I went ahead and made an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Tyrmia, my next novel. ARCs are usually unedited, early versions of a novel. At GB Press we use POD (Print On Demand) to both produce our main paperbacks and to produce ARCs. The ARCs that we produce usually have plain white covers with simple, .doc formatted insides. ARCs are not finished products and are not intended to be read by the general public. Usually they are done to get a feel of how big the finished book will be and to let a handful of readers review the book in a tangible way.
Many publishers are moving to digital only ARCs, but I believe the cost and convenience of POD books is ideal for creating paperback ARCs. It’s really nice to be able to hand someone a physical book that they can read instead of tying them to a computer screen or a digital reader. Especially since nobody that I know has an ebook reader.
No attempt is made to make the ARC pretty or desirable in any way. This is to cut down on theft and collecting. I don’t know what the rules for ARCs are at other publishers, but at GB Press, they are not supposed to be sold, even as collector items. In fact, I try and get them back from most readers, so they can be loaned out again to another reader. I usually only print four or fewer copies and keep track of who has each copy at any given time.
This is not because I’m concerned about copyright theft or stealing, because, seriously, every book I produce is available for free after they come out.
I printed four copies of Null_Pointer’s ARC and only managed to retain one. This time I have printed two and will retain only one. The other copy will be given to my brother, who also does the cover art and interior layout. I think it’s important for him to read the book before setting out to design the cover and interior for it. I also value his opinions when it comes to Science Fiction stories.
I also have a tradition of letting the owners of Rediscovered Bookshop read my ARCs, so they will be given a copy of the Tyrmia ARC. I think it’s very important that authors work with the owners of their local independent book sellers and develop good relations with them. They can help get the word out about you and your books in ways that simply are not possible otherwise.