Breaking News: The Around the Bookish World News Week-in-Review post has been postponed to tomorrow (Saturday) due to some spontaneous happenings on Twitter (ie. hence the topic of this post).
For those of you who don’t know what ARCs are, they are Advance Reader Copies, which are review copies printed from galleys/proofs during the copy edit stage, meaning that both the author and the editor are still going through some proofreading and last minute changes/polishing. Meaning that ARCs are far from being finalised and that is why each and every ARC has two notes/warnings on the cover:
1) that the book we are about to read is an UNCORRECTED proof copy, and
2) that if the reviewer wishes to include quotes of the book in their review, they should absolutely CHECK WITH THE FINISHED COPY, since it might have changed.
Has: Now as reviewers, we know that the ARCs we receive will have errors, it is stated so on the cover on print editions and the e-arcs we get from authors and publishers. However, to judge a book due to its grammatical errors (which are there because it is an ARC) is unfair.
Yet the main gripe is that the blogger asks publishers and publicists to ensure ARCs shouldn’t have these errors yet each book and the process it goes through can vary widely and it also depends on the stage of the proofs/galleys which ARCs are produced from. Errors are expected because this is the stage where they are being rectified and corrected. ARCs are also labeled and warn the reviewers that there will be errors especially when a reviewer quotes from a book they are asked to check via the publisher with the finished copy. Grammar and editorial issues are important, no one would like to read a book filled with those errors but an ARC is expected to have a few – some more than others which depends on a variety of factors.
Stella: English is not my mother tongue. Though I use it daily and all the time (I work mostly in English, watch movies in English and also read only in English), it is still a language I learnt. Due to this I think I can be sympathetic to those who make a few mistakes. BUT grammar is important to me. Very much indeed. I admit that mix ups of their, there and they’re, your vs. you’re and its vs. it’s are pet peeves of mine. (and don’t even get me started on then vs than!) And if I encounter them in a book even if just once, my feathers are ruffled. But I think it is completely understandable. The difference between these seemingly similar words is HUGE. And sure writers are people too who can make mistakes, but that is what the editor and publisher are there for, to polish the manuscript. So when I buy a book, I expect it to be a finished work. It would be unrealistic to expect it to be perfect, typos and some punctuation errors may occur, and I surely wouldn’t think it is the author’s fault.
That said, I think ARCs should be treated differently than finished, bought books. Larissa Ione said this wonderfully, so I won’t try to say it more eloquently:
The thing is, ARCs state clearly that they are uncorrected page proofs and that some of the material won’t appear in the final version.
So why would publishers, authors, and publicists send out these ARCs?
Because if they waited for the final versions, reviewers wouldn’t get copies until very close to release day. There simply isn’t enough time to do that.
ARCs are based off copyedits. When an author gets copyedits, they mark changes on the pages. The pages are sent back to the publisher, where they are manually inputted into whatever program will turn them into galleys (also called page proofs.) A LOT of errors get inputted, often including copyedit remarks.
The resulting galleys (page proofs) are then bound as ARCs, but at the same time, those exact pages are sent to the author and several proofreaders, who correct all the errors that were put into them. Those pages go back, and the final version is printed. The problem is that the final version doesn’t get printed until VERY close to release, so again, if reviewers didn’t get ARCs…they likely wouldn’t get anything.
This really isn’t a matter of proofreading – the ARC IS what gets proofread. And this is exactly why authors get so upset when they see their ARCs on Ebay. ARCs are generally full of errors, and we don’t want anyone paying good money for that, let alone taking it as an indication of our writing ability or our publisher’s proofreading and judging us.
I know that during the ARC stage I make a LOT of changes. The ARC read will reveal inconsistencies, spelling errors, etc. Generally, there won’t be any story/plot changes, but I do catch the errors made during the inputting stage, I’ll delete repetition in my own text and phrasing, etc.
Anyway, I hope that helps explain why ARCs can be ridden with errors!
ARCs are sent out by publishers to reviewers for the book to receive early reviews for the big release day. As Larissa pointed out, if the author/editor/publisher finalised the book and made sure there were no more mistakes in it, there would absolutely be no more time to send out these books, leave a reasonable timeframe for the reviewers to read and review them, and for the publishers to read through all the reviews and choose which ones to use. So I understand that for the early reviews to be used in time, the ARCs have to be sent out without being finalized and proofread.
ARCs are a marketing tool between reviewers and publishers, and should be treated as such. They serve a purpose: to enable the reviewers to get an early glance of the story and for the publishers to receive some early feedback on the book. That is why many bloggers and reviewers buy a finished copy of the ARC they read if they liked the story.
So tell us, do you find grammar important when reading a book?
(We are not talking about major errors which render the text incomprehensible like it was written by a translating program, but smaller ones which could be due to some oversight.)
Do you think ARCs should be treated and judged the same way finished books are, or to the contrary due to their nature some errors are to be expected and overlooked?
And finally, do you think it is fair to post a negative early review of a book and not be critical in the review because of the story and the content but because of some typos and errors present in the ARC copy?