Saturday, April 9, 2011

What's an ARC?

Here's a precious photo of Imprint Lela Davidson's daughter stuffing ARC packages. I thought I'd post, along with a photo of the package Lela sent me as an example, and talk a little about this stage of the book promotion process.
ARC stands for “Advance Reading Copy” or “Advance Review Copy.” They used to be referred to as  “galleys” (and the publishing industry still uses this this term). The ARC is still an important step of the publishing process, even with our instant-digital world -- planning ahead long before the book starts selling is crucial.

What are the ARCs used for?
• Gathering endorsements for the book (to put in marketing materials and print on cover)
• Pitching to print magazines with long turnaround times (6 or more months before the book comes out)
• Submission to industry reviewers (a minimum of 4-5 months before the pub date) 
• To provide to the influential people reaching your market and pitch… a campaign, a blog tour, an event, a giveaway contest; or ask them to contribute... a foreword, introduction or chapter

Here's a photo of the package Lela sent, and a list of what goes into a typical ARC mailing.

1. Printed and bound ARC
Industry insiders want to receive perfect-bound copies of the book with all of the publishing details on the cover including: title, subtitle, publisher info, ISBN, LCCN, page count, price, format (hardcover or paperback), distributor/wholesaler, Bisac categories (listed here), and contact info. *While it's also possible to use your Word file, a bound ARC can impress even the biggest celebrity's agent and get your request past the gatekeeper. 

Here's how we do ours, with the industry info on the back cover:

2. Cover Letter 
The cover letter (on branded letterhead is always good), should specifically ask for what you need from the recipient while still making it beneficial for both of you or for a cause that you are both passionate about. No matter who the pitch is to, or what it is asking for, always think about the recipient and answer, "Why should they care?"

3. Press Release
An all-inclusive "book announcement" press release (dated into the future when the book starts selling and the release would be distributed) – ideally with some relevance to what's going on in the world. Try using a "hook" for your headline that sounds like it would be a great segment introduction on TV.

4. Sell Sheet
A sell sheet is a publishing industry standard -- essentially a one-page flyer with book's cover image, description, pub date, ISBN, LCCN, categories, early endorsements or reviews, author bio, author photo, contact info and distributor information. For major publishing houses these also include pending publicity, which is what bookstore buyers would base their orders on, and also how bestsellers are "made."

5. Reviews 
As industry reviews are garnered, they can be added. A page of advance praise or early testimonials is also good.

6. And, depending on the recipient, you may want to add a memorable item – anything from a simple bookmark, to a t-shirt, to Girl Scout Cookies (that's a hint about an upcoming acquisition). See Lela's (and many other Author's) fun marketing items and "s.w.a.g." 

Also note the great mailing label Lela used to give the receiver a taste of what's inside.
 Here's an excerpt from my 2007 book, where authors talk about getting their printed ARCs.
(Watch for all these 2005-2007 titles out on Kindle soon!)

Receiving… then Sending Out the ARCs

Samantha Gianulis, author of LITTLE GRAPES ON THE VINE
A-R-C Spells Happy Me! My daughter Zoë  sits in her Care Bears pajamas on the couch, the baby is taking a nap, and it is past ten o’clock. It is a reasonable time for a package to be on the front porch. I didn’t hear the loud engine of the UPS truck or the sliding metal door of the FedEx van, but the books could be there, nonetheless. How obsessive-compulsive is it to peek through the door and see if my dream has been delivered? Hell, I don’t care, I’ve gotta look. 

“Zoë! Come to the front door, hurry!" She picks up the excitement in my voice, and her four-year-old frame comes tearing around the corner. Damn, I hope I didn’t wake up the baby.

“What Mama?” she asks. “My ARCs are here.” Zoë puts her hands over her mouth, jumps up and down and squeals, “This is so exciting, oh my gosh!” I am so happy I get to share this moment with an already exuberant spirit. My son may well have said, “That’s cool, Mom” with a shrug.

Zoë gets the scissors. “No, the big ones!” I say after she hands me her toddler scissors from the craft store. She’s excited she gets to use the big guns on a big box. Together, we cut through the clear tape with black scuffs, and behold–the manifestation of a promise I made myself when I quit my last official job.

Thirty advanced reading copies of my book, Little Grapes on the Vine...Mommy Musings on Food & Family, due out next April. It’s unreal! I drove a copy of my ARC to my aunt’s, and my mom’s (at every red light I opened it up and read until someone honked at me to go). Then showed my girlfriends at my son’s school. The rest of the copies are reserved for the media–it sounds so official, press releases, book signings, newspapers, we go!  

Until now, I have been intimidated by such things. Holding my advance copy in my hands I am infused with energy and purpose—my work is not over, but I have a shiny ARC to hold as I find the right words to say.

The laundry remains unfolded. The dishes remain unwashed. I am back on the couch with my daughter reading my book. I am ecstatic! I did what I said I was going to do many years ago. So, there’s that. And a whole lot more. It’s me in that book. It’s me and my kitchen and my thought process and all my neuroses!

Christie Glascoe Crowder, author of YOUR BIG SISTER'S GUIDE TO SURVIVING COLLEGE
Happy Birthday to Me! My 34th birthday was a couple of weeks ago and aside from the lovely charm bracelet my husband gave me, I got the best birthday present...the bound advance review copies of my book!  No, not the real book but the copies you send out for the media to read and write reviews (if they choose to.) Granted, not completely as exciting as getting the real thing, but for a first time author...very, very close. If I was still in denial about actually publishing a book, receiving these catapulted me into reality. I was beaming from ear to ear. For me, it might as well have been the real book. Imagine how I will feel when the real ones do arrive. Every little step brings us closer to our dreams fulfilled.

Caroline Poser, author of AND THEN CAME ARTHUR
When the ARCs came, I didn’t even have a list of people who I wanted to contact. I started requesting endorsements when I had the ARCs in hand. Talk about behind the eight ball! That’s what happens with three kids and a full time job. But I think it will be okay.

One of my reviewers said “No.” She said that the book lacked substance and that it read like a diary. She realized that this was probably my intention, but she couldn’t endorse it. I understood intellectually what she said, because she is a Ph.D., maybe I was wrong to ask her. My feelings were a little hurt at first, but when I received the blurb for my cover from Mark Victor Hansen I quickly forgot the pain! And then Julie Tilsner, author and contributing editor of Parenting magazine, and Jane Swift, the former Governor of Massachusetts, both sent great advance reviews! I worked hard to get the endorsements in a short time–this is where my sales experience paid off. I had plenty to put on my back cover and inside pages.

I vividly remember when my publisher, Nancy, asked me who was on my wish list of people to endorse my book Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster. I was really caught off guard by that question. I had not even considered it. Why would somebody who didn’t know me consider endorsing my book? The person who came to mind immediately was Christiane Northrup, MD.  I had been following her work for years. She was a leading authority on women’s health and was that rare doctor who was also a patient advocate. I wrote her a letter explaining my personal battle with infertility and my wish to help as many people as I could who were engaged in this struggle. I really didn’t expect any kind of response. To my utter surprise and delight I received a letter from her saying she would be happy to receive the ARC, and she did indeed endorse my book!

Pamela Jo Leo, author of CONNECTION PARENTING
I just had to share my most exciting news! The one endorsement I wanted MOST of all for Connection Parenting, was from Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of Magical Child. His exact email words were: “I am happy to endorse anything you care to say, write or do.”  WOOO HOOO, I am doing the happy dance tonight!

Three of my dreams for this book are: 1) an endorsement from Joseph Chilton Pearce; 2) to have it translated into other languages; 3) to have it on Oprah. So far we have Joseph; a Spanish translation in progress, foreign rights sales to Korea, Russia so far (2011 update: Turkish was released yesterday! And Japan, Israel and China have been in the works); Oprah…? 

Deborah Hurley, author of FRAGMENTS OF HOPE
On September 24, 2007, I received an email from London that had me literally floating on air. It all began with a simple Google search on “depression.” There was one particular article that left an impression on me, written by Lewis Wolpert, and I decided to research more about him. I was impressed to find that Dr. Wolpert is a Professor of Biology at the University College in London, the author of ten books, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His book Malignant Sadness was the basis for three television programs in London called “A Living Hell;” he has presented science on both radio and television for five years; and he himself has suffered with severe depression.
The more I read, the more intrigued I became, and the more I realized that although he is a literary and scientific expert, his suffering and pain was as real and as horrific as mine. I eagerly looked up the University College in London and quickly made my way to The Department of Anatomy and found Dr. Wolpert’s email address. I composed a short email asking if I could send an ARC. Within an hour there was a reply in my mailbox and with my heart pounding out of my chest I opened it.  The reply was from London and it read: “Please send, Lewis”

On October 9, 2006, I received my third email from London.  This was the one I had been waiting for. As I lay next to my husband in bed, we eagerly opened the email and he read it to me aloud. It said: “Have read your book: very moving and hope you are doing well. If you want a quote, this may be OK: ‘A most moving account of a terrible depression and a recovery.’” Regards, Lewis.

I closed my eyes and thought about who I was and what I had just done. At that moment I couldn’t help but reflect upon the many years I had struggled to become whole inside. That particular email evoked emotions in me that will never be forgotten. My eyes welled with up with tears as I realized that my voice had been heard. It absolutely blew my mind to think that me—a homemaker, a stay-at-home mom, an average everyday woman who had suffered with depression for so long—was receiving emails from Dr. Lewis Wolpert in London. I couldn’t believe that one simple Google search had been transformed into an endorsement for my book from someone like Wolpert. I remained in bed for an hour with my comforter pulled right up to my chin. I read his email over and over aloud. Dr. Wolpert would never know how his one little email had changed my world, and how his acknowledgement of me and my work had helped me to believe in myself. I had spent so many years thinking that I wasn’t capable, that I couldn’t, and that I wouldn’t, but there I was, a 37 year-old woman in Long Island, snuggled beneath her covers, who wanted to, who could, and who actually did.