information on the process itself and who, where, and how I should submit them. Can you publish another post which would give authors this kind of information? It certainly would be valuable to many. Thanks!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Jeanne, I’m assuming from your comment that you are self-publishing because if you’re with a traditional publisher, you will generally get an advance reading copy to use for publicity. That or you’ll receive galleys that can be used for PR. BUT, if you want that ARC in the form of a book, you will want the galleys or your final file printed. I’ve just run into a situation where I needed more copies than what my publisher provided, so I’m having additional ones printed. I will do some research and will address this in a future blog. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. I’ve never found ARCs of mine that didn’t have errors. Often they aren’t ones I made. But the print edition can show unexpected errors. I always read and correct. Now I have to hope the final copy of my new novel The Inheritance reflects those corrections!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Jacqueline, way back (eons ago) when I was writing for Harlequin and manuscripts were typed or printed and mailed in, the mailed ms had to be hand-set by their printer. You could almost tell when that person was tired. Suddenly there would be a lot of errors. I really checked those galleys closely. When we could finally send in a disk and the file was electronically converted, I found fewer errors (and they were usually mine). Here’s hoping The Inheritance is absolutely perfect.

  4. Good advice, Maris. I had to correct a couple of errors after my book was published. Don’t we always wonder, “How did this happen???” You’re right – read it through one more time.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Elizabeth, I’ll bet anything I missed something (maybe more than one something) in this book. I have a friend who always finds one or two mistakes (and yes, she really is my friend).

  5. Melissa Keir says:

    Very good advice. Things happen which could be corrected if someone had looked. 🙂

  6. Sue Myers says:

    Great words of wisdom. I have read New York Best Sellers to find spelling errors on page 3 from major publishing houses. I keep reading because I enjoy their stories and figure it goes under the heading of “Sh__ Happens”. But as an author, I’m embarrassed. Thank heavens you caught the error. Can’t wait to read your latest book!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Thanks, Sue. I am also happy I found that error. I’m actually amazed that I did. The A.M.s and P.M.s in those headings are quite small. I was reading the ARC late at night, the light wasn’t that great, and my eyes were tired. For some reason I took a close look at that first one.

  7. Lucy Kubash says:

    No matter how many times I read over a ms., I always manage to find something I missed if I read it again. Even if it’s just a misplace comma. I did take one of my self-pubbed books down and fixed the mistake because it was too glaring. Thank goodness could do that!

    • Maris Soule says:

      I agree, Lucy. It is great that we have the opportunity to fix any errors we (or readers) find after initially uploading the story. As perfect as I try to be, some mistakes always seem to slip through.